2018 Ford Flex

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MSRP: $30,285 - 43,295

2018 Ford Flex Review

The Ford Flex hasn't been completely redesigned in almost a decade. It has some positives, but the negatives – subpar seating comfort, an unimpressive base engine, and a dated look – outweigh them. As a result, the Flex sits in the bottom third of our rankings.

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 8.1
Safety: 9.2
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Usable cargo area
  • Powerful turbocharged V6 available
  • Responsive SYNC 3 infotainment system
  • Spacious cabin
  • Subpar gas mileage
  • Seats lack adequate support for longer drives
  • Fewer standard features than many rivals
  • Base engine feels weak at times

Is the Ford Flex a Good SUV?

The 2018 Ford Flex is an OK SUV, but that doesn't cut it in the competitive midsize SUV class. The Flex's boxy shape gives you loads of passenger space, but the seats are too flat to be supportive or comfortable. Though it boasts a cavernous cargo area, it's short on standard features. On the plus side, available amenities like the SYNC 3 infotainment system are user-friendly. Performance is nothing to write home about – the base engine feels underpowered when hauling a full load of people or stuff, so you'll want to opt for an available turbocharged V6 that is more powerful. Gas mileage, however, is below average with either engine.

Should I Buy the Ford Flex?

There are few reasons to consider buying the Flex instead of one of its superior class rivals. With a base price that's about average for a midsize SUV, we can't even make the argument that the Flex is good for shoppers on a budget. Instead, check out similarly priced rivals like the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. The Pilot has spacious seating for eight and lots of cargo room, while the Highlander also has tons of space along with an upscale cabin and a long list of standard driver assistance features.

Compare the Flex, Highlander, and Pilot »                          

Should I Buy a New or Used Ford Flex?

The current generation of the Flex has been around for nearly a decade – it debuted for the 2009 model year – and hasn't seen many major changes recently. For 2018, the Flex no longer offers a rear-seat entertainment system. Otherwise, the 2018 Flex is virtually identical to the 2017 model, which was virtually identical to the 2016 model. Ford refreshed the Flex for 2013: It received updated styling, more available features (adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats, a proximity key, and parallel park assist), and slightly more-powerful engines. Opting for a 2013 to 2017 model could potentially save you thousands of dollars, while getting you a nearly identical vehicle to the new 2018 Flex.

If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 and 2017 Flex. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles. 

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Flex »        

We Did the Research for You: 95 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Ford Flex review, we researched nearly 100 professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and more, to help you make the best buying decision possible.

This 2018 Ford Flex overview incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans from the 2009 to 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than a combined 75 years of experience in the automotive industry. To maintain objectivity, we don't accept incentives or expensive gifts from car companies, and an outside team handles the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Ford Flex Cost?

The 2018 Ford Flex has a base price of $30,300. That's right in the middle of the starting price range for midsize SUVs, which is about $21,000 to $39,000. There are two higher Flex trims – the SEL and the Limited – that come with more standard features and offer higher-end features not available in the base trim.

The SEL trim starts at just over $33,000 and is probably the best value in the Flex lineup. However, the Limited, which starts around $38,500, is the only trim to offer many features such as the turbocharged engine and several driver assistance options.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

Ford Flex Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Ford Flex or Toyota Highlander?

The Toyota Highlander is just a little more costly than the Flex, but it offers many more advantages. Its upscale interior is among the nicest in the class, and it comfortably seats up to eight. The Highlander is also big on standard tech features, like an easy-to-use infotainment system and driver assistance features such as pedestrian detection and lane keep assist. Both SUVs have a tame base engine – the Flex has a V6 and the Highlander has a four-cylinder – but both offer a more powerful option. All things considered, the Highlander is a much better vehicle.

Which Is Better: Ford Flex or Honda Pilot?

The Honda Pilot consistently ranks well among midsize SUVs, in no small part because of its roomy and comfortable accommodations. It can hold up to eight, and even adults will have enough space in the third row. Throughout the cabin, the Pilot features quality materials that outshine the Flex's aging design. And while the Honda doesn't have a ton of standard features, it still offers more than the Ford does. Under the hood, the Pilot only has one engine choice, but it gets better fuel economy than the Flex. A small price difference between the two means that the Pilot is the better choice for your money. 

Compare the Flex, Highlander, and Pilot »

Flex Interior

How Many People Does the Flex Seat?

The Flex seats seven people. The front two rows have plenty of space. The third row can fit adults, but legroom is tight. The seats lack adequate support, making them uncomfortable for long drives.

Flex and Car Seats

There are three full sets of LATCH connectors for installing child seats. The lower anchors are easy to use, but they are set deep in the seat. The tether anchors are difficult to find and can be confused with other hardware.

Flex Interior Quality

This Ford is getting pretty long in the tooth. The cabin materials are just OK, and the interior isn't as quiet or comfortable as that of other SUVs in the class.

Flex Cargo Space

The Flex has 20 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in use. That's enough room for the bags of all but the biggest shopaholics, and it's a fair amount of space for weekend sporting gear, whether that’s the kids' sports stuff or mom and dad's golf clubs.

Fold all the rear seats down, and the Flex has more than 83 cubic feet of cargo room. That gives you the space to haul a lot, including furniture or home improvement supplies. While the cargo capacity isn't all that spectacular for the class, the vehicle's boxy shape allows you to load large, bulky items with ease.

Flex Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Ford Flex comes standard with the SYNC smartphone integration system, which includes Bluetooth, app integration, and a USB port. Available features include two USB ports, two premium audio systems, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the SYNC 3 touch-screen infotainment system.

