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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey



  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    The head gasket issue affected only certain year models, not all. As well as the Transmission, and this about 10 years ago. There's more choices in the marketplace now, competition is tough, and the market itself is going down a bit. Other vehicles are coming into play such as the Freestyle, that might address many people's needs, without the minivan connotation.
  • The time had come, as out 1996 Windstar began losing power and I did not want to shell out any more $$ to fix it. As you know from my previous posts, I had been looking at new minivans for 3+ months in preparation for this moment. I had narrowed it down to the Freestar/Monterey, Sienna, and Odyssey.


    I previously ruled out GM (no side curtain or side impact air bags) the Quest (poor initial quality in 2004 model and one had to get leather seats to get the front side airbags), DC (no front side air bags available, and power sliding doors needed for side curtains).


    I had 3 main requirements: 1) rear AC, 2) bucket seats (not a bench seat) in the 2nd row, and 3) side curtain and front side air bags. This left only Ford, Toyota, and Honda.


    The base model CE from Toyota did not offer the air bag options, So the next model up (LE), with an option package had an MSRP 27K ... likely could be had for 25K. Honda's 2005 base model (LX) had all 3 features, and MSRP of 25.5K, likely could be had for 23K. Ford offered the Freestar SES (had to add side curtain and rear bucket seats options) at MSRP of 30.5K. After test driving a left over 2004 Ford (built in Jan 2004) that had 20 miles on it, I was told I could have it for the mid 18's as I walked away. I suspect it could be had for 17.5K. This price includes 7K in rebates (6K + 1K FMC).


    We drove the Ford 15 miles. It drove OK and my Wife was interested (though she was hesitant about buying another Ford). The engine was loud and rough (I swear there was a loose part on it in the parking lot). There was a piece of trim loose on the bottom of the steering column. Otherwise the big drawback of the Ford is how low the 3rd row seat sits. It reminds me of a jump seat or rumble seat (in other words, something that was meant to be used twice a year).


    Then we were off to the Honda dealer, and we both thought it was a big step up from the Ford, both in terms of power, handling, and styling. At this point we ruled out Toyota ($2K more) but I talked my wife into driving the Mercury (twin of the Ford) next since I had seen ads that the mid trim level Monterey could be had for $20K (MSRP $34K). The base model (MSRP 30K) did not offer the airbags. We drove a Mercury that had leather and power everything and heated seats. But it did not ride and drive as well or as quietly as the base model Honda.


    I never tried to get a final price on the Mercury but I told the manager that I was looking at under 20K. I had been to the same dealer 3 months earlier and they still had the same seven 2004 Monterey's on the lot!


    We ended up buying the 2005 Honda base model (LX). Sure there is no power doors/seats and no leather, but the rear seat is "full size" and also had 60/40 split Vs no split for the Ford. The engine has 255 HP vs 200 for the Ford, and better gas mileage too. The design of the interior on the Honda is a notch above the Ford. It is clear that Ford designed the Freestar on a budget (old engine, only a partial interior re-design).


    Who should buy the Ford? If you have small children (none over the age of 7 when you buy it) then the Ford could be the price leader. There is no reason you can't get a leftover 2004 Ford for $15K or $16K (S or SE model) or 17.5K (SES). But no teenager or adult could ride in the back for more than 15 minutes (knees in the chin). The Freestar line is priced 5K too high (MSRP wise) and even then it is still over priced.


    Who should buy the Mercury? I suspect no one. At the higher price, the Toyota and Honda out class it, and Mercury is no longer known for minivans. I predict Mercury will drop the minivan before Ford does, simply due to being a low volume model in an already low volume name plate.


    Good luck to all!
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    I have a 2004 Freestar SEL with the 4.2 V-6. The van currently has about 5000 miles on it. Over the past month I've noticed a light to moderate pinging under moderate to heavy acceleration. The temps right now are only in the 20s and 30s and I'm concerned that it will get worse as the temp warms up. I'm currently using 87 octane gas. Has anyone else had any pinging problems with their Freestar?
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    "There is no reason you can't get a leftover 2004 Ford for $15K or $16K (S or SE model) or 17.5K (SES). "

    Very informative post. Can you enlighten me on how you arrived at these prices. They're lower than invoice-minus-rebates. BTW, can one do better than invoice-minus-rebates on the 05's? I know there's the hold back, but how does the dealership make money if they gave you that?
  • I'm glad you asked about the pricing I gave.

