Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Honda Launches 8-seater Compact Minivan

Honda Motor Co Ltd launched a new compact minivan "Freed" in Japan May 30, 2008.

The Freed measures 4,215 (L) x 1,695 (W) x 1,715mm (H) (according to the 2WD specification), and the wheelbase is 2,740mm long. Compared with the company's three-row seater compact minivan "Mobilio," the Freed is 145mm longer, 10mm wider and 25mm lower (comparison between 2WD models).

The main goal in the development was the "cabin that is spacious enough to be recognized as a minivan." Based on the lesson learned from the case of Mobilio, which failed to be appropriately recognized as a minivan due to the third-row seats that are slightly narrow for adults, the Freed has a cabin space that allows 185-centimeter tall adults to sit comfortably in all three rows.

For this purpose, the company employed the low floor technology developed for "Stepwagon" and used a compact plastic fuel tank. As a result, the Freed has a floor height of only 390mm (according to the FWD specification) in the second row, which is comparable to that of the Stepwagon.
The Freed uses a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which are also used in the Fit. But its final reduction ratio is approximately 7% greater to handle an increase in vehicle weight.

Compared with the Mobilio, which is equipped with a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with a fuel efficiency of 16.0km/L (measured in Japan's 10-15 test mode), the fuel efficiency of the Freed has improved by 0.4km/L to 16.4km/L (comparison between 2WD models).

The Honda Freed comes in three trim levels. There is a seven-seat model, which employs captain seats in the second row for the first time in the 1.5-liter class, an eight-seat model, which is also a first in the 1.5-liter class and a five-seat model without the third row.

The monthly sales target in Japan is 4,000 units. The prices range from ¥1,638,000 (US$15,541, price may vary depending on country) to 2,257,500 (including tax).

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