Ford Freestyle What Would You Change?
I'm ready to buy a Freestyle as soon as the new 3.5 V-6 and 6-speed tranny replaces current the 3.0/CVT combo. Hopefully, this happens in the middle of the '07 model year. When it does, I am ready to buy. I love the cargo versatility, especially the fold-down front passenger seat and overall interior. Other than the engine/tranny, there is nothing that I would change. Never thought I'd buy a domestic model again but the Freestyle has changed my mind.
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Ford could drop a four-cylinder turbo motor and increase the fuel economy without sacrificing power. This is the direction Mazda has gone with the CX-7. Ford could also install a turbo diesel from one of their European offerings. In either case, this vehicle with a fuel efficient power plant and CVT transmission (or my preference a manual transmission) could get in the mid 30's to even near 40 mpg on the highway. This would blow away any other vehicle on the road from a utility/fuel economy standpoint.... but alas Ford is dropping the CVT. Let's hope they get the rest of it right. No more fuel hungry gas V-6es!
I disagree. I have been driving 4-cyl turbos for years and they are a fantastic combination of power and economy. My turbo fours have all been Saabs, but then again Europe has often lead the US in the economy/power realm. When Americans want more power they tend to throw more cylinders at the problem which adds weight and decreases economy. Even with displacement on demand' you are still hauling around 30% extra engine weight.
Your comment about longevity is way off the mark. I personally have over 170,000 trouble free miles on my turbo 4-cyl '97 Saab. I know others who have 2 or 3 hundred thousand miles on theirs. Longevity is based on the quality of the engine and proper maintenance, not the number of cylinders.
The amount of noise an engine makes varies from engine to engine and is not determined by the number of cylinders. In fact, the argument can be made that the more cylinders there are the more noise is made. Ultimately the amount of noise is determined by the design of the exhaust system.
Some complain about a 4cyl not being as smooth as a 6. This may be true, but modern balance shaft 4-cyl engines are very smooth. The only place a high displacement engine is really necessary is when doing heavy towing, and how many of us tow over 5,000lbs every day?
Some Americans are catching on and I predict the 244hp turbo 4-cyl Mazda CX-7 will be a hit.
I have 143,000 km on my 5cyl volvo turbo. My 01 4cyl Saab had 100,000 when I sold it - although, not considered high mileage but no problems - both run on regular gas. Both these engines are quieter than the Freestyle when into the throttle (maybe its the packaging)
I don't know much about the longevity of volvo turbos but the Saab 4 cyl lifespan is legendary.
Part of the argument for turbos is the max torque is 1000-2500 rpm range - where you need it. So you rarely need to go high rpm.
I just did 1600km summer trip with the volvo wagon - 5 people, 5 bikes, cargo carrier through the mountains - 100 to 120 kph never over 3000 rpm. It was fun watching all those 6cyl SUVs try to pass you on the hills (with passing lanes) and you end up back overtaking them as they can't sustain the speed up the steep hills.
1. Wider back hatch so you could transport a sheet of drywall or plywood. THe interior space is wide enough but the hatch is not.
2. The back hatch glass being able to open independently of the hatch, like the Escape.
3. Better visibility. Is it me or does there seem to be big plastic pieces everywhere I need to see? My Windstar was great for visibility. I have had the Freestyle for about 14 months and am still not sure what is around or behind me when backing up or changing lanes - regardless of how I position my seat and mirrors. After dinging my neighbors car backing out of my driveway, I widh I had gotten the back up warning...I guess I will get used to it.
That is it. It is an admirable replacement to my 96 Windstar that I had zero problems with. I was leary of the CVT but have grown to understand it and use it effectively for both power and mileage. This is a great undiscovered car that Ford should do everyting in its power to promote, IMO.
My '05 Freestyle SE FWD replaced a '95 Windstar. I miss the open cargo area when the seats were removed in the Windstar. However, the Freestyle gets better gas mileage and is almost as big. The Windstar was much maligned, but it was very practical and comfortable. The CVT in the Freestyle always knows where the best RPM is, unlike other automatic trannies that can only approximate it.
The "Fairlane" may also come out in a seperate Lincoln version.
