It's true. I'm actually addicted to crossovers. If you're not addicted yet, it might be because you haven't driven one. Who wouldn't want to pair functional minivan seating with a car-like drive and stylish exterior?
Young women today work hard, whether it's at an office or as full-time moms. Statistically, we make the majority of consumer decisions in our homes. We act as chauffeurs, cooks, counselors, nurses, housekeepers, and more (in my instance, I have to give my husband credit for his amazing cleaning skills). We deserve to get into a car that feels just as good as putting on our favorite pair of jeans. The Ford Freestyle does it for me.
The low step-in height of the Freestyle means that it's equally easy for my kids and their Grandma (a.k.a. GaGa) to get in. Being able to adjust the back angle of each second row seat independently makes it easy to find the perfect fit for child seats.
For carpoolers, or moms with multiples, there's an additional Latch connector in the third row (something that I've never seen before). Thank you Ford for realizing that some people NEED to put a child seat back there!
With the third row up, there's a good-sized recessed cargo area that's just perfect for keeping groceries from sliding around. When I need a flat surface, I can fold the seat and find a level carpeted floor. The downside to this is that it takes a two-step process to complete, and the third row on my test car doesn't split (although upgrading to the limited version offers a 50/50 split).
The storage compartments in the Freestyle are plentiful and functional. The console between the two second row seats gets a lot of use in my family. My children love having a place for their shoes that they inevitable remove every time we get in the car. They also like having cupholders within their reach, and a little spot to hold dirty rocks collected at school. The molded bottle holders in all four doors are a thoughtful addition.
The driver's seat adjusts easily to fit either me or my husband, who happens to tower over me by a full foot. The design of the dashboard and center console is a bit plain Jane. This could be argued either way. It's nice to have simple controls without a lot of fuss. On the other hand, the aesthetic factor could stand to be cranked up a notch.
The parking break release is tricky to find in the dark. When trying to find it, I accidentally popped the hood. Still in the dark, I couldn't figure out how to open the hood all the way in order to close it again. I finally got some help from my father-in-law who, as an engineer, can fix anything.
The "conversation mirror" that appears in the front overhead storage area is a marvelous feature for parents. When my children exclaim "look at me" repeatedly for the entire car trip, I actually can. Looking at them once is usually enough to get them to move on to a new subject. I bought an aftermarket conversation mirror a while back for my personal car. Although it's extremely functional, the suction cup never stays put on the windshield. I'm excited to see a permanent one in the Freestyle.
I'm highly impressed by the Freestyle's crash test ratings (performed by NHTSA). Initial results give it 5 stars across the board (rollover resistance tests are not yet complete). The occupant-sensing technology and dual-stage front airbags "tailor safety system response to the severity of the crash." I only wish that the side airbags and safety canopy were standard.
My only real complaint about the 2005 Ford Freestyle is the engine (you never thought you'd hear me say that, did you?). I knew it was lacking when I had a hard time beating a school bus off the line of a red light. I know it's not exactly meant as a drag-racer, but a little va-va-voom couldn't hurt - that goes for most areas of our lives, too.
* For additional information on the 2005 Ford Freestyle SEL AWD and its safety features visit Cars.com.
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