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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey

samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
Am I the first one to open this discussion?...

So what do you say? Will the new Freestar be competitive or not? With no AWD offered, and just a 200 hp engine (or 201 upgraded) and 4-speed tranny, will it be a winner? Please post your opinion.
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Comments

  • trainboytrainboy Posts: 66
    My wife and I need to replace her 96 Windstar. We drove the '04 Sienna, it was nice, but the trim seemed cheesey. We are both 6 feet tall and we didn't get the Odyssey of the lot due to poor front leg room.

    We will wait for the Freestar. We want the side curtain airbag and folding 3 row seat. The current 3.8/200hp is adequate for California freeways. The rest is old hat, but we know what to expect. I have had an '00, '02 and '03 Windstar as a company van and they are fine for our use.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    AWD version of the Chrysler minivans, really dont make up that much of it's overall sales, I believe it's 10-15% overall. Ford believes such customers would rather buy an SUV for AWD, rather than the Freestar. Plus the platform which the Freestar rides on, wasnt originally engineered to handle AWD, so having to retrofit it at this stage of the game (new P2 platform next generation) would cost quite a bit of money.

    Look for an increased version of the current 3.8L, which will be the 3.9L V6 making 200HP and probably around 240-245TQ. There WILL be an optional 4.2L (a bored out version of the 3.9L) making 201HP and 265TQ, most torque in it's class. This latter engine will be the sole standard engine for the Mercury twin, the Monterrey.

    So far, Ford has stated it has concentrated on NVH and interior materials, so look for a very classy interior. Same designer J.Mays, is credited for the interior quality and design, which he was responsible for VW's interiors, which are deemed one of the finest in the industry.

    Also, power liftgate, tumble and dissapear 3rd row seating, safety airbag canopy system protecting the sides in events of a rollover, will debut. Talk about safety overkill !!

    So far from the pics Ford have shown, the interior is quite elegant, while the exterior seems a bit more refined and elegant overall. If you want to avoid the Freestar version, Mercury's clone will look equally elegant and most of the higher end options would be standard on the Mercury version.

    Overall I do think it'll do well, even though there's increased competition from the new Sienna and Quest.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Do you really think that 201 HP engine will beat the competitors which offer 230-240 hp? Do you think that the additional 20 lb-ft of torque will beat the extra 40 hp of other models? And it's really big, 4.2L, which is a sign of fuel loving, while the imported models are just 3.3/3.5L, and much more refined?

    And just a 4-speed tranny while others have 5-speed?

    And others have more room, too. Some, (Odyssey & Quest) offers independent suspension.

    So we got to wait and see.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    I'm just giving you the information, and how it has improved from one generation to another. Personally if I would be in the market for a Minivan (which I definatly won't ever be) I would choose the new Sienna. It copied all the best attributes from the Windstar, MPV, Oddysey, etc. and incorporated it in a bigger package. OR if I must stay with the Ford line, I would pick the Freestyle, and have a Cross-over situation to contend with. I wouldn't choose the Freestar/Monterey twins.

    Surely, the engine upgrades give it a bit more power. But the vehicle WILL gain a bit of weight from the added improvements. So performance wise it'll be the same.

    But this isn't a segment that most buyers will worry about performance. Most drivers will only notice the power, while passing a vehicle at most. So torque would be a priority, over HP. I agree power is important in any vehicle.

    Most of consumers that will purchase this vehicle, have 2 brats strapped to the back seat, toys are flying everywhere, they are probably on a cell phone while driving... Do we REALLY want them to have that much power??

    Ironically from the survey conducted "Customer clinics", performance was not on the top of the list that minivan owners described/asked for. It was comfort, 2nd place was "toys".

    Sidenote: Fuel efficiency speaking. Some of those other engines you mentioned, require Preimium or Midgrade fuel, while the Freestar requires regular. So the EPA numbers might be 1 or 2 off here and there, it'll pretty much equal the same gas bill at the end of the year.

     I dont believe EPA numbers much. From my experiences, I've been able to make a Civic drink 18MPG, while making a Mark8 drink 25MPG-28MPG Highway. Now with my LS, I should be lucky even hitting 12MPG CTY, 18MPG HWY. My bestfriend has an Oddysey, and she drives very much like I do. And when she's frustrated, she's been able to get 10-11MPG. So just depends on the persons foot. EPA numbers should be used as an example to compare, but not an exact science.
  • upsetter1upsetter1 Posts: 205
    ANT, is 3.8L still blowing head gasket ? I mean why Ford didn't drop it yet with all that new modular engines available ?
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Nope, the head gasket issue was resolved already, I believe it dealt with the 3.8L built between 94-98 (I forgot the specifics), after that it was rectified. Extended warranties were given out, etc.

