Don't own one, but as a Ford Technician... I haven't heard of any problems yet. I hear they're really funny to drive (not bad, just different). Honda tried a CVT back a few years, didn't they? If it works right, it should work out pretty well for ford.
Following up on sandrat's comments, I don't own one either ... but I sell them. I've had a chance to drive the Freestyle with the CVT and was very impressed with the way it performed. Universal approval by customers too.
I've set up a test drive route for my customers and part of the drive is a "freeway ramp merge" where you get to "put your foot in it". When you hit the pedal to the floor the tach jumps immediately to peak torque and stays there! The speedometer climbs like a tach, smoothly and very quickly. One of my customers commented it surprised/scared him when it hit nearly 90 so quickly that he had to back off.
We're all pleased that there doesn't seem to be major bugs although I have heard of a few failures, but with a new production that can be expected. At this point ... if I had the money ... I'd buy one.
Last edited by ClydeSDale; 12-04-2004 at 10:38 AM.
Are there any updates on this. I am considering moving from an 05 escape to an 06 freestyle. I do have a cargo trailer that is 1000 lbs empty. With the freestyle I can put up to 1000Lbs in it as it is rated for 2000lbs. this is less than the escape but overall I like the freesytle better even though it has less ability to tow. I am concerned whether the freestyle is up to the task.
Ah. One good thing is I double checked ours- it weighs 880 lbs empty (more than I thought). I still can't imagine the Freestyle having a problem with it. I'll second the "we haven't seen any problems with them" comment, but I can't recall seeing one with a hitch either.
I'm on the more power crusade too (actually wish they could just drop the Buick 3800 in there and call it good). But- I put a few thousand miles on a AWD Freestyle Limited, and found out it feels slower than it actually is. With the transmission, the engine can be slowing down while the car's speeding up. When you mash the throttle, though, it picks itself up and flat scoots. The other thing I noticed is that it gets substantially better gas mileage than a V6 Escape.
Great story about the CVT. It was invented by a Dutch Company (DAF) in the late 50's as an efficient means to put an automatic transmission in a small car. It also worked really well, and DAF found it's own little niche as the maker of small, economical shiftless cars. DAF later sold out to Volvo, who stopped making DAF's and built the smaller Volvos in their place- but still held the patent.
Ford later bought Volvo, but the CVT patent continued to collect dust in the archives until the nice people from Honda showed up one day, inquiring about licencing the patent. I can pretty much guess what happened next- Ford sold them the licence (probably just to see what they'd do with it), while engineering frantically searched through Volvo's Corporate archives to see what was so special about this nutball transmission.
What was so special about the CVT was it enabled the motor to stay in efficient operating ranges most of the time, without a power-robbing torque-convertor (basically a hydraulic pump). Remember, DAF built little, fuel-efficient cars (about 750cc)- a conventional Automatic would have been almost impossible to use. BTW, if anyone's questioning the durability/reliability of that system, DAF successfully rallied their cars in Europe for years, and they were nigh indestructable. The beauty of the CVT is in it's simplicity.
edit: I am a veritible encyclopedia of automotive trivia.
Honda offer CVT cars here in Australia, as does Mitsubishi and Audi...
DAF also still sell OTR semi tractors here too...
The CVT is used in some Tractors as well (John Deere and Deutz Fahr)
I like the idea of it, and am sure about its reliability, but as a personal preference I still prefer to shift gears myself.
I am actually driving my cousins Honda Jazz CVT at the moment - she needed to borrow my Ranger. Dang good little car.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the potential for increasement in torque capacity.
In theory all you have to do is get the belts to grip the cones more to transfer more power, which just means finding a belt with a greater friction.
There is a 3.5L Duratec engine in the works that is slated for the Five Hundred/Montego/Freestyle, but I've heard that Ford is first going to make it an option when the Fusion debuts, and at the same time it will also become an optional in the Lincoln Zephyr and Mercury Milan. I've seen a lot of speculation on HP and torque numbers for this engine, usually in the range of 220-250.
I've also heard that, in light of the above, Ford might be putting off the 3.5L as an option in the Five Hundred/Montego/Freestyle until a these lines get a material "facelift", maybe sometime in '07 or '08.