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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey

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Comments

  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    And most probably that'll be the case, offer rebates and have people upgrade to a higher trimmed version.

    The whole point of this for example, is instead of having the majority of people head into the standard base model, to entice them into the higher trimmed models. Having more of the upper trimmed level also allows for a perceived quality feel, to the whole Freestar experience (as rediculous as it sounds, this what we've had to listen to and roll my eyes over).

    Let's say you have 10 Freestars, out of those, 8 were standard, and 2 were Limited, the whole Freestar line is greatly depreciated on itself, ONLY because of that allocated amount. Take 10 Freestars, make 7-8 of them Limited, while 2 standard, believe it or not it's does better for depreciation in the used car market, and with customer's as well.

    Proof? Take the VW Jetta or Passat. The majority are very well trimmed, YET you pay thru the nose for it. Realiability sucks, yet it rates highest in perceived value. Mainly this is because of equipment, and trim level allocations. You alienate those who want simple basics, but did they really want those consumer's? Answer: rebates. You can always upgrade, yet have the rebate bring the price down to something decent.

    People complain about the lower depreciation on vehicles such as the Windstar, YET the issue is trying to be rectified on the Freestar, and this is one manner of attaining that goal. A best selling title in this segment was not the mission of the Freestar's design. Again, quality over quantity.

    As for toys needed here and there, that all depends on consumer's. Example, I agree with the items on your list. But if I were to shop for a Minivan (never since I don't want kids) I would want the versatility of a bench and being able to squeeze 3 into it, than a bucket of 2. And other consumer's believe on that same philosophy. If need be, upgrade to higher trims, or Monterey if such a factor came into play.

    And this isn't just in the Freestar, you have other vehicles like the Aviator, Navigator, etc. Where you have the option of a bench or buckets for the 2nd row. YET in THOSE vehicles, consumer testing showed people prefered bucket's, therefore they were kept/used/implemented as no cost options.

    But overall, the emphansizes of the Freestar was quality over quantity, therefore they refined, retuned, etc. and with a rather LIMITED budget. IN fact, I was surprised at how much was done, with the amount the engineer's/designer's received. Therefore items might needed to be cut, to lower complexity costs in manufacturing. To make the vehicle profittable at certain price points.

    This also means, more sales of SEL and Limited will be needed, to make up for the few that will choose the very standard models.

    So many factor's are involved, and agree it will not please many people, but sometimes there's ways of going around the issue, and other times you shop the competitor's. I myself have not found the perfect vehicle....it has yet to be invented :-)
  • pwierpwier Posts: 11
    Well after my post last week seemed to heat up a couple of people, I'm glad to see that others are started to feel the same way. (Corsicachevy) went to the Dealer and is now expressing the same feelings as I. Ford should really re-think their standard options, available options and price point. Because they are way off and discouraging alot of people before they even get to the dealer. Bad Marketing, which I sure they spent tons on.

    As a result of this, and their current $5,000.00 off, I am trying to obtain a 2003 windstar SE for around $22,500.00. If this works out, I'm glad I waited, If not, I'll have to look elsewhere. Unless they offer a big discount on the inflated Freestar.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    Interesting thread. I think one answer is for the manufacturers to spend more time reading the discussions and less time pulling focus groups together from the mall shoppers.

    Steve, Host
  • lennxlennx Posts: 73
    "Maybe if Ford didn't offer five different wheel styles and eight different interior fabric choices..."

    I just Bought an F-150 instead of the Toytota Tundra for two reasons. Toyota lacked a crew cab. The other was Toyota arrogance at having limited option combinations. I may have been able to do with out the crew cab but I was not about to buy lots of options I did not want to get the one I did want.

    Ford allows you much more freedom to mix and match options so you can get what you want and leave out the stuff you do not want.

    However, I do wonder why they do not phase in all the options over a year or two. Sell the expensive ones first then roll out the lower end models in mid year?

    Of course that would not help if you are looking for a bargain. Unless you get the older model at a big discount with rebates.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    I agree, sometimes when I see the guidelines, results of these consumer groups, I wonder "Where did they pull some of these people out from, A) Walmart cafeteria??!!"

