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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey



  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731 a plus for me. The bigger the better. Gives you an excellent view out - unlike Toyotas cars usually have smaller windows than Chrysler & Ford.
  • I gotta agree with you that the Freestar back seats are tolerable for most tykes. My 95 Windstar has been more than sizable, even with 35 inch leg room, for the kids as they grew up from babies to big grade school kids. However, I was attempting to speak for a portion of the public who buys vans as an investment (6-10 yrs ownership) and doesn't get a van every 2 years free from the company, which would allow you to adapt to your children's changing physical dimensions. My boys are 11, 9, 8, and 5. In 6-8 yrs these boys will be big boys/men and very unhappy with the 32+ leg room in the rear vs Japanese models with 41+. The Japanese minvan versions may not only kill the Freestar in sales, but some of the Econoline business as well as the rear leg room is getting close to what the full size vans offered with serious improvements in gasoline consumption.

    Ford's one saving grace has always been interior styling which DC versions were way behind on for years. But, as I noted above, some of the finishing touches (armrests notably) seemed a step back from where they were in the mid-1990's. Windstar was a leap visually from the DC models in the mid-90's, but Freestar is anything but a leap vs the competition in this decade. I agree with some of the folks above that they could have done more to really heat things up in this segment. Going to be a slow seller. Even the $4000 rebate to previous Windstar owners may not be enough to make them move.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yes the 3.5L is multi-valve 24V. Ford is keeping the Duratec name (including using it in other I-4 engines). Actually the Duratec is far mroe reliable overall, never had a history of issues or concerns. I don't wish to say it's as reliable as the old 5.0L 302CID V-8 which is one of the most reliable in the whole industry, but the Duratec is up there in reliability for Ford.

    And they can keep the 3.0L and use it in other applications. That same 3.0L makes 235HP-240HP in the Jag's with variable valve timing techonology. OR keep it simple (more cost efficient) and use it on the Escape at 201HP.

    Let's not forget the 3.5L will add some weight as well.


    Yes I also brought in that point on another forum . All the magazines will always mention the 240HP Altima, or the 240HP Accord, and that's enough to get the consumer's interest, to enter the showroom. And once there, there's enough of a chance for them to purchase something.

    Same thing with Halo vehicles....Not many can afford the Tbird, YET chances are they'll walk other with something else. The higher performance engines I always say, will get people in the show room. I too would love to see more SVT variation of Ford products, but SVT will take another course, and ST will be another designation for higher powered Ford models with Euro specifications.

    The 3.5L could make anywhere from 240-280 easily, so I'm not too worried about that. I think as long as it doesn't sound/or act PEAKY at high RPM, then it should do well. Nothing I dislike more than a high reving engine...but that's just me.

    I agree with you about the Freestar, but since I know the other side of the story, and place all the pieces together you would see there's really no possible way to be able to produce an entirely new vehicle/platform/engine for a new minivan. I would also wish they concentrated on the Ranger a bit, but that's not getting it's redesigned till 2006-07, I believe that's an important product to get a buyer INTO a pick up, so they later might trade it for the F-150.

    But various factors are involved, Ford is losing sales while they concentrate on infrastructure of teh company itself. Example, I rather a city/community improve it's streets, lighting, waterworks, etc, before I build a beautiful house on it, than have a beautiful house in a run-down neighborhood. And that's currently the issue that I'm seeing occur, them improving the infrastructure.

    As for the NAV system, Ford has had that issue, as well as the satellite radio situation to deal with as well. Lots of legalities involve there, Wingcast first (went no where) then Sirius might be next, who knows, it changes monthly....

    I agree about following the money back home. I've seen some discussing (specially with the Nissan Titan) how foolish some people state it's built in America, therefore justfying their purchase. I personally do not care what they buy, but trying to fool themselves into thinking it's "build in America" means they are being patrotic is rather ironic. Specially when they place these American Flags on them. YET the money is going to corporate in Japan, or Franch (since Renault bought them).... Always...follow the money...

    Surely, they are supplying american worker's with jobs, but that's where it ends. I notice a few print material advertising for the Titan, in small caption stating "Built in Canton Mississippi USA" they should add, "making corporate HQ in Japan, and France, rich" :) But that's just ME....
  • Is the rebate for former Windstar owners in addition to the cash back (which is either $2500 or $3000)?

