Known for its all-weather capabilities, minivan-like versatility, and wagon-like maneuverability, the Ford Freestyle symbolized Ford’s foray into the highly competitive car-based, three-row SUV/Crossover segment. Since three top SUV names—the Chrysler Pacifica, the Honda Pilot, and the Buick Rendezvous—accounted for 200,000+ sales in 2003, Ford wanted a share of the pie. So in 2003, the Ford Freestyle (as a 2005 model) was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show.
2004-2007: Crossing over into the SUV segment
The Freestyle was launched in 2003, although production didn’t start until 2005. Initially, this model was to be called the Ford CrossTrainer. However, the name was changed to Freestyle since Ford adopted a scheme wherein all of its cars were to be named with brands starting with the letter F. This model was designed using the Ford D3 platform, a design and engineering concept used on other various vehicles such as the Mercury Montego, the Volvo XC90, and the Ford Five Hundred.
Just like large SUVs, the Freestyle was equipped with a three-row seating arrangement that could accommodate seven passengers. A command seating, a driver’s seat with a higher H-point, was also included to improve driver visibility and to make stepping into and out of the vehicle easier. This model and its SUV rivals were the first US vehicles to incorporate a CVT or continuously variable transmission system. Available models were SE (offered from 2004 to 2006), SEL (offered from 2004 to 2009), and Limited (also offered from 2004 to 2009).
During its initial production years, the number of sales was quite respectable. As a matter of fact, the Freestyle earned a nomination for the 2005 North American Truck of the Year award.
2007-2009: From Freestyle to Taurus X
At the Chicago Auto Show in 2007, the Freestyle was renamed and introduced as the Ford Taurus X as a 2008 model. The Taurus X featured a distinctly styled grill known for its chrome bars with a blue oval at the center. It also featured an “Edie Bauer” trim that’s also found on the Ford Explorer. Its engine and powertrain were upgraded, discontinuing the 3-L V6 and CVT transmission. It was now powered by a 3.5-L Duratec 35 V6 and a new, six-speed 6F automatic transmission system. Other new features included a power lift gate and second-row seats. Available models included SEL and Limited, which were both offered from 2004 to 2009, and an Eddie Bauer Edition, which was offered only for 2008 models.
Despite the cosmetic changes and powertrain upgrades, the Taurus X didn’t survive due to the 2008-2010 automotive industry crisis. In 2009, the Freestyle/Taurus X was replaced by the Ford Flex. Despite its discontinuation, the Ford Freestyle continues to attract second-hand buyers looking for a reliable, spacious, and stylish family-friendly SUV.