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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey

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  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Last I looked, DC never lost the lead in sales. While their market share has eroded,(due to the Japanese finally getting their own act together on this market segment) they still have a much larger share than all the others.

    Just amazing the anti DC bias being posted.

    Current DC minivan platform is genuinely very good all around. One of the best handling minivans and very quiet and smooth, available in two wheelbases and three engines. First with sliding doors both sides of van, optional power sliding doors and rear tailgate. Covers the under $20K market up to the luxury loaded end.

    Add the fold away flat floor seating in both rows and they have just about all the features needed to compete vigorously in this segment.
  • I've begun researching minivans to see what I can afford and what opportunities a minivan offers over our two-Accord situation. I lean toward Honda because I'm familiar with their sedans (owned 3 to this point).

    As I research, I just keep racking up a higher price as simple things are added (roofrack, privacy glass, etc.). Is there a basic minivan that's reliable and between $20 and $24K? By basic, I mean that my kids can manually slide a door closed, I can manually adjust the driver's seat, and I can navigate to my destination (I'm a mapmaker by profession). Just give me space, seating flexibility and reliability!

    Any suggestions?
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,879
    Find your way to Best minivan value for $25,000?.

    (You must hate the never-ending mapping puns and I'm sure you've never heard that one before <g>)

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • I'm glad you didn't tell me to "Get lost!"

    BTW: there's a mapping company that uses the slogan, "Maps to swear by, not at." I always thought that an enterprising automobile manufacturer could purchase that slogan and use it to their marketing advantage.

    Anyway, I've subscribed to the topic you suggested. Thanks!
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    "It will be interesting to see what GM is coming up with with the new platform Uplander/Montana/Terrazzo minivans next year."

    Actually it's the same platform as before, just a bit modified. And it NEEDED it, since it didn't do very well on some government crash testing. So GM's minivan's will also be a warmed over version, as the Ford and Chrysler minivans will be.

    Spartanman,
    "The factories are there, the workers are ready, why not design a modern vehicle that sells. That keeps everyone employed and happy. The shortcut approach inevitably leads to a loss of jobs and factory closings no matter what the UAW negotiates. "

    As I mentioned earlier, this wasn't a priority during this product cycle. The resources aren't there for Ford to have developed something from the ground up, they are concentrating on numerous other vehicles that will allow them to attain higher profits. The Freestar, just as the Ranger, is a vehicle that profits even if lesser amounts are sold because it's tooling and engineering are well paid for.

    Unions may have their people and their factories to work in, but if consumer's aren't buying the product they need to scale back some of them. Notice the current news of how the Futura (higher profit model) will be assembled in Mexico, while the Focus (smaller profit) be allocated to Wayne, MI.

    In Union negotiations, you usually have some clause that requires them to stay up and running even if a vehicle isn't selling well. While idled worker's receive 95% of their paychecks. And/or some factories promised vehicles, while local governments give incentive to manufacturer's, for producing in their city/state. Numerous other factors come into play, but as an example... some of the better run plants in the U.S., are non-unionized such as Toyota's.

    Sometimes it makes you wonder, if the vehicle someone might be selling, is something they are putting their heart and soul into, or just something to shut consumer's up, the city/state, and the union worker's.

    BUT the reason why a manufacturer might actually go through all this issues and offer even a warmed over offerings, is because survey's have shown that these same buyer's, will grow up into a more profittable vehicle, such an SUV next time they purchase a vehicle. Specially in the minivan market that isn't very loyal overall.
  • Yeah because James Padilla - the President of NA operations aquired Mexican citizenship recently commiting himself to Mexican government . Thats why high profit vehicle goes to Mexico. They have to move headquarter there too and cut their salaries.

    http://www.freep.com/money/autonews/id6_20031206.htm
  • TSchrammTSchramm Posts: 106
    I think GM's putting a lot more effort into their new minivan line-up that either Ford did with the Freestar or Chrysler with their '05.

    http://www.auto123.com/en/info/news/news,view.spy?artid=19199&amp- ;pg=1
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    So far from what I have read, it seems as equally the same. I'm fully aware of everything that was upgraded, changed, modified, etc. on the Freestar, and from the few things that have been leaked on GM's, it's almost the same.

