The Ford Freestyle crossover vehicle undergoes changes to its line-up for 2007. The base SE model has been discontinued, and the Limited model, which was strictly all-wheel drive in 2006, is now front-wheel drive with AWD optional.
Other changes include front seat side impact airbags and three-row curtain airbags with rollover sensor standard on all models (late availability), a new Comfort Package optional on the SEL model, and two new exterior colours, Alloy Metallic and Dune Pearl Metallic.
Based on a Volvo P2 platform shared with the Five Hundred, the Freestyle offers six- or seven-passenger configuration (the second row is a choice of reclining bucket seats or a three-passenger 60/40 split bench). It uses a 3.0-litre Duratec V6 engine mated to a chain-driven continuously-variable transmission (CVT); the AWD optional on both trim lines is a Haldex electronic system borrowed from Volvo, which sends power to the rear wheels if the front ones slip.
Features on the SEL include 17-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, air conditioning, power mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, message centre with compass, keyless entry with driver’s door-mounted keypad, cruise control, CD stereo, six-way power driver’s seat, and woodgrain interior trim.
The new optional SEL Comfort Package includes automatic headlamps, fog lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control with auxiliary control, outside temperature display, six-CD/MP3 stereo, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power adjusters, and power-adjustable pedals.
The Limited adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, perimeter alarm, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, heated mirrors with memory and puddle lamps, reverse sensing system, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals with memory, six-CD stereo with subwoofer, heated leather-trimmed seats, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power adjusters, and power sunroof. In six-passenger configuration, the Limited also adds a console and forward/back adjustment to the second row.
The Freestyle features “Command Seating”, Ford’s name for its higher seating position, which gives the vehicle more of an SUV feel, but without the oversized footprint. The third-row seating is fairly accessible, and is more comfortable than expected; both second and third rows fold to form a flat cargo floor. Prices have come down to the point where the 2007 SEL’s base price is less than that of the 2006 SE, and it’s nice to be able to get the Limited’s features without having to take AWD. The Freestyle is a good compromise between sedan and SUV at a reasonable price.