Styling lines provide an interesting wrapper for what is actually a very practical family vehicle…

Flex is a short name for a big Ford utility/wagon type vehicle that can accommodate six or seven people with ease and seat them with an impressive degree of comfort.

Made in Canada, Flex is a hard-to-categorize vehicle that was introduced for the 2009 model year. Not a car, a minivan or an SUV, Flex borrows from them all, so the ‘crossover’ tag is also very appropriate.

Stylistically the Ford Flex dares to be different. What appears at first glance to be a simple two-box design is actually more complex. It has generally straight styling lines yet there are no sharp corners. Its two-tone paint finish is separated by the dark centre greenhouse section, which gives Flex a distinctive ‘floating roof’ appearance that’s also appealing.

On the inside, even with all its seats upright there’s still 566 litres (20 cu ft) of cargo space in the back. That jumps to 1,224 litres (43.2 cu. ft) with the third row down and a whopping 2,355 litres (83.2 cu. ft) with the second row flat. The front passenger seat can also fold forward and allows Flex to swallow 3-metre (10 ft) long object, with its liftgate closed. Flex can also have an impressive max towing capacity of 2,041 kg (4,500 lbs), when properly equipped.

Originally (in 2009) Flex just came in SEL and Limited trim levels and all-wheel drive was a ($2,000) optional offering. The only engine was a 3.5-litre V6 engine that can deliver 262 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and drive goes to the front wheels. Highway fuel economy is surprisingly good 8.4 L/100 km, but the city rating is a much thirstier 12.6 L/100km.

Two changes came in 2010 in the form of a new (lower-priced) entry level SE trim version of Flex and the other was a new optional 3.5 litre V6 EcoBoost engine (Limited trim only). Turbochargers and direct fuel injection allow this engine to provide V8 like power, yet still offer it still offer V6 fuel economy. The MyKey security feature and an AutoFold 60/40 bench seat were both added as standard equipment in all Flex trim levels.

A new top-line Titanium edition of Flex was added to the product line in 2011. It comes with the V6 EcoBoost engine and all-wheel-drive. And other than a switch to a centrally mounted rear windshield wiper there were no significant changes in 2012. The 2013 edition of Flex got a mid-life styling refresh that included a slicker new front-end treatment plus minor improvements to both engine offerings.

Safety ratings are all top-notch and this, plus high owner reliability ratings, has helped put the Ford Flex on Consumer Reports “Recommended” list of vehicle buys. Although not as fuel-efficient, the standard 3.5 litre engine reportedly has fewer problems compared to the newer and more powerful turbo-charged V6 engine option.

Ford Flex not only looks different, it is different … and it’s a Canadian! Polarizing (love/hate) styling lines provide an interesting wrapper for what is actually a very practical family vehicle.

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Price Check: 2009 – 2013 Ford Flex (September 2014)

Year                    Edition                                   Expect to Pay Today

2009                    Flex Limited awd                    $16,000 to $20,000

2010                    Flex Limited awd                    $19,000 to $23,000

2011                    Flex Limited awd                    $22,000 to $26,000

2012                    Flex Limited awd                    $26,000 to $31,000

2013                    Flex Limited awd                    $31,000 to $36,000

Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

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Safety Recalls: 2009 to 2013 Ford Flex:

2013: The fuel delivery module may develop a crack, which could allow fuel to leak. Dealers will replace the fuel delivery module.

2013/2014: The right-side halfshaft retention clip may not have been fully engaged. This could allow the halfshaft to separate and result in a loss of motive power. Dealers will inspect halfshafts for full retention and affect repairs as necessary.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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