    Or some issues where Ford has placed more emphansizes (interior noise insulation, or offering a larger engine) could be counter-acted by GM's effort of changing the exterior moreso, and/or extending the platform.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    While the Honda minivans are priced about $27,000 and Chrysler about $35,000 (before rebates) you have to consider that Chrysler minivans offers much more than Honda. Simple things like heated mirrors; 10-speaker audio system; power liftgate; power passenger seat and memory seating; 3-zone auto climate control; and so much more, they are not available on Honda's Odyssey. And most of them weren't available at the last generation Toyota Sienna. Now Toyota catched up, and it seems that Honda will do the same.

    270 hp for the new Honda Odyssey? Sounds a lot. Most people don't need that much. I would suggest for Chrysler to add the 250 hp engine from the Pecifica into the redesigned '05 Town & Country. Honda is always on top with engines. I also believe the new Honda's will be much quieter, as the current generation is far from the best.

    Take in mind that Chrysler never thought of a 2005 redesign. The actual redesign was due in about 2006-2007. They didn't need a really new design since they redesigned already in 2001, and you don't need a new one in 3-4 years. And they are also looking very good - actually the best on the market IMO. But Ford and GM needed badly a new design. Ford's design is still from 1995, and GM 1997, and are really dated. The only reason Chrysler is "throwing in" the new features is to compete with the new minivans.

    And they are not throwing in "just" folding seats. They're adding much more safety to compete with Ford's 5-star safety ratings; And for the first time they added a rear parking aid which was never available on Chrysler/Dodge; The already quiet van will be 16% quieter to compete with the new Sienna; And some more minor upgrades. So it should be an excellent minivan.

    About the uncomfortable folding seats, Chrysler is going to offer a new kind of cushions into the seats, so it will be more comfy - at least that's what they say.

    So we will have to wait and see - it's due next march ('04) as a '05 model.

    Back to the Freestar.
  • ANT

    I guess we're in agreement on what Ford's doing. The only difference is you seem to think its either acceptable or justifiable due to various constraints. I just look at what has happened to their stock performane and market share over the past 15 years. Whatever it is the're doing isn't working. Continuing on with products like the Freestar just guarantees more of the same. If I was still a Ford stockholder, my question would be: Do you ever plan to reach a point where all your vehicles are class competitive, and if so, what year would that be? Or put another way, with your market cap down to $26 billion and stockholders equity down to $8 billion, even if you wanted to start being competitive across the product line, can you afford it?
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Well first off, I would ask what exactly is the goal you would wish for Ford to have? And at what point will the pinnacle be reached where "just enough and doing better" will change your perception. As in, what will it require from Ford's part, for you to believe that they are doing something about anything?

    Let's flash back about 2 years ago.... if now your not satisfied with what they have done so far, I can imagine back then you would have been livid. I'm not trying to convince you either way, just showing you an alternative thought that explains the current issues. Ford is one of the largest corporations in the world, you can't expect for problems to be rectified overnight, and there's definately other priority involved during this restructuring as well. Then just a non-competitive (as seen by a few) model.

    If we will go down the list of dissapointments, I would add Town Car, for it's archaic foundation, lack of power, and luxury cache. Or the Ranger which is being kept unchanged till 2007, because that TOO isn't a priority vehicle (yet sells at a profit, and #1 seller at that). Or the Taurus for not being as compeitive as could be. Or for them having killed the previous Tbird to replace it with an expensive 2 seater. Etc.etc. But little by little, these issues are being addressed.

    Plus I'm not at all complaining about their stock, I bought quite a bit when it hit their low of 6.XX a year ago and just sold them all a week ago at 13.XX, Merry Xmas from Ford !!
  • ANT

    No need for me to respond further. They fact that you sold your stock at 13 makes my point better than I ever could!
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    That's why I bought it at such a low, because I knew it would rebound. The stock is now at 14+ and I wanted to keep it since I know it'll continue to improve, but it was imperative that I had a new LS before the end of the year and wanted to pay for it in cash, therefore I had to sell some stock :( Not all though....
  • I never felt that oil changes were difficult. I stopped doing them about six years ago.I started doing them when I was younger and for some way to save a buck while we were raising our eight kids. I could change oil and save 75% of the cost. Believe me we could use it then. As I became more successful I could well afford to have it done but continued to do it out of habit. I might still be doing it if I was physically able.
    I got your point Randy. Didn't mean to bend your ear.
    Believe me when I say that I'm enjoying my Freestar and looking forward to our Florida trip HAPPY HOLIDAYS.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,914
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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,879
    My Edmunds Vans newsletter arrived this morning and reports that the Freestar's bumper test came back "marginal." Be careful backing into poles....