    The 17.5K for the SES was my estimate of what I could get the SES for that was offered to me at "mid 18's" while I was standing in the parking lot. I did not try to get the best price since I was not planning to buy. The S and SE pricing are estimates of what these lower trim models should sell for (in my opinion) given the SES pricing. In retrospect, the pricing on each 2004 trim model would depend on how many were leftover in your area, and your negotiating strategy.

    I have no info on 2005 pricing. I think very few are being built given the glut of 2004s.

    In visits to 4 dealers I never saw a 2004 that was built later than March 2004 ... did they shut down the factory for 5 months? And every 2005 I saw was built in Sept 2004.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    We looked at the Freestar a while ago, but didn't notice what year model they were. But the sales person seemed very eager to deal. Price is the most important factor for us now.
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    In our area, 2004s are going for the mid to upper teens. Our 2004 SEL listed for over $31K, but purchased for just over $18K. Some dealers are still advertising 2004s.

    We had started looking at 2002-2003 Grand Caravans, but needed the quad seating. When we found one, the dealer wouldn't go below $17K. So, a 2004 Freestar for just over $1K more, seemed like a decent deal. The Freestar is not without it faults, but for the price we can overlook them. Now, if I was buying a 2005, the price difference between the competition isn't that large. In that case, we would probably be driving a Grand Caravan or Odessey.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Wow, that doesn sound like a terrific deal. Any chance the 2004s will still be around this summer?
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    I doubt that there will be many (if any) 2004s left by summer. I would think that the choices would be getting pretty limited by now. If you have to wait, wait until fall and pick up a left over 2005. They should be more heavily discounted then.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    I wonder if Ford will rush themselves to redesign the new minivan, after the big disappointment with the Freestar.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Nope, but the replacement will be a bit "different". More like, the Freestar will hang on a bit, after the "vehicle" that replaces it, debuts. Look for it around 2007-2008.
  • easleseasles Posts: 13
    Hello -

    I just wanted to say that we recently picked up a very stale 2004 Mercury Monterey (base) for $18.5k - 11.5k off MSRP. I am very happy with the vehicle, really like the new Mercury grille (Montego/Monterey et al.). Vehicle is very powerful, comfortable and exactly what we needed. Considered a used (2 year old) Dodge or 4 year old Honda (didn't want to get much above what we paid for the Merc.), but liked the visibility out of the Ford/Mercury product better than the D.C. twins. A little annoyed that the fuel economy is so low (traded in a VW Bug TDI diesel that got over 40MPG, so this will be a change in more ways than one). Anyway, I think the differences between the varoius minivans are real, but way overblown...especially considering the price I was willing to pay.

    Thanks for your time,

    Eric S.
  • Bought this van yesterday after shopping for quite a while. We bought from Ace Ford in Woodbury, NJ who were very nice people to deal with. They let you take the car out yourself without some salesman breathing down your neck and let you talk in private with no pressure and no corny "what do I have to do..." speeches. All the people were friendly with our kids and you didn't have the circle of salespeople standing at the door looking at you sideways and snickering the way it seems other places. A great experience.

    Van had right at 14K miles on it and was able to get it for a little over $16K along with right at TMV value for my trade. Also upgraded man. warranty to 6 yr/75K PremCare for just under $1300.

    They still had a leftover 2004 new SES that we looked seriously at for $17.5K (after incentives) but we liked the 4.2L engine, rear audio system (along with steering wheel controls), automatic lights, and center console on the SEL.

    Had another deal working for a used '04 SEL for just about the same bottom line at another dealer (they had offered a little more for the trade to go with a little more on cost) although this one was "certified" and they had offered the same warr. upgrade at $1000 inst of $1200. This van had 24K miles on it and felt certified was not worth giving up 10K miles, esp. since I was upgrading warranty anyway.

    We chose the Freestar because we really liked the fold away third seat, roominess,and the fact that the second row captain's chair fold completely out of the way to get to the third row (and can be driven while folded). I also liked that we were upgrading to a Ford warranty instead of some 3rd party vendor that may or may not be there tomorrow (first time I have ever extended a warranty - don't know if it was a good idea or not).

    Had looked seriously at '04 used "certified" Mazda MPVs that were comparable in cost, but just don't compare in room. Other vans we looked at (Ody and Sienna) you had to get a much older van to get in to the same price range. Didn't like the Venture because it seems to fall apart at 60K and we like to keep cars longer than that (although we really liked the 8 pass seating) and the used D/C/P vans we did not like because of the stationary third seat that really cuts down on cargo capacity even folded down (who wants to take that beast out when you have to go to HD?)

