Peo­ple mover with power

This hand­some beast should be on the agenda for those with a need for seats, PETER BARN­WELL writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

“IT’S a Fiat and it looks like this,” was ring­ing in our ears when we drove up in the new Fiat Freemont Cross­road peo­ple mover, pitched as an SUV by Fiat Aus­tralia.

It’s a hand­some beast with a more im­pos­ing face and body hard­ware in chrome, along with a set of strik­ing 19-inch al­loys. Def­i­nitely not your av­er­age “mum bus”.

The Freemont has been around for a while, at­tract­ing min­i­mal at­ten­tion.

But now, with a styling tweak, sharp pric­ing at $36,500 and a new V6 en­gine, the sev­enseater could and should be on the agenda for those with a need for seats.

Some crit­i­cism of the Freemont has been made about its ANCAP crash rat­ing but is pos­si­bly mis­di­rected be­cause it scores a five-star Euro­pean crash rat­ing.

The dif­fer­ence here is down to the fact that it doesn’t have a pedes­trian pro­tect­ing bon­net.

Apart from the looks, the Freemont’s US-de­rived Dodge Pen­tas­tar 3.6-litre V6 petrol en­gine lifts it to a new level in per­for­mance and de­sir­abil­ity terms.

It achieves some 206kW/342Nm out­put, which is re­spectable and drive goes to the front wheels through a sixspeed con­ven­tional au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Fuel econ­omy av­er­ages 10.4 litres/100km on the com­bined cy­cle.

It’s a medium/large ve­hi­cle with de­cent seats for five and smaller “part timers” in the back, which takes a large chunk of the load space.

But ac­cess to all seats is rel­a­tively easy through large doors and multi-fold­ing seats.

The ride is a tad sporty de­spite the Freemont Cross­road weigh­ing in at 1820kg. It’s no sports sedan that’s for sure, but is com­pe­tent and comfy for a wide range of driv­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. It’s smooth and quiet and would make an ex­cel­lent long dis­tance tourer for five with lug­gage space. They crammed in plenty of kit too, in­clud­ing Blue­tooth phone and audio, a large info touch screen, re­verse cam­era and park­ing sen­sors, Alpine pre­mium audio, key­less en­ter and start, multi-wheel con­trols, black leather with cloth mesh in­serts, cruise con­trol, sat nav and three-zone cli­mate con­trol.

The Freemont Cross­road is a lot bet­ter than ex­pected and more en­joy­able to drive than many of the other “peo­ple mover’’ type ve­hi­cles. Safe, plenty of kick and kit and now you don’t have to go for a twowheel drive SUV if you want a good-look­ing fam­ily wagon.

Freemont just might fit the bill.

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