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    The bumper's might be too soft, but the vehicle earned a Best Pick by Institute for Highway Traffic Safety.

    Released today Dec 19th....

    http://www.iihs.org/news_releases/2003/pr121903.htm

    "HIGH-SPEED CRASH TEST RESULTS:
    NEW FORD PICKUP & MINIVAN ARE 'BEST PICKS,'
    F-150 PICKUP SHOWS DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT

    ARLINGTON, VA -- The redesigned Ford F-150 pickup truck and Ford Freestar minivan each earned the highest overall rating in a recent series of 40 mph frontal crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Both vehicles, which are 2004 models, improved compared with their predecessors. The previous F-150 model was rated poor, while the redesigned 2004 model F-150 earned a good rating and the added designation of "best pick." Ford's previous minivan, the Windstar, was rated acceptable, while the new Freestar earned a rating of good and also is a "best pick."
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Obviously this isn't an issue that hasn't gone un-noticed. Just like Airbags that could implode for no reason, or ABS breaks that apply themselves without notice, or transmission modules that will shift you to 1st gear while doing 80mph's.

    Like all the above, there's safety measures taken within the computer's diagnostics system to determine if there's an issue. Each second, hundreds of thousands imputs are being measured, tallied, calculated (on not only Stability Control Systems) but everything from engine ignition, to compression, to cylinder firing taken into account.

    Mercedes now has brake-by-wire systems in some of their vehicles. A majority of new vehicles are implementing Drive-by-wire technology....As in, there's nothing connecting you, to the mechanism, and it's all done by computer's. Even Saturn Ion has electric steering, as many of these new Hybrids.

    And with most of these safety systems embedded into the safety systems themselves, they will alert you of a problem and de-activate themselves. And depending on the manufacturer, they each encode the vehicles main computer to "DO" something, to counteract any problems that might cause a safety issue.

    Although I do agree, when time for repairs come in, it will be pricey, but how many buyer's really keep a car longer than 6-8 years? I believe that Mercedes buyer that has the brake/drive by wire system will probably not keep it more than 3-4 years.

    And I also see alot of these idiotic driver's who slam the gas and hit storefront, then blame it on..."the car just accelerated itself" (an accident that usually happens for the 70+ year old crowd for some ODD reason)....

    But remember what the manufacturer's have printed on their manuals. These are safety systems that compliment the driver's driving. As in, use it at your own risk, and do not depend on it. These systems make good driver's, better, but it does not make bad driver's better in any sense. And since the adoption of ABS and Airbags, a rise of "stupid accidents" have risen because of people depending on these systems, and expecting miracles from them as well. I forgot which publication researched a report on that, with the similar point.

    And let's look at another point...if some of these driver's are "merged" into on-coming traffic, or placed in harms way, let's think of how good their driving techniques will become, when they try and get out of the way?! (joking here) Although personally, some of the best driving manuever's I've done have been avoiding accidents, moving out of harm's way, etc. So it can be looked upon as something positive.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,879
    My local paper had a nice spread about the good Freestar crash test results this morning, complete with the "no intrusion" photo. Funny how the net headlines I saw the other day concentrated on the bumper tests.

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • Ant, I usually agree with you on things, but I think you are missing something here. It is true that not many original buyers keep vehicles 6-8 years, but having a vehicle fall apart magically after that date does affect the original buyer where it hurts, in the pocket book. If a vehicle gets the label of "self-destructs in x-miles" you sure can factor that into the trade in/resale value.

    When we ordered our Freestar and then later selected a Merc Monterey, I purposely stayed away from the traction control stuff. As I have said before, the main problems that we seem to have with the Windstars were wheel speed sensors, which cause an annoying ABS light to flash or the speedo jumps around the dash. Either way, I agree about limiting unneeded accessories like traction control.

