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2018 Ford Flex Review

The 2018 Ford Flex finishes just below the middle of our midsize SUV rankings. It boasts a roomy cabin, composed handling, and a user-friendly infotainment system. However, it's plagued by unsupportive seats and a thin standard features list.

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious cabin
  • Lots of cargo space
  • Optional SYNC 3 infotainment system is responsive
  • Powerful turbocharged V6 engine available
  • Seats lack adequate support for longer drives
  • Fewer standard features than rivals
  • Base engine can feel when cabin is loaded with passengers and cargo
  • Subpar gas mileage




Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 7.6
Interior: 7.5
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.6
Safety: 9.2
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Ford Flex Overview

Is the 2018 Ford Flex a Good Used SUV?

The three-row Ford Flex is a decent used midsize SUV. It’s a solid family hauler with its strong available engine, and it has more cargo space than most rivals offer.

The 2018 Flex’s strengths include:

  • Spacious first- and second-row seats
  • Available SYNC 3 infotainment system is intuitive
  • Plenty of cargo room that’s easily accessible
  • Available twin-turbocharged V6 engine is muscular
  • Easy to maneuver for its size

These highlights are overshadowed by lingering drawbacks:

  • Short on standard features
  • Standard SYNC infotainment system is clunky
  • Frustrating touch-sensitive dashboard controls
  • Unsupportive seats
  • Third-row legroom snug for taller adults
  • Base engine feels taxed when the Flex is loaded with passengers and cargo
  • Below-average gas mileage for the class
Why You Can Trust Us

Our Ford Flex review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 95 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To ensure our impartiality, we never accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Ford Flex?

Based on listings for the 2018 Ford Flex on our site, the average price is $25,800, which is below the class average. Prices range from $21,500 to $32,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Ford Flex Cost to Own?

The Flex’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $25,900, or $5,180 per year. That’s about average for a midsize SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Flex?

Pricing for a 2019 Ford Flex starts at $30,575. The Flex is largely unchanged for the 2019 model year, so you can find a used 2018 model with the same styling and features for less money.

Read about the new Ford Flex »

The Flex first appeared for the 2009 model year, and it has yet to go through a redesign or major refresh. Still, there have been some important changes. We recommend starting your search with the 2016 Flex, which was the first to offer a rearview camera as standard and the SYNC 3 infotainment system as available equipment. SYNC 3 replaced the unintuitive MyFord Touch system of previous models.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Flex »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Ford Flex?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Ford Flex a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Flex reliability »

2018 Ford Flex Recalls

At the time of writing, no recalls have been issued for the 2018 Ford Flex.

See more information on Ford Flex safety recalls »

Which Used Ford Flex Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Ford Flex is available in three trims: SE, SEL, and Limited. A 287-horsepower V6 engine and front-wheel drive are standard in all models. The base trim is sparsely outfitted, so we recommend starting with the Flex SEL, which has the easy-to-operate SYNC 3 infotainment system, among other features. The Limited is the only trim that offers the available twin-turbocharged V6 engine and many of the Flex's active safety features.

  • Ford Flex SE: The entry-level Flex SE comes with a SYNC system, a USB port, Bluetooth, voice command recognition, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and Ford's MyKey system. 
  • Ford Flex SEL: The SEL trim adds dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system.
  • Ford Flex Limited: The Limited model comes with genuine leather upholstery, blind spot monitoring, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, and navigation. It’s the only trim available with the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine. It’s also available with active park assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

See 2018 Ford Flex trims and specs »

What Does Ford's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Ford offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 80,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Ford extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the original sale date or 100,000 miles. These vehicles also get a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty after the original three-year/36,000-mile new-car warranty expires. Each Ford CPO vehicle must pass a 172-point inspection. Additional benefits like vehicle history reports, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Ford warranty page carefully.

