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)
Beautiful. ‘Nuf said.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
None that seemed out of the normal Honda experience – which is very good.
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’.
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.
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.
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…