    Honda, Toyota and Nissan have good resale values and I believe this is partly due to perceived long term reliability. This is something the big three need to work on, even if it is perceived.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Well yes naturally thru time, some things will fail and I'm aware on some specific vehicles, the "lifetime" that some components are designed to have. Then other factors to consider, how the vehicle is used, and the way it's abused, and sometimes it's simply luck. Ironically I have had some Honda and Toyota friends that have had A/C compressors, tranny, ABS issues occur soon after purchase, something I myself do not even expect.

    Previously, Ford as well as some other automaker's, made the effort of changing/upgrading ALL components, from one generation of a vehicle, to another. While most asian manufacturer's continued to use the same components (common parts), while increasing size, and changing styling from one generation to another.

    Ford is now adopting that ideology as they have publically stated. This allows for components to improve without the risk of changing over to one of a different supplier and not know it's long-term reliability.

    On another realm, if you really wish to maximize your vehicles worth at trade-in, I would say that the majority of those "toys" are surely not going to help. Those are creature comforts that we splurge on, that the next buyer might not care for. As example, a Used SUV buyer will probably care about having the larger engine, 4x4, and a trailer towing package. Those are the main components most will care to look for, therefore create demand, concluding with getting a higher resale value. I read an article once years ago (do not remember which publication) but went into detail as to what are good options to get, and NOT good options to get depending on the vehicle type.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    "Previously, Ford as well as some other automaker's, made the effort of changing/upgrading ALL components, from one generation of a vehicle, to another. While most asian manufacturer's continued to use the same components (common parts), while increasing size, and changing styling from one generation to another."

    I'm sorry ANT, but that's completely untrue. First, if that were true, then US automakers would now be producing cars that although are less reliable than Japanese models, are years ahead of the Japanese in innovation and technology. Are they?
    Second, look at just some of the obvious holdovers for Ford: Vulcan V-6 has carried over from 1986 to current, spanning three generations. The Escort 1.9 liter served from 1984 to 1996, through three model changes. 302 V-8 carried over for about 30 years, up through the 2000 model Explorer, although with some cooling and intake changes. The Taurus platform itself went largely unchanged from 1986 to current, with just minor transmission and suspension tweaks. Check out a parts house inventory and look at all the tie rods, steering pumps, struts, IACs, steering racks, etc that Ford carries over from model to model.
    Changes don't cause problems, changes that aren't improvements cause problems.

    "Ford is now adopting that ideology as they have publicly stated. This allows for components to improve without the risk of changing over to one of a different supplier and not know it's long-term reliability."

    Sorry again, but this is just another effort at cost-cutting draped in the cloak of quality control. Very clever way they made that statement, by the way, I'll give Ford credit for that. Look at industry reports covering manufacturer/supplier relationships over the past five years and you see that Ford's deteriorated faster than anyone's. Blame Nasser or whomever you want, but things got worse for Ford in the late 90s.
    The above strategy Ford stated, of decreasing suppliers and remaining faithful to the ones they retain is a good strategy, but it was part of the quality management theory adopted in the 80s, which never rooted firmly in any US automaker. I don't know why Ford is trotting it out now as a new idea.
    The second part of that statement is more deceptive: By stating that more parts will be carried over, they accomplish two things: 1.Prepare investors and consumers for less investment in innovation, and fewer mechanical changes from model to model. This covers them in the event of continuing financial troubles which constrict Ford's ability to design and manufactur new parts. 2.It appeals to those concerned about Ford's quality, based on the somewhat flawed premise that less design changes lead to more reliable parts. This masks the real problem which is much more complex: Ford's inability to design and manufacture new product as quickly or efficiently as the leading Japanese makers, which is rooted in, as always, poor communication and unnecessary competition between various factions within the company, a contemptuous relationship with suppliers, and [non-permissible content removed]-backwards MBA management theories that assume the fix to any financial problem is to cut costs. Bank managers can't run car companies.
    A lot of what Ford is saying sounds good, and they do seem to be pointing their nose in the right direction, but consider that their backs are against the wall right now and they're in a position of *having* to say all the right things to appease investors. They may easily change their tune if the economy turns around and a few of Ford's new models catch fire, so the real question is if they remain committed to quality over the next ten years instead of just six months.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    "I'm sorry ANT, but that's completely untrue"

    I'm just reporting the news, take it as you wish. Core components are always used for long periods of time. So your statement of the Vulcan 3.0L V6, the 5.0L V8, etc. Are examples of things that are carried over for numerous years. Every manufacturer carries over it's core components, Toyota's 3.0L V6 for example which stemmed from it's previous version. Down to GM's 3.8L which dates back decades.