    Hopefully, we made a good decision, although it sounds like the consensus is a little mixed from reading the boards before and after my purchase.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    were incredible prices you guys paid! For the price, who cares about the petty advantages of the Honda/Toyota! I hope the 04s will still be around this summer when we buy.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    let you talk in private

    Was this in the sales cubicle? The one with the phone permanently turned "on" so that the sales staff can listen in from the manager's office?

    Hey, it's been known to happen :-)

    Congrats on the Freestar!

    Steve, Host
  • I had heard about that one :-). We conducted all our discussions in the "non-tradein" car that we brought to the dealership.

    When I have gotten up to do this before, some salesmen look at you crosseyed and suggest the wife come over to the desk - not here!
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    "GENEVA, Switzerland — Ford introduced a new sporty prototype that hints at the next-generation European minivan.

    Ford is giving up on minivans in the U.S., but the situation is different in Europe. Although the current Galaxy was developed together with Volkswagen AG, its replacement is being prepared in-house."

    Ford Unveils European Minivan Prototype (Inside Line)

    Steve, Host
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yes, the SAV. In Europe, a minivan doesn't have the connotation as it does in the U.S., therefore they sell well and families aren't afraid of saying they own one.

    Unfortuantely, some U.S. consumer's have a perceive biased against minivans, so next generation of Ford minivans will be more about "Utility vehicle" than using the minivan wording... Sort of how the station wagon Freestyle, is penned "Crossover".
  • skrepskrep Posts: 13
    We have a 2004 Freestar Limited (which we are very happy with) with just over 10,000 kms on it and for the last while I have detected a groan which shows up when the brakes are applied and seems to be coming from the front. Any idea what this may be? Apparently Ford is aware of this but has not yet come up with a fix.
  • We used to own a 1998 Ford Windstar Gl, loaded. It was red and was a really nice vehicle with a cavernous interior. We sold it in 2002 with about 85K on it. We were very satisfied with the looks, power, comfort, value and interior of our van.

    Then came the Freestar. Car and Driver ranked as fifth out of five in their comparison test, and in the edmunds comparison test, the Freestar "finished dead last without any hope of finishing higher". The reasons given were a steep price, a lack of feature content, an underpowered engine and poor build quality.

    Are these things true? Does anyone who owns a Freestar agree with these things? Is the build quality really that bad, or is this all being exaggerated?
  • skrepskrep Posts: 13
    We purchased a 2004 Freestar Limited and are extremely happy with it. It is our first Ford product in 40+ years (always bought GM) and if I compare it to our 2001 Olds Silhouette van there is no comparison in any aspect except for gas mileage. The Ford falls behind there. The fit, finish, materials, etc. in the Freestar far exceed the Olds in our opinion. I would also say the handling of the Freestar compared to the Olds is also superior.
  • lostlost Posts: 64
    I have an 05 Freestar S.It is the very basic model with no extras as it is a company vehicle. I've had it for 4 months now and put 15,000 miles since new. It has been completly trouble free. MPG is 23 highway and around 18 to 20 local,not bad for a large van. I have driven a lot of minivans over the last 20 years ( about 15). The vehicle is very comfortable and VERY quiet on the road. The interior quality is fine by me, looks nice and rattle free. I am sure it would be even better if it had all the bells and whistles. I would get it again.
    There are very big discounts available right now on this vehicle ,making it WAY less expensive then all the rest.
  • brazucabrazuca Posts: 95
    I have a 2005 Freestar SES, it's now with 6,500 miles and (knock on wood) not a single problem. It's our first minivan....we had our first baby and traded a 2002 Ford Taurus for the Minivan. We use it in town and a few trips, very confortable, quiet ride and reasonable gas mileage for such big vehicle.....20 mpg average with a mix of 50/50 highway and city. I got 22 mpg going 75 mph on highway. We feel now that the car is really big for a couple and a baby, however, it's better to have more room than less and gas mileage for SUVs are much worse. Overall a great van, the 3rd row seat folds flat and the 2nd row flip forward....great option.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Of course if you compare it to the rest, it can't compete, since the other major players (Toyota, Honda, Chrysler/Dodge) have more updated vans, better engines with better mileage, and more comfortable rear seats. But compared to the '98 Windstar, the Freestar is a huge improvement, and you'll like it for sure. I drove the Freestar several times and I was impressed with it. I am not that particular and sensitive, so most things is fine with me. The engine is quite noisy, but more quiet than the '98 and even '02 model I had.