    Also, is there a way to get the two captains chairs for the middle row without moving up to the two highest trim levels (SEL and Limited)?

    That's what I found so disappointing when I checked out the Freestar in December. An SE model with bench seat priced out about $50 less (at MSRP, though) than a Toyota Sienna LE (which also had more ammenities besides the captains chairs).
  • Ant - The old money trail excuse is really getting tired. GM, Ford, DC, Nissan, Toyota are all big global operations employing people all over the world. The stocks of these companies are owned by investors all over the world either individually or through mutual funds and pension funds. The idea that buying an American made Toyota sends big profits back to Japan is ludicrous. Japanese companies are owned by shareholders and are available for sale to anyone. Millions of Americans already own them. If they turn out to be more profitable than Ford or GM, then just buy their stock and bring those "riches" right back to the the good old USA.

    The most patriotic thing a car buyer can do is to purchase the best vehicle. That rewards Ford when they build the best, and hopefully forces Ford to wake up when they don't, before it's too late. Freestar rebates are now $2500 and climbing. I guess if you really want to be patriotic, by a Freestar and let Ford keep the rebate as you accept all of the excuses as to why they can't build a competitive minivan.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687

    Surely all car manufacturing companies are globalized, that's just a given... But eventually the buck stops at their headquarter's....if not many manufacturer's wouldn't be building in other countries, if their headquarter's sees their a profit to be made (at some point).

    There's nothing wrong with someone who wishes to vote with their money and buy something foreign, that's up to them. But there's a major difference between making Ford family, it's executives, CEO, etc.etc. wealthier, over Toyota's for example.
  • Despite DC's somewhat arrogant statement last month the the new folding 2nd-row seats on the T&C would be so appealing that they could eliminate financial incentives, a story in Reuters today states ..."Some automakers talked hopefully of cutting sales incentives this year as the economy recovered, but recent moves show no signs that the price competition will let up. And DaimlerChrysler AG said it will cut the price on its new 2005 Chrysler and Dodge minivans."

    Appearantly DC is covering its bets - and decided while the new folding seats are a nice touch, they still can't sell the T&C without financial incentives

    They eliminate the rebate, but lower the price. Same thing as keeping the price the same, but offering a rebate. The risk for DC is that they lower the price, and THEN find they also have to offer a rebate to keep sales moving. Than they'll probabaly raise the price.....gotta love the US carmakers.
  • Excellent article!

    So, if you want to "buy American" you can choose from Ford, GM, Volvo, Saab, Mazda, Range Rover and Jaguar. But NOT Chrysler. How weird is that?!?
  • I find the discussion about buying an "american" car to be silly. First- isn't the Freestar made in Canada? (no offense to Canadian friends!) I hope all of you who are worried about buying Toyotas/Hondas b/c Japanese corporations are making money also buy all your products from American companies who hired American workers. If you do, tell me where you shop b/c I find it almost impossible to find products made in the USA or even products made by American corporations anymore! The USA has become a service industry! From furniture to computers to toilet paper, almost nothing is made in the USA anymore. Hopefully you never shop at Walmart, Target, Sears, etc where almost every product was made in China or made by China for a foreign corp. I bought a Toyota Sienna b/c it was (to me) the best minivan on the market for the money and after 4 months owning it i am satisfied. I was appeased that American autoworkers built the car. I'm happier that middle income auto workers got paid (rather than having to work at the Home Depot) and i don't worry about who ultimately gets the profits. The day American corporations start caring about us average citizens instead of polluting the environment, sending more and more jobs oversees, avoiding taxes, building cheap products etc is the day i worry about an American corp getting my hard earned money!
  • vulawgrad wrote: "and i don't worry about who ultimately gets the profits."

    You fail to understand that where the auto profit goes, so goes the tax revenue.

    The more money going to the Japanese gov't in the form of taxes, the less is going to the US gov't and the less revenue is available for your fight against pollution.

    Also, companies don't avoid paying taxes by moving jobs and manufacturing overseas. They are taxed on the profits based on where the company is legally chartered. IBM builds computers in China, but pays US taxes on it's total corporate profit, including revenue earned on those products manufactured overseas.