    The majority of those surveyed in these groups are picked by not having much knowledge about any vehicle in particular. So "HOW" they pick them, I'm not fond of that method. I say, they should ask people who actually KNOW about vehicles, be surveyed. But sometimes ignorance is bliss, so they are able to ask much more question by the "uneducated about vehicles" group, over the "educated about vehicles" group.

    Think of it this way, if they were to survey us, there would have been SOOO many changes (specially powertrain) that we would have ended up with a $40K Maxiivan, by the time we were done. AND that's easily the reason why they rather not survey us....

    I wasn't much concerned over the development of this vehicle, considering what will be replacing it in the future.. NOW THAT next minivan will have quite many toys, and it'll easily be the a tough contender in the market when it debuts. Waiting is just the part that's frustrating at this time.

    But as just mentioned by the previous post, don't be surprised (HINT) if some of these items are phased in during the next year or 2... And have greater flexibility over options as well, which occurs every year on the product trim shuffles.
  • ANT14 - How do you KNOW what the next Ford minivan will be and what features it will have?
  • Anthony, you are correct about 3rd row seat fit. I stopped by the dealer that has my Freestar on order. He had an early release SE Sport model on display. The rear seat did not close completely; with maximum effort, it still was up about 1.5"- which is not flat. Watch the early delivery units!

    In looking at the mechanics of the rear seat, I can see why it is so low to the floor, compared to my current '02 Windstar. The new seat needs to fold flat in the forward mode, then flip over and hide in the well; like being "double jointed". There is no place for the current seat brackets to hide. I am glad my kids are sitting back there. It certainly would be painful for a 6' adult. This will probably quench the taxi crowd, but this unit is targeted for the "kid-van" crowd. When you add a car seat to the third row, then things are about right.

    My observations "up front" (with a whole bunch of folks crawling all over the demo) was "ho-hum". Not too much as far as changes. The extra row of storage in the door is nice. The "pizza box" storage area in the center of the dash will hold about $20 in change in the well, plus a few maps. When I look at our "kid-van" Windstar, I see places for the loose stuff that now exists.

    As I have said before, I have two units on order. Our personal one should arrive next week, an SEL. Corsica Jeff, don't get offended, but I like the accessory mix. We ordered the SEL without leather and I only added a few things, like the side curtains, 6 CD unit and center console. What made me mad was the fact to get the side mirrors with the turn signals, I was forced to order a package which included a digital dash, "the message center". The blinkers I conside safety, the digital dash is fluff. Since I hate a digital dash in any vehicle, we passed on that option. ANT said some folks don't want a center console. My company unit doesn't have a console from Ford, hence, it has a $30 console unit from WalMart, which is very functional when installed reversed, front-to-rear, from the instructions. The striped company unit will show up around Xmas.

    Bottom line, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.....

    Randy
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Chief- If I told you, I would get in trouble.

    Trainboy- I believe the Explorer has better leg room on the 3rd row, over the Freestar... I wasn't fond of how it was engineered, BUT it needed to be done, and at minimal cost, so this was the best solution.

    Next generation minivans will have the dissapearing 3rd row seats, BUT also be able to fit AWD if need be. That platform can handle supplying both of these comfortably.
  • We looked at the Explorer. It had a bunch of legroom in front for us tall folks and it had side air curtains. When we looked at it, we compared the interior volume space to the Windstar and the Windstar won. The second row seats on the Explorer seemed to have less room than the Windstar, so the few times that Grandma tags along, she would be tight, which is not good. The third row was adult sized. Since we live in the middle of nowhere, we wanted interior space to stow things like beach toys, rather than using a roof rack. Unless we are going to the post office, it is 20 miles to anywhere, so we want to be streamlined>>>>......
  • svofan2svofan2 Posts: 442
    I did have an 01 Windstar SEL....3rd row seating was adequate...now I have a 2002 Explorer Limited (V8)..3rd row dissapears but it is not flat, the seating was more adequate in the Windstar..I think the 3rd row seating in the Freestar is going to be a la Explorer but more unconfortable ( someone said that the knees will touch your shin if you are an adult). Some posted indicating that if we "car people" were interviwed or polled the vans will cost 40k, well guess what that is exactly what TOYOTA dealer wanted for a Sienna XLE AWD...as he said "you buy them as they come...and that is a good price at window sticker"...the Freestar continues to be the best bet all around...I think I will pass and wait for the new Freestar in 2 or 3 years...I am afraid it will be like an MPV in stereoids....
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Trainboy- I gave up on trying to fit into 3rd row seats, because of my height...And not because of just height, but sometimes depending on the shoes, I might not be able to actually fit them in the foot well, so automatically I get treated to the front passanger seat, OR most times my friends want me to drive their cars incase I notice something, they don't.

