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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey

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  • I was convinced I'd buy a Freestar until my dh and I test drove one the other day. Everything was great except for the 3rd row bench. Not only were my knees almost in my chin, but the bench seems a lot shorter. I doubt you could get 3 carseat/boosters on that bench. Three big kids/adults would be very squished, the amount of butt space in these outboard spaces is tiny. Why oh why didn't they compromise the space in the center spot instead of the two outboard spots???

    Another disappointment is lack of tether anchors, the 3rd row only has one in the center. LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) is in the center only instead of one on each outboard side. So if you needed to put 2 carseats back there, you'd probably have to put them outboard (they'd overlap into the center spot), and not be able to tether them. Tethering carseats reduces head excursion and is a significant safety feature. I just don't understand what Ford was thinking, families with 3 or more kids usually need a minivan and fitting boosters and carseats in all seating positions as safely as possible is crucial.

    When I expressed my disappointment to the salesman, he talked about "giving up this to get that great feature" To me, passenger room in a MINIVAN is far more important than folding the third row flat. I need a van because I have 4 kids(plus their friends,)not because I just love minivans or need to carry plywood on a regular basis. It's a minivan not a pick-up truck.

    Looks like probably a Sienna for me, it kills me to have to pay close to MSRP.

    Thats my 2 cents

    CPS Tech, mom to 4
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    I agree, but then again, 70% of any car seats do not fit my tall height or broad shoulder's. But as a side note, I personally wouldn't install a car child seat on the 3rd row seats. Mainly because in an accident, for whatever reasons or circumstances of the vehicle impact might be... It's much easier for someone to open a side door and reach for a child thru there, than having to tumble seats and reach to the back for a child.

    I mention this because in Miami we have numerous canals and it's quite common to see accidents where vehicles will fall onto the water and people having a hard time rescuing children from the rear most seats. I believe the center section of a minivan would be the safest to install these seats to facilitate exit after an accident....

    **** Just personal belief, I'm not a ALL associated with NHTSA so don't sue me, Drive at your own risk.
  • Hey CPSTech, we have 3 car seats in our new Freestar. We have one in the center of the back and one in each of the 2nd row buckets. We reverse it when we use our '02 Windstar, which has 2nd row bench seats. In the Windstar, the 2nd row bench seat is really narrow, so as to create a side aisle; user's choice it will move to either side when installing them. I think the only Ford that will comfortably hold 3 car seats in one row would be something like an F250 SuperCrew.

    As far as the Sienna, I drove the '04 unit. Nice car, but not for us. It was expensive, took premium gas and the trim seemed frail. The one we looked at had 180 miles on it and the floor plastic already was failing and the glossy interior trim was begging for sticky fingerprints to be applied. We also drove the Odyssey and it wouldn't take tall people, so we passed.

    Overall the Freestar was the best value, when you look for things like side curtain airbags.

    We are still jousting to get the crummy paint taken care of, more on the problem board.

    Randy
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    have you tried the Nissan Quest or Dodge Grand Caravan or Honda Odyssey???????
  • We drove all but the Nissan - it didn't appear to have the cargo space behind the back seat. We live 20 miles from town, so our van tends to hold lots of extra stuff. The Windstar/Freestar are great for that cargo capacity. If we go to a larger vehicle, like Surburb or Expedition, then we are slaves to OPEC. As I said, the Honda punishes tall people, we are both 6 ft. tall.

    Now, if they just would deal with this crummy paint job....
  • We just bought an '04 Sienna after comparing Sienna, Odyssey and Freestar. We found prices to be quite similar in our area (Phila suburbs) for all three with SIMILAR options. We paid $27,9 for the Sienna LE (w/ homelink, traction control, canopy airbags, power sliding door, deicer wipers etc). DId we pay MSRP? yes but I thought it was comparable to Honda's and Ford's true costs. Freestar's prices at the dealer are grossly inflated. Sure- you may pay $5k less than sticker but that just makes the Freestar SEL $27k and not the $32k sticker and you have to haggle with dealer whereas our similarly equipped Sienna at MSRP was priced at $27! Sienna and Freestar BOTH have 3 row canopy airbags. Sienna i believe has MORE tethers and latches in 3rd row and has 60/40 split 3rd row. Why didn't FOrd engineers add that to the Freestar? We have 2 kids now but hope to have a third soon so 60/40 split will give us better storage! Sure- Toyota recommends premium gas for Sienna but the added price for premium still makes Sienna's gas prices cheaper since it has much better gas mileage than Freestar. I have previously driven 2 Sables so i was a Ford satisfied customer but in comparing the Freestar to the Sienna, we had to go with the Sienna for several reasons: 1) Toyota's reliability; 2) 3rd row 60/40 and 3) Freestar has the ugly interior trim showing through the driver's window and front passenger's window. What's with that? NO other car has that.
  • vulawgrad: can you clarify what you mean? I drove a Freestar last week and I'm not sure what you are talking about.

