Ford Windstar Origins
The back bench seat of the first generation Windstar didn’t have room for adults and its weight made moving it in and out of the vehicle difficult. It used noisy, problem-prone engines and transmissions, and the interior design had a generally bad layout. The model handled loose and sloppy, which creates a real problem for a vehicle meant to transport children and families.
On the plus side, the Windstar does get good marks for safety, which is of paramount importance for vehicles in the minivan class. This minivan uses front drive with steering sensors and a bevy of safety features that hold some appeal.About the Ford Windstar
The Windstar comes in just one size, but that size meets that of competing brands’ extended versions, making the Windstar one of the largest vehicles in class. Over its life it offered five trim packages: LX, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Limited. The different trim packages don’t really impact exterior features. Higher trim packages include 16-inch aluminum wheels, cornering lamps, and two-tone body cladding. A back-up sensor comes as an option on most trims. The SE offers a brushed aluminum roof rack. Getting the SEL package adds a full-size spare tire.
The two basic choices include the passenger model with seating for seven and the cargo model made for work and delivery duties.
The members of the original production run contain a 3.0-liter, 150-horsepower V-6 engine that didn’t seem to impress anyone at the time. The later production run replaces that motor with a 3.8-liter, 200-horsepower V-6. This power plant receives good marks for acceleration but makes noise during acceleration and still possesses reliability issues, although not as bad as the original 3.0-liter.
Two sliding doors provide the standard cargo access on all models except for the base model from the first production run. Powered sliding doors come as an option on all models with this feature.
Keeping with the safety theme, the van has a low tire pressure warning system on passenger models and a strobe light on the driver’s outside mirror to warn passing vehicles when the sliding door opens.
If buyers opt for second-row bucket seats, Ford includes a center console as well. Other options on all trims include power-adjustable gas and brake pedals, and a rear-seat video entertainment setup that really dates this model with a removable VCR unit and screen in an overhead console.
The SE Sport trim adds privacy glass and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Features on the SE include second-row bucket seats, a six-way power driver’s seat, lighted vanity mirrors, and power-heated signal mirrors. The SEL upgrades to leather seating surfaces and power seats for the driver and passengers. Topping the line, the Limited features heated seats, a premium stereo system, and a memory feature for its driver’s seat, outside mirrors, and power pedals.
All of this certainly amounts to nice creature comforts for the family, but the utilization of the interior space draws concern and complaints. The Windstar doesn’t use interior space efficiently like competitors of its era.
The Windstar marks the first minivan to receive five-star crash-test ratings. The AdvanceTrac feature provides lateral skid control. The airbags are sensor controlled and deploy based on crash severity. The Limited has side-impact airbags, which remain optional on all other trim packages. The Windstar receives top safety marks for every year of production and should be viewed as the vehicle that set the standard for minivan safety. With all of the combined and well thought out safety features, the Windstar can be recommended for used car buyers who put an emphasis on safety.
During the production run of the Windstar, manufacturers made larger vehicles such as minivans and SUVs with handling more like cars than trucks. The Windstar was not part of this engineering revolution and leaving the handling taut and firm like a truck, which might surprise car drivers. As mentioned earlier, the handling can be floppy, which may concern some drivers. The shifting tends to be noticeable, also a truck-like feature, although later models address this with smoother and better-placed shift points.Ford Windstar Evolution
After its introduction in 1995, the second generation of the Ford Windstar came out in the late 1990s and lasted only a couple years. These models have a better reputation than the first production models, but remain inferior to other minivans of the era. Most auto experts agree that similar vans from Toyota and Honda provide better options. Ford eventually replaced the Windstar with the Freestar, in 2004.