    Something to note, a feature I like about the Freestar's 3rd row is the tail gating option (copied from the Mazda MPV) which is great for tail gating parties. And the headrests do NOT need to be removed, to make the seat dissapear either which is another item people have liked.
  • Anthony - If you are a Ford employee, why are you spreading confidential information on the Internet? Whether you think it hurts Ford Motor Company or not, it's just wrong.

    Readers on this board should also know that at least some of what you've been disclosing is incorrect (it may have been at one time, but product plans change). I won't say how much or what statements are wrong because that would be indirectly revealing confidential information, but don't believe everything you read.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Plans always change, and in these boards (if I remember the information I have posted previously differs) I'll return and give an update if plans have changed.

    Since when is educating consumer's and giving them insight, something that's "just wrong". If the topic is things that are "just wrong" we can address the issues when people spend $20-60K on a vehicle, and can't get answers to their questions. Whether it's information pertaining to their vehicle, or anticipation of a future products and personally that is "just wrong".

    So either I'm part of the problem by ignoring it, or part of the problem by addressing it. Either way, we can't always make everyone happy and I'm sorry if you fit into the latter.
  • cpstechcpstech Posts: 24
    Hi all, I'm still hung up on the DVD player. Where is the "No DVD Player" info coming from?...says here it's an option for 1395.00

    http://media.ford.com/products/press_article_display.cfm?article_- id=16422&vehicle_id=939&make_id=92

    Rose
  • If I'm wrong, someone please correct me, but I think the problem with the DVD system is that it is only available on the Limited model and possibly the SEL.

    The anger comes from those in the market for a $28,000 SES who discover that a DVD system is not included in the base price and not even offered as an option.

    Buyers of lesser Freestars will have to go the aftermarket route.
  • cpstechcpstech Posts: 24
    I found this link from another msg board...according to this, there is a delay in the DVD player.(scroll down to ford trucks) Is this a reliable source?

    http://www.arifleet.com/production.html

    Rose
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Am I the only one that thinks it makes much more sense to buy some sort of portable DVD player, or even more than one, so two kids could watch different DVDs that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle and even used in your house rather than sink a pile of money into one that is permanently installed?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    One advantage of the factory installed systems is that you have fewer flying projectiles in the event of a wreck.

    If you do use a portable device, there are accessories out there that let you strap them in quickly for safety's sake.

    Steve, Host
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Edmunds should have already received the pricing report, pertaining to the Freestar.

    The story with the DVD system is it's late availability (yet to be determined) $1395.00. It'll be available as an option on SE, SES, SEL & Limited, NOT available in Freestar Standard. Also, to be able to pick this option, you will need to pick the Rear A/C option as well, which is around $580-600 I believe.
  • cpstechcpstech Posts: 24
    I'm concerned about a portable DVD player flying around in a crash. Even though there are bags you can get to store portable dvd players/monitors on the back of the vehicle's seat, they are not crash tested and so it's not known what will happen in a crash. Many people under estimate what a projectile can do in a crash. I prefer not to use my passengers in that crash test scenario, so I opt to spend the 1400.00 on the factory installed model.