    "Freestar has the ugly interior trim showing through the driver's window and front passenger's window. What's with that? NO other car has that."

    Thanks
    CPS Tech
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    good luck with the Sienna. My friend bought an XLE FWD model costing $33K in May. XLE pkg. 9 added.
  • I am sorry to be such a pest, but this is my third question regarding a power liftgate for the 2004 Freestar. We are waiting to order an 04 Freestar. but want the power liftgate. It is supposedly a late availability option. I just received in the mail the new brochure for the 04 Freestar and nothing is mentioned about a power liftgate. or even as an option. I emailed Ford's Customer Relationship Center and got the following response:

    "Regretfully, the Ford Customer Relationship Center (CRC) does not have any details on whether this vehicle will be offered with a Power Liftgate, however, we will forward this information along to our design team as a suggestion for the future."

    Does anyone know for sure whether or not it is going to be offered, or if it is, when it would become available? My lease is up Dec. 18, so I am getting too close for comfort on this matter. Thanks for putting up with me regarding this issue.
  • No planned build/release time for now, that could change any time though.

    I personally wouldn't expect to see the power gate before spring.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,154

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  • CPS Tech-
    you can read a discussion about interior trim showing through on outside in a review of the Freestar in CarConnection.com (http://www.thecarconnection.com/index.asp?article=6483). In the review, the reviewer noticed the trim showing through and asked Ford engineers why and got no adequate answer (though it seems to me Ford didn't want to spend the money to fix this design flaw). I see it as a design flaw since i have yet to see any other model car (Ford or any other mfg.) ever have this! To see for yourself, go to a Freestar and from the outside look at the driver's seat area or front passenger area. Clearly, from outside you can see 2 inches of interior trim showing through the glass! I personnally found this to be unattractive and unacceptable for a car i would spend close to $30,000 on and therefore for THAT reason and a few others (60/40 split 3rd row), we bought the Sienna. Maybe a Ford employee on this message board can provide an answer to why Freestar has this.
  • Since i am not a technical person, maybe my explanation of door trim isn't clear. Here is the relevant section of article i mentioned before in CarConnection.com:
    "We were quite puzzled with an odd Freestar design choice, to which no one had a clear answer for us. When looking at the Freestar from the side, you can see the interior front-door panel sticking a good two inches above the outside doorline. It looks like a glaring mistake, as if the design budget got cut and it had to stay that way, and when we asked we got three different stories from three different people on the project as to why the panel is the way it is, revealing something about the communication within Ford. One said that the door and power window mechanisms wouldn't fit in a lower panel (which seemed unbelievable as the door is so huge!); another said that a decision was made to keep the panel because it gives people more of a feeling of safety (also hard to believe as you look down the gap from the panel to the real window sill!); and yet another said that he doesn't know why and the panel has simply been carried over from the original Windstar, which had a higher door beltline. Would this happen at Honda or Toyota? We don't know, but we don't notice the panels sticking up on those vans, either."
  • Thanks, I get it now...it's very clear in the brochure. Definitely a design flaw in my opinion, can't imagine why they felt that it was acceptable to leave it like that. I wonder how far the window goes down...to the door or to the panel??
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    It's just a carry over piece, in other words... if you were to rest your elbow on the whole window ledge, the trim will be the part that you will actually rest it upon, NOT the window ledge itself. This makes the previous Windstar, now Freestar, integrate with the front dashboard. You will notice older Explorer's had this same situation.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    I'm beginning my search for a new vehicle to replace my Explorer. I test drove the Freestar on Friday. I was able to get some highway and back road time. Overall, it's an improvement on the Windstar. The 3.9 L engine does accelerate nicely. Better then I thought it would. There was osme growling from the engine when you accelerated but it was very quiet while cruising. Seats we comfortable although the second row seats seemed bit low.

    Dashboard was OK. A little too much plastic on the doors. My 96 Explorer at least had vinyl on the doors. But I felt the Windstar was a better layout but what do I know?

    Overall it's a nice van but the biggest problem I had with the van was the cost. To get the items you truly need, you had to buy it separately. The cheapest Freestar they had on the lot was $28k. That was for an SE. For that price I can get a loaded Odyssey, sienna LE, Nissan Quest, or MPV. OF course they do have a bunch of Windstars available with big rebates on them.

    I'll continue my search later this week with the Quest, Odyssey and T&C.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,154
    I remember that you are having trouble with the Explorer, but don't recall if you mentioned why you are looking to go to a minivan instead of another SUV (or Malibu?).