    Finally, I doubt that the only alternative for the people who asembled your Sienna would have been to work at Home Depot. If one is able to work on an assembly line building a vehicle to the high standards that Toyota requires, they are likely able to do many other jobs to the extent that their skill, ambition and desire will allow them.

    It's faulty logic to assume the best an auto worker could do elsewhere is a minimum wage job! But it sounds like you did your part to prevent them from such a dire fate.

    I'm glad you're happy with your Sienna. And so is the government of Japan.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    They are taxed on the profits based on where the company is legally chartered.

    I don't know much about tax, but would explain why lots of US companies reincorporate offshore. I remember that Stanley Tool was going to move their HQ to the Bahamas until they backed down in face of public outcry.

    Citizen Works

    Interesting stuff, but not especially on-topic. Please take it to Toyota to pass Ford and become #2 in global sales or somewhere else in News & Views.

    Let's get back to the new Freestar in here please.

    Steve, Host
  • Ant - You must be totally aghast at the millions in interest paid by Ford on their corporate debt to bondholders in Japan. Apparently it's OK for the Ford family to enrich those darn foreigners, but somehow its unpatriotic to buy a virtually completely designed, sourced, built and serviced in America "foreign car". I quit worrying about whether or not the Ford family was being enriched after I took delivery of my new 1997 "American Ford Escort" that of course was built in Mexico.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yep the Escort was built in Mexico, just like there's one plant producing the Focus there now... Although that will all get allocated to Wayne Michigan, so the Futura is assembled there.

    I personally don't care if a vehicle is made in Mars, but as Gearjammer stated: "The more money going to the Japanese gov't in the form of taxes, the less is going to the US gov't and the less revenue is available for your fight against pollution."

    The reason the BIG3 have had to build assembly plants outside of the U.S., simply... UNION. Unions were great decades ago to protect worker's from bad work environment. But times have changed, and it's purpose is pointless, time to move on...

    Then we have foreign automaker's building plants on the U.S., not having to deal with unions (read: more porfittable), and in the case of Japanese automaker's, their government purposely devalues their YEN to make them more profittable over american trades. (Something that has been discussed in the last WTO meetings since it's not fair)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Ok, enough, let's get back to the Freestar. That other stuff belongs over in News and Views.

    Steve, Host
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    Read the new issue of Consumer Reports. They have included an update on the Freestar and it is very unfavorable.
  • Would that update be in the new March issue? I've got February but didn't see anything Freestar-related.

    Or, can you summarize their evaluation?
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Consumer Report saying anything favorable towards american manufactured vehicles?

    That's not surprising to say the least :-)
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    Actually this issue is about large SUVs. The Cadillac SRX is the top rated SUV reviewed for this issue OVER the Lexus 470, Nissan Titan and Dodge Durango. The top rated mid-size car when tested is the 2004 Chevy Malibu. Have you read CR lately?
  • The value of Consumer Reports is that they more-or-less objectively test important aspects of a vehicle. If they run a Freestar over the same course as a Sienna, and measure decibels, it gives a good measure of noise levels.

    Of course, you have to trust CR to get several things correct. For example, did they make sure the compared vehicles have the same tire pressure, a roofrack, etc., prior to running the test?

    And you have to make sure that the test is fair and is fairly representative of how people typically use the compared products. A couple years ago, they critiqued the lack of a floppy drive on an iMac. Objectively true--but not representative of the way most iMac users worked and worked around getting files from one computer to another.

    Bottom line is that CR gives you some objectively measured data. You have to decide if their opinion is based on the data, or whether you care about basing decisions on their data and conclusions.
  • While not glowing, the CR article was not that negative.

    Here's what their ratings were:

    Acceleration - very good
    Transmission - very good
    Routine Handling - very good
    Emergency Handling - good
    Braking - very good
    Headlights - good
    Ride - good
    Noise - good
    Driving position - very good
    Front seat comfort - good
    Rear seat comfort - good
    Third-seat comfort- poor
    Access - excellent
    Controls and displays - very good
    Interior fit and finish - good
    Cargo area - good
    Crash tests:

    IIHS offset - good
    NHTSA front - driver & passenger - Excellent

    In the narrative they said it wasn't up to the standards of the Sienna or Odyssey, but that shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. The main complaints were typical CR comments against American cars -sub-par fit and finish, ride and handling, harsh sounding engines. CR seems to say that about every American car they test.

