Looking more SUV than people mover, the styling of the new Fiat Freemont will appeal to many looking for a macho way to cart their kids

Looking more SUV than people mover, the styling of the new Fiat Freemont will appeal to many looking for a macho way to cart their kids

The fastest growing vehicle segment in Australia is that of medium SUVs. So it comes as no surprise that Fiat, which is currently undergoing rapid expansion in Australia, has entered the arena with a model called the Freemont.

Fiat Freemont, shares many components with the Dodge Journey because Fiat took over the American car maker when Chrysler/Dodge went under during the GFC. Chrysler has long been a major designer of what our cousins on the other side of the Pacific call ‘minivans’. Downunder we use the term ‘people movers’.

Though Freemont is more people mover than SUV, its styling leans in the SUV direction and Fiat Australia hopes many buyers will compare it with others in the huge range of SUVs now on sale. Despite its appearance, the Fiat Freemont isn’t offered with 4WD, the engine is connected only to the front wheels.

Fiat Freemont_rear
There’s no better way to grab the attention of Australian car buyers than with a low price tag. Hence the introduction of the Fiat Freemont with a price list that starts at just $27,000 driveaway. Our road test was done on a 2.4-litre petrol Freemont Lounge which came in at $30,300 plus on-road costs.

Fiat Freemont is available in three specification level: Base, Urban and Lounge.

The so-called base Freemont ‘Base’ is far from being base when it comes to standard equipment. It even has Fiat’s Uconnect infotainment system with a 4.3-inch touchscreen; CD/MP3; and integrated telephone with voice command and Bluetooth audio streaming. There are USB and Aux inputs.

Freemont Base also features 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone air-conditioning and keyless entry and start. Then there are automatic headlights; rear-parking sensors; an alarm system with an anti-intrusion feature; and the added safety of a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Fiat Freemont_interior
The mid-range Fiat Freemont Urban receives a larger infotainment screen, at 8.4 inches; a DVD player; automatic temperature control in the air conditioning; six-way electronic adjustment for the driver’s seat; a leather-wrapped gear-lever; and Sunscreen glass.

Fiat Freemont Lounge tops off the lineup. It gets 19-inch alloy wheels; satellite navigation; leather upholstery and premium door trims; heated front seats; chromed roof bars; an Alpine audio system with a subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier.

Built-in booster seats for children are standard on all models, making the Freemont excellent value for cash-strapped people mover buyers.

The Fiat Freemont comes standard with a five-seat layout. A seven-seat configuration is available as an option, including three-zone climate control. The second row of seats can slide forward by up to 100 mm from their rearmost position, giving parents easy access to children sitting in the second row. All seats, including the front passenger one, can be folded down to create a vast flat load area.

Theatre-style seating in seven-seat Freemonts ensures good visibility for those travelling in the back seats. Though a lot of luggage space is, naturally, lost when all seven seats are in use it’s possible to fit three cabin bags upright in the remaining space. Cleverly this is supported by nets to prevent it falling when the tailgate is opened.

As well as regular crash avoidance electronics the Fiat Freemont also has a trailer sway control, roll mitigation and tyre pressure monitoring. Should a crash still occur occupants are protected by six airbags, with the side-curtain ‘bags extending to coverage of the third-row seat. Integrated child booster seats are another welcome standard feature.

Fiat Freemont is powered by either a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine or a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. The 2.4-litre petrol engine produces 125 kW of power, and 220 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. The diesel has up to 125 kW, and 350 Nm between 1750 and 2500 rpm.

Both engines drive the front wheels via either a six-speed automatic transmission when the petrol engine is fitted, or a six-speed manual with the diesel. So if you want the economy and added grunt of a turbo-diesel you will have to do your own gearshifting, which will hamper sales in Australia as local drivers don’t follow the European path of maximising driving pleasure.

On the road we like the way the Freemont rides and the excellent insulation from noise and vibration it displays. It really does feel as though it’s as smooth and relaxing as significantly more expensive SUVs and people movers. The vehicle’s Dodge underpinnings show in a slight vagueness in the steering, and handling that’s safe but with no sporting overtones. American roads are pretty rough and ready in many places and they like a soft ride over there in the US of A.

The petrol engine in our test car probably had enough power for the typical buyer, but its torque is developed high in the rev range (max is at 4500 rpm) so the six-speed auto is kept busy in hilly terrain and/or when there’s a big load on board. Not a problem as the auto is a nicely responsive unit that’s generally in the gear the driver would have selected manually.

Fuel consumption will be in the nine to ten litres per hundred kilometres range around town, falling to seven to eight litres in country running.

Due to the recent rapid expansion of the Italian marque in this country the number of dealers is increasing almost by the day. Click on for the latest details and locations.


Freemont Base 2.4-litre petrol five-door people mover: $25,990** (automatic)
Freemont Urban 2.4-litre petrol five-door people mover: $28,300 (automatic)
Freemont Lounge 2.4-litre petrol five-door people mover: $30,300 (automatic)
Freemont Urban 2.0-litre diesel five-door people mover: $32,600 (manual)
** Note: The Freemont Base is also available for a driveaway price of $27,000. All other prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Fiat dealer for driveaway prices on these models.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Standard in petrol models, not offered in diesel models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in Urban and Lounge, not offered in Base
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models (phone and audio streaming)
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard

SPECIFICATIONS (Fiat Freemont Base 2.4-litre petrol five-door people mover)

Engine Capacity: 2.360 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.6:1
Bore/Stroke: 88.0 mm x 97.0 mm
Maximum Power: 125 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 220 Nm @ 4500 rpm

Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Not offered with petrol engine
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: N/A

Length: 4910 mm
Wheelbase: 2890 mm
Width: 1878 mm
Height: 1705 mm
Turning Circle: 10.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1874 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 77 litres
Towing Ability: 454 kg with braked trailer

Front Suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Independent, multilink, wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON
Fuel Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 9.8 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 5.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

Three years/100,000 km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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