Like the rest of the Ford line-up, the 2014 Ford Flex comes with a number of standard and optional technology features, from driver assist technologies like Adaptive Cruise Control, to hands-free control over your Bluetooth linked phone, to the MyFord Touch, which comes with an 8-inch center console touchscreen.
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The 2014 Ford Flex is packed with technologies designed to help you make the most of your time, while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
The main hands-free technology that comes on the Flex is SYNC Voice control technology, which is standard on every Flex. Paired with SYNC is either the MyFord system, which comes standard on the SE, or the MyFord Touch System, which comes standard on the SEL and Limited trim levels. I’ll talk more about those in the Staying Connected section. On the 2014 Flex, SYNC’s voice recognition ability has been improved over previous model years.
If you’ve used SYNC from 2013 or earlier, you will notice a distinct difference in the ability of SYNC to identify what you are saying on the new 2014 model of the Flex. In addition, several navigation and audio commands have been simplified for greater ease of use and a shorter learning curve.
Basically, SYNC allows you to simply press one button and use your voice to control virtually everything in your vehicle. If you’ve got AM/FM radio, you can control it with SYNC, using commands like “FM 99.9″ to tune to a particular station, or something as specific as “USB 2 Play Artist Brooks and Dunn” to play tracks by Brooks and Dunn that you’ve got loaded on a USB flash drive loaded in the second USB port. You can also control climate options, like “Set Temperature 65 Degrees” or Navigation options like “Set Destination Ken Wilson Ford”. With MyFord, SYNC will recognize over 100 voice commands, and with MyFord Touch, SYNC will recognize over 10,000 voice commands.
One of the major features of SYNC is the ability to link your bluetooth phone to your vehicle. This way, you can place and receive calls, listen to text messages, or stream audio from your phone (like a Pandora radio station) directly through your car’s speakers. All of these things are possible to do hands-free using SYNC, in addition to using either the MyFord Touch touchscreen or using normal center console or steering-wheel mounted buttons.
Another great hands-free feature of the 2014 Ford Flex is the Intelligent Access Key, which is paired with the Push-Button Start system. This is a standard feature on the Flex Limited, and allows you to enter, exit and start your vehicle without having to remove the key from your pocket, handbag or briefcase. When the key is in range, the vehicle can sense its location, and by simply putting your hand on the door handle, the doors will automatically unlock.
Another feature which comes paired with the Intelligent Access Key, but which is also available on the SEL trim level with standard MyKey Remote Access Key, is the Remote Start System. This allows you to start your Flex from up to 325 feet away (like the comfort of your home or office), so that the climate system and heated and cooled leather seats (if equipped) can get started. This way, by the time you get to the car, it is already at a nice, comfortable temperature, regardless of what time of year it is.
One stand-out quality of the 2014 Ford Flex is the number of Driver-assist technologies available.
The main driver assist technology found on the Flex is Reverse Sensing, standard on every trim level of the 2014 Ford Flex, which consists of a row of sensors on the rear bumper. When you are in reverse and you are close to hitting an object, the car will start beeping at you. As you get closer, the beeps get closer together, and when you are within about a foot of the object, it beeps continuously. This is particularly useful when backing out of a parking space or your driveway, since it can tell when there are people behind you (particularly if they are in your blind spot) or something like a kid’s bike. Reverse sensing is easy to turn off as well.
Available on the SEL trim level, and standard on the Limited, is the option of a Rear Camera. The rear camera on a Flex uses color-coded guide lines that can help you determine how far behind you an object is. In addition, there are grey lines that indicate the direction that the vehicle will go, based on how far the steering wheel is turned.
Also available on the SEL and standard on the Limited, the Flex offers a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which is tied with Cross Traffic Alerts. BLIS uses radar sensors mounted behind each rear wheel to detect when a vehicle is in your blind spot. If a vehicle is present, then a small orange light will illuminate in the rear view mirror. The Cross-Traffic Alert system uses the same radar sensors to detect cross traffic when the vehicle is in reverse. This feature is particularly useful in a crowded parking lot, where visibility is limited. When the system detects a car coming from either side, it will alert you of the oncoming car and the direction that the car is coming from.
Also standard on every 2014 Ford Flex is the Electrochromic Auto-dimming Mirror, which automatically darkens the rear view mirror when an approaching vehicle’s headlamps shine into the vehicle. This helps to reduce the amount of glare from the headlamps that reflects into the driver’s eyes.
One driver-assist feature that is particularly convenient is the Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers, which comes standard on the 2014 Flex Limited. Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers will automatically detect the presence of moisture on the windshield and adjust the speed and frequency of the wipers accordingly. Basically, it takes one more thing off your mind when you’re driving, and lets you focus on the task at hand without having to constantly adjust the wiper speeds. This is a particularly useful feature here in the mountains, because of how rapidly the weather can change. At a moment’s notice, you could be in a torrential downpour, then just as quickly be driving through a light drizzle. With rain-sensing wipers, you don’t have to bother with turning on and off the wipers or adjusting them to the right speed. It’s all taken care of automatically. Be sure to turn it off before you enter a car wash though!
Another great feature on the 2014 Flex is the Automatic Headlamps with Wiper Activation. When you have the headlamps set to Auto, they will automatically come on whenever the wipers are active, and automatically shut off 30 seconds after the wipers are no longer active. This feature is standard on all 2014 Ford Flex models.
Those all pale in comparison to the true standout driver-assist features on the 2014 Ford Flex. The real stars of the show are Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Collision Warning with Brake Support systems.