    The reason Ford had to continue with this engine for the Freestar/Monterey, is mainly because the quantity and output needed, is readily available at the EEP-Essex Engine Plant. All other engine plants that produce the modular engines, are busy enough as it is, than to have Ford ask them to output 300,000 more engine units. So at this time, the proper plants are being upgraded to allow for great engine outputs. A slow phase-in, from one engine to another is what works best, with a graduate re-tool of the factor.

    Example: Ford-"Hmm the new 2004 F-150 is too porky to continue using the 4.2L OHV V-6, what are we to do being there's 60,000 units of those engines being made"...."Hey!! lets make it an optional engine on the Freestar, standard on Monterey, and that way we can get rid of those units!!" That was the thinking.

    And re-tooling a factory from one engine to another (at least in that engine) takes quite a bit of money. With the other engine families, such as the Duratec's and Modular V8's, their factories respectivly are able to switch from one displacement easily. So if they needed more output of the 5.4L, over the 4.6L, then it's easily done.

    Personally (just my thinking here), I WOULD have preffered to see the 4.0L SOHC V-6 from the Explorer have been used. 210HP and 240TQ. is the closest power match available. But it's costlier to produce, and the retro-fit of that unit into a FWD transaxle would have cost more development money.

    The 3.0L DOHC Duratec V6 wouldn't be sufficient for the load and weight of this vehicle, which is why the Mazda MPV does better with it.

    So till the 3.5L Cyclone V-6 doesnt debut, (still a year and some away), the current Essex engines will continue to be used. But their time is coming up soon....
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    I have had a 95GL, 99SE and presently a 00SEL. One thing my wife noticed from the pictures is the center stack is NOT angled toward the driver which she likes and I must say is a nice way to go. Bur overall it is a good looking interior. 200HP is enough, especially with the tourqe numbers. We are staying away from anything that requires high test. My wife had a Probe GT that required high test and after awhile putting in gas at $1.75 (it did get up to about $2.00 here on the east coast) per gallon got to be real old. At 26 gallons in the star that is a lot of money. Right now gas is about 1.42 at my Costco and even at that price 20 gallons is $30. However, I have been able to get the average MPG up to 21.7 according to the computer. I bought it used and it was a 18 MPG. The person must has had a really heavy foot. But I guess the proof will be in the driving.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    I also noticed the same as your wife... Center dash will be flat. The current Windstar is a slightly more comfortable, but on the other hand, it's not so comfy for the front passenger.

    I personally would prefer the way Toyota & Honda are doing, which is a slanted dash (am I saying it right? English is my second language...) Just look in any of Toyota/Lexus - Honda/Acura model and you will understand. It makes everything much more reachable and gives you easier access to most controls. Neither of the Domestic companies make it this way.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Ah yes, I remember I once started a post, pertaining to center canted dashboard consoles, and driver canted center consoles. Needless to say, I'm sure no one read it....

    I prefer driver oriented center consoles. I'm the driver, I'm in command. Front passengers play with anything on the dhasboard, I whack them. The information is for ME, not them. Back in the 90's, this was common in many vehicles for that same reason.... The driver is in control. One that I enjoyed the most was from a 98 Mark8 I had. It was one of the most driver canted center consoles I've seen. Probe was up there as well as the Aurora.

    In comes late 90's, 2000. Navigation system are becoming more common. Some drivers prefer the passenger to enter all the information, and play with the Navi system, as they driver. Giving them a break. If a driver canted center console were implemented, it would be a bit harder for that passenger to utilize it comfortably.

    Hence, you will be seeing many of those center canted type of consoles. Makes it much easier for either front seat occupant to deal with the controls. Now pertaining to the Oddysey and new Sienna consoles, I believe they are slanted a bit TOO upwards. I've already had a chance to play with both of their layout, and found it very uncomfortable. I'm one that rest my fingers at the bottom of the radio, while one finger goes thru all the stations. And having my arm held up there while searching thru all stations, is quite annoying as well as tiring.

    J.Mays (former designer for VW/Audi) is designing many of the upcoming Ford interiors in that same way. It's very eelegantly neutral, fine touches thru-out, as well as a very symetrical type of button layout. Much more ergonomically correct. And the actions, and touch of the buttons will be a atep up from what we are currently used to with current Fords.
  • 5greyhounds5greyhounds Posts: 338
    I guess I missed your note about the center stack. Maybe one of the reasons they have made it the way they have is many of the cars now have dual controls so the passenger needs access to the temp/fan controls without asking the driver to change them.
    I read about Myers moving to Ford. It can only mean good things to the interiors for ford. They are not all that bad now. Lord knows they are way ahead of GM. The new F-150 has a really nice interior to it. But anyway, looking forward to seeing the Freestar.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Actually Ford interiors are seen as the best from the Big 3 automakers, and as a industry as a whole, it's pretty high up there. Toyota itself benchmarked the current F-150 interior, when they designed their Tundra and Sequoia.