    My friend has a VCR in a bag that made me very uncomfortable. If the vehicle were to roll, it's guaranteed to let loose. And I have no idea whether it would stay put in any other kind of crash. I make the assumption (for myself and my kids sake) every time I get in a car that THIS will be the time I end up in a crash.

    Rose
    Car Seat Tech
  • When will the power liftgate be offered? I have heard mid winter. My present lease is up in December, will a Freestar with the power liftgate be available by then?
  • Anthony - I have no problem with educating consumers and providing insight, but what you're doing violates corporate confidentiality. It's unethical and you know it...no matter how you may try to rationalize it. Everyone knows it can be fun to tell secrets and the Internet allows anyone to do it while hiding behind a screen name, but where's your integrity?

    Fortunately (for Ford) your "inside information" is frequently very wrong and out of date (even statements you have made in recent days). But unfortunately for the readers of these boards you're leading them to make uneducated decisions by spreading misinformation about future product plans.

    I know there's nothing anyone can say to make you change your behavior, but at least I can help everyone else on this board by letting them know that you usually don't know what you're talking about when it comes to future products.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    I drove the Freestar SEL last day. Just for 2-3 minutes, and had a good look all around the vehicle. The main 2 things which bothers me: 1) the 4.2L engine is sooo noisy - it sounds like a real truck when starting - I would say even more roaring than the 3.8L from the Windstar - where are all those sound-dampening material? all those best-in-class door sealers?

    2) No more illuminated glove box. Ford's "best minivan ever" dropped these little cute thing they always used to offer, even on the older Aerostars. Is this the best minivan Ford had ever built?

    I also disagree with the 'quality materials'. The glove box and center stack storage compartments feels soo cheap, like toys. The controls are so soft and light, for example if you want to turn the A/C knob from 0 to 2, you will automatically turn it to 4. if you will turn it back to 2 it will go back to 0. You almost can NOT feel you turning something. Is this what quality stands for? And all those switches around the audio system feels so cheap... if you press any switch, the next one will press itself along.. (hope you understand).

    The FIRM brakes which everybody is so excited about it, I thing it's too much. You hardly notice that you can push the brake. It's too tight.

    I still have a lot of minor complaints. Bottom line: I'm not impressed with the Freestar. Not to say it's bad - but I expected to feel better in it than in my current Windstar - but no. I want back my Windstar, and I like it more!

    ANT14: I don't know your rules, but I enjoy most of your posts, and I thing that at least 95% are true. Don't feel bad. I couldn't see why it should be wrong to tell everybody that a new minivan is due in 2006. What's the secret?
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    CHIEF- Well If I'm "very incorrect" then you correct it for me. So far from what I've shared (along other forums) has been dead on... only to be later demonstrated by Ford's own public press releases showing my information shared months back to be correct. So far the slighest mistake I have been was by mention which auto plant MIGHT receive a new vehicle, WHEN in the UAW talks it was later changed to another plant, therefore a bargaining chip at the negotiation tables. Or if I don't have 100% confirmed information, I'll state how sure or what I'm doing to find that out for them.

    Therefore I have my validity in my stories, but I don't see your sharing information otherwise. It's very comfortable for you to point fingers and name call and state I'm misleading, YET you show no proof that I might be incorrect. And you will probably reply with "Well I have more integrity, I will not share such information"... Which is a convinient scape-goat. Yet still doesn't rectify the situation.

    So in that case, I would question what your reasoning for being on these forums might be. Or who led you TO them for one reason or another. And what your purpose is since you aren't really sharing anything positive. Don't be shocked, but there's actually other's on these boards that work in the industry and share insightful information. And this doesn't pertain to just future information, but past/current developments.

    But now that I think about it, to have someone upset over me in relation to this, just reintorates the fact that I'm correct, because no one else would go thru that much effort as you have placed. There's many things in life that people do that might be seen wrong, by one group or another, but I'm not sorry it displeases you.
  • cpstechcpstech Posts: 24
    The review in post 183 says the Freestar will have an 8 passenger seating option (2nd row bench can have 3 seating positions). I have not read this anywhere else...is this an error?

