2005 Freestyle New Car Test Drive
Station wagons were once mainstream suburbia. So were minivans. In time, it seems, everything cycles out of favor. And if history is prologue, this fate will ultimately befall sport-utility vehicles. But people still need to haul themselves, their families and friends and their stuff around. And even the roomiest sedan with a multi-golf bag-sized trunk can't do it all.
Into this breech slides the latest iteration of the do-everything vehicle, the so-called crossover. Not quite a wagon, not quite a minivan, not quite an SUV, not quite anything that's come before, the crossover tries to combine the best features from all of these. Some succeed better than others, and into this class falls the all-new 2005 Ford Freestyle.
In the Freestyle, Ford has combined space-conscious and people-friendly packaging and a new-tech powertrain offering performance and efficiency. Three rows of seats yield either six or seven adult passenger capacity, and a unique-for-the-class, continuously variable transmission eases engine load and smoothes the drive. All-wheel drive is available for owners who want all-weather capability.
Critics may say the Freestyle is simply the station wagon version of the new Ford Five Hundred sedan. And in many ways, they're right. Yet many have found the Freestyle inexplicably offers a better driving experience than the Five Hundred, and it's certainly more practical.
The Freestyle is well worth a look for shoppers tired of the everyday vehicle, yet also tired of climbing up into and jumping down out of today's SUVs, and willing to explore something new and slightly different.
Ford Freestyle comes in three trim levels, SE, SEL and Limited. All have the same 3.0-liter V6 engine rated at 203 horsepower. All are equipped with a Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT.
The SE ($24,945) comes with features not normally expected in a base model. These include a six-way power driver's seat, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and traction control, all on top of the usual air conditioning; power windows, outside mirrors and central locking; and AM/FM/CD stereo.
All-wheel drive ($1,700) is optional on the SE. Other options: a Safety and Security package with front seat side airbags and full-coverage side air curtains plus anti-theft alarm and exterior convenience lighting ($795); a Convenience package with automatic headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control with outside temperature display ($295): an auxiliary rear-seat climate control ($595): a middle-seat floor console ($95); and no-charge substitution of a three-passenger middle bench seat in place of the standard bucket seats that seat two.
The SEL ($26,345) adds a six-disc in-dash CD changer with MP3 capability; auto headlamps; heated and folding outside mirrors; electrochromic rearview mirror; leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with audio controls; programmable, three-frequency remote garage door opener; the exterior convenience lighting; extra sound insulation; fog lamps; and sundry exterior trim enhancements, including bright aluminum wheels in lieu of the SE's painted wheels. Options for the SEL: leather seating ($795); a Comfort package with eight-way driver and four-way passenger power seats and dual-zone automatic climate control and outside temperature display ($495); a DVD-based entertainment system, including two wireless headphones and wireless remote ($995); power moonroof ($895); reverse sensing system ($250); and a split-fold third row seat ($115). Some of the SE options are available, including the Safety and Security package ($695).
The Limited ($28,545) includes many of the SEL's options plus an upgraded sound system with subwoofer, memory settings for driver's seat and outside mirrors, heated front seats, two-way adjustable second row seats, woodgrain dash trim, cargo net and 18-inch bright aluminum wheels. Options besides those available on the SE and SEL are a programmable, three-frequency remote opener system ($115) and adjustable pedals with memory ($175).