Honda Freed Test Drive Review

Standard

The family went to check out the Honda Freed at Honda Global Amity, Seri Kembangan (the best Honda service center i’ve been to so far). Here are our first impressions broken down by category (which are in no particular order of importance or rating)

Exterior

Beautiful. ‘Nuf said.

Interior

Space

There’s lots of it! The car feels spacious, roomy and has a great view of the road ahead and sides. You won’t feel cramped at all!

Cockpit

The cockpit is nice, the speedometer is high and your eyes don’t need to travel far to know what speed you’re travelling at. The rev and fuel meters are similar to the Honda Civic – which are digital, colored and are nice to look at. Personally, I still prefer dials for the rev meter.

The plastics used for the dash and door trimmings don’t have a ‘premium’ feel to them (as Honda claims the Freed is a premium mini-van), but they do feel like they will last a long time and everything felt tight and firmly fixed.

Seating Arrangement

To my own surprise, the seating arrangement turned out to be the deal breaker for my family. Let me explain our reasons why.

– While the ‘walk through’ concept, where you can access all the rows of seats from within the car is interesting, you probably won’t do a lot of walking while driving. Titus (our 3 year old) had no problem walking from front to back and all over the car, someone with a stern as large as mine had problems moving around, and I could not think of any practical use for it, other than occasionally stepping into the back seat with the cane…

– The seats were comfortable, but seem smaller than our City’s, and I wish it had better lumbar support.

– 2nd row leg room wasn’t too great. The seats do slide back and forth and can fold backward flat so you could have nap. You can’t remove the 2nd row seats from the car.

– Entry into the 3rd row was quite difficult, just the same as getting into a two-door car. Lot of bending and twisting. Funnily though, the salesman (who was trying his best), suggested that you could get into the 3rd row from the rear door. Now that’s really and ‘Idea’ (Honda’s tag-line for the Freed is 2+2+Ideas!). You can’t remove the 3rd row seats. Which is interesting, because one of the promotional pictures of the Freed show two bicycles in the back of the Freed, and the rear seats are ‘missing’.

– Like other ‘7-seater’ wannabes, the 3rd row is probably only good for kids, and short rides for adults.

– With the ‘standard’ 2+2 arrangement, we found it was actually a ‘step back’ from owning a sedan, as we could only comfortably seat 4 people, compared to 5 in a sedan.

– The luggage space – see next section.

Luggage Space

The only time the Freed offers any kind of significant luggage space, is in the 2+2 configuration where the 3rd row seats are folded and stored sideways (like the good-ol’ Nissan Vanette). But there is no option to ‘conceal’ the storage area with a cover (like the Honda CR-V). So its going to be hard to keep your laptop bag or anything of value out of sight.

Again, as I said earlier, it seems like a step back from owning a sedan (especially as a Honda City owner), where you can comfortably seat 5 and keep the luggage space and keep stuff out of sight, compared to Freed, you can only seat 4.

This came to me as strange, as the salesman was saying that the Freed was designed for family, but as a family man, it seems that I quickly ran out of ‘ideas’ (pun intended) on how practical the Freed is.

Performance

The 1.5l i-VTEC did not impress me. Don’t misunderstand, it did not feel underpowered – even with 4 adults and 2 children in the car – but it did not feel exciting at all. I remember flooring the accelerator and in the time it takes for my ‘old tech’ VTEC to reach 100km/h, the Freed was only doing about 80km/h. Also, to my surprise, the i-VTEC sounded very rough, which surprised me again as the i-VTECs in the Honda Civic, CR-V, and my own City’s VTEC are all very, very smooth and sound very refined even under pressure. See if you notice this when you test drive the car yourself.

However, I will give the car the benefit of doubt. It has only run 240 km and the car was full.

But I do like the transmission. The 5 speed auto shifted smoothly and was never hesitant to downshift when I needed power. There is no paddle shift option and the gear lever has D, 2 and 1. A ‘D3’ button is there to take you out of overdrive when you need it. Boy, do I still love my 7 speed CVT! 🙂

The brakes were very good and stopped well despite the full car load. On some other ‘local’ mini mpvs, the brakes are not very assuring under a full load, but the Freed’s brakes stopped the car quite well. And, please don’t believe the rumours about it being bad to have drum brakes at the back. They work perfectly well + they’re cheaper to maintain than disc brakes!

Noise, Vibration and Handling

Noise

The cabin was quiet. Very quiet. Except when I was revving hard. Considering that the engine is closer to the cabin, I’m not surprised. After all, revving hard is not the intended driving style for this car.

Vibration

None that seemed out of the normal Honda experience – which is very good.

Handling

Even with normal driving, its worse than my 2008 City. I wouldn’t take any corners too fast with my City, and I felt more afraid with the Freed. There seemed to be a lot of ‘roll’.

Other impressions

The sliding doors!

