Portions of the Freestyle's underbody structure are shared with the Volvo S80, giving the Ford a solid pedigree for both refinement and safety. Side and curtain airbags are optional. The curtain airbags, which cover all three rows of seats, are designed to deploy not only in a side impact, but also in a rollover accident. Anti-lock brakes and traction control are standard on all models. Stability control is not available. The Freestyle has earned coveted five-star ratings in government crash tests for both front and side performance, and it claims four-star rollover ratings for both 2WD and 4WD iterations.
The Freestyle's superior ride, handling, packaging, and ingress/egress give it a leg up on most conventional SUVs for daily use. Look for the Freestyle and other vehicles like it to steal more and more sales from truck-based SUVs, as families realize they're a better solution to their driving needs. Conventional SUVs are still superior for those looking to tow a heavy trailer--the Freestyle tows only 2,000 pounds as compared with the Explorer's 7,000. They're also more capable off road, and by off road we mean terrain tougher than dirt two-tracks, which the Freestyle can easily handle. Compared with a station wagon, the Freestyle offers better passenger accommodations, with a higher seating position, and a standard--and usable--third-row seat. Fuel economy is much better than that of Ford's own Explorer, with 20/27 city/highway mpg as compared with the heavier SUV's 15/21.