Ford Freestyle test drive.

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I always thought the Freestyle was a great idea.
Something that should be a big hit. A cross between a wagon, SUV and Minivan.
And it does look kind of nice. In a family wagon kind of way…

Well… The first thing I noticed getting in was how cheap the interior looked.
Mine didn’t have leather or fake wood. But I don’t think it would have helped much. (Somehow, it actually looks decent on this picture…)

The plastics are cheap looking almost everywhere. About as bad as the Durango.
And you have a weird mix of square and round shapes that just isn’t right…

The gauges look like they were lifted from a 1980’s Escort. The steering wheel looks really cheap. And the console is even worse.
And you see exposed screws. Something Toyota got rid of about 15 years ago…

That has to be one of the cheapest looking console I’ve ever seen.

Let’s turn the engine on..
Until it warms up, it sounds pretty rough. Rougher than in any other car using the same (or almost) engine. Like the Fusion.

Once under way, the ride is pretty comfortable, but nothing great. It is pretty quiet, unless the road is bumpy. In that case you hear every bump thanks to a quite noisy suspension.

But the worse is the CVT transmission. CTVs can be great. I drove a Murano, and it was very nice. It was even better in a Saturn Ion (Yes…)
But this one is one of the worse case. Step on the gas, and nothing happens. Like if the transmission decides how fast you need to go, not you!

I know the engine is pretty small for such a large wagon, but still. 200 hp shouldn’t be that bad.
It gets really bad when you need to pass on the freeway, where the transmission is pretty much deciding for you that it’s “going to take a while”.
And I am not a speed demon. (As you might have noticed). And there is always a low but weird grinding noise coming from the drivetrain.

CVTs might be the way of the future, but this one isn’t ready for prime-time.

The steering feels OK. But it wonders once you get on the freeway. Which tends to be annoying. You always have to correct it to stay straight.

Inside again, it is roomy. The seats fold flat. And the 3rd row is actually OK.
But the finish is well below average.

There is also a small weird vibration you can feel in the steering wheel. And the engine/CVT combo always sounds pretty rough. Nothing feels smooth…

All I can say is a few minutes in this car ( I spent a couple of days with it) and you can tell why it doesn’t sell as well as they want.
Everything is below average.
If you need a wagon that seats 7, get a Pacifica. The interior is great, and it drives fine.

And if you just want a gig wagon, check out the Dodge Magnum.

But the Freestyle has the personality of a Frigidaire, and isn’t even worth the price they ask for.

The Freestyle true ancestor: the legendary Ford Country Squire.
I remember the ones from the 70’s. Before they shrinked them . They were great.

It is time Ford puts out a real American wagon again. Dodge did it and it worked.

Conversation 28 comments

  1. finally a fair and excellent write up about this piece of crap ! im soo tired of biased auto writers trying to make trash look good (shine a turd ) in there write ups instead of saying whats on there mind, cause they could get into trouble or loose fords advertising ! no more free trips for you vince to europe from ford ! lol

  2. I just told what I think.
    I also think the Fusion is a great car.
    But the Freestyle isn’t worthy. A major car maker should be able to do much better.

    I have nothing against Ford.

  3. What is the deal with everyone complaing about interiors? The freestyle looked nice to me, im not a big ford fan either. Just because it doesnt look as nice as bmw or mercedes, doesnt mean everyone has to have it. As long as it is functional.

  4. I had thought the Freestyle’s CVT was the same Jatco produced one that is in the Murano.

    I double checked and found that it is built by a joint Ford/ZF Batavia factory.

    Side note: The Murano CVT is the same as the one going into the Caliber.

  5. Though I didn’t get to drive one, my family and I recently rented a Dodge Magnum for our trip from LA to Vegas. I really liked the car even though it had the base interior. When we pulled into the Enterprise lot to return it, there was a freestyle sitting there and I thought the interior was much better than the Magnum in terms of design. The whole cabin just seemed more open and inviting and user-friendly. Even though they’re plastic, the faux metal around the vents is a nice touch. But I have to agree with Vince, the interior does look a lot better in pictures than in real life. 🙁 Even the Fusion’s interior disappointed me.

  6. another us bashing form our local idiot friend burlapp.

    the freestyle is one of the best cars out there. period.
    it will also be better with next year’s v8
    the interior is better than what bmw makes, at any price.
    and it rides pretty much as good as a bentley.

    it is one of the best choice around for the true american family. that’s why they don’t sell it in europe.
    it is just too good for them. they wouldn’t appreciate it

    let these jerks have their bmws and mercedes.i’ll take a good old reliable and good looking american frrestyle any day

    “Though I didn’t get to drive one, my family and I recently rented a Dodge Magnum”
    that’s the best!
    some 12 year old comment on the car his dad rented on a drinking binge to vegas.
    what a fucking joke!

