Page 1: Intro
It’s likely that, as with so many cars and trucks that have gone before, the 2005 Ford Freestyle will eventually slip silently into the mist of time, a forgotten family conveyance, an appliance, a transporter of people and goods.
Gone. And utterly forgotten.
We won’t think ill of the car. We just won’t think of it, instead marveling over such “cultural” statements as the Dodge Magnum. No one will say, in the throes of a midlife adjustment, “golly, I’d really like to get my hands on one of those old Ford Freestyles. I remember when Mom and Dad used to take us to soccer practice in that car. What a great ride.”
But maybe, on second thought, we should. While the 2005 Ford Freestyle is normal and fairly uneventful in its design and driving performance, its place as one of society’s first true crossover vehicles is quite remarkable and opens up a door for a family vehicle that offers the driving character and fuel economy of a large sedan, the cargo capability of a minivan and the driving height and comfort of an SUV. It turns out that you can get good fuel economy, family elbowroom and a nice ride out of an SUV – and without the hefty hybrid price tag or luxury up-sell. Its something car-based SUVs were supposed to offer to begin with, though most have failed in one criteria or another. Either they didn’t offer a third row, or suffered in fuel consumption comparison, were too boaty, or lacked the same step-in height that makes driving an SUV such an easy thing to do. The Freestyle actually manages to do all of it, thanks to a sort-of-new architecture developed in conjunction with Volvo. It’s basically the same architecture that the Volvo XC90 uses, and the one that the Volvo S80 was constructed around. With its combination of rigid chassis and fully independent suspension, it provides the Freestyle with the basis to be one of America’s first true crossovers.
Page 2: Interior
Okay -- skeptics line up here. Yes, the Freestyle could have more flair built into the sheet metal. And yes, the Duratec 3.0-liter engine, coupled with a continuously variable transmission, doesn’t exactly thrill the inner racer. Yet little of that matters on the list of things the Freestyle is supposed to do. Of those things – ride, room and relaxation -- it does them all well. The tale of the tape shows that the Freestyle has class-leading space inside, from the first to the third row, which is partially due to the emphasis on hip points in the vehicle’s design -- hip points being the distance between the driver’s hip and the ground. This eases entry and exit and provides more head and legroom. In practical application, the measurements translate into a comfortable ride front to back. Even the third-row is quite comfortable, and it especially shines with plenty of headroom when compared to others in its class such as the Chrysler Pacifica.
While it’s not clear how to precisely define the Freestyle’s class of vehicle, it’s clearly more roomy than most any other like-priced SUV. The second row offers captain’s chairs or a 60/40 split seat. The captain’s chairs are installed on an adjustable track, for more flexibility, and indeed, the interior offers multiple seating and cargo configurations to that end. According to Ford, the third row is roomy for a crossover vehicle because of a raised greenhouse, combined with a redesigned independent rear suspension below the floor. The third row also offers extra foot space that’s actually built into the frame of the Freestyle and the design of the second row seats. Inside, the feeling is one of spaciousness and quality. Ford has noticeably improved the quality of its materials inside, from dashboard plastics to seat material and fabrics throughout the cabin.
Page 3: Power
So the Freestyle is nice to sit in. And you can get 37 bags of groceries and an umbrella in the back. On the road is where a car writes its checks, and the 2005 Ford Freestyle is a nice family ride, if a bit lacking in the thrill-a-minute neighborhood. Actually, the Freestyle frowns on it. Case in point: The Freestyle is available with an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system option, which means faster all-wheel-drive activation in an emergency situation. The Freestyle operates as a front-wheel-drive vehicle when all-wheel-drive isn’t needed. All Freestyles come with a continuously variable transmission. The numbers illustrate the issue: from the aforementioned Duratec V6, 203 hp is available at 5,750 rpm, and torque registers 207 lb.-ft. at 4,500 rpm. With the weight of the all-wheel drive CVT model at 4,112 lbs, plus the way the CVT transmission smoothes out the ride and the V6’s 203 horses, available power and acceleration seem a little neutralized. Surely there's a more powerful engine somewhere in Freestyle’s future, one that would fit nicely into the top Limited Freestyle trim.
