Review: 2006 Ford Freestyle

The Manufacturer

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.

The well-composed Freestyle is the crossover vehicle that most Explorer intenders should consider, with better road manners, interior packaging, fuel economy, and sticker price.

What's Hot

  • Roomy interior
  • Standard third seat
  • Carlike ride and handling

    What's Not

  • No CVT alternative
  • Overtaxed, unrefined engine
  • No stability control available

    The Freestyle was brand new for 2005, so the changes for 2006 are relatively minor. A navigation system is a new option, and leather upholstery and power-adjustable pedals are more widely available.

    We strongly recommend the side and curtain airbags for safety. Snow-state residents likely will want the Haldex full-time four-wheel-drive system, despite its attendant weight and fuel-economy penalties. Parents will almost certainly want the rear-seat DVD player. The reverse-parking aide is good for those who need some assistance when parking. And for those who need guidance on the open road, there's an optional navigation system.

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