    Thanks
    Rose
  • rodc1rodc1 Posts: 36
    As someone earlier posted, the relatively high prices for the Freestar take into account the incentives that are soon to come. Well yesterday I spoke with a saleswoman who called me today to tell me that there is a $2500 rebate already. Just read the article from post #183 that states a $2000 dollar rebate. Don't know who's right but just honestly price the vehicle. There's no way a vehicle that has barely reached the showroom merits ANY discount. Not bad for consumers but MSRP doesn't reflect true pricing if there is an immediate rebate without any data on how well the product will sell.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Except for Saturn who has tried with varied results to introduce no-haggle pricing, nobody honestly "prices" a vehicle. Anyone who pays attention to MSRP is fooling themselves. You've got to get down to hard bargaining to find out the "real" price. So why worry about MSRP? Pick the vehicle you want, use Edmunds to get a good idea of dealer cost which is Invoice-holdback-rebates and go up from there, you will likely never get below this number, so let the dealer grovel and come down as low as you can push them. Don't worry, if your offer price is too low they won't sell you the vehicle! For Ford, holdback is generally 3% of MSRP. There may be other hidden incentives from manufacturer to dealer, but you will likely never find out what those are, so don't worry about those.
  • Rod, I am supposed to get my Freestar next week. Can you give me a link to the $2500?

    Thanks,
    Randy
  • rodc1rodc1 Posts: 36
    I don't have a link to the rebate. If you read link on post #183 the article states it near the end. My saleswoman stated that Ford releases incentive info on Thursdays so if you talk to any ford salesman they will be aware of this info as well.
  • FWIW, I was told just today by a Mercury salesman that $2000 was the current incentive.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    Freestar pricing is live here. Including invoice and TMV.

    Steve, Host
  • I have been reading your very interesting discussions on the Freestar for the pass three months. Found them not only interesting but very helpful. You see this spring our 2000 Windstar was totaled by some driver who went through a stop sign. Thankfully my wife and I weren't killed, we owe that to the construction of our Windstar. I order the new freestar at the end of June and my dealer let us use a loner at a reasonable rate until delivery of the Freestar. The Freestar was built on 9/29 and DELIVERED this passed Friday. We were about to leave town for a couple of weeks when the dealer called about the delivery. We were very excited and told him we would stop by his dealership to look it over. We checked the 3rd row seat and it folded very neatly into it's well and there weren't any damages in transportation.
    WE ordered the limited and let me tell you, my wife and I looked at the interior and thought it was beautiful the car overall in our opinion is handsome. I'm anxious to drive the vehicle. I will except it this Friday. I honestly don't expect to be disappointed.Ive owned one Aerostar two Windstar's and now the FREESTAR.
    One more note, there is only a $1,000 rebate, until 12/01/03
  • Richard, that is great news. I have one on order and it was built on 9/29 as well. We expect it in Calif this week. Glad the finish was ok, I saw an early one and the seat did not quite close. We have an SEL coming. We have had 4 Windstars, so we are ready.

    Good luck,
    Randy
  • Randy; Some time back I remember reading your #49 posting where you mentioned your build date and the expected delivery. Knowing mine was being built the same day as yours and the expected delivery date, I talked with my dealer that on the expected delivery on or around 9/10 we were leaving town for a couple of weeks, left a number we could be reach at and that if it arrives while we were gone,let us know and we would drive back to town to except delivery. The rest you know from my last posting. Just wanted you to know that your dealer info was right on.
    Thanks
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Come on guys! You got your Freestar? Please write something about it, how do you like it? How is it in comparison to the outgoing Windstar? Is it quiet, in your opinion? How is the ride & handling, fuel mileage, seating, and so on...

    Please let your voice be heard!
  • We'll pick up our Freestar Friday afternoon. We'll spend the week end at home (have a wedding to attend Sat.) Sunday we'll drive back to our vacation spot,about 150 miles, so I should be able to give some kind of a review.
  • pwierpwier Posts: 11
    In the New York Long Island Area, with the current incentives - what do you think I could purchase a 2003 Windstar SE model for. Does $22,000.00 sound low or in that range. Also, should there be any Windstars left into the new year, do you think Ford will continue the current offer of $5,000.00 off or will they increase it to free up their lots. Freestar came in on the high side. Kia looks real nice, any comments on that one.
  • I read my posting #197 and saw that the numbers were not correct. tried delete. Don't know if I did. The following should be correct.SORRY.....