Then again, the Freestyle should live quite happily without more power or torque. Ford’s choice of a continuously variable transmission speaks up loudly when it comes to the priorities of this car: think smooth glide, the kind of ride that, when coupled with a fully independent suspension and the rigid frame of a Volvo-inspired chassis, will spill nary a drop of latte. One of the other niceties of the continuously variable transmission is that it saves gas and flattens gears to the point where you just don’t feel the tranny shift. It’s designed to be as efficient as possible and as a result, the Ford Freestyle should meet California Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) II standards, which calls for 55 percent less smog-forming pollutants than California Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) rules. That’s nice. What’s nicer is that the 2005 Ford Freestyle seats seven and is rated at 20/27 mpg by the EPA.
Page 4: Trims
Good luck finding that kind of combination in another vehicle, and at an MSRP range of $24,945 to $30,245. For prices within that range you get standard features such as a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, folding power side mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, one-touch automatic driver's window (up and down), premium AM/FM stereo with single-disc CD, driver's manual lumbar, traction control, electronic speed control and tilt steering column. Options include all-wheel drive, power-adjustable pedals with memory, leather seats, power moon roof, reverse sensing system side-impact airbags with rollover air safety canopy. Trim levels start with the base SE, and go to the mid-level SEL, which adds appearance features, dual-zone air conditioning, an electronic message center, a premium sound system and leather-wrap for the steering wheel and shift knob. The top level Limited includes a painted grille and an Audiophile sound system, heated exterior mirrors, leather seating surfaces and heated front seats.
All 2005 Ford Freestyles get safety equipment and technology built into the vehicle's architecture. In frontal impacts, energy is expected to be absorbed by the frame rails and bumper plate design. Additional energy is transferred into a high-strength safety cage. According to Ford, this patent-pending design tailors the steering column's collapse to the driver's size and safety-belt use. Ford claims that rear-impact performance is designed to meet proposed future federal crash standards. Safety equipment offered in the Freestyle include dual-stage driver and passenger front airbags, optional seat-deployed side airbags for the driver and front passenger, optional canopy side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, height-adjustable lap and shoulder belts for front outboard seating positions, three-point safety belts for all seating positions and a safety belt reminder for driver and front passenger.
Page 5: Wrap
That may not thrill the enthusiasts out there, but the 2005 Ford Freestyle will thrill those who think a good car and a strong value deserve a place of honor. The Freestyle offers families and commuters the things they need – good gas mileage, a great interior, adequate power, a nice ride and satisfactory looks. It is, as a result, the first true American crossover. And that may not win it a spot in the local classic car museum, but it sure should earn it a spot in the hearts and driveways of suburban America.
Page 6: FAQs
Basically, a CVT transmission turns the standard gears of a transmission into a million smaller ratio gears, thus smoothing out the transmission and virtually eliminating the shift you feel when a car changes gear.
Is the Freestyle’s all-wheel-drive system available all the time?
No. It’s electronically controlled and will kick in when sensors indicate a need to push power to all four tires. Ford claims that their all-wheel-drive system kicks in faster then the competition version, thus saving vital seconds and increasing effectiveness. Based on a gravel hill test, we’d have to concur.
What’s the best thing about the 2005 Ford Freestyle?
The interior. Materials are nice, fit and finish is good, and there’s plenty of room. The third-row, for example, really can fit two adults.
Page 7: Notes
MSRP range: $24,945 to $30,245
Fuel Capacity: 19 gal
Engine: Type 60-degree V-6, aluminum block and heads
Power: 203 hp @ 5750 rpm
Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: ZF-Batavia Continuously Variable Transmission Chain drive Ratio range 2.47:1 - 0.41:1
Front Independent, MacPherson strut, rearward-facing lower L-arms, stabilizer bar Rear Independent, multi-link coil-over-shock, stabilizer bar
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Corp.