The year 2020 has not been too kind on the world with Coronavirus (COVID-19) wreaking havoc across businesses and affecting lives. With a gradual relaxation in norms in the last few months, we have been stepping out of the house (of course, with all the precautions in place) to keep buyers like you informed about new car options. This time around, it was one of our long-term cars, a white gold coloured Ford Freestyle that was loaned to me to share my experience of living with it.
People who are required to be in office or just need to run errands around the city, would be quite aware by the congested road conditions, which was further aggravated by limited public transport and people choosing their private vehicles over public commuting modes. My office is a good 50 kilometres drive from my place and I was glad to drive around in Ford’s compact utility vehicle, the Freestyle. The one you see in the pictures is a Titanium+ variant, which is powered by a 1.2-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine.
The Ford Freestyle is definitely a visual charmer with muscular styling elements, but does this car really have the potential to meet your needs? Read below to learn more about my experience of living with the Ford Freestyle.
How practical is it?
In terms of dimensions, the Ford Freestyle has a length of 3,954mm, width of 1,737mm, and height of 1,570mm. The proportionate dimensions make it suitable for city commutes. Open the driver side door and you will notice a dual-tone dashboard in chocolate brown and black combination. The dashboard colour combination is unconventional and it takes a while to get accustomed to it, after all, liking this colour combination is subjective. That said, the colour combination can be better suited for Indian conditions and it camouflages dust and grime on the dashboard to a large extent. The instrument cluster is fairly basic with an analogue layout, and this makes it easily readable and uncluttered.
Ford cars are known to be driver friendly and this trait is present in the Freestyle as well. There is a good amount of legroom and headroom for the driver and the steering wheel is well calibrated to drive in both city traffic as well as the highways. The front seats offer adequate thigh and lumbar support. On the right to the steering, the rotary dial switch offers easy access to headlamps and foglamps. You also get a boot release button beside the rotary dial switch. The front passenger seat can get slightly cramped, particularly for taller passengers due to a large glovebox that has resulted in marginally compromising on the knee room.
The vehicle gets a bench seat at the rear with fairly decent amount of thigh support. The rear seat is fairly basic with no extra storage spaces or handrest. Additionally, the Freestyle loses out on brownie points due to lack of adjustable headrest and a 60:40 seat layout in the back.
The Freestyle offers 257-litres of bootspace that can comfortably accommodate a full-sized suit case and a large duffle bag. Although, I liked the one-touch boot release beside the rotary knob on the driver side when seated, it does get a bit uncomfortable if you are carrying shopping bags and need to open the boot. The boot lid lacks a release button and you are required to manually lift it once you unlock it with a key or walk up to the driver side to press the boot release button. The lower loading lip and high rising boot lid allows you to stand upright and load the luggage effortlessly.
What’s on the feature list?
Now here’s something that I liked, except for the base variant, all the variants are offered with a manual driver seat height adjustment feature. Good amount of headroom provides ample room for driver seat adjustment. The dashboard is adorned with a 6.5-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system with FordPass and navigation. The Ford Freestyle offers the second best touchscreen option in cars priced under Rs 10 lakh, to learn more click here. The Freestyle gets illuminated glove box and load compartment light for convenience in the dark. The steering wheel features the phone and audio control buttons.
Ford is one of the safest modern day car manufacturer and offers features like dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, door ajar warning and manual day/night IRVMs as standard. This being a Titanium+ variant, it gets six airbags including side and curtain airbags, along with safety equipment like Active Rollover Prevention, ABS with EBD, door ajar warning and more. As for convenience, it gets push button start, electrically adjustable and foldable ORVMs, automatic climate control, automatic headlamp, rain-sensing wiper, electric rear window defogger, and electrochromic IRVM. The one driven by me was a slightly older model and Ford has recently introduced the Freestyle Flair. In addition to all the features from the Titanium+ variant, the recently introduced Flair variant gets black painted roof along with sporty cosmetic detailing on the exterior as well as the interior.
What’s the fuel efficiency like?
This one is powered by a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 95bhp at 6,500rpm and 119Nm of torque at 4,250rpm. This engine comes mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The gearshifts are smooth and effortless, also there is enough power in every gear to withhold your interest. The Ford Freestyle returned 13kmpl in city runs, while it returned 16.4kmpl in the highway runs. The company claims a fuel efficiency figure of 18.5kmpl.
How does it perform on the daily commute?
Ford Freestyle is an ideal choice as a daily commuter. Compact dimensions and a good turning radius of five-meters make it effortless to park or move around tight spots. The 1.2-litre engine is peppy and it is capable of holding three digit figures on the speedo for brief intervals. The Freestyle is more of a driver car rather than wanting to take the backseat. That said, an automatic option would have made things a lot simpler while driving it in city traffic conditions. Tackling bad roads has never been a problem with Ford cars and the suspension setup in the Freestyle is no different, as it continues to impress with good handling in both regular as well as bad road conditions.
The navigation system on the touchscreen infotainment system makes it effortless while reaching out to new locations and the rear parking camera is quite accurate and reliable. Ingress and Egress is easy and it does not give that small car feel. The overall build quality is good and the internal plastic quality is fairly acceptable.
How is it for the weekend?
You can drive to a new location that is just a few hours away from home but covering extra-long distances can be quite uncomfortable particularly for the rear seat occupants. Introduced as a compact utility vehicle by Ford, the wheel arch slightly compromises on the boot space. That said, there is decent amount of luggage space for a short trip, and sufficient headroom and legroom for all the occupants. The vehicle does not get a rear AC vent and its absence is likely to be felt during long commute. The Ford Freestyle can accommodate five occupants including the driver, however four occupants will be a good option if your plan to take it anywhere beyond the city limits.
What’s the deal with the warranty?
The Ford Freestyle comes with three-years or 1 lakh kilometres factory warranty as standard. For an additional cost, the customers can avail periodic maintenance options on the 1.2-litre petrol and well as 1.5-litre diesel variants for a period of up to 10 years or 1 lakh kilometres.
The Ford Freestyle fills in the need for a perfect everyday commuter. The vehicle is reasonably spacious, powerful and gets all the modern safety equipment. In terms of styling, you can expect a glance or two from the bystanders with a thumbs up. The vehicle has a young charm and will appeal to buyers from all age groups.
Yes, it does lack a few features as compared to its modern day competitors, but then, looking at a larger picture, the Freestyle is a well-built product and will stand by you for a few years without a hiccup. Going forward, it would be nicer if Ford decides to offer an automatic option, provide a 60:40 seating layout in the back seat, as well as an armrest in the back.
Now coming to the real question if you should buy it, then that would be a yes, if safety and reliability are something that you seek, and you would not mind compromising on a fancy equipment list.
Photos by: Kaustubh Gandhi