When the fuel crunch began to squeeze sales of mid and full-size sport utilities shortly after the beginning of the 2000's, buyers began looking around for a vehicle which could save them from having to return to driving bland minivans. Recognizing that a market existed for vehicles which had similar passenger and cargo capacity to an SUV but offered the fuel economy of a sedan, automakers quickly moved to capitalize.
While some companies such as Subaru and Volvo had been selling crossover vehicles for several years, most domestic car companies had yet to test these waters, and the result was a brief explosion of interesting designs and new ideas.
Fuel economy was not the only benefit offered to drivers by crossover vehicles. With a lower ride height, they were easier to get in and out of, and their car-based platforms made the more comfortable and gave them superior handling when compared against most full-size SUV's. Generally shorter in length than a sport-utility vehicle, crossovers also provided easier navigation on busy city streets and mall parking lots. Crossovers were less intimidating vehicles to many buyers, and their familiar sedan-like lines helped make people comfortable with the idea of stepping up to something with all-wheel drive, increased ground clearance and a good cargo capacity.
Ford had been in the middle of contemplating the future of their mid-size lineup when the crossover storm hit them full force. The company had found success with the Ford Escape, which itself was not a crossover but which took advantage of the chassis and drivetrain originally found in the cancelled Ford Contour sedan. They began to scout around for a platform that would do well in crossover form for the short term, as well as design a new crossover that would come to market in a few years time. They successfully met both challenges, and soon Ford had a fully fleshed out crossover lineup to display in dealer showrooms.
There are some excellent used Ford crossover vehicles available, and there are two in particular which between them manage to cover the mid-size market. While both are based on a sedan platform, one is skewed more towards car buyers while the other attempts to curry favor with those who prefer minivans. This article describes the high points of both, as well as some of the features which make them stand out from the rest of the pack.
2005 - 2007 Ford Freestyle
The Ford Freestyle came about as a result of Ford's decision to offer a crossover that was similar in size and capability to the popular Ford Explorer but which offered styling and performance that was more in line with large station wagon. The Freestyle's design has the upright greenhouse of an SUV grafted onto a three-quarter view that is decidedly car-like.
Underpinning the 2005 - 2007 Ford Freestyle is the same platform as the Ford Five Hundred sedan and the Volvo XC90 SUV. This gives the vehicle the excellent interior room of the Ford combined with the all-wheel drive system and versatile suspension system of the Volvo. The Freestyle can be configured to carry up to seven passengers, depending on whether a second row bench is fitted between the first and third row of seating instead of captain's chairs. Cargo room is also excellent, coming in at around 85 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. In general the interior offers more utility than luxury, with an abundance of storage compartments and bins, although a moon roof, power leather seats and a DVD entertainment system are available as options.
The Ford Freestyle features Ford's 203 horsepower Duratec V-6 engine, which powers either the front or all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission - Ford's first ever in a North American vehicle. The crossover fares well both in terms of fuel mileage and performance. Economy is a good 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon while cruising on the freeway. The Freestyle feels reassuringly stable on slippery rosds and around tight corners, and ride comfort is great for all passengers.
The 2005 - 2007 Ford Freestyle is certainly an interesting vehicle, and it stands alone on the domestic used market when it comes to roomy, practical crossovers. The Freestyle's all-wheel drive and superior interior storage make it an attractive option to families looking to trade in their SUV for something a little less thirsty.
2007 Ford Edge
The Ford Edge is the most modern example of a Ford crossover vehicle available as a used car. This tall vehicle has a graceful sloping forward roofline which tapers down to a fairly abrupt rear lift gate, offset by the chunky, strong front end. The Edge also bears the distinctive three-bar grille common to most newer Ford vehicles. Similar in size to the Freestyle, the Edge is positioned to grab premium crossover sales for buyers focused on power and comfort.
The 2007 Edge is available exclusively with a powerful 3.5-liter, 256 horsepower V-6 engine. Generating 250 lb-ft of torque, the Edge is fairly quick on its feet, and the vehicle's 6-speed automatic transmission does an excellent job of delivering smooth, drama-free shifts even at full throttle. The Edge comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is recommended to help mitigate some of the torque steer inherent in the powerful drivetrain. As with most crossovers, the Edge has decent ground clearance and will plough over snowdrifts with ease, but it is not intended for serious off-road adventures. All versions of the Edge come with AdvanceTrac stability control and anti-lock brakes that help keep the crossover face-forward even on treacherous icy roads.
The interior of the crossover provides a good mix between comfort and utility, placing it a notch above the Freestyle when it comes to both convenience and luxury. Rear seats fold up and down electronically, and rear leg room improves on the generous amount found in the truck-base Explorer. There are a number of upscale options which can be found in the Edge, such as a glass roof, beautiful leather seats and trim, a navigation system, and dual climate controls.
The 2007 Ford Edge makes an intriguing used crossover choice for buyers who are looking for something with a taller profile than a car but better handling and comfort than a minivan or mid-size SUV.