     I'm sure the SE your looking at has a number of options, which should make that $22,000 a good price. The base invoice price for that car is $28,053, beside the $5,000 rebate there are $500 loyalty rebate + $1500 if you finance though Ford,s FMCC. If you qualify for the $500 + $1500 and their are a number costly options, go for the $22,000, if it's basic, offer them $21,000. Waiting for further rebates is a gamble you'll have to take.
    Good luck.
  • jvp06jvp06 Posts: 12
    As many reviews read, the Freestar seems like a pretty nice car, but to me it seems like a sorry excuse for a minivan. Wow, a third row seat that sinks into the ground. Toyota, Honda, nissan and Mazda already have that, plus Toyota's is split. A power liftgate- dodge, toyota and nissan already offer that too. Don't forget that 4 speed auto. Everyone else is gotta 5 speed. And dont forget that creative name. The aerostar, the windstar,and now the freestar. WHy are they keepin this star. Not to mention, you know that by next year owners of this car will already have been swamped by recalls. And who's thikin it's gonna be any better then the dreadful windstar. Sorry Ford, but you have offically sunk as low as it gets!
  • How could you, after reading all the posting on the stars, come to the conclusion that they were a sorry excuse for a Min van. Have you had an experience with a Star that made you so bitter? I've looked at the vans you mentioned and found them to be except able, like all vehicles they have their pros and cons I've had good experience with an Aerostar and two Windstars so I bought a new Limited Freestar. Glad they came out with the third seat that folds into the floor,another reason I bought the Freestar was because of the reverse sensing system. I'm enjoying my Freestar. I now have 265 miles on it without a recall.
    By the way what are you driving?
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Unfortunatly many come to that conclusion, even before a test drive is administered. Granted, even I would have wanted more out of the development of the Freestar, but because of NUMEROUS issues, this is the result given the senario that was presented.

    If it were up to me, I would have preferred a "maxi-minivan" on a RWD or AWD DEW98 Platform (basis of the Lincoln LS, Jag-Stype, Tbird) throw in the 4.0L SOHC V6 as standard, 4.6L OHC V-8 as an optional engine. BUT reality is, that can't be the case given the investment and development needed for such a vehicle. As was mentioned before, every vehicle has it's pros and cons, that is why there's so many different products in the market, each to suit someone's preferrences as closely as possible.
  • The Freestar came to market with a heavily reworked four speed automatic. I am confident that Ford has fixed the many maladies that afflicted the previous generation of this unit, despite the doubts of some on this board.

    My question for you is this - why did Ford choose to go with a four speed instead of a five speed transmission. Does Ford even have plans for a five speed front drive transaxle or are they banking on the development of CVT technology for their next generation of passenger cars (Futura/500).

    I also noticed that the F150 came to market with a four speed unit. Why hasn't Ford developed a five speed for the F150/CV/MM/TC/Expedition? Are they waiting to introduce their six speed automatically shifted manual boxes?
  • jvp06jvp06 Posts: 12
    To answer your question, i have just ordered a toyota sienna after test driving it many times. The results are much better then with the Freestar. And by the way I own a 99 windstar right now- it sucks!- It pings like crazy, even after many repairs, the brakes sqeak- after many repairs and to top it all off the transmission jults when it downshifts when u dont make a complete stop. Does that answer ur concerns- o and by the way- 265 miles- ut hink thats alot????- just wait and c- u'll be seeing that ford letter with a recalll in it many times to come.!
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I would discount the opinions of one who posts who cannot use proper punctuation, spelling or grammar. I seriously doubt if this person ever test drove a Freestar and I would also doubt if they own a Windstar either. Just my opinion......
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Good question, I'll try to explain it as simply as possible, if anyone has any more questions relating to these answers, feel free to ask if I must clarify.