    Are there any Ford loyalty coupons floating around these days?

    I'm always curious as to why MV/SUV owners defect and switch styles. Thanks,

    Steve, Host

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  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    The reason for the switch to a minivan is my 96 Explorer V8 has 144k miles on it and my wife backed into a loading dock. We are getting it fixed but it has lost its appeal. It was in such great shape before that people were stunned that it had that many miles on it. We had planned on shopping for a new vehicle this spring anyway and decided to move our purchase up by a couple of months. Also with 2 kids (4 yrs and 19 months) we do travel quite a bit to visit the in-laws and take short trips during the summer, the extra room in the minivan will be appreciated. Plus the gas mileage on the SUVs are horrendous. At least i will be able to get over 20 mpg on the highway with a minivan.

    I'm beyond that macho image and the "want" for an SUV. We've had two Explorers (1991 and 1996) that have served us very well. And the funny thing is my wife does hunt and does go off road but she can travel with her father for that. Other then that, we don't do the off -road thing. Snow? I live in the suburbs and I'm not stupid enough to try and drive in 6 inches of snow with any vehicle. Most places cancel school and other functions well before the snow storm ever hits. So a front wheel drive minivan will do just fine for the drivng we do.

    My in laws would prefer we buy American (whatever that means). I started with the Freestar since the local dealership had a special going on this weekend. I'm not aware of any loyalty programs through Ford. Not completely sold on the re-design. They've improved the Freestar in some areas (engine, noise, shifting) but I think they also went cheap on some other things (too much plastic esp. on the doors). I thought the Windstar interior was better overall. We also looked (did not test drive) at the Quest which had better seats and some other items that made the Freestar look overpriced. And this was the base Quest we were looking at. But the proof is in the driving which we will do very shortly.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,154
    Thanks! Have fun shopping,

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • Thanks for all of your patience with my complaining about the crummy paint on our Freestar.

    Today, Ford said they would exchange the van due to the number and level of defects in the paint.

    Thanks for your support!
    Randy
  • Bought a new 99 Odyssey and am looking to replace it after 275,000 almost trouble free miles. Looked at the Sienna, Quest, and Freestar. The Sienna and Quest are obviously all new designs that take dead aim at the Odyssey. They have various strongpoints and shortcomings, but they clearly are trying to replace the Odyssey as the segment leader.

    As for the Freestar, why hasn't Ford been called on the carpet for obviously false and/or deceptive advertising? The Freestar is a regurgitated Windstar. The door panels don't line up because one is old and the other is a carryover. The van is an improvement over the Windstar, but you can only fix up an 20 year old pushrod V-6 so much, same goes for the tranny and rear suspension. They just don't come close to the competition. Once Chrysler puts the folding middle and rear seats in the new 2005 in January, GM finally comes out with their redesign next year, not to mention the 2005 Odyssey redesign, the Freestar will still be an improved vehicle but will badly trail the pack. If you buy one, better plan to keep it for many years, because the resale may be even worse than the Windstar. As Ford ups the rebates to try and sell the new ones, it will depress the resale value even more. Sorry to see an effort like this by Ford. If the "All new F-150" was as lame as the Freestar, heads would roll in Dearborn. Of course when you look at Ford's stock price, why haven't they rolled already? The Freestar certainly won't help the bottom line.

    P.S. I'm 6-1 and the Odyssey has plenty of front seat room. I'm puzzled by the post that says it cramps taller passengers.
  • Ted, I made the comment about the Odyssey punishing tall folks. My wife and I are both 6', maybe longer in the leg department. We went very open eyed to the Honda store, after having 5 Windstars. When we got into the Ody for a test drive, with a tall salesman, we tried to get the driver's seat further back. The sales guy said the seat was all the way back. We both felt that the Ody had less leg room than any of our previous Windstars (96 x 2, 98, 00, 02).

    I agree that the Honda has a better resale value, but what value does comfort have? The Honda lacked some features that we wanted, like driver's door keypad and the roof canopy airbag. Honda was also a bit more restrictive on the configuration. I agree that Ford does not hold the value for bi-annual trend setters, but we kept my wife's 96 Windstar for 82k miles and 8 years, only replacing a catalytic convertor in those miles. By the way, that was under warranty.

    Good luck on your hunt!
    Randy
  • Trainboy - If you are only 6 feet tall then the Odyssey will provide you with plenty of leg room. It is clear that you didn't have the seat "all the way back".