While we're at it they could also decrease the noise a little in the Cro.wn vic and give it the mustang engine with the six speed tranny from the Five Hundred and you would have a great rear wheel drive car
And how about building the mercury messenger as a luxury model based on the mustang platform with the 3.5 liter engine. Then you would have the 4 liter v-6 and V8 mustangs with the 3.5 liter V-6 Mercury messenger that could be a refined version of the mustang.
There just isn't enough of a market for big safe family vehicles with lots of cargo capacity. Family sizes do not justify it simply for demographic reasons.
I did a side-by-side comparison in December 2005 on those two points between a dealer's demo Freestyle and my next-door neighbor's brand new Toyota Highlander, which the Freestyle won. Those were critical issues for me with three children in college.
How many families have three or more children these days?
While the Highlander was a better vehicle overall as well as being more comfortable, the Freestyle was acceptable on every point save leg-room and cargo volume where it was clearly far superior. And much less expensive.
So I bought a new 2006 Freestyle instead of a new 2006 Highlander.
What is the potential market here, in terms of potential return on investment, and how much will Ford have to invest in the Freestyle to successfully compete in that market?
It comes down to three-children families and Ford having to down-size dramatically to survive. The Freestyle is a good vehicle and I wish it would survive.
A whole lot of Ford lines must be terminated in the next three years for Ford's family ownership to retain control.
If Ford had not produced this vehicle, I would not be driving a Ford. I have no interest in their truck alternatives (or their competitor truck alternatives). I have three kids who have mostly grown up in a Volvo wagon and sedans and felt I needed something a bit bigger. If Volvo made a bigger wagon I probably would be driving that.
I think Ford needs to give the Freestyle some more time and exposure and maybe some fine tuning. I think they can sell this car to wider range of customers than just those with 3 or more kids.
If Ford needs to terminate some lines, they need to decide who their customer is and focus on that. If canning the Freestyle is the result of this, I will be looking elsewhere when my lease expires. Maybe another Ford owned manufacturer (ie Volvo) maybe not.
-Make the hood/nose a bid shorter
-Remove the glare in the windshield
-Make the second row seats recline more
-Make the climate control system a bit simpler to use
-Put an engine a bit more powerful
-Put a motorized device to open and close the rear hatch
-Improve the noise insulation/reduction
Also, I think they could have configured the 3rd row to make it a couple of inches wider to make it a possible to put three kids back there. Right now it's more than wide enough for 2 adults, but if there was a way to have a center seatbelt that could be tucked away when not needed that would be nice too.
and it's so easy to fold them, even my 8 year old can do it many Ford sales people really don't know much about the Freestyle and seem to be not interested to sell them. 30 minutes on the internet and you know all you need to know...
i really don't think that the Freestyle needs more power. i am usually riding a motorcylce with plenty of power but never missed power in the Freestyle if you use it for what it is intended to be used. the smooth CVT may make it feel a bit underpowered but it easily can keep up with the rest of the traffic.
Anyway the seat configuration is quite versatile and the fold down passenger allows some long items to be carried.
From what I've read, the revised 2008 FS is to debut at the Chicago Auto Show next month. Changes should be similar to those recently introduced on the 2008 Five Hundred.
M. J. McCloskey
PS Hold judgment on the new 6 speed until you drive it, It will definitely impress you.
Ford failed to get the cost down enough to make the CVT viable.
By all accounts.. the new 6-spd is so good that not many will miss the efficiency of the CVT much.
Depending on how it's programmed. If it "jumps" from 6 down to 3 when you accelerate, without ever hitting 5 and 4 along the way (or doing so with "gaps" between the shifts), that will feel a LOT different than how the CVT is shifting.
A revolutionary change would be for the Freestyle to change to the drivetrain found in the Chevy Volt from the Detroit Auto show. Then we'd get a 600 mile range out of the Freestyle and 70 MPG!
Seems to me that when I smash on the gas in 6th gear, it's gonna hesitate and JUMP down to third . . and won't bother going into 5th then then 4th and then 3rd, which is what I'd think it would take to be as close to the CVT in smoothness as you can get.
Too bad I can't test drive one at the Houston Auto Show in a week or two.