The Fiat Freemont is one of the most affordable seven seaters on the market. Priced from just $27,000 plus on-roads, Fiat’s (Dodge) rebadged people mover is a lot of car for the money. But it was just a tad short on dynamics and power. Now the range has received a new flagship – the Freemont Crossroad, with a sticker of $36,500.
Joining the existing four-cylinder petrol and diesel models, the Freemont Crossroad features a Chrysler-sourced 3.6-litre V6 engine that develops 206kW and 342Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
The extra $3,500 over the previous top dog, the Lounge, also gets you distinguishing visual enhancements, including a new front bumper with chrome colour inserts, glossy black front grille and fog light frames, chrome colour side skirts and roof rails, smoked front and rear light clusters, and rear bumper with chrome colour under-body protective insert.
Wrapping up the upgrades to the SUV-like exterior is a set of 19-inch burnished ‘Hyper Black’ five-spoke alloy wheels, which do look the part.
Inside, new features include the black leather seats with sports mesh inserts and light ardesian grey top stitching, which is also applied on the central armrest and door panels. A new Liquid Graphite colour finish highlights the dashboard, instrumentation, central console, door panel and steering wheel.
Riding on a generous wheelbase of 2,890mm, the Freemont comes standard with three rows of seats, all except the third have ample headroom and legroom. The third row can be easily accessible via an effortlessly operated seat slide system, and rear doors that open to 90o. When not in used, the third row folds completely flat for 784 litres of luggage space. Should the needs arise, the 2ndrow tumbles forward for an even larger 1,461 litres. All in, there are 32 different seating configurations.
The Freemont’s family-friendly attributes are further reinforced with theatre-style seating for the 2nd and 3rd row seats where they are mounted slightly higher than the row before, allowing the little ones unrestricted views of the scenery that rushes past the vast glasshouse. The 2nd row also has built-in child booster seats that raise the seats by up to 102mm.
There are over 20 storage compartments on-board to cater to a family’s diverse needs, from a deep front centre armrest to an under cushion compartment under the front passenger seat. At the back, there’s also under floor compartments in the second row footwell. Other nice touches include a 12-volt outlet and removable/rechargeable torch in the boot.
Equipment level in the new range-topper is generous. An easy-to-use and ultra-crisp 8.4-inch touch screen with satellite navigation and DVD player is standard, so are rear parking camera and sensors, tri-zone climate control, keyless pushbutton start and electrically adjustable driver’s seat. There is also a banging Alpine premium sound system with six speakers and subwoofer driven through a 364 watt amplifier.
The Crossroad’s feature packed and well put together cabin is hauled by the amazingly refined 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, delivering the goods linearly throughout the rev range. It’s gutsy in city traffic and effortless in the open road. Cruising in the Crossroad is both relaxing and comfortable, making it perfect for munching up country miles. At legal freeway speeds, the big V6 sits at a lazy 1,500 rpm and is hardly audible.
Like the V6 the six-speed auto is smooth in its gear changes, but falls short in efficiency. A closely stacked eight-speeder would work the torquey V6 much better, which would result in better fuel economy. Speaking of which, the Crossroad averaged 13.6L/100km over our week long test, with mostly urban driving.
Having a punchy V6 motivating the front axle without a proper differential also means you get unwanted wheel spin on take off, especially on wet surfaces. Overlooking those flaws however, the almost 2-tonne Crossroad is quick to get up to speed, accomplishing the century spin in a respectable 7.6 seconds (tested).
The Crossroad’s sporty makeover looks promising but is only skin deep. Hurried into a corner and the car will pitch and roll as the chassis scuffles to rein in its lumbering mass. Any sudden changes in direction will also unsettle the car. The steering, too, feels rather numb and disconnected. However, its lightness makes parking manoeuvres a breeze.
In terms of safety the Crossroad has got it covered. There are six airbags, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and active head restraints.
Already one of the best value seven seaters on the market, the 2014 Fiat Freemont Crossroad adds sporty looks and V6 power. It’s a well-equipped, quiet and comfortable family hauler with loads of space. Just don’t expect it to be particularly good on fuel.
|Price (Exc. On-Road):||$36,500|
|Warranty:||3-year or 100,000km|
|Engine:||3.5-litre V6 petrol (FWD) 206kW @ 6,350rpm, 342Nm @ 4,350rpm;|
|Fuel Consumption (Combined):||10.4L/100km (claimed); 13.6L/100km (tested)|
|Body:||5-door SUV; 7-seat|
|Dimensions:||Length: 4888mm, Width: 1878mm, Height: 1745mm, Wheelbase: 2890mm|