    Same as for platforms. A usual platform will have a lifespam of 8 years, or 2 generations if the vehicle is redesigned at 4 year intervals. While some other platforms are improved versions of previous one's (Crown Vic, Mustang for example) and have solidered on for many more years.

    The components which Ford is talking about, are A/C, brakes, wiring, etc. All those items that aren't really seen by the consumer.

    As an example, let's take the next Focus coming out in a few months. Not much is being changed in it except for styling inside and out, engines being phased in, and a few items here and there. This is an example of limiting re-designing elements to improve overall reliability. Which Focus has already improved to Best Pick (over Civic's, Corolla) on some consumer publications. Warranty claims have dropped 1/3rd over last year levels, and reliability improved 29-32% from year ago levels. (as stated by Ford)

    Original plans were to bring over the new Euro Focus which is redesigned, but that idea was killed to avoid the previous Focus fiasco and improve the current vehicle.

    So if this philosophy is untrue in Ford's part, let's take note that their reliability has improved by resent survey's.
  • Interesting discussion regarding Ford's putting a good face out of recycling from the parts bin. The point to be made is that a carryover of a competitive product with minor changes is OK as Ford is still offering an excellent product with more improvements. The Focus is a good example. Taking a noncompetitive product and adding a few new features and gimmicks and calling it "All-New" is not a good idea as the Freestar will soon prove. Consumers research new car purchases very extensively these days. The 8 year old Windstar platform is just getting older, not significantly better. Buyers know the poor reliability and resale record of the Windstar and they know that the Freestar is a slightly improved version. The end product is what matters. A class leader doesn't need a complete overhaul. Other vehicles do and that's where the money needs to be spent. Otherwise it just gets spent on rebates. Just as costly and very detrimental to brand image.
  • TSchrammTSchramm Posts: 106
    For example, I sat behind the wheel of the new Freestar this weekend, and there were several new design changes that are step in the wrong direction.

    First, in the Windstar, the lower center panel on the dashboard which contains the A/C and stereo controls, is nicely angled towards the driver. In the Freestar, this panel is flat, and creates a longer reach for the driver, as well as more glare on the radio screen. Why?

    Next, I noticed that the rear vent window switch has been moved from it's convenient location on the driver's armrest, to this new flat panel. Not only that, but it has been placed on the opposite side of the radio - about 5 times further away from the driver than in the Windstar. Yet there is a space for another type of switch for some type of option, on the driver's side of the radio.

    Why put a standard control that's on every single vehicle farther away from the driver, and leave space for an optional control closer?

    While this may make the vent switch easier for the front seat passenger to reach, how often is someone in the front passenger seat vs. the driver seat? Just plain dumb.

    I didn't find a single interior improvement, other than the fold-down 3rd seat, that is better than in the Windstar. Even the center-glove box on the top of the dash just makes me think it will encourage some drivers to open and start rummaging through it while hurtling down the highway.

    These are small issues, but I think they demonstrate that Ford really didn't think things all the way through with this van, and made some changes simply for the sake of change, not making things better. I admit, I have not driven one yet, but just sitting in the Freestar and looking at the illogical choices that have been made from the driver's seat, makes wonders if it's worth going back to drive.
  • We had a '95 teal Windstar for 5 years. It was perfect for us--one sliding door (manual at that), standard LX features, etc.

    But the killer was a leaking timing chain gasket cover that would've cost a small fortune to fix. I think we were on borrowed time with the transmission.

    As of the Windstar's last model year, had the engine and transmission improved? Is the Freestar's powertrain improved over that of the '95 Windstar?

    If you purchased a Freestar, could you purchase an extended powertrain warranty?
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    "First, in the Windstar, the lower center panel on the dashboard which contains the A/C and stereo controls, is nicely angled towards the driver. In the Freestar, this panel is flat, and creates a longer reach for the driver, as well as more glare on the radio screen. Why?"

    The majority of vehicles (in fact I can maybe just think of a handful) are redesigning their interiors to have dashboards canted towards the audience. (Which is what I call it). If you remember the Lincoln Mark8, or Tbirds, or Probes for that matter, and previous BMW's, they all have dashboards that were pointed towards the driver, and I preffered those aswell.

