"One vehicle - endless possibilities," Ford says of its new crossover vehicle built to accommodate various drivers and lifestyles. It certainly seems like Ford did its homework on designing a vehicle to meet the needs of tall people, short people, big families and small families with different agendas. The Ford Freestyle offers the room of a minivan, the performance of an all-wheel-drive sedan and the look and feel of a SUV. It could be the perfect solution for the anti-minivan mamas that need a bit more than a sedan or SUV can offer.
I was raised in a Ford family and have driven or been a passenger in the Pinto, Aerostar, Explorer, Expedition, Ranger, Escape, Bronco and Taurus. It's safe to say I am a bit of a Ford expert, you might say. Although I have a long history with the Ford family of vehicles, I am not biased towards Ford; in fact, I broke the Ford tradition when I traded in my Mercury Topaz for my Honda Civic. I guess I wanted a break from the simplistic familiarity in each of Ford's vehicles.
When I stepped into the Freestyle for the first time, I was brought back to my childhood. It has Ford's simple, repetitive design written all over it. I have to admit that the Freestyle has shown that Ford has spruced up its design. It still offers simplicity but in a more revolutionary way.
Something common in the newer Fords is the keyless entry. The control center is the typical Ford design but I am able to control the 6-CD changer and radio from the steering wheel, an invention I find hard to live without. There are also storage compartments galore from front to back, and eight cupholders for seven passengers.
My excitement continued when I discovered the pull-down mirror that shows the entire rear passenger seating area, so I could check on my son and fellow passengers with out having to turn my head - this is where Ford's concepts start to win me over. Next, I discover the cleverly hidden storage compartment in the dash. Just push the button and it pops open to reveal a place for maps, papers, magazines, etc.
The second row features two bucket seats, or theater-style seating according to Ford. They offer easy Latch access for child car seat travelers and ample footroom for taller passengers. They also fold down to reveal the third row seating - a bench that comfortably fits two people (or car seats).
All seats easily fold down to create vast storage for hauling home improvement projects or camping equipment for that weekend getaway. However, once there are six people sitting in the Freestyle, there is little room in the back for cargo, i.e. a stroller. For a family of four, the third row can fold down to offer more storage, but for a larger family they will have to invest in one of those luggage holders that you strap to the top of the car. I guess it's a good thing that the Freestyle comes equipped with a roof rack.
Even though the Freestyle is a multi-functioning car, like many Ford's before, it also lacks some pizazz. The features I would like to have included (leather seats, two-way memory controls for driver seat, message center, auto temperature controls, and heated passenger and driver seats) are only available in the Limited edition. For about $3,000 more added to the base price of $30,895 you can have a DVD player, moonroof and the reverse sensing system. If you want to step up the luxury and style a notch you have to step up the price, otherwise you'll have to settle for a plain design and cloth seats.
The Ford Freestyle could be more luxurious but since it has a 5-star safety rating, all-wheel drive, and functions like three cars in one, the luxury is that the Freestyle is one vehicle that offers endless possibilities.