    But there were many positive comments, such as " Overall handling is sound, with restrained body lean in corners, and responsive steering... Emergency handling was secure... The optional 4.2 liter provides good performance...the four speed automatic shifts smoothly, but isn't as refined as the class leaders. Braking distances were very good on dry pavement and just a bit longer on wet....most controls are easy to to operate...the cabin has plenty of storage space..."

    Most of the complaints seemed to be nit-picking, with the overall theme being - it's not as good as the Japanese vans. Can't remember the last time CR ever said a US car was...
  • drwilscdrwilsc Posts: 140
    I found it interesting to compare the CR report on the Freestar with their last report on minivans (October, 2003).

    Odyssey 0-60 8.4 sec
            18 mpg
    Sienna 0-60 8.8 sec
            21 mpg
    Freestar 0-60 9.2 sec
            17 mpg

    As you can see, the large pushrod engine in the Freestar offers no advantage over the smaller, more sophisticated Honda and Toyota engines
    Also, note that the above are hard core numbers, not CR's nor anyone else's 'opinion'
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    The problem with CR’s ratings is, that by (most)domestic models they point out the bad parts much more than the good parts. They usually “forget” to mention some good points, the same points which they are very happy to report when Honda or Toyota has them.

    I have many examples, and I even mailed a letter for CR to show them.

    Now let’s go trough the report, step by step…

    “Overall, the Freestar doesn’t compete well with the best minivans, such as the Toyota Sienna & Honda Odyssey..."

    “The engine is noisy and the interior fit & finish are not up to that of the better models...”

    Of course, they did not forget to mention: “The Windstar’s reliability has been subpar since its introduction in 1994”.

    “The Freestar has an unsettled ride, though bumps are reasonably well-absorbed”... (BTW, who ever drove a Windstar or Freestar know that this is not true: It has a smooth ride, but bumps and potholes are very sharp and upsetting sometimes).

    “Road noise is audible on must surfaces”.

    They do not mention that the Freestar is a big step-up from the Windstar, with much more modern controls, and better materials, they just let you know that it’s still not up to Toyota’s level of quality. They forget to add that the new Freestar is much quieter than Windstar.

    “The 4-speed automatic shifts smoothly but isn’t as refined as that of the class leaders”. (Who cares....? if it’s smooth, who needs “refined”? I don’t even know what that means... it’s smooth, and that’s all I need!)

    “Adjustable pedals make it easy to find a comfortable driving position, but the steering wheel adjusts ONLY for height...” Let me ask you: Which minivan, except for Toyota’s Sienna, has telescoping steering wheel? Most minivans have neither the telescoping steering wheel nor the adjustable pedals. Instead to give credit for Ford for the pedals, they left you with a bitter taste in the mouth: “but the steering wheel adjusts ONLY for height.”

    Of course they also “forget” to mention that the Freestar have ALL controls lighted at night, power controls for the windows & door locks, cruise controls, and more. If Nissan would have it, they would say, “it’s a nice touch, everything is illuminated”...

    “Rear head restraints are too low when fully down to adequately protect from whiplash...”, but here too, they don’t tell us that it’s for a reason: You could fold the seat straight in the floor without removing the headrests.

    And what about the excellent crash-test results? Like it was non-existence.

    My point is: You can see if CR likes that car or not. Everything they wrote IS TRUE. But when they like something, they're talking so positive, and almost no bad points. But in case they do not like it, it seems like the current article.

    Sorry about the long message. And please, let’s not start a new conversation about CR’s reports, we have had enough of that already.
  • "Hard core" numbers? They are the test result numbers CR achieved, and they are different than the numbers I have seen in Car & Driver, Motor Trend, and even here on Edmund's, on the same vehicles. So, who has the real "hard core" numbers? Certainly NOT just CR.

    Also, the Sienna requires premium unleaded gas to achieve the numbers CR cited. While there is an overall mpg advantage on the Sienna, "real world" mpg always differs from what the EPA states, or even what a car mag review reports over the course of a one-week test. Maybe the Sienna will get 21, 25 or 17 average mpg, depending on the driver.

    So, while the Sienna achieves a whopping 4 tenths-of-a-second acceleration advantage over the Freestar, whether or not it's worth buying premium gas for that paltry of an advantage is questionable.

    If you look at the whole picture, not just performance, but economics, there certainly may be an advantage to the old Ford pushrod.

