Weird Flex but (more than) okay

You overlooked this one. It was never appealing to you because you didn’t think to give it a shot. Why would you though, since it basically looked like a retro-futuristic minivan minus the useful sliding doors. What the Ford Flex really was though, is the modern interpretation of the brilliant Country Sedan. It’s a person-hauling all star that drives well, looks sharp, and offers up surprising amounts of under-hood power. And not enough people bought them because the Flex exists in a place that’s somewhere between minivan and wagon, when consumers can’t see past the idea of a crossover.

Now it’s going away. I strongly believe, however, that the Flex will remain a vision in the back of the mind of many an enthusiast. This is a future classic. The way that folks pine for the likes of old Range Rovers and Land Cruisers or 80’s German sedans and wagons, so too will the Flex receive this love.

2016 ford flex

Ford debuted the Flex back in 2007. The New York Auto Show played host to its official reveal, but a concept version was shown off two years prior. Production began in 2008 and the first Flexes flocked into dealerships as 2009 models. Sales were… not great. Ford wanted to dole out 100,000 of these wagon-esque machines every year. In 2009, the first full year of sales, Ford sold a bit over 38,000 units. That would prove to be the high-water mark for the model. This wave crested right out of the gate and slowly pulled back towards the horizon. In 2018, Ford moved just 20,308 examples of the Flex. But the demise of this wonderful machine didn’t arise last year. Ford announced its decision to move on from the Flex way back in 2016. The planned end game for the Flex is model year 2020.

Why will we care about this in the future?

Inside, the Flex has a fantastic passenger layout. You have a three-row wagon with plenty of room for everyone. The best cabin configuration, however, is designed to transport four adults. Let’s say you want to head out on road trip with three friends. Load up your gear in the rear. Fold down the middle row. And the rear seat passengers are now essentially riding in low-key limousine.

Up front, you as the driver will enjoy the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Initially, the Flex was offered with a standard 3.5-liter V6. It rambled about with 262 horsepower. In 2010, however, Ford made its twin-turbocharged EcoBoost mill available on all-wheel-drive models. Now you could order a Flex with 355 horsepower. That output jumped in 2013 up to 365 hp. And the all-wheel-drive system could distribute 100% of its torque to the front or rear axle, as needed.

So you have plenty of room for stuff, family, and friends. There’s great power right out of the gate. The cost was a bit high if you bought one new. A fully-loaded example could easily hit $50,000. But we’re not talking about new ones anymore. You’ll buy this used with low mileage for a price in the $20k range. Or buy a more well worn example for a price in the teens. And you’ll fall in love with it.

Others will notice. Interest will rise. Enthusiast will pay attention as a few tastefully modified Flex examples appear on the Internet in a few years time. You might not believe me today. But remember that you heard it here…

The Ford Flex is a future classic.

49 Comments

  1. You’re really preaching to the choir here. To my mind, the Flex always was a slightly oversized, modern interpretation of the Volvo 740. A few of them made it to Europe, but they have always been sold at eyewatering prices.

    When it comes to its lack of success in the marketplace, this is just one more bummer in a long line of strange behaviour by the general public. Automatic everything? Lift everything? Bus sized trucks? Small seven seaters are not a thing?

  2. It’s rare for me to say, “That’s a good looking Ford!” but these things always attract my eye. They stand out in traffic, and not in the way a Nissan Jukebox does. More the way the Lincolns of the ’70s and ’80s did it just by being classier than everything around them. The Flex has an aristocratic ability to be both aloof and commanding. They do this while referencing the boxiness of the 20th century F-series and Econolines for a bit of truck cred. I love ’em to pieces and yes, they will be a future classic.

  3. My dad loves these because of the whole Country Squire homage angle. If they had a higher tow rating, there’d be one in the garage already.

    1. That’s funny, because if I ever got one, I had planned to buy some NOS “Country Squire” chrome script for the rear quarter panels, and to replace the “F L E X” on the hood with “F O R D”. I draw the line well before fake woodgrain, though.

