By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
Honda’s lineup in Japan is filled with vans of all shapes and sizes. The smallest include the popular N-Box and its variants like the N-Box Slash, N-Box+ and N-WGN. Then there’s the more utilitarian Vamos and Hobio, plus the Acty commercial vehicle (working van). The only Honda van name with an American counterpart is the Odyssey, except it’s not the same Odyssey sold stateside. And there’s the unique Honda StepWGN which we covered in a recent story. Today Honda introduced the new generation Freed in Japan.
The compact Freed is larger than the Kei-car N-Series, but considerably smaller than the Odyssey and StepWGN. A close competitor is the recently introduced Toyota Sienta, which we had the good fortune to test drive in Nagoya.
Okay, so where did Honda get the name “Freed?” The automaker says it’s coined from “Freedom,” and also contains the meanings of “Free” and “do,” as in take action. Speaking of action, Freed’s designers added lots of visual excitement to the new model with dynamic character lines shown above in the rear view of the new Freed+ (above).
Honda took action today by staging a press conference in Japan to introduce the new Freed and Freed+. Sales of both models also begin today at Honda dealers across Japan. (Unfortunately, there’s little chance it will come to America, where folks are clamoring for more SUVs and crossovers.)
Watch the press conference video that introduces the all-new Honda Freed. This was originally streamed live on Honda’s YouTube channel in Japan. (video: Honda)
Television commercials for the new Freed feature the Japanese fashion model, Yuri Ebihara and comedian/actor Yoshimi Tokui (from the comedy duo, Tutorial) to convey “realistic messages” about the attractiveness of the all-new Freed to customers in Japan. They generated some laughs during the press conference (above) while demonstrating Freed’s new features.
This graphic from the press conference (above) highlights Freed’s family tree, tracing its roots to 2001 and the introduction of the Honda Mobilio. The more trendy Mobilio Spike version was launched for 2002, while the first generation Freed came along in 2008, followed by the Freed Spike in 2010.
The exterior of the new model was designed under the theme of “Dynamism and Functionality.” Honda says that by making the parting lines of the slide rail cover blend into the rear quarter panel, a sense of “concentration and unity” of the body is emphasized.
Gasoline models of the new Freed are equipped with a 1.5-liter direct injection DOHC i-VTEC engine and high-efficiency CVT, while hybrid types are equipped with 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle DOHC i-VTEC engine paired with SPORT HYBRID i-DCD (intelligent Dual-Clutch Drive) equipped with one-motor 7-speed DCT.
The IPU (Intelligent Power Unit) for Hybrids was downsized and moved beneath the first-row seats from the previous location beneath the third-row seats, to help create extra space inside the cabin. By designing an IPU exclusively for this model, hybrid types equipped with a 4WD system are now available.
Inside, Honda says the driver’s field of vision was significantly expanded by increasing the driver’s upward angle of visibility through the adoption of a windshield form unique to Honda. Forward diagonal visibility was also improved by featuring large-sized front corner windows and front pillars which were made even thinner than those of the first-generation Freed.
The distance between the hip point of the first-row and third-row passengers was increased by 90mm, compared to the first-generation Freed. Captain seats are adopted for the 3-row/6-seat vehicles, and the sliding distance of the captain seats was increased to a 360 mm “long slide,” an increase of 120 mm compared to the first-generation Freed. Versatile seating arrangements including first and second-row flat mode and second and third-row flat mode for both 6-seater and 7-seater types.
One of the biggest attractions for the all-new Freed+ is its cargo space with an ultra-low floor. The ground height of the tailgate opening (FF type) was lowered to 335 mm, about 185 mm lower than that of the previous Freed Spike, making it possible to load tall items.
As for seat arrangements, the 60/40 split rear seats are equipped with a double folding mechanism that allows them to be stored flat. Honda says the functionality to accommodate passengers sleeping in the vehicle was further advanced. By arranging seats and using a lightweight and high-strength utility board, a flat space large enough for a mattress for a three-quarter bed size (120 cm x 195 cm, known as “semi-double” size in Japan) can be created. The space underneath can be used for storage.
Smart Entry that features a start switch with a guiding light is a standard feature. Honda Internavi system, which is available for certain models, has been made even more convenient than before by adding new functions including connectivity with a smartphone. For the “greater peace of mind” and comfort of the driver, Honda says models equipped with the Honda SENSING™ suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies are now available.
Honda also previewed some neat new accessories for the Freed. For those who enjoy camping in style, this portable tent that attaches to the tailgate turns Freed into a mini-motorhome (of sorts). It includes shades to cover the side and quarter windows for added privacy.
Want to bring fido along? Among the lineup of accessories is this cool hammock that fits between the first- and second-row seats. (We have a similar product in our own Honda Accord that’s an aftermarket accessory).
Freed prices in Japan start at ¥1,880,000 (about $18,400) for the gas Freed B model. The G series is offered with 6- and 7-passenger seating as well as with Honda SENSING safety features. The Freed Hybrid B starts at ¥2,256,000 (about $22,100), while the top-line EX lists for ¥2,656,000 (about $26,000). Freed+ 5-passenger models list from ¥1,900,000 for the B, to ¥2,748,200 for the Hybrid G 4WD with Honda SENSING.
For more information visit the Honda consumer website in Japan.
Prices, features and specifications for Japanese market models are subject to change without notice by the automaker. Pricing does not include insurance premium, taxes (excluding consumption tax) and cost related to vehicle registration.
News source, photos and video courtesy Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
Story ©2016 CarNichiWa.com