Sometimes being different can be good, and in a world of softly contoured and homogenously styled crossovers, the 2016 Ford Flex is both different and extremely good. It's one of a couple of vehicles in the current Ford family pointing to the days when the Blue Oval was the owner of Jaguar Land Rover.
That rectangular exterior of the 2016 Ford Flex is likely to be the first thing to grab the attention of just about anyone as it's just so different from widely accepted convention. However, the shape isn't just an exercise in being unique, it also delivers one of the most spacious and polished interiors of any three-row crossover SUV in the current market.
The Flex has been with us now since the 2009 model year, and the 2016 model year has seen the inclusion of a standard rearview camera across the lineup, a new black-out appearance package, and a new infotainment system representing a significant upgrade on the previous offering.
There are now three different trim levels of Flex, which are SE, SEL and the new Limited model. The standard engine and transmission combination is the familiar 3.5-litre Ti-VCT V-6 and six-speed SelectShift automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive as an option, and the standard engine develops a very useful 287 horsepower and 254 lb.-ft. of torque.
A fantastic 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 is also available, and the six-speed automatic transmission adds paddle activation to the mix with this engine. This unit produces a seriously-impressive 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, but it's only available with the top-of-the-line Limited model.
The 2016 Ford Flex may be relatively large but it's actually surprisingly manageable to drive around and park in urban environments. Obviously it's not going to drive and handle like a Fiesta, but you could easily forget you're driving something bigger than a mid-size sedan when you're in the Flex. First and second rows seats are really comfortable for all passengers, with the kind of room in all directions many of the Ford's rivals can only dream about, as well as offering a choice between bucket seats or a bench.
It's all well and good being a great vehicle for families in terms of space and comfort, but few modern families would be content if their new vehicle was perceived to be lacking in features and equipment. There's no problem in that direction here though, as all version come generously equipped, and the Limited trim is a genuine rival for many luxury models.