Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why isn't the FreeStyle selling in big numbers, check it's safety out at AutoBlog

When I first saw the FreeStyle in Nashville in 2004, I was amazed. I thought that this and the sedan 500 would be milestone cars for Ford, and by all rights they should have been. Crisp clean styling, very well put together, the FreeStyle in particular is like a swiss army knife in it's usefull features. I was in Nashville for the 40 th aniverary of the Mustang and at a display there it was with no fuss or shouting. And that's the way it is today. Ford never gave the FreeStyle the marketing it needed. And the name makes it suffer because of it's similarity to the awful FreeStar, guilt by association.

Now if you look at the reveiws over the last year and a half in different magazines and of course at the article linked above, you should ask yourself "why don't I see tons of these on the road?"
SUV versatility and utility, sedan handling and fuel economy, it truly just makes too much sense.
But this suffers from the blahs. It gets slammed in the automotive press as being underpowered, but in head to head tests with the Chrysler Pacifica it's faster despite an almost 40 hp deficit. Now with the revision of Japanese hp ratings, it stacks up fairly well against the competition. But Ford is ready to demote the FreeStyle to the Mercury Meta One and lower volume sales. At least it's not going away completely. But I still insist they should have called it the Country Squire or Ranch Wagon and the 500 should have been the Galaxie 500.


Shawn said...

I think Ford NEEDS to introduce high power models of all their cars to fend off the critics.

This vehicle was killed by the American automotive press like the 500.

Big Ford Fan said...

Well Shawn, Ford is getting to roll out new powertrains for these and other models. The new 3.5 Duratec V6 may give the needed extra power and there is the Volvo (Yamaha) V-8 making 311 hp from the XC-90. And dare to hope the new 2.3 L DISI Turbo I4 from Mazda's MazdaSpeed6.

But in general I agree that Ford needs to improve power across the range, trucks and cars. But as I've said before Ford has a fear of horsepower.

The Press didn't help the FreeStyle or 500, but the ultimate blame lays at Ford's feet, not properly marketing the vehicles and not giving them the increased power from day 1.

The new Fusion may not suffer that fate, as it's V6 is rated at 220 hp thanks to the Mazda tune on it.

Shawn said...

However, don't you think it is just an assumption by the automotive press that more power is better for any type of vehicle.

Remember the days before the HP war when 200 is a lot? Do you really need that many horses considering the cost of fuel & the driving habbits of the buyers?

To me, the Freestyle is a mini-van without the gliding doors. Adding horses to it makes very little sense to me. However, we have been fooled by the "horsepower" numbers like we been fooled into thinking "Gigahertz" is the end-all of computer speed.

Yes, there are a small number of people that will take a FreeStyle and blast it on the highway, but that's a small minority.

I think at the end of the day, the horsepower numbers are like warm blankets in southern California...it lets us sleep better at night knowing that it is sitting in the closet.

Big Ford Fan said...

Shawn you're right the hype of horsepower over the last few years has been a double edged sword.
Most vehicles don't seem to need the extra power. But cars have been getting heavier every year because of the chassis stiffening for safety and handling. If you think for a second and realize that many "compact" cars weigh in the neighborhood of 3,300 lbs. It does take more power to push that weight down the road.

My first new car had 68 hp and only weighed 2,000 lbs fully loaded. I remember my Pinto weighed just over 2,000 and I used to push it around a flat parking lot with one hand. Try that with todays "compact" cars. My old Mustang had "only" 225 hp, many mini vans have at least that today.

All this weight and the horsepower race is stalling any improvements in economy too.