Active Park Assist
Active Park Assist is available on the Limited trim level of the Ford Flex. Using Active Park assist, the vehicle can help you with parallel parking. When activated, it will use side-mounted sensors to scout for an adequately-sized parallel parking space while you drive . When it finds one, it will let you know and guide you to a stop.Then, the vehicle will take over control of the steering wheel and give you instructions for using the pedals. The car then gently guides you into the parking spot. Easy as pie. I know it sounds complicated, but once you’ve done it once or twice, you get used to it and it really takes a lot of the stress out of parallel parking.
This is a truly useful feature on the Flex, especially for drivers who are adjusting to driving a longer vehicle (The Flex is just under 202″ long, compared to something like the Escape, which is barely half that – just under 106″). What this feature will allow you to do is to parallel park with confidence, and the knowledge that you will definitely have enough space to fit and to comfortably get in and out of the space.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive Cruise Control is a feature that was introduced on luxury cars a couple of years ago, and has slowly been trickling its way into normal use (although, I have to say, by my standards, the Ford Flex Limited feels luxurious). Available on the Flex Limited, Adaptive Cruise Control is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a special type of cruise control that adapts to traffic conditions around you.
With normal cruise control, when you set your speed at 60 MPH on the highway, your car will stay right at about 60 MPH (+/- a couple miles per hour, especially if you are going over mountains). But if you come up on someone that is puttering along at 45 MPH, and someone else is beside you, so you can’t just pass them, you have to manually disable the cruise control until you get a chance to get back up to speed, then re-activate the cruise control. In rush hour traffic on the interstate, the constant on-and-off makes it nearly impossible to actually use cruise control. You may as well just leave it off and drive normally.
With Adaptive Cruise Control, sensors will keep an eye on the traffic in front of you and adjust your speed in order to maintain a set following distance. This way, if you’ve got the cruise control set at 60 MPH and you come up on a car going 45 MPH, your Flex will slow down to 45 MPH and maintain the pre-set distance (from as little as about 1.5 seconds up to around 3 seconds behind the car in front of you). When the other car is no longer in front of you, the Flex will get you back up to 60 MPH, automatically.
Collision Warning with Brake Support
This is a feature that comes paired with the Adaptive Cruise Control (They use the same radar sensors mounted on the front of the Flex). Unlike Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Brake Support is something that is on all the time (although you can turn off the alerts).
What Collision Warning with Brake Support does is scan the road in front of you, and if it detects the possibility of an imminent impact with the car in front of you, and you haven’t started braking yet, it will flash a small row of red lights on the windshield to alert you. In addition, the audio system will issue a chime alert. The most important part of the system, though, is that if it discovers an imminent, but avoidable, impact, it will pre-charge the brake system so that when you do hit the brakes, you will get the maximum stopping power from them. It won’t hit the brakes for you, but it will make sure that when you do hit the brakes, it will slow you down quickly.
You can also adjust the sensitivity of the Collision Warning with Brake Support system. If you are a cautious or conservative driver, you would probably want it set to High sensitivity, which will send out earlier alerts and introduce additional warnings. If you are using a MyKey, the system will default to this setting. More aggressive drivers, or people who drive in much denser driving conditions (rush hour traffic downtown, for instance) will probably want to set the sensitivity to Low. Under more normal driving conditions, use the Normal sensitivity setting. Normal is the factory-default setting, but if you make adjustments, they will carry over to the next time you start the car.
One of the great things about the 2014 Ford Flex, and the Ford lineup in general, is how well it allows you to stay connected to those around you through technology.
By linking your bluetooth phone to your Flex, you can easily place or receive calls, listen to text messages, or stream bluetooth audio, like a Pandora station. In addition, you can use your phone to turn your Flex into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot (MyFord Touch only). Be aware, though, that standard messaging and data rates for your phone will still apply. Because all 2014 models of the Flex come with SYNC, this is possible on every Flex.
A great feature of the Ford Flex is the 110V AC Outlet with a household-style three-prong plug, which comes standard on the Limited, and optional on the SEL. With this plug, you can easily charge and use your laptop, charge your phone, or plug in any other device that uses a standard two- or three-prong plug.
The Flex SE comes with SYNC with MyFord. This includes a single-CD player with an aux in and a USB port that you can use either to charge devices like your phone or MP3 player, or to stream audio through. You can also use a normal USB flash drive loaded with music and easily stream audio through your car’s speakers, or search by artist name, track name, or album.
The Flex SEL and Limited come equipped with SYNC with MyFord Touch, which comes with an Aux in, 2 USB ports, an SD Card reader (the kind often found in digital cameras) and RCA ports (The red, yellow and white cables used to connect non-HD TVs to auxiliary devices like DVD players or game consoles). In addition, MyFord Touch includes an 8-inch touchscreen in the center console with a simple to use, color-coded system. With MyFord Touch also comes a 3-year complimentary subscription to SYNC Services, which includes things like Turn-by-Turn directions through your audio speakers (even without a Navigation system equipped), personalized traffic reports, and 411 Business Search, which allows you to search through a database of more than 14 million businesses in the USA.
If you opt for the Navigation System, then your vehicle will come with an SD card loaded with all of the navigation information, as well as a 6-month trial subscription to Sirius TravelLink and Sirius XM Traffic.
With SYNC Voice Command technology, it is easy to use any of these features without having to take your hands off the wheel, giving you greater control over your Flex without having to compromise your entertainment or navigation options.