Home » The Ford Flex Ecoboost Was A 365 HP Milk Crate And I Still Want One

The Ford Flex Ecoboost Was A 365 HP Milk Crate And I Still Want One

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After an exhausting day of writing papers, sitting in class, and playing the piano with cramped fingers, I came across this on my drive home last week: 

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Photo: Author

A Ford Flex! I hadn’t seen one of these in forever. Look at that plate! The fact that this person managed to buy a Flex and keep it all these years is indeed, well, a “PHLEX.” I then went home and opened up my computer and went on a Ford Flex spiral, remembering just how cool and unique this thing really was. 

When I think of the Ford Flex, I remember its extremely imposing presence in the film Daddy’s Home starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Ford clearly paid a lot of money to market the Flex as Ferrell really milks all of its features and packaging. Genius, Ford. You had 13-year-olds at the time, like me, really interested in a normal family hauler. The Blue Oval brand works its magic once again. 


Normal family hauler? Oh no, no. The Ford Flex is certainly not normal. Just look at it. Does it look normal? It’s the unwanted result of a one-night stand between a Ford Taurus and a Land Rover LR4.

Ford Flex 2013 1600 2c
Photo: Ford

It looks fantastic. Those boxy, blocky, large windows make it look like some sort of weird retro-station-wagon-minivan thing. I love it. You could even get them in two-tone colored paint, with my favorite being navy blue and a white roof. Besides its beauty, my favorite feature offered on the Flex would have to be the EcoBoost engine option. 


Source: Ford

Ford stuck its turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the Flex to make 365 horsepower. That’s a pretty damn high figure for a mid-sized family SUV, certainly for a three-row. Inside, Ford offered seating for six, with leather heated captain chairs, both first and second row, and their infamous Multipanel Vista Roof that provided not one, not two, not three, but four total sunroofs!

18 Flex Model 2

Source: Ford

How cool is that! Look at all that space in the third row; I wouldn’t mind being forced to sit back there. I envy all the kids sitting in the back whose heads went flying backward as mom floored their Flex merging onto the expressway. At least they had pretty views to stare out at as they nearly experienced whiplash. 

When Ford discontinued the Flex back in 2019, I was devastated. I might have cried. It’s in my top three of the most upsetting automotive discontinuations.

Would you also “flex” on all of the other local neighborhood moms in your Ecoboost Flex? If you buy one and are in New York, the “PHLEX” license plate is already taken. If I were you, I’d try “FLEXY.” 

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62 Responses

  1. Ive owned two. A 2015 SEL with the N/A (which was no slouch), and a 2019 Limited Ecoboost which was a beast. The 2015 was rear ended and totaled, and I just recently sold the 2019 because my kids are grown up and I didn’t need a large(er) SUV anymore. TBH i regret getting rid of the 2019 as it was probably the best car ive ever had. Quick, quiet (especially the Limited which had dual pane glass all around), sublime ride, and IMO, great looking. It could swallow up a metric shit ton of stuff. By the time the 2014-2019 models came out most of the major issues had been resolved (outside of the firewall cowling drainage issue and the fact the 3.5 has an internal water pump that can fail without warning). All in all its a great choice for someone who needs a minivan but doesn’t want a minivan (bonus its AWD).

    1. It was an option, yes. I got mine in November 2019 after production stopped so I couldn’t find one with it which bummed me out, but I could still install one if I wanted to.

  2. My wife drive a 2015 that’s navy blue with a white roof. It’s a limited so it has the Ecoboost engine. It drives great and can swallow a ton of stuff. The second row leg room is second to none, which is why we got it. I’m 6’ 3” and my son is 6’ 1”. When i drive he can sit behind me with room to spare. I don’t tow with it, that’s what the F150 is for, but it supposedly can handle 5000 lbs. I’m not sure i would want to drive with that much weight back there though. This of the second Flex we’ve owned, we rolled the first one, and i would highly recommend it to anyone who needs the space but doesn’t want to go the traditional SUV route.

  3. Buy one in grey, stick a little triangular black metal goatee on the front, and get the license plate “FLEXO”.

    That would be the ultimate Flex flex.

  4. Fun story, the Flex Ecoboost got me my job out of college.

    Back in 2014, Ford came to my college to recruit. There were tons of engineers who were at their booth and evening info session. Somehow, in between, I bumped into the head recruiter and we started chatting about Fast Fords. He asked if I knew about this car and we proceeded to agree on how much of a sleeper these are. For those who don’t know, this car had a 0-60 of 5.7 sec (tested by Car and Driver). For a brick and for such a cheap price, it was shockingly impressive. Since I apparently knew what I was talking about, the recruiter asked for my resume and the rest is history. Years later, I rotated to the same team as that recruiter and we had a good laugh reminiscing about the Flex Ecoboost since it was then recently discontinued.

