2013 Ford Flex: Car Seat Check


The 2013 Ford Flex is a three-row crossover with a look all its own. The box on wheels can carry six or seven passengers. Our test car had a three-seat bench in the second row and a two-seat third row. While we weren't able to fit our three child-safety seats across the second row, it almost worked.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.

By Jennifer Newman | February 21, 2013 | Comments (3)

Third-Row Access: Captain's Chairs Save the Day


I recently test-drove a luxurious, comfortable car that got decent gas mileage and came standard with a roomy third row. However, there was a problem: My son had to vault over the second row to get to his car seat in the third row. Because I had my girls' child-safety seats installed in the second-row outboard positions, this car's slick one-touch flip-and-fold feature was rendered useless.

For better or worse, my son's vault training didn't start with this car. Many cars on the market require athletic skills to access the third row once you have car seats installed in the second row. This is definitely something to consider if you — like me — have more than a couple of children in car seats and need a three-row vehicle.

A minivan is an obvious solution, but there are other options. One of the best ways to avoid this third-row-access debacle is to opt for captain's chairs in the second row, creating a little pathway to the third row. Several savvy automakers offer this option. While this may knock your second-row seating capacity down a notch, it also increases your possibility of getting children and even adults into the third row without resorting to vaulting.

Consider the Dodge Durango (photo above): It's long been popular for families, but it lacked practicality for those of us with three or more children because of the crossover's bench-only second row. For the 2013 model year, the Durango will offer second-row captain's chairs for the first time.

By Courtney Messenbaugh | November 19, 2012 | Comments (6)

Cars.com Family Reviews the 2013 Ford Flex


The 2013 Ford Flex has family duty down pat: This three-row SUV has a low step-in height that makes it easy for kids to climb into its spacious interior, and it can haul six or seven passengers. Rear cargo space is about half the size of the average minivan’s cargo area, but it’s better than many three-row crossovers. One downside to the Flex is its boxy exterior doesn’t make for the most agile handling.

2013 Ford Flex Review

By Jennifer Newman | October 17, 2012 | Comments (3)

Cars.com Reviews the 2013 Ford Flex

2013 Ford Flex
Despite being older than most family-sized crossovers, the Ford Flex continues to shine because of its ability to handle very large families while still managing to look hip while doing it, according to Cars.com reviewer Kristin Varela.

2013 Ford Flex Review

By Colin Bird | September 3, 2012 | Comments (1)

Sun Visors That Come Up Short

The dog days of summer are in full swing in the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains (read: close to the sun with little ozone filtration). My kids are back to school and afterschool activities, so I'm often driving north on the highway with the earlier-setting sun scorching me relentlessly through the driver-side window.

This makes me more aware than ever about sun visors in test cars that I've been driving lately. Some are incredibly effective, like in the Ford Flex, and some simply fall flat, like in the Mini Cooper S coupe and the Lexus CT 200h (above).

By Kristin Varela | August 30, 2012 | Comments (11)

Living with MyFord Touch on a 3,500-Mile Road Trip


Ask Ford's reps about MyFord Touch and they say if you live with the system, you'll love it. They say that 80% of Ford owners with the system would recommend it to others.

My family and I lived with it for two weeks. Let me be clear: We did not love it.

Some of the issues that were prevalent when it debuted remain today on the 2013 Ford Flex, though it was supposed to have updated software. Among our issues:

By Patrick Olsen | August 22, 2012 | Comments (22)

A 3,445-Mile Road Trip in the 2013 Ford Flex

It was an ambitious roadmap for a summer vacation: Go from Chicago to the Twin Cities, across Minnesota and through Bismarck, N.D., down to Rapid City, S.D., to see Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, and then over to Denver before returning to Chicago. It included Alpine sledding, whitewater rafting and a trip to the top of Pikes Peak. All in a refreshed 2013 Ford Flex.

Now, we've driven each version of the Flex before. Our first trip took us in the original version from Chicago to upstate New York. Two years ago, we drove an EcoBoost-equipped Flex from L.A. to Chicago. This time, we had a new Flex with the stronger-than-the-original base engine.

Here are bits and pieces of how the trip went.

By Patrick Olsen | August 21, 2012 | Comments (13)

Car Backseats You Want to Sit In


We’ve told you which cars to call front-seat dibs to avoid being stuck in the backseat with leg cramps and neck spasms. It only seems appropriate to fill you in on which cars allow you to relax comfortably in the backseat and let the friend who called shotgun play road-trip navigator while you chill out and enjoy the scenery. 
It’s a safe bet that anything with L or XL after the model name will be an obvious candidate for calling rear-seat dibs; you’ll likely be lounging in extended-wheelbase luxury. But luxury cars aren’t the only class with big backseats. Some gems within their own classes have enough backseat room and surprise features to feel like the car was designed just to provide maximum comfort for rear passengers.

By Joe Bruzek | August 16, 2012 | Comments (17)

Bench Seats Versus Captain's Chairs

I've been test-driving the 2013 Ford Flex this week, which I've been waiting to drive for years. Overall, my impressions are highly favorable (stay tuned for the complete review) with the exception of one major point. My test car came equipped with a second-row bench seat, so the car seats a total of seven. Captain's chairs in the second row are also available, taking the number of seats down to six. While many families may think they want the extra seating capacity that comes with a second-row bench seat, I'm here to save you from making that mistake.

If you have kids in child-safety seats or booster seats, you're most likely to put them in the second row's outboard positions where a parent, grandparent, caregiver or carpool driver has the easiest access to help them climb in and out and get buckled and unbuckled. The problem is in most three-row SUVs like the Flex the only real access to the third row is by sliding, folding and/or flipping one of the outboard seats in the second row. When a car seat is installed in the outboard, there are limited options as to getting to the third row.

By Kristin Varela | July 26, 2012 | Comments (6)

Top 10 Underappreciated Cars and Trucks


Good products usually sell themselves … but not always. We've assembled here a list of cars and trucks that should be more popular than they are. In some cases the sales figures aren't bad, but in none of the cases below do the sales match our assessment of the cars' relevance or excellence. That usually means car shoppers can find a bit of a deal, too. Here are our Top 10 Underappreciated Cars and Trucks in no particular order.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | May 7, 2012 | Comments (21)

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