Ford does not have one of the better CPO programs among affordable carmakers. Chevy, GMC, Honda, Kia, and Mazda all have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Flex?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 Flex the highest rating of Good in four out of five crash tests; it received the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the driver-side small overlap front test. Properly equipped Flex models earned the lowest rating of Basic for front crash prevention. The SE and SEL trims received the lowest rating of Poor for how well the headlights illuminate the road ahead, and Limited models scored slightly better, earning the second-lowest rating of Marginal.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Flex four out of five stars in the rollover test.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • rear parking sensors

Available advanced safety features:

  • active park assist
  • adaptive cruise control
  • forward collision warning

See Flex safety scores »

2018 Ford Flex Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Ford Flex or 2018 Ford Explorer?

The 2018 Ford Explorer and the Flex are corporate siblings. Both come with potent available engines and offer lots of cargo space. You’ll get better gas mileage with the Explorer, but the Flex is the better SUV in almost every other way. It has a tighter turning radius, and its cabin is more inviting. The Flex also has lower projected ownership costs and a slightly better predicted reliability rating.

Which Is Better: 2018 Ford Flex or 2018 Honda Pilot?

The 2018 Honda Pilot is a better midsize SUV than the Flex. It has comfier seats and a third row with adult-friendly legroom. The ride quality is exceptionally smooth, and cargo space is excellent. You’ll also get better gas mileage with the Pilot.

Compare the Flex, Explorer, and Pilot »

2018 Flex Performance

How Does the 2018 Ford Flex Drive?

The base V6 engine is fine in most situations, but it can feel strained when the SUV is fully packed with people and their belongings. The available twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine puts out a lot more power. The ride is mostly comfortable, and there’s not much body lean through turns. The Flex is also pretty easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

  • Base engine: 287-horsepower 3.5-liter V6
  • Available engines: 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 (Limited)
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic
Does the 2018 Ford Flex Get Good Gas Mileage?

The Ford Flex has worse fuel economy than most of its competitors.

  • V6, FWD: 16/23 mpg city/highway
  • V6, AWD: 16/22 mpg
  • Twin-turbo V6, AWD: 15/21 mpg
2018 Ford Flex Towing Capacity

The Flex can tow up to 4,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about Flex performance »

2018 Flex Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Flex Seat?

The base Flex seats seven occupants in three rows. The first two rows are roomy, and the third row has enough headroom for adults but could use more legroom. Overall, the seats in the Flex lack adequate support, making them uncomfortable on lengthy drives. The cabin is well-insulated from outside noise, and it features mostly soft-touch materials and nicely textured surfaces, particularly in upper trims.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth seats
  • six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat

Available seating features:

  • genuine leather first- and second-row seats
  • heated and ventilated front seats
  • 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat
  • six-way power-adjustable passenger seat
  • power tilt-and-telescoping steering column
  • heated steering wheel
  • one-touch power-folding third row
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Ford Flex?

The 2018 Flex has three complete sets of LATCH child car-seat connectors. Each of the outboard second-row seats has a complete set of LATCH connectors, and the passenger-side third-row seat also has a complete set. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system the second-best rating of Acceptable for ease of use.

2018 Ford Flex Features

The standard SYNC infotainment system isn't as user-friendly or rich with features as the available SYNC 3 system, which is more responsive and has an intuitive menu layout. Its voice control function also works well. There are no physical buttons or knobs in the Flex. Instead, there are touch-sensitive panels, which can be a hassle to operate while driving.

  • Standard infotainment features: the SYNC smartphone integration system, a USB port, Bluetooth, and voice command recognition
  • Available infotainment features: the SYNC 3 touch-screen infotainment system, a seven-speaker premium audio system or a 12-speaker Sony audio system, two USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and voice-controlled navigation
  • Other available features: a power-opening panoramic glass roof, remote start, push-button start, a household-style power outlet, proximity keyless entry, and dual-zone automatic climate control

See 2018 Ford Flex specs »

Read more about Flex interior »

2018 Ford Flex Dimensions

Ford Flex Cargo Space

The Flex has 20 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 43.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and 83.2 cubic feet behind the first row. These figures are about average for the midsize SUV class. This Ford's boxy body has lots of cargo space. Large and bulky items can be easily stacked inside. Additionally, the seats fold completely flat, including the front passenger seat. A power liftgate is available.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Ford Flex Length and Weight
  • Length: 16 feet, 8 inches
  • Curb weight: 4,439 to 4,828 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight rating: 5,970 to 6,150 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Ford Flex Built?

Ford built the Flex in Canada.

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