    Long story short, I owe getting my job because I knew about the Flex Ecoboost, which was enough to show the head recruiter that I had a passion for cars.

    1. Such a shame Ford stopped building them. I would have bought a 3rd (i had a 2015 and a 2019) had Ford done another minor facelift and kept making them another couple of years.

  5. I had the Lincoln version in the MKT. Best road tripper ever. Fast, held everything and more, had a fridge in the console in the second row, and would pass anything on demand.

    1. I love those! Drove a few of them when I worked for Lincoln for a summer. Horrendous visibility but neat interiors. No wonder why funeral homes love them.

  6. I wanted to buy an EcoBoost Flex for a period of time, but then I read about them having a high rate of transmission failure with nothing to prevent it. Shame.

    1. Find one with the towing package. The transmission itself is identical but it has extra transmission cooling which alleviates the heat related failings.

  7. I’ve always loved the design. I considered one when I got my TourX but really wanted better fuel economy. Although I would have quite enjoyed the power train everywhere except the pump.

    1. A legit Buick. I would have bought a TourX to replace my 2019 Flex Ecoboost last summer had they kept making them (because the V90 T6 cost too damn much).

  8. I drove a Flex for a week as a rental…it was surprisingly fun! For its size, it handled very well, and it was pleasantly powerful for a rental (granted, I didn’t have much stuff to haul around). The interior was nice too, with good use of accent lighting. The trasmission horror stories kept me from seriously considering buying one, but I still see a fair number of them on the road. It’s the second-best Ford I’ve ever driven.

  9. I would say styling was subjective and if you love it then so be it. My biggest issue with this and pretty much all Duratec V6 motors in the Ford D4 chassis architecture was the Transvers mounting necessitating the Water Pump to be buried inside the engine behind the timing set. If the coolant does not escape the inner seal into the crank case and take out the motor, the cost to just swap it is extremely expensive and not really DIY if you wanted to go that route.

  10. I own a Flex. It’s a fantastic family hauler. I don’t have the EcoBoost engine but the good old fashioned 3.5L NA engine still gets the job done just fine. It’s a little on the thirsty side but for a refrigerator on wheels it does surprisingly well on the MPG front, even with AWD. I’m average height and I would have zero issues on a long road trip in the third row. I’ve been known to go back there from time to time to entertain the kids. My two complaints are no arm rests on the second row captains chairs and road/wind noise is a bit excessive, especially at freeway speeds but again, rolling refrigerator.

    1. SEL? The Limited (at least 2015 and up) has dual pane glass and was pretty damn quiet inside. I regret selling mine last summer – but alas, my kids are grown up and i wanted to get into somthing a bit newer, smaller, and better MPGs. I ended up with a CX-50 which checked boxes 1 and 2, but not so much 3 🙂

  11. There’s one of these in my home town that has a racing splitter mounted below the front bumper, low profile tires, and a windshield graphic that says “FLEX.”

    I desperately want to get a picture of it to make a meme that says “Weird Flex, but OK.” So far, I’ve been unsuccessful.

  12. I loved the idea, I wish it drove a bit better and towed a bit more, but maybe in the higher trims it did drive better. The one I test drove seemed to creak a lot and have zero road feel. My understanding is that Ford cribbed the Volvo V70 platform for this car, and once they sold Volvo, they never had another platform to take it to, which was a shame. This would’ve been a great candidate for an EV/PHEV update in the 2nd gen. It’s the stealth wagon for the SUV world.

    1. I have not noticed a lot of creaking in mine, but it is a second gen Limited. I don’t tow with mine, so I cannot speak to that, but it does have good acceleration, but shifting in normal mode leaves a lot to be desired. I always drive in sport mode because it shifts much better

      I have found that handling depends on the tires. With my current high speed summer rated tires, it handles decently, much better than my son’s 4runner, but not as good as my wife’s FX35. When I had all season tires on it, it felt more sloppy in cornering and lost grip earlier.

      It also handles better than the 2015 Explorer we have at work and they share the same chassis, although the work Explorer is not a limited and has the normally aspirated engine.

      You will never mistake if for a high performance SUV like the FX35 or a BMW X6 series, but it handles much better than the large tall SUVs like a 4Runner or a Tahoe.

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