    I doubt the average driver would notice a .4-second acceleration difference in daily driving. But they will certainly notice paying for premium unleaded gas at the pump every week.
  • Is this the same Consumers Reports that has the Ford Focus rated first? So much for bias. The CR tests are very straightforward and there's no arguing if a car is noiser and rides worse than another one. Test drive the Freestar and Sienna to compare if you don't believe. Where CR goes wrong is they throw in "projected long term reliability" into their recommendations. There are many times one car has tested better overall but has not been recommended because of reliability projections. That why Toyota and Honda get recommended more than they should as CR always assumes that their reliability will be tops. Of course domestics could benefit from this assumption if they bothered to design the same reliability in over the years. When you read a CR review, stop at the end of test and ignore the recommendations. You'll get a very fair description of the comparative advantages of the vehicles. As for the acceleration numbers being different from other tests, obviously they would be as temperature, wind, road grip are different for each test. The relative differences in numbers are roughly the same regardless of who tests these vehicles. It should not surprise anyone that a 20 year old pushrod engine is going to be less powerful and fuel efficient than a modern engine design.
  • The reason that CR doesn't compare the new Freestar with the old Windstar is that the article is aimed to the greater readership that will be shopping for a minivan from among several brands--not for the smaller readership of former Windstar owners looking to upgrade.
  • Folks,

    The Freestar is a definite improvement in many areas over the Windstar as many of the previous posts support. Consumer Reports may be rightfully tagging Freestar with Windstar reliability issues if the components in question were not upgraded. Many of them were addressed. Several were not, and they went backwards in other areas.

    Things that are true pluses on this vehicle:
    a) 26 gallon gas tank - this is huge for the average minivan owner who drives 12,000+ miles a year. You will stop at the gas station every 9 - 10 days rather than every 7 or so days with a 20 gallon version (like Quest). Basically 21 - 22 usable gallons (or 440 miles a tank at 20 mpg) assuming you fill it up as it nears empty or the add gas light comes on.
    b) Flip 3rd row seat will help it compete against foreign competition. Pulling a rear third seat out is asking for a trip to the chiropractor as most are awkward to carry and weight 120+ lbs.

    A few negatives
    1)3rd row legroom. Unfortunately, they stole space from the 2nd and 3rd row legroom to get the flip seat it in and unless you have toddlers or very young school age children in the 3rd row, it will be deemed intolerable for long trips. This is a show stopper for anyone with big kids who will be using the 3rd row. 2nd row legroom not much better, but instead of being 8 to 10 inches less than competition it is only 2 to 3 inches. Feels like a short wheel base van now compared to what is out there.
    2) No side curtain air bag standard. Standard on all the competition for same base price.
    3) No CD player in the base model. Come on Ford guys - cassettes are dead - everyone has CD's these days. The only question should be is a single player CD on the base model or a multi-disc capable model. Competition offers CD in base model for same or lower price.
    4) Not a lot of flexibility in those 2nd row seats in the base model compared to the foreign competition out there.
    5) Needs to upgrade towing capability to 3500 lbs pronto - still just 2000 lbs - although talk of 3500 lbs sometime around April. Hopefully, when available (and maybe that explains the delay), the base engine will have sufficient oil and tranny cooling capability so tow package is no more than wiring and a hitch, which most of the competition has moved up to. Even for those who don't tow boats or other toys, this should give you peace of mind that the tranny and engine are overdesigned.
    6) Base model allow for captains chairs option rather than making you step up a trim grade.
    7) Base model should have reading lights standard in both second and third row seats. Competition does for same price.
    8) Base model should have cruise control standard - competitive models do.
    9) Illuminated vanity mirrors should be standard in base model. Competition does for same price.

    These are the ones right off the top of my head. If rebates get to $4000, than SES trim level may be able to compete against competition. S and SE just seem to be missing too many of the "basics" that now exist in minivans.
  • CRs fuel estimate (and EPA estimates) are usually accurate on the gas mileage (usually minus a mile). This is true for all cars so no advantages to any particular brand when you compare! In comparing freestar to other cars- it is cheaper to put in midgrade or premium fuel in your car and get 5-6 mpg extra! I use midgrade fuel and get 21.5 mpg on Sienna. No advantage to Freestar there.
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