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What really caught our attention was how accommodating the Flex is for its passengers, big or small. There's a lot to like about the Flex, but from a family-car perspective, we'd have to give the nod to its capabilities as a baby seat transporter.
The 2014 Ford Flex comes in three trim levels, each with various option packages available.
Option packages include leather seats, blind-spot and cross-traffic warning, push-button and remote starting on SEL trims for $2,500, and a $2,600 package that includes active park assist, adaptive cruise control and a power-folding third row for Limited trims. Behind the third row in the Ford Flex there's a deep, minivan-like cargo well, whereas most of its competitors just have flat floors. We'll admit it, we're suckers for power, and the 365-hp V6 engine in our test Flex turned it into a veritable rocket next to its competition. The Ford Transit Connect wheelchair van is a unique option for wheelchair accessible transportation.
United Access offers wheelchair lifts and platform lifts for sale in Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, and Illinois. The RAV4 goes about its work in a meticulous way with help from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 176 horsepower. Over the course of 800 miles we had more than enough time to get acquainted with the RAV4's creature comforts, and appreciated Toyota's Entune infotainment system for offering both touchscreen and physical controls. Previous RAV4 evaluation drives have included a trip to the Grand Canyon (with our video cameras) and a quest for fish tacos. Teased earlier this week, the restyled Ford C-Max crossover and its larger, 7-passenger Grand C-Max sibling have been shown in European trim prior to heading to the Paris Auto Show. Inside, the roomy C-Max cabin gets a Focus-style remake that combines upgraded materials and trim choices with cleaner, more user-friendly controls. Enhanced noise-abatement efforts -- from thicker side glass and redesigned alloy wheels to added underhood damping materials and a retuned dual-mass flywheel -- help keep the passenger compartment on this Ford people mover quieter and more serene at any speed. For example, while other SUVs boast a high stance and truck-like proportions, the Flex is long, low and lean.
With ample room for seven, great cargo space behind the third row, and optional goodies like a refrigerator, the Flex is, well, flexible. The second row has a standard power-fold mechanism, which quickly flips the seat forward for 3rd-row access. There's a ton of space between even a rear-facing booster and the front passenger seat, so much so that even our tallest editor, at more than 6-feet 4-inches, had an excess of legroom.
The base SE costs $29,910, is front-wheel-drive only, and comes with the Auto-Fold seat, backup sensors, and the 285-horsepower V6 engine.


A multi-panel "Vista" roof adds $1,595 to the price, that 2nd-row fridge costs $795, and DVD headrests are available in all Flex trims for $1,995. Put a rear-facing infant seat behind the passenger, and he'll still have plenty of legroom.
The Flex's stylish bodywork wraps down underneath the doors, but if you open one too close to a high curb, you'll whack the bottom of it. It’s a system that has come under a lot of criticism for its difficult interface and occasional software bugs. Learn more about the 2012 Ford Transit Connect Passenger with Kelley Blue Book expert reviews. The popular compact SUV recently participated in a comparison test that featured 5 other popular choices in the segment on an 800-mile road trip from Irvine, California, to Phoenix, Arizona, and back. Paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the RAV4 has been rated by the EPA to achieve 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.
Even with the optional sunroof open, the navigation screen was easy to see and it was responsive when inputting commands. Whether you want to watch or read about those trips, or just build and price your own RAV4, our Toyota RAV4 Editors' Page is the logical next step.
Up front, a sleeker, inverted trapezoid grille that recalls the Focus is now flanked by slimmer and more chiseled headlamps teamed with bolder, rectangular fog lamps. On a more practical level, the redesigned center console and glove box offer greater capacity and utility. While it may not have the ground clearance of an off-road SUV, it does offer all-wheel drive for foul-weather traction. But the options add up quickly, and the Flex has optional items that are standard on many of its competitors. The SEL starts at $32,795 and adds 18-inch wheels, MyFord Touch, a 10-way power driver's seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. In fact, if you opt for the EcoBoost model, it's possible to push the price over the $50,000 mark, pretty pricy for a family car. It may not show, but it could create a rust problem in the future if the paint scrapes down to the metal.
Rear passengers actually fare a little better, with large bottle holders mounted high on the doors, and even the 3rd-row passengers get good storage for their various items.
The steering is too light at highway speeds, but the suspension is comfortable, and the Flex is very quiet on the road, especially compared to the noisy Pilot. While it never froze up or had any other gremlins, the MFT system is an acquired taste, and even then the small buttons and "boop" each time you tap a control take getting used to. The RAV4 was compared to the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Jeep Cherokee and Ford Escape in diverse driving conditions, and while the RAV4 does few things better than all the others, the entire package shines.


An ECO button found on the dashboard helps keep fuel figures high but it takes the edge off an already tame engine.
After hours of logging mile after mile, the RAV4 didn't make you any worse for wear than when you started. But expect a good deal of the visual changes and a fair bit of the upgraded technology from these freshened vehicles to find their way to America. It was also the hot-rod of our test group, thanks to its twin-turbocharged, 365-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine (a non-turbo 285-horsepower version is standard). For example, our test vehicle was a 2014 Ford Flex EcoBoost Limited, the second most expensive vehicle in our test at $46,435, yet it lacked a rear-seat entertainment system.
There's enough room to squeeze a third person between the two installed boosters, with a little room to spare. The Honda CR-V, the RAV4's main competitor, has a strong grip on segment sales numbers by using the same strategy. This drivetrain, while a bit crude when getting into the throttle, provided enough power to get up to freeway speeds in adequate time. Out back, the tailgate features a more refined "one-piece" appearance and benefits from recast rear lamps and will offer a hands-free "kick-gesture" power liftgate culled from the current Ford Escape SUV. And it's not like the interior is super luxurious -- while nice, it didn't exceed the class, and some even thought it was chintzy.
For $38,495, you get leather seats, blind spot detection, a power liftgate, push-button ignition, and navigation. A power-folding mechanism is available, but only on Limited trims, and only as part of a $2,600 option package. The backup sensors and camera help, but this is still a long, wide vehicle, and some found the nose a little hard to place.
Again, we believe this drivetrain puts fuel economy above all and during the comparison, the RAV4 achieved a little above its advertised 25 mpg combined fuel rating.
The Auto-Fold seat makes 3rd-row access a snap, at least from the passenger side of the Flex, and there's a surprising amount of room once you're settled in. Once you do fold the seats, the Flex's low headroom limits the height of cargo you can carry.
The front seats are also comfortable, and the low ride height makes the Flex easy for little ones to scramble in and out of. Couple that with the sloping load floor, and the Flex isn't the most capable cargo handler.



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