    However, the rear seats in the '98 is much superior to the new Freestar - since the Freestar offers the 3rd row seats which folds flat in the floor, and the seat is too low for adults, and so is the second row seats.

    Except for these few things, the Freestar is much better in every way than the '98 model. Fit & finish, quality of materials, and quality of powertrain, sound system, NVH and more.

    The best answer for your question is very simple: Take a test drive.
  • quentinequentine Posts: 1
    The only thing I don't like about the 2005 Ford Freestar is the radio.
    Ford installed an AM/FM/6 disc Cd player that operates stereo speakers, but they only installed front speakers in the front doors. Older vehicles have back speakers for the stereo sound, and ability to turn off back/front speakers.
    People in the way back seat can not hear AM/FM/ 6 Disc changer with the 2005 Freestar.
    This van only gets 20 MPG highway.
    1997 Winstar got 25 MPG.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Not sure about that. As far as I remember, the Freestar do have 4 speakers, 2 front and 2 rear. The rear speakers are located on the wall between the second and third row seats.

    Not sure about mileage, but since curb weight increased very much since 1997, and so hp and torque, I guess it's normal.
  • I have a friend at a Ford dealership and he has a 2004 Freestar Limited with 10,000 miles for about 24-25k CDN$. THe list is $43k. Is this a decent deal? I don't care about the room in the 3rd seat. I am 6'4" and wonder if there is room for a big driver. I've heard the seats are narrow.
  • skrepskrep Posts: 13
    I am 6" 1" and wide in the girth as old age advances and find the seats comfortable enough for driving. The furthest we have driven in it in one shot is about 350 KMS.
  • Thanks for the feedback. How is the shoulder and headroom? Any idea on the price? My friend the sales guy, thinks it's a good deal but he has a Ford oval on his backside. I looked at Caravans, Ventures, and Montanas but they didn't do anything for me. I saw a blue limited and I think it is a handsome vehicle. Ford does a nice job with the chrome grille and 2 tones.
  • skrepskrep Posts: 13
    I find the shoulder and head room to be find along with an excellent range in the power seat settings. We have a blue limted with graphite at the bottom loaded with leather and all the other extras. I believe ours listed in the 45K range and we got it new for the low 30's. We have been happy with it so far.
  • I have an '04 Freestar with 9000 miles on it. I have had problems with the power window on the passenger side. It seems to only work when I take it to the service department to have it checked out. I am wondering if there is some sort of child protection that I am not aware of on this window? The technitions always say everything is fine, but obviously something is wrong somewhere. Any suggestions? :confuse:
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    For MY 2006, the S & SES models will be dropped (New SE appearance package will replace the SES); some new colors inside and outside; new wheel design for Limited; new power window switches (the safe ones); and perhaps no more center row bench seat, only bucket seats in all models.

    Also, reverse sensing system will be available on ALL models, not just on the higher-end ones; tire pressure monitor will also be standard om all trims; and some more minor changes.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Hi all, could anyone provide some pricing info in the greater Seattle area? We would either go for an EXTREMELY low priced base model ($14K?) or go all out for a loaded one for around $20K. Does this sound reasonable? Thanks!
  • nobenobe Posts: 1
    I am having this same problem. No resolution yet?
  • dgriffi2dgriffi2 Posts: 7
    This van was purchased new mid-January, 2005. It has less than 3,000 miles. From time to time, there's the sound of water sloshing around in the dash area. I assume it has something to do with the heating/cooling system. But I've never heard such a racket! It really does sound like a river or stream running thru our dash area. I even tried shutting down the heating system, with no effect. Anyone else ever experience this?
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Two things come to mind. First, is there is an excessive amount of air in the cooling system that is making the "flowing water sound" through the heater core. On many systems these days, the coolant always flows through the heater core, even when the heat is turned off. A second thing to think about is the water drain for the heat/AC system is plugged and it's filling up with water. Although, this would make more of a sloshing sound, especially when turning. When this happens, water may also run out of the floor vents when turning.
  • coderedcodered Posts: 43
    does the freestar have a good rep?????
    i have a 98 windstar with trans trouble

  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Hi Sterling22,

    I know it's been a while since this post, but I was wondering if you could let me know how much you paid for the Odyssey LX? I'd appreciate it. We're getting very close to puchasing a van, and are gathering pricing information on various brands.
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    If you want to ask pricing questions, please do so in the appropriate make/model discussions in our Prices Paid & Buying Experiences message board. Specifically the discussion Honda Odyssey: Prices Paid & buying Experiences.

