The latest Honda Freed is a seven-seater MPV whose main appeal, apart from space and flexibility, is its simplicity and usefulness.
Today’s consumers expect modern cars to be brimming with technology and performance, regardless of their intended use.
It’s no surprise then, that potential car buyers want their next vehicle to offer a long list of bells and whistles. The interior should have snazzy screens and colourful lights, and menus that really take some getting used to.
Numerous driver amenities should also be standard. After all, cars today have even more inflated price tags. If you pay more, you deserve more. But for drivers who are tired of this endless chase and just want a car that does as advertised, such models still exist. The Freed is one of them.
Seven-seater MPVs are not everyone’s cup of tea. But the Freed’s exterior has a cutesiness to it. The styling is angular for sure, but there’s a softness and a roundness to the edges.
And instead of looking aggressive, the upturned ends of the Freed’s grille make the MPV seem like it’s smiling. It’s approachable. On the other hand, other carmakers seem to think that all consumers want angry- or robotic-looking models. We don’t. At least not most of us.
The Freed could have been slab-sided, but thanks to the right mix of lines, its boxy silhouette has been minimised.
The car’s footprint is a compact one, measuring 4266mm from front to rear, 1694mm wide and 1711mm tall. Its 2740mm wheelbase may seem rather short, but with clever packaging, there’s actually plenty of room on board.
Settle onto the driver’s seat and you’ll feel that the car is larger than it actually is. The cab-forward design, with its expansive windscreen, adds to the expansive feel.
A friend I was ferrying home even asked if I had a hard time reaching the IU unit to insert the CashCard. He was surprised when I touched it without really needing to stretch.
The interior is well-packaged, practical and useful. There’s a second glove box in front of the driver, a handy pull-out tray in the centre console for placing your wallet or smartphone, while the gap between the front seats can be used to place your backpack, briefcase, or handbag.
The second-row seats can be split-folded 60:40, which means the space for the middle passenger is more comfortable compared to what the Toyota Sienta Hybrid offers. The rival MPV’s 50:50 split-folding bench means the spot for the centre occupant is relatively awkward.
The third-row can still accommodate adults up to 1.75m tall, although those in the second-row need to move the seats forward to create more legroom. If cargo space is needed, the third-row seats can be folded, flipped sideways and hooked into place.
And by folding down the second- and third-row seats, the flat space can be used as a camper van of sorts as well.
Motivating the Freed is a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre 4-cylinder capable of 129hp and 155Nm of torque. To enhance its efficiency, it’s paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Performance is the last priority for a family mover, so it’s no surprise that the Freed’s responsiveness is relatively low. Accelerating from a standstill to 50km/h is okay, but trying to go any faster becomes an exercise in patience.
Mashing the throttle is not a good idea because it only results in workmanlike vocals without hastening progress. When driven in a gentle manner, the Freed goes about its business unobtrusively. Honda does not provide figures, but an estimated century sprint time of 13 seconds sounds and feels about right.
Now, to be fair, one must view the Freed in the correct context. This is the second-generation model which was first introduced in 2016, and the unit you see here is the facelifted version. Therefore, while comparing it to its contemporary rivals is correct, it’s not exactly modern itself.
On the flip side, the Freed can be viewed as a car that’s simple and unpretentious.
Indeed, it was easy to find the right driving position and set the wing mirrors. There’s no fancy electronic parking brake, but the foot brake works fine and frees up space on the centre console. Forward and lateral visibility are also good.
In 2023, consumers want cars that are brimming with performance, technology, and complexity. In a way, we’ve been conditioned to expect these things.
But if you’re tired of this chase and are seeking something that just does as advertised, it’s good to know that such an option (albeit a pricey one) still exists.
Honda Freed E7 1.5 (A)
ENGINE 1498cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 129hp at 6600rpm
MAX TORQUE 155Nm at 4600rpm
0-100KM/H 13 seconds (estimated)
TOP SPEED Not available
PRICE EXCL. COE $72,999
AGENT Kah Motor