The integrity of the Freestyle's occupant compartment was maintained very well. There was minimal intrusion. Injury measures recorded on the dummy's neck, chest, and both legs were low. However, a high head acceleration occurred when the driver dummy's head bottomed out the airbag, indicating that a person in a similar crash could sustain a head injury such as a concussion.
"In the frontal test, the driver's side of the vehicle needs to absorb the energy of the crash and keep the occupant compartment intact," said Institute chief operating officer Adrian Lund. "The Freestyle's performance is what we like to see. A driver in a real-world crash of this severity would be likely to sustain only minor injuries. The Freestyle is a good performer and a 'best pick' in the frontal test."
Ford requested the test
It's unusual for the Institute to release crash test results for just one vehicle. Ford requested the Freestyle test, and the Institute's longstanding policy is to grant such requests if a manufacturer provides reimbursement for the cost of the vehicle.
When the Institute first evaluated mid-size SUVs in frontal tests in 1996 and 1997, none of the vehicles earned a good rating. Four designs were rated marginal or poor. In contrast, it's now rare for an SUV to earn a rating that's less than good.
"Ford has done a good job of designing its newest vehicles to better protect occupants in frontal crashes," Lund explained. Other recent good performers from Ford include the Five Hundred family sedan, F-150 pickup, and Freestar minivan.