The highly regarded 7-passenger 2011 Ford Flex has found an appealing niche for itself somewhere between a minivan and a large SUV. With its attractive cabin, three roomy seat rows, composed driving performance, excellent safety ratings, unique looks and high-tech features, the Flex has a lot to offer those with serious passenger-moving needs.
Already possessing a well-balanced combination of style, space, comfort and versatility, the 2011 Flex even offers a turbocharged engine option, making it one of the fastest available crossover SUVs. But most will simply value its spacious accommodations and smooth ride, which provide a pleasant driving experience whether used for long vacation trips or daily commuting.
And new for the 2011 model year is the Titanium trim, which adds still more features to the previous top-of-the-line Limited model. In addition, a power-folding third-row seat is a new option on the Limited and the navigation system now comes with HD radio.
Because of the Flex's rather unique niche, it doesn't have much in the way of direct competition. However, for those shopping for a large-passenger vehicle, solid alternatives perhaps worth considering include SUVs such as the Mazda CX-9 and the Chevy Traverse, as well as minivans such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Ford Flex is a crossover wagon offered in four trims: SE, SEL, Limited and Titanium. Normally, the Flex seats seven passengers, however, capacity decreases to six with the addition of the optional second-row captain's chairs.
Even the base Flex SE model comes well-equipped with standard features including full power accessories, air conditioning, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver seat, a 2-way power passenger front seat, automatic headlights, foglamps, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking sensors, keyless entry, an exterior access code pad, a tilt/telescoping steering colum, a trip computer, a 60/40-split-folding second row (the 40 portion has power controls), a 50/50 split-folding third row and a 6-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Options for the SE include the Sync electronics interface system, satellite radio and an in-dash 6-disc CD changer.
The SEL model then adds 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, a 6-way power passenger seat, driver power lumbar adjustment, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood interior trim, the Sync system, satellite radio and the 6-disc in-dash CD changer.
Available optional features for the SEL include leather upholstery on the first two rows (the third-row is vinyl) and a 12-speaker Sony audio system. The SEL also has a Convenience package which includes adjustable pedals, driver memory settings, a power tailgate, a 110-volt inverter jack and heated mirrors.
The Limited model comes with all the SEL options plus perforated leather upholstery, a wood-trimmed steering wheel, 19-inch wheels, ambient lighting, HID headlights, satin aluminum tailgate accents, and a navigation system with a touchscreen interface, real-time traffic and weather, a rearview camera, digital music storage, a single-CD/DVD player and HD Radio. Options for the Limited include a refrigerated second-row center console, power-folding third row seats and 20-inch wheels.
The Titanium trim ups the Limited's features with microfiber suede seat inserts, 20-inch chrome wheels, steering wheel perforated leather trim, and special exterior and interior styling accents.
Options available on all 2011 Flex models include second-row reclining and sliding captain's chairs as well as contrasting roof colors. The SEL, Limited and Titanium models can get the turbocharged V6 engine, a rear DVD entertainment system, front parking sensors and a Vista Moonroof which consists of a power front sunroof and three fixed units over the rear two rows.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Powering the 2011 Ford Flex is a 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 262 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. It's mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is optional. In performance tests, an all-wheel drive Flex with this engine was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in a class-repectable 8.8 seconds. The EPA-estimated gas mileage for this engine stands at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive, while the all-wheel drive comes in at 16 mpg city and 22 highway.
Also available on SEL, Limited and Titanium models is a turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that pumps out 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control and all-wheel drive is standard. The turbocharged Flex has a 0 - 60 mph time of a very quick 6.6 seconds. Even with this additional output and speed, the gas mileage with the EcoBoost V6 doesn't suffer, coming in at identical numbers with the standard V6.
Standard safety features on all 2011 Ford Flexs include traction control, stability control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), front side airbags, side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. In addition, a rearview camera is an available option.
The 2011 Flex also excelled in government crash testing, earning the highest possible five star ratings in all front and side-impact occupant protection categories.
The Flex's cabin is another of its top attributes. The materials quality is high-grade while the overall look and feel is attractive and upscale. The vehicle's roominess allows for comfortable seating for seven passengers, including a third row with plenty of room for adults. While opting for the optional second-row captain's chairs cuts the seating capacity to six, the accommodations become even more roomy and comfortable due to their ability to both slide and recline. And with either second-row, their standard power-folding features makes for especially easy third-row access.
In addition to comfortable, supportive and versatile seats, the Flex has a very useable cargo capacity of 83 cubic feet with the rear seats lowered. Ford's Sync system adds to the Flex's high-tech appeal while cool add-ons such as the rear-console refrigerator and Vista Moonroof add to the upscale ambience.
The 2011 Flex provides a very comfortable and smooth drive, easily handling road bumps and rough spots. While the Flex obviously isn't engineered for inspiring road maneuvers, it will get you where you want to go in a competent and confident fashion while exhibiting luxury car qualities. The base V6 engine is quite capable and provides enough power to keep it competitive with rival crossovers.
Those seeking more gusto and athleticism, however, will likely be quite pleased with the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6. No, it's not a sports car, but it definitely adds significant performance and handling upgrades with its more "sport-wagon-like" suspension, more responsive steering, lower ride height and added power.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Public Bank And Government Auto Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.
2011 Ford Flex:
SE, FWD: list price: $29,075, invoice price: $27,559
SEL, FWD: list price: $31,875, invoice price: $29,816
SEL, AWD: list price: $33,725, invoice price: $31,500
SEL w/EcoBoost, AWD: list price: $36,720, invoice price: $34,226
Limited, FWD: list price: $37,845, invoice price: $35,249
Limited, AWD: list price: $39,695, invoice price: $36,933
Limited w/EcoBoost, AWD: list price: $42,690, invoice price: $39,658
Titanium, FWD: list price: $40,340, invoice price: $37,519
Titanium, AWD: list price: $42,190, invoice price: $39,203
Titanium w/EcoBoost, AWD: list price: $45,185, invoice price: $41,929