2013 Ford Flex features improved styling and safety

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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First introduced in 2008 as a 2009 model, Ford's seven-passenger Flex crossover vehicle is getting some significant upgrades for 2013.

In terms of its exterior design, the new Flex sports a more modern and minimalist front end: A thick single bar now dominates the front grille, which blends smoothly into the distinctly styled headlights, and the signature Ford blue oval is gone leaving only the Flex badge. At the back there's a standard dual exhaust, while inside the 2013 Flex features a new steering wheel, instrumentation and new seat trim with improved foam.

The interior also features a revised MyFord Touch system, which allows control of in-vehicle communications and entertainment. MyFord touch makes use of a pair of 10.5-centimetre screens housed in the instrument cluster and a larger 20-centimetre screen located on the centre stack. MyFord Touch is mated to the latest version of SYNC which includes hands-free phone calls, automated emergency calling and a nifty Vehicle Health Report for on-demand diagnostic and maintenance service.

A new appearance package available on Limited and SEL models adds a two-tone roof and mirrors, machined aluminum 20-inch wheels, leather seating and interior upgrades including unique door trim panels.

Key safety features include adaptive cruise control (ACC) and a blind spot information System (BLIS). ACC makes use of a radar that scans the area in front of the Flex 20 times each second. If a vehicle up front slows down, ACC will slow the Flex down accordingly thus helping to prevent a collision. BLIS uses radar technology to detect a vehicle in the Flex's blind spot and will illuminate an indicator light on the side mirror closest to the blind spot as a warning to the driver.

Perhaps the most interesting safety feature are the 2013 Flex's inflatable rear seat belts, which inflate over a passenger's torso and shoulder in 40 milliseconds in the event of a crash. Ford claims that the inflatable seat belts are the "automotive world's first production rear inflatable belts to offer improved comfort and protection for rear seat passengers."

For 2013, the Flex receives a 3.5-litre Ti-VCT V6 engine producing 285 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. For those wanting more power, the Flex's 3.5-litre turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine should suffice as it delivers a stout 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque. Both engines come mated to 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmissions. Flex models equipped with the EcoBoost engine and SelectShift also come outfitted with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

"Flex appeals to people who want to stand out from the crowd and has the highest retention rate of any vehicle in the Ford lineup," said Mark Fields, president of the Americas. "With technologies not found in other full-size utilities, even better fuel economy and a more modern, sophisticated look, we're offering people even more reasons to choose Flex with the new model."

The 2013 Ford Flex makes its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show which begins on November 18.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Wagon, Ford, 2013, Flex,

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