    Pretty soon we'll see even better interiors coming from Ford. A concentration of better materials, and more details will be implemented brandwise. Even I'm kinda shocked at the level of sophistication that will be implmented. This helps produce "perceived quality" which is helpful to any brand.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    BTW something I forgot to mention, next generation Freestar will be based on the upcoming Futura, current Mazda6, platform. Expected around 2006-2007. AWD will be a possibility based upon current market trends at that time.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Well, I was shocked at the design, quality and sophistication in this new Navigator interior, and I love the duplication in the Aviator. Some people seem turned off by the "twins" design, but it really works for me. My friend has the AV, I have the NAV, and I plan at this point, to get my wife an AV when her lease is up next year. Having the his & hers in the garage appeals to us.
    This NAV interior is awesome. Clients who ride with me are very impressed with it. It's like nothing else out there and is a huge improvement over the F-150 derived interior my last NAV had, and I think, a huge improvement over the Chevy truck interior in the Escalade. Not that the Escalade isn't nice, it is nice, but doesn't take your breath away like the inside of the NAV does. I do wish they would diversify the color choices just a little. The tan is a little too light, the gray is a little too black.....for my taste anyway. Something in the middle would be nice.

    If Ford Interiors continue in that manner, and don't fall prey to the accounting dept., things should go well for them....
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Well, I was shocked at the design, quality and sophistication in this new Navigator interior, and I love the duplication in the Aviator. Some people seem turned off by the "twins" design, but it really works for me. My friend has the AV, I have the NAV, and I plan at this point, to get my wife an AV when her lease is up next year. Having the his & hers in the garage appeals to us.
    This NAV interior is awesome. Clients who ride with me are very impressed with it. It's like nothing else out there and is a huge improvement over the F-150 derived interior my last NAV had, and I think, a huge improvement over the Chevy truck interior in the Escalade. Not that the Escalade isn't nice, it is nice, but doesn't take your breath away like the inside of the NAV does. I do wish they would diversify the color choices just a little. The tan is a little too light, the gray is a little too black.....for my taste anyway. Something in the middle would be nice.

    If Ford Interiors continue in that manner, and don't fall prey to the accounting dept., things should go well for them....
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yes interiors will be getting quite some attention. That's the next trend for automakers, to improve their interiors. They have seen that it has worked well for VW which rates high on "perceived quality" while it's FAR from that factor. J.Mays has had much control of the styling, and from now on, all new Ford vehicles will feature much better improved materials across the line.

    Ironically, it doesn't take much investment to improve the quality of interior materials. From survey's taken, the majority of those polled stated they would rather PAY more, for a better interior. A hundred dollars here and there, sure go a long way on a new interior.

    Ford has admitted that their current Expy/Navi, and future F-150 will NOT much THAT much of a profit as they originally did, because there's more investment paid to interiors, and other engineering factors.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Update: Job1 date has been given for the Freestar, August 25th at the Oakville assembly plant.
  • libertycatlibertycat Posts: 593
    I think Ford interiors are better than Honda, GM, Daimler Chrysler, Nissan, and Toyota. My order of interior quality is:
    Ford, Toyota, DC, Nissan, Honda, GM. I have doubt anyone agrees with this. I hope the Freestar has more wood trim and nicer leather than the Windstar and has vinyl instead of cloth standard. I also hope it has all of the following:
    fold-flat split 3rd row
    power liftgate and doors
    double sunshade
    sideways moving second row
    front and back moving second row
    side power windows in second row
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yes, Sort of.
    Yes.
    No.
    Not really.
    Sort of.
    No, MPV/Sienna only have that feature.

    Cloth is standard, vinyl would be deemed inappropiate.
  • libertycatlibertycat Posts: 593
    I think vinyl looks and feels better than cloth. It is very similar to leather IMO. I hate cloth, it is uncomfortable and looks bad. I wish more cars had vinyl. The only vinyl cars I know of are the F150 and Ranger. Please mention any more, anyone who knows of any vehicle sold in the U.S. that has vinyl available. I guess I won't be considering a Freestar as it lacks many of my features. Sad that Ford couldn't put them in. If only they had worked harder to make a class-leading minivan. Oh, well. Also, will it have AWD (another of my necessary features)? I guess I'm gonna go for a '04 Sienna Limited when they get Limiteds in stock. My second choice would be an MPV and third a Town and Country.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Try sitting in vinyl, when your living in FL, CA, NV, NM, AZ, etc. The closest you come to vinyl, might be if you order the optional leather package, usually the 3rd row seat is made of vinyl. Or even trickier as many manufacturer's do, is use vinyl on the parts that do not touch your body, while keepnig the leather on the parts of the seat your hands/body are liable on touching.

    Vinyl is not favored because of it's ability to crack, unable to breathe like leather, and prone to ripping easily. Cloth is much easier to combat all these, as well as not burning your butt.

    The Freestar will not have AWD, it's platform is not engineered for that. Next generation of Ford minivans, will have that. Try the Sienna, it has that and all the above.
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