By KBB.com Editors
While the Freestyle may have gotten off to a slow start, current events have placed Ford's newest family hauler squarely on center stage. Sharp upswings in both the cost of fuel and interest rates have pushed the full-sized Sport Utility Vehicle off many families' shopping lists, yet their needs to haul loads of kids and cargo are still of paramount importance. The Freestyle, with its Volvo-derived platform, seven-passenger seating, strong safety rating and fuel-efficient V6, is the perfect solution. It's easy to drive, easy to park, more stylish than a minivan and available with such features as a rear-seat DVD entertainment center and Audiophile sound system. Entry-level models are nicely-equipped and priced within reach of most budgets, while buyers with a bit more cash flow will have a long list of features from which to choose.
If your principle concern is outward visibility, the Freestyle's higher seats not only make it easy to enter, but also help open up the view of the road. The availability of an all-wheel drive version gives shoppers who often drive on wet or slippery surfaces an additional dose of confidence.
If you're looking for a true SUV with serious off-road driving capabilities, you will be disappointed by the Freestyle; its capabilities are best suited for the highway and around town.
Front side-impact airbags and Safety Canopy head-curtain airbags are added to the standard equipment list, though not until later in the 2007 model run. The Limited trim now wears 18-inch wheels and tires and two new exterior colors are added to the Freestyle's pallet.
Driving Impressions Occupants enjoy a comfortable highway ride from the Freestyle's relatively taut suspension, though the ride becomes less pleasant on bumpier roads. Deeper potholes will definitely be noticed. Entry and exit...is exceptionally easythe tall seats are sheer pleasure for less-agile occupants and the view ahead is virtually unimpaired. Operation of the continuously variable transmission is flawless. Acceleration is more than adequate, and the Freestyle is ready to pass or merge without hesitation. It's an easy vehicle to drive, feeling very car-like and with only a little noise intruding into the cabin.
Continuously Variable Transmission Coupled with All-Wheel Drive
Early Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) drew criticism for their performance, but the Freestyle unit impressed us. The all-wheel drive system is so transparent that you won't know it's there, but it stands ready to help whenever you encounter a slick surface.
Reverse Sensing System
Helpful rather than intrusive, Ford's optional parking assistance system emits mild-toned beeps when you get too close to the vehicle behind. Even lifelong city drivers, accustomed to parallel parking every day, are likely to welcome this supplementary guidance.
Six passengers have plenty of elbow room inside the Freestyle, even when all three rows of seats are in use. The upright seating position is similar to what's found in a full-fledged SUV, but the low step-in height is more akin to a minivan. Seats fold flat in the rear rows, though not all the way into the floor. The front passenger seat can also be folded flat. Second-row leg space is bountiful, but getting into the third row takes maneuvering skills. The Freestyle can seat seven with the optional second-row bench, which replaces the standard bucket seats.Exterior
Designed specifically to capture the SUV attributes of cargo space and ride height, the Freestyle offers a squared-off exterior. In a bow to a more "grown-up" car-buying public, the Freestyle exhibits a high, upright profile, which translates to plenty of headroom. Some people will appreciate the clean, simple lines of the exterior profile, especially because it delivers interior roominess, but others may find it a bit plain. With its flared wheel arches and high beltline, the Freestyle is almost SUV-like in appearance.
The Freestyle SEL includes Ford's continuously variable transmission (CVT), 17-inch aluminum wheels, keyless entry, alarm, front air conditioning, power mirrors, six-way power driver's seat, tilt steering column, anti-lock brakes (ABS), a leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary radio controls and an AM/FM/CD audio system. Stepping up to the Limited edition brings dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, body-colored cladding and side mirrors, leather upholstery with heated front seats, a power passenger seat, second-row fore/aft adjustable seating, Audiophile sound system with subwoofer and a six-disc CD changer.
Since the Freestyle's standard-equipment list is abundant, the selection of options is relatively modest. Both rear park assist and a power moonroof are available for both the SEL and Limited, leather upholstery may be installed in the SEL model and the Limited can have power-adjustable pedals with a memory feature.. A split-folding three-passenger seat for the second row expands capacity to seven occupants. High-tech options include a backseat DVD entertainment system and GPS navigation. A major option for both SEL and Limited models is a head-curtain airbag system, which covers all three rows of seating.