    When transmissions are developed/engineered/designed,
    their are 3 main factors to consider. If their application will be applied to RWD, FWD or AWD-4WD configurations, the power/torque output of the engine it'll be coupled with, and overall vehicle structure/load/stress.

    As you may have read on here, the 3.8/9-4.2L Essex engines will be dropped in the future, therefore they received limited changes (as well as their coupled tranmissions the 4F50N ). If we search thru Ford's parts bin of other engines and transmissions available, the CLOSEST combo they could have used might be the 4.0 SOHC V-6 found in the Explorer. Issue? It's configrued for RWD/4WD, not Freestars FWD layout. Let alone, the Freestar's structure would have needed additional re-engineering to accept it.

    I mention that engine (nicknamed Cologne after the city in Germany it's built in), since it's power and torque outputs are closest to the Essex engines. The Freestar is a heavy vehicle, so torque is much more of a priority. Placing the Duratec 3.0L V6 found in the Taurus, might WORK for the Mazda MPV since it's much lighter, but definatly not on the Freestar since it's transmission would NOT have been able to sustain the extra weight the Freestar possesses over the Mazda MPV. The Cologne engine would also require additional plant re-investment in Germany, whereas the Essex engine plant in N.A. needs the work because of U.A.W. contract issues.

    Closest to that, Ford really doesn't have any other V-6 engine with a higher torque output, and closest engine along the power line would be Ford's Triton 4.6L SOHC V8. I'm purposely NOT mentioning the 3.9L DOHC V8 found in the Lincoln LS, since it's quite an expensive engine, and Ford will keep that engine design exclusively for Jaguar.

    IN another senario, Ford could have opted to place "an extra gear" in the 4F50N tranmission. But in reality, it's benefits would have only been gained on maybe an additional MPG on the highway run. Let's not forget, this is an OHV engine design, where it's output is maximized down low, therefore having the extra gear, might be only beneficial on highway cruising at that. (take note, the Cologne engine brings a 5/Auto). A OHC design engine would benefit much more from a 5Speed automatic, since the majority need to climb up on revolutions, for decent output.

    This year, the 4F50N tranmission was given a much improved torque converter, that allows for much better launch from stops. Also a new 5 pinion final drive gear replaced the previous 4 pinion version for better shifts. And faster hydraulics improve shift performance and refinement. I've read of 2 reviews already in which the auto journalist pointed out the vast improvement from the old system onto the new one. If someone on this board has test driven it, and noticed the improvement, let us know... I myself instantly felt it.

    In case your thinking, "Why not just design a totally new tranmission?" That is a budget issue, plus it wouldn't make good business sense since whatever transmission they would have designed for it, would have been killed upon the next generation of Ford Minivans introduced and not be able to be phased in any other vehicle.

    So ALLLLLL this I have mentioned above, hopefully will answer your first question as to why Ford elected to upgrade the current transmission, over adopting another. IN a nutshell, I hope the factors above can show you it's NOT as easy considering the numerous factors involved.

    To the next question if Ford is planning on developing 5Speed FWD tranmissions, YES that's already being worked on. There's a new line of fuel efficient transmissions that are being developed by Ford, there's one series of engines that Ford will co-design/engineer with GM (said to improve fuel efficiency 10-12%). These include 6 Speed automatics for FWD applications. (Ford has issued a press release over this, NO big secret).

    Would these transmissions be phased into vehicles starting this year? No, these transmissions will first go into Ford products that aren't with us yet, and the development of these tranmissions have started just recently.

    Ford has also announced (no big secret either) how it'll use CVT's as well. CVT's have a special world of it's own, and it's applications are somewhat limited depending on the vehicles/loads/torque outputs. But yes, we will see more of those.

    ***Side note, Ford is working with Torotrak http://www.Torotrak.com on developing an IVT. (Infinitly Variable Transmission)...