  7. yo douche, are you sure you aren’t the 12 year old? your entries have the sophmoric attitude and sentence structure of an immature 12 year old.

    i experienced the magnum fair and square. i drove it and examined it before we headed out on the trip. the gray interior was a bit somber but the leather option would have spruced things up…along with the hemi. the 2.7L made more noise than power. even when the rear passenger-side tire blew out and we had to put it in the cargo area since it didn’t fit into the spare tire compartment, there was still enough room for a family of four’s luggage. what better way to experience a family hauler than on a family trip?

  8. “CHEAP PLASTIC” seems to be the norm all of a sudden. I thought the same thing about the ’05 buick midsize and the ’05 Toyota 4runner.

  9. Vince said: “It is time Ford puts out a real American wagon again. Dodge did it and it (the Magnum?) worked.” … FYI: 2005 sales for the Freestyle were 46% higher than the Magnum’s.

  10. Where do these figure come from?
    And how many of these were rentals?

    I don’t think Chrysler expected the Magnum to sell in huge numbers anyway. And I think it is doing very well.

  11. i agree with the cheap plastics comment. i rode in the back of my friend’s 2004 accord coupe and the plastic quality wasn’t even half as good as my old ’91 celica gt. maybe i have rose-colored glasses on but the plastic in that old celica was deeply grained and seemed “thicker” than a lot of the plastic i see in cars now. it’s as if the plastic quality was the same throughout the car and not only on armrests and dash. what do y’all think?

  12. 2005 sale numbers:
    -Ford Freeestyle: 76 729
    -Dodge Magnum: 52 487

    So the Ford is more popular, but again, how many of these are rentals.
    And what were the predictions. Did they intend to sell much more?

    To let you know, BMW and Merceds sell about 5000 wagons a year, each.
    And Volvo about 30 000 (all wagon models combined)

    About interior plastics.
    Yes, I do think they are getting worse everywhere.
    Except maybe GM. Where they are much, much better than what they used to be.

    But I think the freestyle interior quality is worse than the Taurus.

  13. Thanks for the review vince. Maybe I missed it but was this a FWD or AWD model? Also how was the fuel economy?

    I think the half SUV half wagon proportions just don’t work on the freestyle. The ford 500 is even worse. I mean it has the proportions of the old contour but as you get closer to the car it gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER. The hood comes up to my waist and im 6′ tall. Feels like you are sitting at the wheel of a suburban.


  14. Umm, douchie-boy…This thing isn’t getting a V-8. Do some research before you post. Do you know how to research? It involves using knowledge other than your own. It shouldn’t be a hard conept for you. It is getting the 3.5 liter V-6, rumored to have 250 horsepower. Oh, and your “myspace” page is a true disgrace.

  15. wait and see about the v8
    i got that info from a guy who used to work for ford

    i don’t ave anything on tha myspage shit.
    what the fuck is that?

    i do have a website now at:

    my cousin helps me out with all the computer garbage.
    go see it before that asshole burlapp deletes my posts.
    maybe you kids can learn something on there.
    like how to be good americans

  16. I agree, Vince. The wife and I went and looked at one and even drove one. I didn’t feel the vibration you felt, so maybe yours had an unbalanced wheel or something, but your comments on the interior are spot on. We kept thinking, you guys want $27k for this? And, the spring loaded rear seats wouldn’t latch back in position no matter how hard you slammed the damn things.

    Needless to say we left hugely unimpressed. Judging by the Fusion and Edge, Ford looks like they might have learned a thing or two since that one came off the line, for Ford’s sake anyhow.

    We still haven’t bought a new car as nothing really excites me yet. I’d like to have a Montego if it had a slightly upgraded interior and the 3.5L as the roominess is just astoundingly limousine-like.

    Alas, we might have to wait til the MKS or MKX comes out. The Volvo should be paid for by then, anyhow. But the little one won’t stand to be cramped in the back of that S40 for too long. 😉

  17. i think ford should drop the freestyle in the u.s. and bring in the Ford Territory from Australia. the two models practically look the same, so i don’t think too many people would notice, and the design is cleaner and it looks like less of a minivan.

  18. Douche, get over yourself. If you represented the ideal American, we’d be in trouble as a country. I don’t claim to be a Geroge Bush fanatic, but I think we have finally found someone he IS smarter than…YOU.

    Oh, and if the only words you can use to express yourself are explicatives, I suggest finding a thesaurus.