The available SYNC 3 system is more intuitive and user-friendly than the base SYNC system. Though the Flex has a decent number of features, not that many come standard. (For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.)

Read more about interior »

Flex Performance

Flex Engine: Give Yourself a Boost

The Flex's base engine is a 287-horsepower V6 that provides adequate acceleration and power, though it lacks punch if you've got a full carload of people. The better engine is the available twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, which puts out 365 horsepower. Not only does the turbo engine deliver great acceleration, but it's also more powerful than many competitors' available engines. Both engines are paired with a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission.

Flex Gas Mileage: On Your Mark, Get Set, Terrible

The Flex has lower fuel economy ratings than most competitors. With the base engine, it gets 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. With the larger available engine, ratings drop to 15 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway.

For comparison, the Toyota Highlander gets 20/27 mpg city/highway and the Honda Pilot gets 19/27 mpg city/highway (both with V6 engines). Each year, these rivals will save you about $400 and $300 in fuel costs, respectively.

Flex Ride and Handling: Decently Smooth, Decently Sharp

Like most midsize SUVs, the Flex comes standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available. Ride quality is mostly smooth, though it suffers over rough roads. Around turns, the Flex is composed and doesn't have much body roll. It's also pretty maneuverable in tight quarters, despite its rather long wheelbase.

Read more about performance »

Flex Reliability

Is the Ford Flex Reliable?

The 2018 Flex has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. That's an average rating for the industry, but several midsize SUVs earn ratings of 3.5 or higher.

Ford Flex Warranty

Ford covers the Flex with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Flex Safety

Flex Crash Test Results

The 2018 Ford Flex has only been sparsely evaluated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; it receives four out of five stars in the rollover test. From the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Flex earns the top score of Good in four out of five crash tests. The SUV scores a slightly lower Acceptable rating in the IIHS' small overlap front test.

Flex Safety Features

Standard active safety features include rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and Ford's MyKey system. Optional features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic parking assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Read more about safety »

Which Ford Flex Model Is Right for Me?

There are three trims to choose from: SE, SEL, and Limited. A 287-horsepower V6 engine and front-wheel drive are standard in all models. The base trim is the least expensive, but it has very few features. The SEL trim is a better value. It only costs about $2,700 more than the base trim, but it comes with more standard features, including the user-friendly SYNC 3 infotainment system.

The Limited trim costs about $5,500 more than the SEL trim, but it does come with a few more features. The Limited is the only trim that offers many of the Flex's active safety features, so it may be the best choice for safety-conscious buyers. What's not worth the money is the available turbocharged V6 engine; it's only offered in the Limited trim, but upgrading the engine costs a bundle, as it also requires you to upgrade to all-wheel drive.

Ford Flex SE

The base SE trim starts at $30,300, which is right around the class average. This trim offers little beyond the standard features, but it can be equipped with satellite radio for $185. This is the only trim not available with all-wheel drive, leather seats, or the SYNC 3 infotainment system.

Ford Flex SEL

The SEL trim starts at $33,010. It comes standard with all the features in the SE, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system. Optional features include all-wheel drive, a sunroof, leather seats, blind spot monitoring, and navigation.

Ford Flex Limited

The top Limited trim starts at $38,510. In addition to the SEL's standard features, the Limited comes with leather upholstery, blind spot monitoring, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, and navigation. Available features include active park assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The Limited is also the only trim available with the turbocharged EcoBoost engine.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

See 2018 Ford Flex specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Ford Flex is a respectable SUV. It has a spacious cabin and is available with a powerful V6 engine and a user-friendly touch-screen infotainment system. However, the Flex gets poor gas mileage, the seats aren't that supportive, and the cabin styling and materials are outdated.

Though it's not a bad vehicle, the Flex just doesn’t provide enough value to place highly in our midsize SUV rankings. There are several other SUVs in the class, including the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, that offer more and have similar – or lower – price tags.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • The Ford Flex debuted back in 2009 and hasn't been fully redesigned since. In car years, the 2018 version of the Flex is right up against its 'sell by' date. When it comes to interior design, quality and available features, the Flex trails newer crossover SUVs and minivans. But aged as it may be, the Flex remains one of our favorites because of its versatile layout. You can cram a lot of people and their stuff into it without breaking a sweat. The Flex is also available with a strong turbocharged V6, which provides plenty of power for highway passing or towing. If you're shopping for a three-row crossover, the Flex is still worth a look." -- Edmunds
  • Call it a full-size station wagon if you will – though Ford would prefer not to, opting for the less-homely crossover designation instead – the Flex effectively fills the family-vehicle hole left by the departed Freestar minivan in the Blue Oval's lineup. Along with space for up to seven passengers and all of their gear, the Flex boasts an available 355-horsepower EcoBoost V6 and love-it-or-hate-it sheetmetal that sets it apart from the crowd." -- Left Lane News (2016)
  • The Ford Flex … is far from typical. In fact, it only takes one look at its boxy silhouette, grooved side panels and long white-capped roof to see that the Flex is the true heir to the classic American family station wagon. Although the Flex crossover SUV doesn't have the ground clearance or off-road capabilities of the Honda Pilot or Ford Explorer – although it does offer all-wheel drive (AWD) – it does offer similar midsize-SUV interior dimensions, plus the advantage of a more comfortable ride and lower step-in height. The Flex also gives you a choice of powerful yet fuel-efficient engines, a near luxury-car-like interior, and plenty of cutting-edge features to please even the most stubborn tech junkie." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
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