For people and the things they need
Page 1: Introduction
DETROIT, MI - Ford calls its new 2005 Ford Freestyle a crossover vehicle, but let's recognize it for what it is - a butched up station wagon version of the new 2005 Ford Five Hundred sedan. But don't think that labeling the Freestyle a wagon is some kind of slam, because this appears to be one handy utility vehicle that doesn't give up comfort, ride or handling to accommodate those weekend trips to Home Depot.
Designed from the start to serve as a roomy, seven-passenger utility vehicle, the 2005 Ford Freestyle is offered in two styles and three trim levels to meet consumer needs. Choose between front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and select SE, SEL or Limited trim.
All come equipped with the company's revised Duratec 30 engine, a 3.0-liter V6 producing a modest 200 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque. Given the Ford Freestyle's curb weight, just either side of two tons depending on the presence or absence of AWD, this power rating seems merely adequate. The Freestyle's tow rating is also rather unimpressive at 2,000 pounds.
A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is the only way that the motor's hard-working ponies can be transferred to the ground. The optional AWD system is a Volvo-based Haldex system that can transfer almost all of the engine's torque to the rear wheels in the event that the fronts slip. Ford claims that this transfer occurs in just 50 milliseconds. Don't plan to take the Freestyle four wheeling, because ground clearance is nothing to brag about at a relatively scant 5.1 inches. Traction control is standard on every Ford Freestyle.
Like most vehicles of this ilk, the Freestyle is most comfortable on paved roads, where the MacPherson strut front and multilink independent rear can shine. If AWD is ordered, the Freestyle is equipped with load leveling rear shocks. Bringing the Freestyle to a stop is a four-wheel-disc system with ABS and electronic brake force distribution. The SE and SEL ride on 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/60R17 tires; P225/60R18 rubber comes on the Limited's standard 18-inch wheels.Where the 2005 Ford Freestyle excels is passenger comfort and cargo carrying utility. With tall seating and lots of foot room, the Freestyle offers good thigh support and impressive comfort for all occupants. Available second-row captain's chairs slide fore-and-aft to increase legroom if desired. All seats except the driver's can fold flat, creating a cargo area as long as 9.5 feet from the dashboard to the rear hatch. When all three rows are raised, there is space for seven adults - Ford claims the rearmost bench seat is designed to be comfortable for a person who is over six feet tall. Fold that seat into the floor and the Ford Freestyle can hold 47.4 cubic feet of cargo.
Storage was a priority, too. Cupholder mavens will appreciate that there are 12 beverage containers littering the Freestyle's cabin. A dashtop storage bin can be used for small items and an optional overhead console stows sunglasses and remote controls out of sight. A conversation mirror similar to the one in the Ford Freestar allows the driver to see every rear seating position and play referee, if necessary. The center console has a power point, and a cutout in the lid helps to keep cords from getting pinched. On the Limited, the third-row seat is split so that each side can be individually folded for maximum utility.
As any good family vehicle should, the 2005 Ford Freestyle is designed to offer its occupants excellent crash protection. The structure employs a version of Volvo's Side Impact Protection System, and a package including side airbags and a Safety Canopy with rollover protection for all three rows is available.All 2005 Ford Freestyles will be equipped with power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, power windows, air conditioning, tilt steering, cruise control, a CD player, floor mats, privacy glass and alloy wheels. Stepping up from SE to SEL trim, buyers receive appearance upgrades inside and out, automatic headlamps, dual-zone air conditioning, a message center, premium sound with an in-dash CD changer, Homelink universal transmitter, and leather wrapping for the steering wheel and gear shifter. Limited adds a monochromatic exterior, 18-inch wheels, heated exterior mirrors, an Audiophile sound system, automatic dual-zone climate control, heated perforated leather seating, a 50/50 third row seat, a power passenger seat, an outside temperature gauge, and special cream-colored gauges. On the Limited, simulated burled wood interior trim replaces the faux carbon fiber of the SE and SEL.
In addition to AWD and the Safety Canopy package, options include power adjustable pedals for the driver, a DVD entertainment system, a moonroof, a reverse sensing system, and rear air conditioning.
The 2005 Ford Freestyle takes on the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Highlander when it goes on sale in the fall of 2004. Except for the powertrain, the stats for which are lackluster on paper, it appears upon initial inspection that Ford has crafted a competitive crossover package.
--Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company