    Unfortunately in a time where Navi-systems are being integrated into vehicles, the "to the audience" approach is being favored. So the co-pilot can also play with the Navi system, as well as other controls. Such as the rear ventilation one's you mentioned as well.

    Things could be worse, You have the Quest, Ion, Prius, Mini, with their center mounted intrumentation annoucing your rate of speed to irate passenger's that will surely remind you your exceeding the limit which I would find quite annoying.

    As for the center dashtop storage pod, many vehicles are introducing that feature and many will feature their Navi system popping out of that recess. The Mazda6 I believe has one in the same location over in other markets, cept in the US where it becomes another storage recess. YET, there's hope in the future it might have a Navi system optional.

    Although I understand your frustration about those buttons. But think of it this way, at least they are illuminated at night and easier to at least find. I've been in a few Honda products that have sunroof buttons behind the steering wheel (should be up on the roof) as well as a few other optional lights, and not at all lighted.

    "As of the Windstar's last model year, had the engine and transmission improved? Is the Freestar's powertrain improved over that of the '95 Windstar?

    If you purchased a Freestar, could you purchase an extended powertrain warranty? "

    Scroll back to the beginning posts of this forum, I posted some articles stating the improvements to the tranny and engine. Not only are they improved, but made more reliable as well. You will read Ford's release pertaining to them and the improvements.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    I've test driven the Freestar and it is definitely quieter then the Windstar. I don't anyone can tell you that the Freestar engine or transmission is more reliable then the Windstar. The Freestar has only been on sale for 3 months. I will tell you that the base engine in the Freestar is derived from the 3.8 in the Windstar. I would hope that Ford would have addressed the problems with engine when re-designing the Freestar (of course they should have address them in the Windstar but that is another issue). Having said that there are a few of us who feel that Ford short changed the Freestar on the engine choices by using leftover engines from the previous Windstar and F-150. To some people it does not matter (I have other issues with this minivan as well).

    The best thing to do is go and test drive one for yourself and compare to your current Freestar. I will warn you, do not drive any other minivan if you have your heart set on staying with Ford.
  • My '95 Windstar GL had "solar tinted glass all around," according to the brochure (which I kept all these years). Would that have been the same as "heat resistant glass" that current minivans have--or was it simply a darkened tint?

    As I shop different minivan models, manufacturers offer both "privacy glass" and some kind of heat resistant glass. I can't figure out which is better or if the heat resistant glass is worth the option or increase in level.

    Any suggestions, experiences?
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Not sure about the tinted glass, but I think that all windows are "heat resistant" glass, and the rear windows (sliding doors, rear quarter & liftgate) are tinted as well.

    TScharmm: I too have all the concerns you mentioned above. Ford did almost nothing to improve the driver's comfort, including the switches for the rear power quarter windows and new dashboard which is more modern but not easy-to-use.

    I will repeat some examples: In the Freestar, the controls for the "message center" are hidden behind the steering wheel, while the Windstar have it well located next to the A/C vents;

    In the Freestar, the dashboard is much more modern, but the gauges has smaller typefaces, and the dashboard has some tiny buttons (look at the audio AM/FM - CD buttons - then look on the same buttons on a Toyota Sienna), and so are the switches for the climate control, many buttons together similar to each other, making it very difficult to use any control without taking your eyes away from the road;

    In the Freestar, there is no lamp in the glove box, which Ford used to have on all cars and minivans, including the old Aerostars;

    The radio 'power' button is not illuminated (!);

    In the Freestar, there is no more lumbar support, which used to be on the Windstar and on the Aerostar;

    In the Freestar, they changed the sun visors so it will not cover the same large area as in the Windstar, which is especially great if you use it at your side, thus eliminating the need for a "visor extender";

    And one major complaint: The seats in second & third row are very low, making them unusable (at least very uncomfortable) for adults.

    But there are still many interior improvements over the Windstar, which you'll not notice in the first minute (or day). Example: They moved the rear speakers from the sliding door to the wall near the rear seats, so if you open a sliding door you'll still be able to hear everything, and also, the 3rd row passengers will have a better experience with the speakers, as the Windstar/Freestar offers just 4 speakers, and the 3rd row passengers were always having problems to get a great listening experience. They also added many storage compartments.
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