  4. You’re really preaching to the choir here. To my mind, the Flex always was a slightly oversized, modern interpretation of the Volvo 740. A few of them made it to Europe, but they have always been sold at eyewatering prices.

    When it comes to its lack of success in the marketplace, this is just one more bummer in a long line of strange behaviour by the general public. Automatic everything? Lift everything? Bus sized trucks? Small seven seaters are not a thing?

    1. Preaching to the choir here, too– I’ve loved the Flex ever since it debuted. My dad drives a “normal” one, and my sister drives a Limited Ecoboost version. I’ve driven both (the EB’s power is nice) and would love to have one to replace the family minivan, but my wife refuses. She thinks they look like hearses.

    2. Preaching to the choir here, too– I’ve loved the Flex ever since it debuted. My dad drives a “normal” one, and my sister drives a Limited Ecoboost version. I’ve driven both (the EB’s power is nice) and would love to have one to replace the family minivan, but my wife refuses. She thinks they look like hearses.

      1. Ok, brainstorming for Mr. Zentropy…how do we de-hearsefy the Flex and bring a lot of good, rational arguments to the table? Also, you should race those Flexes already in the family neck to neck, for science.

      2. Ok, brainstorming for Mr. Zentropy…how do we de-hearsefy the Flex and bring a lot of good, rational arguments to the table? Also, you should race those Flexes already in the family neck to neck, for science.

        1. Ha! The seat-of-the-pants test gives the nod firmly to the EB. I was surprised at how quick it was, off the line. If it were mine, though, I’d do some suspension upgrades. It’s not clumsy by any means, but it’s far from nimble.

          As for my wife, she’s completely entrenched in her opinion of the Flex. When I last went car shopping in 2014, the Flex and a manual transmission were absolutely forbidden options.

          1. According to tire rack, you can get hi-po summer tires for these things too. I should probably get back to work now.

          2. According to tire rack, you can get hi-po summer tires for these things too. I should probably get back to work now.

        2. Metallic red body, black roof. The contrasting roof color option really makes “the look” on these.

          1. Yes, the dark metallic blue with black top and black wheels sings to me.

          1. Yeah, I remembered in the picture that I posted that the rear window was the same level. I do like that thinner wood grain better than the wide.

      1. Oh I know. I just want it to be sooo far over the top. Except not on the top of the car. Bumpers, rocker panels, all metal below the windows. And no weird trim stuff. Just a woodgrain wrap.

      2. Holy hell, but that’s awesome. [Edit: The’63 Country Squire, that is. The Photoshopped Flex is heinous.]

  5. The Flex… my last hope for the return of the wagon, and for an SUV-less future.

    The wagon will have its day again. The cool kids seem to love them right now. Mom’s Yukon, not so much.

  6. The Flex… my last hope for the return of the wagon, and for an SUV-less future.

    The wagon will have its day again. The cool kids seem to love them right now. Mom’s Yukon, not so much.

  7. I got to try out a Flex EcoBoost during a local press event about six years ago and fell in love.

    The Mercedes R63 AMG may be rarer, have more petrolhead cred, be (slightly) faster and not cost much more to buy, but if it was my own money and I (and my hypothetical wife and kids) actually had to live with it, the Ford would win hands down.

  8. The Flex… my last hope for the return of the wagon, and for an SUV-less future.

    The wagon will have its day again. The cool kids seem to love them right now. Mom’s Yukon, not so much.

    1. I did a 500 mile round trip this weekend, surrounded by three rows of plush seating on the inside, and about seven yards of fake woodgrain on the outside.

      When we were at the destination, some kid asked my kid, “how is that car even that old?” My kid anticipated he was commenting on timeless styling. Nope, the little f’er was asking why anyone would choose to drive something no longer under warranty.

      Maybe not everyone chooses to be a cool kid.

    2. I did a 500 mile round trip this weekend, surrounded by three rows of plush seating on the inside, and about seven yards of fake woodgrain on the outside.