    What makes an IVT better than a CVT? You can use it on any sized vehicle,load, output, and Torotrak is testing it's IVT in a 5.4L Expy. The vehicle cruises at 70-80MPH on/around 1000RPM's. Personally, I believe the future of CVT's, is on IVT's, but that's still being refined.

    Next question, the F-150 debuted with a 4SpeedAuto because of some factors similar to that of the Freestar, BUT you will have new tranmissions being phased in, in the first couple of years to answer this. The current/previous tranmissions in the F-150 do not have a history of issues such as the famed Windstars, therefore it might be a smarter alternative to stick to something that works, over trying something new that might distort the launch of the F-150.

    ***Side note: Ford has stated publically that it will improve vehicle components through generations/redesigns, rather than introduce totally new components. Japanese manufacture's have used this approach which is why they have been able to control their quality issues since they use a higher percentage of carry over parts from one generation to another, over domestic manufacturer's.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Ford's best minivan ever, the Freestar, is missing 2 important illuminated things which have been offered in all Ford minivans 'til now. 1) Illuminated glove box; 2) Illuminated power/volume knob for the audio. Can somebody figure out why? Ford want to save a few pennies?
  • This is a nice van overall. My wife and I each drove it alone for about 50 miles each today. This is a lot quieter than the other 4 Windstars we have had. In the review that Sam posted, it stated that there is a lot of tire tread noise. I have to agree with that, but overall, most of the wind noise is gone from previous Windstars. The interior finish is what we expected. We ordered the side canopy airbags, that being the major reason to wait for the Freestar over taking a deal on an '03 Windstar with major rebates. We paid X-plan pricing and got a $1000 rebate as well. The interior trim sure is more durable than the trim on the '04 Sienna that we drove.

    Compared to the two major contenders, the Sienna drove nice, but as I said, the trim was very weak. The demo unit we drove had 180 miles and the plastic trim on the floor was all torn up where the seats attach. Also, I cannot see the logic of using an engine that requires premium fuel in a kid hauler. Maybe the Freestar is less technically advanced under the hood, but I save 20 cents a gallon and that adds up. We tried the Honda Ody, but we are both too tall and that vehicle punishes front seat occupants that are over 5'-8" in height; we are both 6'. Also the Honda does not offer a driver's keypad on the door. As parents of small children we have locked our keys in the car on a regular basis and I don't think we are alone here. The key pad has saved us a bunch of times.

    We did find a few flaws with the unit once we got it home. We ordered the power side doors but we did not get the key fob that operates the side doors. That should be an easy fix. Another possible problem is with the side canopy air bag. The icon on the dash annunciator panel shows front airbags only. We can see the side airbags, but it appears that maybe the wrong icon is programmed or is the side canopy not enabled? We will get that one looked at as well. The driver's door seems twisted in that the rear seam is not parallel front or rear to the next door/panel. It seems off about 3/16" top to bottom. The problem that really makes me mad is the paint quality. We ordered the Arizona Beige Clearcoat. We found one paint flaw with dirt on a horizontal ledge under the rear windows. The service guy at the dealers said they would repaint that area. Once we got home, without looking too hard, I found 10 more paint flaws of dirt, paint "boogers", or drips in the clearcoat off the back door corners. Ford has a real problem here with quality. On top of that, whoever filled the unit with gas at the dealers gouged the paint inside the filler well. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for us to endure a repainted vehicle, so we will be talking to the dealer tomorrow.
  • Thanks for the response ANT. I appreciate your thoroughness.

    I really don't have a problem with the use of the pushrod 4.2V6 - as long as Ford fixed the head gasket problems that afflicted the previous generation of this motor. In fact, I was glad to see Ford touting torque as an important aspect of engine output unlike other manufacturers who continuously brag about horsepower.

    No doubt Ford fixed the shift quality of the transaxle used in the Freestar, but did they solve the durability problems that afflicted the previous generation? I know you referenced several modifications, but are you confident that these will do the trick? There is a saying we use around the office - "You can't polish a turd". I hope this doesn't hold true for the 4F50N.

    Given your message, we shouldn't expect to see a five speed automatic or a different engine option in this generation of Freestar, correct?
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