Though its numbers don't look impressive on paper, the Freestyle actually performs quite well. Its CVT transmission makes the most of the engine's low-end torque, providing the quick starts needed for passing or crossing busy intersections. On the other hand, Ford's 3.0-liter V6 is far from quiet, especially at full throttle. Unlike with a V8-powered SUV, you will feel a big difference in performance when driving the Freestyle fully loaded with gear and passengersa disadvantage of the somewhat smaller V6 engine.
203 horsepower @ 5750 rpm
207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (FWD), 19/24 (AWD)
By Andy on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 132,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Seats up to 7, flexible cargo area, good MPG, AWD"
Cons: "Poor quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Ford Freestyle was a great concept poorly executed & lacking in quality. The transmission has gone out, can't be rebuilt, & must be replaced at a cost greater than the current value of the car, $6,000. Body & engine are fine, but I don't like the Freestyle enough to pay that much to fix it. I think it is headed to a charity auction or the crusher. The vehicle is roomy & seats up to 7. MPG is good, if you're not carrying too much weight. You've got a lot of cargo space with the last two rows of seats down, plus the roof rack is available. I bought the car used with about 40,000 miles on it. At first it seemed to be perfect as a vehicle for my real estate practice, service as a scout leader, & beach wagon for my surfer son. I had plenty of room for clients, camping gear, or surf boards depending on the situation. The AWD allowed us to park in sand confidant that we wouldn't get stuck. Snow didn't slow us down either. However, the vehicle's been plagued with a number of major costly repairs leading up to the transmission failure as well as a list of smaller, but annoying, problems. Some were partially covered by an extended warranty that I purchased from the dealership, but others weren't. Smaller problems included the heater in the driver's seat failing just after the warranty expired with a dealer estimated repair cost of $700. The satellite radio & CD changer work well, which is good because the AM/FM can't pick up anything except one or two of the closest stations. Dealer estimated replacement cost was almost $1,000. The interior lights flicker on and off randomly for a few moments every fifteen or twenty minutes. No one has been able to diagnose or fix. The latches on one of the fold down seats have never worked properly, with the seat stuck in the up or down position requiring ten or twenty minutes of pulling on the lever & seat simultaneously to re-position it. That annoying characteristic has also defied attempts to repair. In the "major" category was a problem that caused the car to dangerously surge when it was put in reverse. The extended warranty paid for the repair, less $100 deductible. Otherwise, the repair would have been about $1700. Another major repair to the throttle assembly, just after the warranty expired, cost almost $1200. Finally, I have a choice of shelling out more than the value of the car for a new transmission or sending it to the scrap heap. I want to drive an American made product, but I'm not sure I could ever drive a Ford again."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Tim B. Bennett on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 161,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We bought this Ford Freestyle NEW and it has been the car we have taken on our family trips for the last 9 years. Economical to maintain and drive. Even with the miles I would start across country in this car today. Our kids have grown up and we need a little more room."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Irvell on Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 140,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, good mpg,powerful engine,spacious"
Cons: "Two-tone paint is not my favorite style."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This particular car had no recalls. The only mechanical problem I had was with the steering assembly, about a $500 repair bill. This is now a ten year old car and everything has just been fine overall."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By hnesq on Saturday, May 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 143,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas mileage is acceptable, maintenance is easy"
Cons: "Bucket seating on the mid area of the vehicle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This vehicle has been a safe and comfortable vehicle for trips. The overall look of the vehicle is sporty yet classy."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Rexie on Monday, May 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Priced fairly and an absolute joy to drive!!"
Cons: "There are no drawbacks for me!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I only wish this model had been available after marriage and 2 kids!! GREAT FAMILY CAR!!! I am disabled and driving for me is very limited. I can deliver my youngest granddaughter without any problem to her school every morning. The ability to perform this task is due to the ease and mechanical perfection of this automobile!! SO DRIVER FRIENDLY!! I have new respect for the Ford brand after owning this car!! The Good Lord was looking out for my wife and I when we went car shopping and found this auto!!"
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Dane on Sunday, May 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD works great. Price was good. Roomy. Safe."
Cons: "Dated design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We bought it new because it was the best value and had many of the Volvo XC90 features but at a lower price. We have only done maintenance items on it since we bought it 9 years ago. 72000 problem free miles. Goes where few cars go in snow or ice."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful