- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2005

Anything with the attributes of an SUV, minivan and sedan is called a “crossover.” Something not limited to a pattern is freestyle. Ford’s all-new crossover is aptly named the Freestyle.

It is designed to fit the many patterns of every lifestyle. The 2005 Freestyle has a unique exterior look that captures both minivan and sport utility vehicle. Right from the start it communicates a message of functionality.

The test vehicle, painted Dark Blue Pearl, looked as elegant as it did functional. A high beltline, long hood, tinted glass windows, large wheels and smooth bodylines attracted the attention of a few of my tennis companions when I drove the Freestyle to the club. The all-wheel-drive Freestyle handled the twisty, two-lane highway leading up to the club like a champion sport sedan.

With sedanlike access, the Freestyle has ease of entry and exit. On the inside, the cabin has a mixed ambiance of roomy sport utility and comfy sedan. The Freestyle handles with the ease of a four-door sedan, but is not limited by confining characteristics that sometimes define interior sedan room: limited shoulder-, knee- and legroom. The Freestyle is most comfortable for passengers as a five-seater; however, because the Freestyle is built for every lifestyle, it is offered with the optional third-row for two more passengers. It was good to have the third row if I needed to transport at seven-seater full occupancy, but I preferred the fold-flat space for cargo-carrying tasks.

The interior of the Freestyle approaches the definition of upscale. The test Freestyle started at $28,045 and included more than $4,800 in optional equipment. So, with a final sticker price of $33,530, the amenities of the Freestyle made for quite a handsome crossover vehicle.

The Pebble Leather seating was plush and beautifully accented by the light coming through the power moonroof. One available option I was glad to have was the $250 Reverse Sensing System, particularly because of the vehicle’s high beltline design, which does not allow for easy viewing of objects in the rear. The optional DVD system for $995 kept second-row occupants entertained.

The Freestyle is offered in three trims: SE starts at $25,595, SEL has a base price of $26,995 and the Limited begins at $29,195. The SE and SEL come with 17-inch wheels while the Limited wears 18-inchers. Freestyle is offered in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. Freestyle is powered by Ford’s Duratec 30. The 24-valve, 3.0-liter V-6 engine is mated to an all-new continuously variable transmission. The V-6 produces 203 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 207 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm.

Fuel economy ratings on the front-wheel-drive Freestyle are 20 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway. The SEL test vehicle was equipped with all-wheel drive and achieved EPA ratings of 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

The all-new Freestyle is built with an energy-channeling frame structure engineered with the assistance of Volvo. The design of the structure helps channel and absorb crash forces away from the passenger compartment in the event of an accident. Ford makes available as options side-impact air bags and Safety Canopy for head and chest protection in all three rows. Ford has covered all its bases with the Freestyle: safety, utility, style and performance.

For drivers whose lifestyles are not confined or limited to strict patterns, the all-new 2005 Ford Freestyle has all the freedom and flexibility that crossover vehicles can offer.

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