    I'm a little over six feet tall and quite long of leg and have never had the problem of having too little leg room in my brother-in-law's Odyssey. In fact, I bet I could not reach the pedals if the seat were moved all the way back.
  • Jeff, maybe we had a real dummy for a sales rep. From what you said and another friend of mine who has one, it looks like cockpit failure with the sale rep. When we tried a new Odyssey, we got in and the seat was too close. We asked the sales rep if the seat was all of the way back for max leg room. He played with the seat controls and said the seat was to the rear most position. We were so uncomfortable, we didn't drive the van off the lot.

    Hey, if the van fits you, great! Next time, we will try another dealer.
  • Trainboy - I just realized that we may be discussing apples and oranges. It appears you were in an Odyssey with power seats. My brother-in-law's has manual seats. There could be a tremendous difference in track length between the two seats. Your complaint about leg room could certainly have merit if the power seat has limited movement.
  • shuedshued Posts: 107
    because you have enough money to replace your van for every 2-3 year (96 x 2, 98, 00, 02). But for most people, they need to keep a van for 10 year. For me, the priority is:
    1): Value/affordable.
    2): Long-term reliabilty.
    3): Performance.
    4): Convenience, comfortable.
    With the similar equipments, Freestar has higher MSRP than Honda, and Toyota's van. We can see what the sale volume world be.
  • Shued, I don't have enough money to replace my van every 2-3 years. One of the '96's was my personal purchase and we kept it for 82k miles and 8 years. The rest were company units that were leased by my employer. I get a new company Windstar/Freestar every 80k-90k miles, which is about every two years. I am not sure if I would call it lucky; my body is in that van about 900 miles spread over 3 days a week.

    I just get to see lots of new vans..

    Randy
  • TSchrammTSchramm Posts: 106
    I bought a new Odyssey EX in 2001 and paid MSRP, because that's what you needed to do do get one then. I understand that you don't get much off MSRP even now. 7 months later, I changed jobs and got a company Windstar, which made the Odyssey an extra van with a payment I didn't need. I sold it for only $800 less than I paid for it 7 months earlier. Try doing that with the Windstar!

    Yes, The Windstar may MSRP for more than the Odyssey, but noone should pay within $5-7K of MSRP on a Windstar (Freestar). You can get the similarly equipped Freestar for less than the Odyssey or Sienna, but my experince is that you will lose much more in resale and to some extent, quality.

    My 2002 Windstar has 30K miles and has been just fine - routine maintenance only. It's a little noisier and not as refined as the Odyssey was, but interestingly, we have been more comfortable in the Ford than we were in the Honda. My company Freestar SE arrives at the end of December. Looking forward to the flat folding third seat. I've seen it and it looks and operates just great.
  • My other dissapointment with the Freestar is the confusing pricing and model trims. The Odyssey has three basic trim levels and there are no options except for a few overpriced dealer installed items. When Toyota and Nissan came out with their new vans, they also had three trim levels. The entry level and mid level were not surprisingly equipped and priced virtually the same as the Odyssey. The top level models have a few more options and are equipped and priced comparably to the Chrysler luxury model. Again they take direct aim at the competition. You can easily compare price, performance and equipment and make an informed selection. Then there's the Freestar. Five trim levels including a base model that is poorly equipped and has few available options so that almost no one would buy it. The other models are a confusing mix, none equipped similarly or priced similarly to compete with the benchmark competition. Only certain options are available with certain trims which of course makes things more frustrating. To get a Freestar with everything offered on the mid level model Honda, Toyota, or Nissan you end up with a $30,000+ van. Of course they overpriced it and introduced it with a rebate. Then you have to haggle on sticker to finally get back somewhere near competitive pricing. I asked several Ford dealers why the pricing mess. They just shook their heads and said it's a "Ford thing". Very sad.
  • Ted, it may seem confusing for 5 trim levels, but I think there is a method to the madness here. Remember, the Freestar replaces the Windstar, which is a vehicle in many company fleets. My company has leased 4 of them for my use on company business. My current company unit is an '02 LX, which is mid line. I just ordered a new Freestar for my work and it is now the SE which is next to bottom. I am sure we saved money there. My wife's Freestar SEL is definitely nicer than the company sled will be.

    Here is something that might work for you. Try ignoring the trim level and pick the options, one-by-one. Put the options in the order that they are important. Then look at the option matrix and see what unit meets the majority of your needs and then add on. For us, it was 4.2 liter engine, power sliding side doors, and safety canopy. Since we have 3 kids, we needed bucket seats in the second row, for easy 3rd row access. That pointed us the the SEL. We didn't want leather, so we stayed away from the Limited.

    If you want your trim options narrowed and you are looking at the higher end, try Mercury Monterey. I looked at one today and out of the box, it is nicer than Freestar.

    Good luck,
    Randy
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