Ford calls the Freestyle a crossover model because it blends the merits of a sport utility vehicle, a minivan and a sedan. Ford notes that the overall design is "more sculpted than chiseled, more capable than rugged," so the Freestyle is "definitely not a minivan." To head off such comparisons, Ford points out the Freestyle's long hood, high belt line and flared wheel arches.
Like the related Five Hundred sedan, the Freestyle has midsize dimensions that approach full-size. It comes in base SE, midrange SEL and top-level Limited trim levels. For 2007, four new packages offer more options for SEL and Limited models. Two new exterior colors are also offered: Alloy Metallic and Dune Pearl Metallic.
The Freestyle has a long hood, high belt line, trapezoidal mesh grille, "grille guard"-style lower fascia, flared wheel arches and large side mirrors. The rear features a split hatch and step bumper.
Fog lamps and body-colored door handles are included on the SEL and Limited. Built on a 112.9-inch wheelbase, the Freestyle is 200.1 inches long overall. SE and SEL models ride on 17-inch aluminum wheels, and the Limited gets 18-inch wheels. Limited models have a monochromatic exterior and heated exterior mirrors. All Freestyles have a fully independent suspension.
Three rows of seats hold six or seven occupants. Ford says upright "command" seating eases entry and exit and produces maximum visibility. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor. Either reclining and sliding bucket seats or a 60/40-split, folding bench can be installed in the second row.
A dashboard-mounted grab handle for the front passenger adds SUV style to the Freestyle. A covered storage bin sits atop the dashboard. The gearshift lever is mounted on the console, which has a power adapter to charge portable devices.
With all the seats folded — including the front-passenger seat — the Freestyle offers more than 9.5 feet of pass-thru storage. Cargo space totals 15.2 cubic feet behind the third-row seat.
A six-CD changer and leather-wrapped steering wheel go into the SEL. The Limited gets heated front seats, an Audiophile sound system and perforated leather seating surfaces. A navigation system is optional.
Under the Hood
Ford's Duratec 3.0-liter V-6 produces 203 horsepower and 207 pounds-feet of torque and drives a continuously variable transmission. The Freestyle can be equipped with front- or all-wheel drive. Operating without any gears, the CVT unit uses two variable-size pulleys, connected by a chain, to transfer engine power to the drive wheels.
Front seat airbags are standard, and seat-mounted side-impact airbags, along with a Safety Canopy side curtain airbag system, will be standard on all models later in the 2007 model year. All-disc antilock brakes are standard, and traction control is standard on vehicles equipped with all-wheel drive.
Ford's V-6 and CVT work beautifully to deliver eager acceleration with utter smoothness. Overall performance might trail vehicles with a conventional automatic transmission, but the Freestyle passes and merges with quick responses.
Ride comfort is generally good, though it's closer to that of an SUV than a traditional wagon. Handling is ordinary but satisfactory.
The wide console creates a slightly tight feeling in an otherwise ample front seat. Second-row space — even in the center position — is snug but satisfying. Reaching the third row is more of a battle.
Visibility is good despite thick rear pillars, and the controls are conveniently positioned. Facing a very low cowl, the driver gets the sensation of sitting high off the ground. Cargo space behind the third-row seat is modest, but both rows of seats fold down easily.