      When we were at the destination, some kid asked my kid, “how is that car even that old?” My kid anticipated he was commenting on timeless styling. Nope, the little f’er was asking why anyone would choose to drive something no longer under warranty.

      Maybe not everyone chooses to be a cool kid.

      1. No doubt what his parents would say, which is, of course, the very antithesis of cool. FAIL

  9. I got to try out a Flex EcoBoost during a local press event about six years ago and fell in love.

    The Mercedes R63 AMG may be rarer, have more petrolhead cred, be (slightly) faster and not cost much more to buy, but if it was my own money and I (and my hypothetical wife and kids) actually had to live with it, the Ford would win hands down.

  10. Might be more popular a decade after they stop production, with imagined nostalgia, than when in production?

  11. I have to agree it will be a desired car at some point. I like them almost love them really but they are wildly expensive for what it is (still in the mid twenties around me) and not as practical as a mini van.

  12. I’ll be the contrarian here – Do Not Like
    I’ve never cared for the styling and they are/were waaaay tooo expensive.
    But they offer all this room they say – yeah, so does a Caravan Pacifica for less money and you get sliding doors.

    1. Personally, I love the Flex’s styling. But I will completely agree with you on the sliding doors. If you’re hauling people, sliders are a huge plus. I think anything with a long roof (wagon, minivan, CUV, crossover) should have sliding doors.

    2. Personally, I love the Flex’s styling. But I will completely agree with you on the sliding doors. If you’re hauling people, sliders are a huge plus. I think anything with a long roof (wagon, minivan, CUV, crossover) should have sliding doors.

    3. The pricing is harsh and the engines are huge, yes. When these were new, the weight/engine punishment build into our outrageous car taxation would have added over 100,000$ in taxes upon import to Norway. I never ran a Flex through the toll departments calculator again.

  13. Liked these from Day One. I learned early in my marriage however that the Wife chooses her own damn car, and she hated the Flex’s exterior. Since I like sleeping indoors, I kept my mouth shut. Ended up with a CX-9, which is fine, but I still gaze upon Flex longingly. My car is mainly a commuter, so I drive a Mazda6…didn’t make sense for me drive a Flex just to go to work everyday….

  14. I guess I better hang on to mine and take care of it. My wife who drives a volvo actually likes the Flex. I bought an 09 Limited last year. I like it more than I thought I would, normally being a used import buyer. Great seats, quiet on the highway and still decent power even without the EB. The white/black roof really sets them apart from every other overstyled car on the road. It tows pop up campers through the mountains with ease, unlike the Chrysler T&C that hunted through the gears.

  15. I feel like Ford missed a trick by not having a Funkmaster Flex edition Flex. Also they looked awesome with woodgrain as a latter day Country Squire. I’m a little surprised they didn’t sell better since the package is very close to a Honda Pilot, or a lowered squared off Expedition.

    Then again, I’m part of the problem, as much as I like the Flex, when I wanted a used 3 row family hauler I looked at a Ford Freestyle and bought a Mazda5

  16. I have a cow-orkercoworker who’s a Ford guy and a fan of the Flex, he’s on his 2nd I think. (Though he calls it a “truck”. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ )
    One of the few cars where if a group of us are going out to lunch, I’m happy *not* to call shotgun because the 2nd row is so spacious.

  17. Sorry, I appreciate the look but it’s too many compromises and not enough gains.

    It’s too tall to have the driving dynamics of a car based traditional wagon yet doesn’t offer the additional ground clearance that even a CUV would.

    That additional height isn’t enough for true minivan space. You said it’s perfect for a 4 person road trip, I did a weekend trip for 6 adults and gear in comfort in my old Odyssey.

    For me, a utility vehicle means either the highly versatile and cavernous minivan or, if towing or real off road abilities is important, a large SUV like a Explorer, Durango or Tahoe.

    For 4 people and gear I suppose it’s more desirable than a Taurus, but an Avalon would do just fine and probably drives better and gets better mileage.

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