    I think it’s obvious at your desperate need of attention by the language in your posts. Unfortunately, your parents must have dropped you on your head a few times before neglecting you.

  19. Another interesting unbiased review.

    Too bad about the CVT. When I was last looking for a large car I test drove the 2005 Five Hundred with a 6 speed and it seemed to accelerate decently. I didn’t have time to take it on the freeway, though, so it was a very basic test drive.

    For 2006 (last time I looked) the base models (SE’s) ony came with CVT’s.

    Looks like Ford is trying to punish cheap buyers (me) with their poor choice of CVT transmission partners. BTW, I read that the European partner pulled out so Ford is making them by themselves.

    Good thing the Japanese sourced CVT is going into the Caliber.

    I love the functionality of the Five Hundred (and Volvo DNA of the Freestyle) despite the anemic engines and iffy transmissions. I guess I’ll revisit them once the Ford/Chevy 6 speed makes it into these cars, along with the new 3.5 liter engine.

    Or maybe I’ll just get a Charger way before then. It has all the good stuff, plus rwd with stability control.

  20. TO: VINCE; Can’t your “blog administrator” delete the blogs with inappropriate 4-letter words? ( Like the ones that constitute 99% of what douchebag jones’ writes). My kids are reading over my shoulder when I view your site.

  21. “you are the joke around here douchef*gboy!”

    It will serve us all better to not entertain douchbagjones’ pointless remarks, but please refrain from such abhorrent and homophobic comments that have nothing to do with automobiles.

    Thank you.

    Thanks, too, Vince, for a terrific website dedicated to all types of vehicles. With your real-world commentary, the newest of pictures, and mostly civil community of fans, your site is a daily dose of fun for this car nut.

  22. I just want to thank everyone who had nice comments (even the other ones)

    I really wanted to like the Freestyle.
    And I have to say, the interior does look much cheaper in reality than on the pictures. I guess that’s because the design and the shapes are not bad.
    But the quality of the plastics is.

    And I think the 3.0 liter engine is fine. But the CVT just won’t let you see that power.
    It’s almost dangerous in some situations.

  23. I own a Freestyle, that cost me 23k. I dont feel the vibration at all. Is it fast, well no it is not. Does it get great gas milage? Yep. Cheap inside. Maybe a bit but come on, a Toyota isnt?
    Plastic galore. The car is incredibly flexable, going from my wifes yenta friends shopping to me and the kids skiing, and boarding.
    never misses a beat. The thing kicks ass. Why stuff myself into a Pacifica?

  24. Hello Mr Burlapp,

    I own a 2005 Freestyle.

    I don’t know, I must have gotten the wrong car. I don’t see the same things that you see in this vehicle.

    I have never had a leather dash board. So the plastic does me just fine.

    The instrument cluster, hmmm… that looks good too.

    Speed. Did you drive the same vehicle that I did? I do have the 3.0 litre V6 with the CVT matched to the AWD vehicle.

    I think that any vehicle that will exceed 110 mph is fast. Have I gone that fast? Yes, but don’t tell my wife, she would freak!

    I didn’t purchase a luxury wagon. I got a Ford and got exactly what I was expecting in a vehicle.

    So far, it hasn’t let me down once.

    I have looked at the other vehicles and I wasn’t all that impressed. For my own money, I think that I got the best bang for my buck.

    Folks at work are impressed with my “ride” as well.

    Believe you me, I didn’t purchase this vehicle to impress anyone. I got it for it’s saftey features.

    Does that mean that I wanted a rocket? No.

    Does that mean that I need a leather interior to give me great gas mileage? No.

    Does the engine red line? No. Go back and try it. There is no cable from the gas pedal to the throttle body. It is electronically controlled to give you the best performance that the vehicle can give you.

    Do I want a bigger V6? Hello! Can’t you see what we are doing to the planet now?

    I have never been stuck in a snow bank. I’ve tried. I live in Canada and we have a few to spare.

    I have been in white outs and have felt completely safe inside this car.

    The car throws lots of light on the road at night as well.

    I don’t feel the vibration that you have mentioned. I have two complete sets of tires for my car. There doesn’t seem to be any difference in the handeling, aside from the extra humm from the winter tires.

    I have let the car run straight for over a mile, without putting a hand on the steering wheel. The highway turned, so I had to steer.

    If I would change one thing about this vehicle, it would be the cloth that they used for the seats. Get one drop of water on the cloth, and it looks like you dumped a glass of red wine on the seat. It just stays there and looks stained. I am not too impressed with that…

    But then again, this is just my opinion about a vehicle that I have owned for over 2 years now.

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