2014 Fiat Freemont Crossroad review
Mark Higgins’ first drive 2014 Fiat Freemont Crossroad review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a nutshell The range-topping Fiat Freemont Crossroad is a versatile, affordable, well-specced, and comfortable new contender in the highly competitive SUV market.
Practical Motoring Says The Freemont Crossroad neatly blurs the MPV and SUV lines and if you don’t need off-road capability, but want a good looking rig that’s a dab hand at multi-tasking, and loaded with kit, go take it for a test drive.
ITALY’S BEST-SELLING seven-seater, the Fiat Freemont, has been on our shores since 2013 and recently the lineup has expended with the introduction of the top of the range Crossroad. It has the Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 under the bonnet that drives the front wheels through a six-speed auto transmission, is well priced and generously equipped with room for seven.
Muscular sums up the Fiat Freemont Crossroad exterior. It has unique bumpers, gloss black grille and fog light frames as well as black frames for the front and rear light clusters. Platinum Chrome highlights are used extensively on the side skirts and roof rails and on the underbody protector below the rear bumper, to enhance the five-door body. Eye catching 19-inch burnished “Hyper Black” five-spoke alloy wheels complete the look.
Opening the doors reveals a well-appointed, spacious cabin with plentiful head, shoulder and legroom in all rows, but as the third row requires a bit of gymnastics through the rear doors, so its best left for kids. There are 20 storage compartments, including two in the floor and 32 seat configurations and with the second and third row seats folded flat, the Crossroad offers 1500 litres of luggage space which is big but not huge for this type of vehicle.
Setting the Crossroad apart from the rest of the Freemont range are black leather seats with cloth mesh inserts and a new Graphite Liquid colour used on the dashboard, instrumentation, centre console, door panels and leather to give the cabin a luxurious tone.
Both front seats are heated and the driver’s is electrically-adjustable fore/aft, but the upper section requires manual adjustment. All seven seats are soft and comfortable but the lack of a driver’s side footrest makes you feel like you’re sitting at an odd angle. The 60/40 split second row seats, which also have fore/aft adjustment, have a clever pop up booster in the squab of the window seats, to allow young ones (15 to 36 kg) to take in the passing scenery. There’s roof mounted air con outlets in all three rows with separate controls, in the second row and all three rows are have their own cupholders.
The driver’s seat sits a bit high for our liking, even at its lowest setting and the multi-function steering wheel a tad low, so finding a comfortable driving position took some time. The trade off though, is good all all-round visibility and a clear view of the analogue instrument panel and multifunction display.
An intuitive and easy to use 8.4-inch ‘Uconnect’ touchscreen dominates the dash and its clear screen, both day and night makes using the sat nav, streaming music and pairing your mobile child’s play. The large screen also boasts a reversing camera with grid lines in addition to the parking sensors. Your favourite tunes will sound a bit special through Alpine’s 368 watt audio system while the dual-zone climate control keeps you at a happy operating temperature.
The Crossroad ups the ante against its rivals with a 3.6 litre V6 that loves to rev and kicks out 206kW at 6350rpm and 342Nm at 4350rpm. It’s a silky smooth engine with a nice bark when pushed and delivers impressive acceleration. Tread hard on the throttle and you can generate a bit of torque steer on patchy surfaces. It likes a drink and even tippy-toeing along the freeway couldn’t get it to guzzle less then 10.5L/100km. Getting the drive to the front wheels is done through a six-speed auto that can be a bit clunky when shifting.
With the Crossroad suspension set up for comfort, it does quite a good job at dealing with road irregularities and given its weight and height, there isn’t as much body roll as you’d expect when cornering. While front end grip is adequate, the light steering is not that communicative at times, but the big disk brakes have an assuring progressive feel and manage to control the 1820kg (tare) mass well.
Overall, the Freemont Crossroad’s dynamics are not too shabby but can’t match the similar sized Ford Territory.
The Freemont Crossroad is lavishly equipped for $36,500 (+ORC) and it’s very hard to beat in the value stakes. It gets: the 8.4″ Uconnect touch screen with CD/MP3, DVD/SD, sat nav, a six-speaker Alpine audio system with subwoofer and 368 watt amplifier, dual zone climate control, 19-inch alloys wheels, keyless entry (automatic door opening system), keyless starting system, Reversing camera and rear parking sensors, electrically adjustable driver’s seat (cushion only), heated folding electric side-view mirrors, multifunction steering wheel, USB and AUX-IN inputs and front and rear fog lights
Safety features include six airbags that cover all three rows, Isofix child restraint system Electronic Rollover Mitigation (ERM) and Trailer Sway Control (TSC) as well as traction and stability controls. Last year ANCAP tested a diesel Freemont and gave it four stars, but no petrol version was tested, and while a four star rating is okay, we’d prefer it to be a five star rating. Fiat backs the Freemont with a three-year/150,000km warranty and roadside assistance program, but does not offer capped-price servicing.