The were great! Quiet operation, only time will tell whether the mechanism can stay this quiet after long use, and whether it can stand the abuse of Malaysian users 🙂 The doors can be opened with a switch from the driver’s seat, and the remote control fob. In addition, when the doors are opened manually, you only need to pull the lever a few inches, then the automated mechanism kicks in and pulls the door open for you. Very nice. Very nice indeed. I wish the doors opened wider to allow easier access to the 3rd row.

Warning: these doors run on electrical power – which of course will maha-drain your batteries if you are busy showing off your doors without the engine running. In fact, that was exactly what happened at the show room! The batteries went weak, the doors stopped working and wouldn’t open from inside. Scary eh? Maybe some tweaking needs to be done there.

Running costs

The insurance of this car is about 3K – because of its price. The road tax should be reasonable as its a 1.5l car.

I took a look at the service schedule and its not much different from the Honda City – after all its built on the same DNA and so would incur similar medical costs. Minor services cost about RM120+ and the intermediate service (30k, 50k) cost about RM 200. Just watch out for the major service  – 40k intervals, which come up to about RM800+.

I did not hear anything about any free service package from the salesman.

Rough figures – if you take a 7 year installment @3.45%, it’ll set you back around 1500.00 per month. Quite high if you ask me.

Conclusion

Would I buy it? No.

I can’t justify paying RM113k for it. The driving fun isn’t there, the luggage space isn’t there, the seating capacity isn’t there.

Check out some pictures below…

HD2 004

HD2 003

HD2 002

HD2 001

14 thoughts on “Honda Freed Test Drive Review

    • Ayl, the boot is HUGE. Its bigger than Nissan or Toyota. Good fuel consumption too. I think its worth getting, even if the 2nd hand price may be high. Try to get the 2008 model, like mine. It yes some very good features compared to earlier versions.

      Sent from my HTC

  1. 2nd hand price for a 2008 Honday City is indeed high; cheapest I saw so for on mudah.my was almost 67k… fuh… steep… it may not a fair comparison, but with that amount, one could almost purchase an Exora m-line.

    • Wow. That is pretty high. If you want a space and 7 seater, then really the Exora IS the car for you. On top of that you pay lower interest for new car I think. But the Honda is quite reliable. Mine hasn’t given any issues after 2 years.

      Sent from my HTC

  2. kentlim

    directed here via azri’s fb…couldn’t agree more with your review. not sure if i should feel surprised or disappointed with honda’s latest offerring. that said, it is one of the best selling product for honda japan.

    on your comment “…because one of the promotional pictures of the Freed show two bicycles in the back of the Freed, and the rear seats are ‘missing’”, this is because in overseas market, the freed comes in 3 variants – 5 seater, 7 seater or 8 seater. The 5 seater will not have the 3rd row. check out the 7 & 8 seater here:
    http://www.honda.co.jp/FREED/lineup/index.html
    and the 5 seater here:
    http://www.honda.co.jp/FREED/flex/index.html

    cheers!

    • hi Kent, yes I’m aware of the three variants, but that picture is still being used by Honda here, even though that variant is not offered. maybe in the future? 🙂

  3. kentlim

    Guna, the usual disclaimer applies – actual product specifications may differ from the picture specifications, hehe…

    Lets hope it can sell as honda has high hope on this premium freed. For the jazz, they have stopped selling the lower grade (104k) variant, only the high grade (109k) is now available.

    • Kent: I think it will sell well. If people are happy to part with 110k for the jazz, I’m sure there will be people who can justify 113k for the Freed, even if its just to have boasting rights of having a car with auto sliding doors! 🙂

      Sent from my HTC

  4. aku

    aku baru test freed semalam dekat Honda Global Amity. Thank to franky the salesman yang friendly. komen aku, kalu jenis driving fast macam aku, freed tak cukup power laa. Pickup lambat even dia claim 118hp aku pun tak paham. franky bagi aku test naik highway than aku rembat 120km hehe…rasa kalu nak pegang 150km tu berat skit kot kete ni.

    the rest about the car, interior wise aku tgk ok kecuali finishing pintu mmg cap ayam, patut bagi seat kulit laa kedekut betul honda ni, aircond tak de kat belakang, suspension ok, city driving ok, harga tak ok…so the rest tu blh test sdr laa.

  5. Jeremiah

    Hi Guna

    Test drove the Freed and felt it was underpowered for its size. Have you test driven the new Hyundai Tucson? I would be interested to know your thots if u have i.e. value versus benefits, brand and reliability.

  6. Jeremiah, yes, I’ve heard some interesting comments about the Tuscon. I hope to test drive it sometime soon, as I’m beginning to be really impressed with Hyundai and Kia’s vast improvement in quality, handling and pricing.

    If I ever get around to test driving it, I’ll surely post here 🙂

  7. Aylwin

    Kia, especially, have improved in their designs ever since they recruited the head designer from Audi… they got some delicious curves with their latest offerings. The Kia Forte is one serious looker. I’m waiting for the day Kia offers the 7years warranty in Malaysia, like they do in Europe. That will really shake the market up.

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