    We'd like to keep this discussion about the Freestar (features, driving experiences, etc.).

  • dgriffi2dgriffi2 Posts: 7
    The Freestar is the 'all-new' version of the Windstar. I haven't owned ours (2004 Freestar Ltd) to tell you much. We owned 2 Windstars previous to this vehicle, though, and were very satisfied. I know all about Honda and Toyota being the 'cream of the crop' but they simply can't be $5000 to $10,000 better! (I'm basing that on what you can get a Freestar for with incentives vs. the Honda and Toyota, which don't offer much, if any, in the way of a discount.)
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    After doing some comparison shopping, I became even more disapppointed with Ford. I was trying to get a base S model Freestar with nothing for a rock bottom price. I was thinking about $15K, but soon came to the realization that "rock bottom" turns out to mean close to $20K! Now who in their right mind would pay $20K for a barebone Ford when you can for the same price get a Quest with a better engine, side airbags, traction control and more? Ford simply priced the Freestar too high, even after Invoice minus rebates minus 3% holdback! Now the Freestar is completely out of the question for us now. Unless there're secret direct to dealer rebates, I can't see the Freestar being a good value. :(
  • dgriffi2dgriffi2 Posts: 7
    There's got to be a way to get a base model S at close to 15,000 grand. I paid $21,500 for ours, and it's a Limited with leather, stability control, reverse sensors, the works! I've seen them advertised locally (Upstate NY) with DVD players for about $17000. You're right, though, I would never pay close to 20K unless it had lots of bells and whistles!
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    That's what I thought too after seeing the kind of deals you guys got. But apparently it's not happening here in the Northwest :(
  • I have a 2004 Freestar SEL and I am very happy with the vehicle so far. I need to be able to tow a large pop-up trailer (1750 lbs). The base Freestar is rated to tow up to 2000lbs. With the towing option that increases to 3500 lbs. I didn't get the towing package option when I bough the van, but I understand that it consisted of a heavy duty battery, trailer wiring harness, and a transmission cooler. The wiring harness I’ve already obtained from my dealer. Does anyone know if the transmission cooler can be added, or is their a reputable aftermarket transmission cooler available? :confuse:
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Installing a tranny cooler shouldn't be too difficult. Our 2004 SEL appears to already have a small, single row transmission cooler at the front bottom of the radiator. It does not have the towing package. You can see it throught the grille opening in the front bumper. So, all the lines are there. There are many types of tranny coolers available. The best are the stacked plate type coolers. They are generally smaller and more expensive than the tube and fin type. Probably the best place to install one would be behind the upper front grille. You might want to consider one that has a thermostatically controlled fan since you only have airflow through the radiator when moving or the radiator fans are one. Some good manufacturers are B&M and Hayden. You can find them at places like Summit Racing or eTrailer. For additional help on tranny coolers you can check out RV.Net.
  • I am getting ready to rip out the old factory speakers, and install an amp, speakers and a powered sub in our i weekold freestar . Where can I get detailed diagrams to dismantle the dash and get to the factory radio and interior trim?

    [email protected]
  • mdhugmdhug Posts: 9
    For all those with horrible gas mileage try this I have an 04 Freestar with 3.9 Liter. In the Mid-West I have the option of using Shell Gasoline. ( Not all Gas is the Same ) I am currently getting 25 highway and 19 city. I drive about 500 miles a week and use plus and every third tank I use Shell V-Power. I am GM Trained and Drive Fords ( Tells you something ) I have had 10 Fords and 8 GMs and the Ford always benefits from the higher octane fuels even though they do not call for it. Also have 99 Sable with 117k that is getting around 29 on the highway and 22 city with the Duratec and I am not easy with it.
  • luckjluckj Posts: 1
    I am looking to replace the single CD player/radio of my 2005 SES Freestar with a 6 pax CD/radio. Can anyone tell me where I can find one or what the model number is for it?

  • homerkchomerkc Posts: 113
    What real world gas mileage are owners seeing? The EPA ratings are not very attractive, but . . . .
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    With our 04 SEL (4.2L), we get between 21.5-22.5 in pure highway driving at 70-72 MPH. In mixed driving it is generally 18-20. Don't believe the trip computer, as ours generally reads 0.5-2.0 MPG lower than the calculated value.
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