2005 to 2009: Ford Freestyle and Taurus X
Introduced for 2005, the Ford Freestyle shared its platform with the Ford Five Hundred (the Five Hundred was renamed the Ford Taurus in 2008). The Freestyle and the subsequent Taurus X featured three rows of seating with room for six or seven.
All Freestyle models are powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine making 203 horsepower, which is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Front-wheel drive was standard and all-wheel drive was available across the model line.
The Ford Freestyle shared its platform with Volvo models that include the S60 sedan and XC90 SUV. All Freestyle models offered standard air conditioning, second-row captain’s chairs (or an available bench seat) and full power accessories. As you move up through the trim levels, such amenities as automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, an upgraded sound system, heated front seats and leather upholstery were offered.
Changes for the Freestyle included an optional navigation system in 2006. All models built from September 2006 on also received several safety updates, including standard front seat-mounted side air bags, full-length side curtain air bags and an alarm system. Heated mirrors were made standard as well.
Beginning in 2008, Ford refreshed the vehicle and renamed it the Taurus X. New front and rear fascias were introduced and Ford’s voice-activated Sync system became available.
Most significantly, the 2008 Taurus X gained a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine making 263 horsepower, and it was paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission. Stability control, always lacking in the Freestyle, was standard with the Taurus X.
Chief competitors to the Ford Freestyle and Taurus X included crossovers like the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Venza. Buyers might also consider the Ford Flex, which is a similar model that has been on the market since 2009. Other SUVs to consider include the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9.