New car reviews

2005 Ford Freestyle

By Lou Ann Hammond, Mon, 31 Jan 2005 08:00:00 PDT

Amy Marentic embodies the 2005 Ford Freestyle. This woman breaths and sweats the Ford Freestyle. She has unabashedly used her children to scrutinize every little aspect of the Freestyle. Maybe that's why the Freestyle is so good. A woman paid attention to detail. Oh, did I say that?

"I'm married with three children; a daughter who's 10 and sons who are nine and seven. All that I've learned from my children has gone into this vehicle," Marentic said. "This vehicle is our family."

"We knew we didn't want another SUV. we already have a great line of SUVs," said Amy Marentic, Ford's Freestyle marketing manager. "But we definitely wanted the functionality of the SUV image with all the comforts, including air conditioning and CD players as standard."

The Freestyle is what Ford has been waiting for. It's not the Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town and Country where the seats fold down into a flat bed. That is a vehicle that I would love. I have no children. I have a dog and it makes all the sense in the world to me to want a vehicle that can carry my dog or haul junk from Home Depot. I'm not Amy. Amy has three children, all boys, each with their own distinct personalities. The Freestyle is made for families just like Amys.

This is the newest baby from the flexible manufacturing system. Ford has made their assembly line so flexible the Ford 500 can metamorphose from a car sedan, through its sun salutation and cat pose, into a minivan called the Ford Freestyle. The platform is the same, the names/bodies have been changed to protect the innocent.

Ford's upcoming Freestyle is the latest in a long line of competitors that includes the Buick Rendezvous, Chrysler Pacifica, Nissan Murano, Pontiac Aztek, Toyota Highlander, and the list goes on with plenty more in the luxury market.

The Ford Freestyle is a crossover. Crossovers are distinguished by the drive-ability of a car and the functionality of a truck. SUVs are traditionally a truck frame with greater towing capacity. Do customers know and feel the difference? It appears that they not only feel the riding difference, but the monetary difference. The average SUV cost almost $3,000 more than the average crossover. A crossover will get better gas mileage as well, another added bonus to the vehicle segment that was up 17.7% year-to-date through April. SUVs sales have been essentially flat over the past three years, or ever since crossovers made their debut. Hence the reason Ford will not be bringing out any new SUVs, only crossovers.

The Ford Freestyle gets an average 22 mpg, while the medium SUV gets around 17 mpg. That doesn't sound like much, but it adds up to a savings of $375 a year in gas money - commonly known as discretionary income. We Americans like discretionary income.

The Freestyle comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. For those folks that actually go into the snow and mountains the all-wheel drive is great, but if you don't then please consider that you will get better gas mileage if you pick the front-wheel drive. Even if you're just in mild snow all you need is front-wheel drive. According to Paul Taylor, senior analyst for National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)Americans buy options for two reasons; just in case resale value.

This just adds cost to the vehicle and in many cases weight to the car, which adds up to less miles per gallon. If you do need all-wheel drive the Freestyle has it, along with traction control. Ford set up a test comparison with some of its competitors on a dirt hill in a rock quarry. The competitors couldn't stop on the hill and then restart. They had to go down a bit and get a running start. If that is part of the driving you will need to do then the Freestyle is your baby.

According to Ray Nicosia, engineer of the Ford Freestyle, the Freestyle is part SUV, part Crossover and part station wagon. "If you drive a four door sedan, the Freestyle is an SUV. If you drive a large SUV, the Freestyle looks like a station wagon.

A great idea by Ford was utilizing what the world knows as the safest car in the world, yes the Volvo architecture. Ford has owned Volvo since 1999, but is just starting to really capitalize on some of the patents for safety that Volvo is known for. Ford incorporated the body structure and safety technology from Volvo, bringing the Swedish engineers themselves over to impart their knowledge. The challenge was for the designers, in building a body that fit the Volvo chassis.

Since I don't have kids I leaned on Amy for some insight into what a Mom wants when you have kids. "The Freestyle theater seating is a must. Each kid wants to see what is going on. The second row is higher than the first and the third seat is higher than the second."

What the kids aren't as happy with is what Amy calls the "Mom has eyes in the back of her head" mirror. "If you don't have a moon roof you can get an extra mirror. You still have the rear view mirror to see out the back, but now you have an additional mirror that tells you who's touching who and who's doing what."

What the kids aren't as happy with is what Amy calls the "Mom has eyes in the back of her head" mirror. "If you don't have a moon roof you can get an extra mirror. You still have the rear view mirror to see out the back, but now you have an additional mirror that tells you who's touching who and who's doing what."

The optional middle row can be a pair of captain's chairs or a 60/40-split bench. They fold and tumble for easy third-row access. The Freestyle claims the roomiest third row in the segment. It also easily folds flat to the floor for cargo-hauling, except the drivers seat.

The Freestyle is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 Duratec 30, which pounds out 203 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This is complimented with the fuel saving Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). CVT is a belt and pulley technique that offers more gear ratios than any automatic step transmission. This is done by replacing gears with two-piece pulleys connected by a chain loop that produces multiple drive ratios. Best part is that it gives you a better fuel economy.

Crossovers are hot. If Ford can bring this in at the right price, they'll have a homerun.

 


2005 Ford Freestyle Crossover


folding flat seats


2005 Ford Freestyle insturment panel

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