The burgeoning crossover market has made for some muddy distinctions between what is a car and what is truly a sport-utility vehicle. This is especially evident when a vehicle shares its platform with a specific automobile yet is marketed as something almost completely different. The Ford Freestyle went on sale in 2005 as a crossover designed to compliment the Ford Five Hundred sedan, whose basic mechanical details it shares. However, the Freestyle is a wagon, with a greater ride height and a sportier image than its family car cousin. The Freestyle also grabs some of its SUV posturing from the Volvo XC90.
The 2007 Ford Freestyle can be had with a single engine option. Shared with the Ford Five Hundred, a 3.0 liter Duratec V6 generates 203 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque under the hood of the crossover. Unlike the sedan, the Freestyle uses a continuously-variable automatic transmission regardless of whether front-wheel or all-wheel drive is selected. This type of transmission is designed to keep the engine in its optimum power band for performance and fuel economy regardless of the vehicle’s actual speed. It can be somewhat unnerving to drive a vehicle that doesn’t actually shift any gears, but the Freestyle makes good use of the technology to create a fairly seamless driving experience. Acceleration is not stellar, but fuel economy is a solid 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 27 miles per gallon on the highway for the front-wheel drive version of the vehicle, eclipsing the domestic competition for vehicles of this size.
Each version of the Freestyle – the SE, the SEL and the Limited – offers available seven passenger seating which takes advantage of the crossover’s spacious interior. Even in the third row, accommodations are good for the average-sized adult, although the very tall may find themselves somewhat contorted over the course of a long trip. With both rows of rear seats removed, the Freestyle offers 85 cubic feet of cargo space, which is competitive but not overwhelming. The top of the line Limited trim spruces up the vehicle’s interior with heated leather seats, wood trim and optional adjustable pedals. A DVD entertainment system and backup sensors are also available, along with dual climate controls. The Freestyle is certainly a comfortable vehicle to drive or ride in, but it does fall short in the luxury category. In general, however, the crossover does feel well-constructed, with easy to understand controls and gauges complimented by materials which feel solid and not at all cheap.
The Ford Freestyle is a compelling option for those who desire the level of utility offered by a full-size wagon, a class of vehicle which has become increasingly scarce over the past ten years. With good passenger and cargo capacity combined with excellent fuel economy – if drivers can forgo all-wheel drive – the Freestyle fits the bill as a modern version of a wagon for the masses. The Freestyle was discontinued at the end of the 2007 model year and re-badged as the Ford Taurus X crossover.