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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey



  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yes the head gasket issues of the past 3.8L were addressed right after, and it's been some time since that engine has continued to be produced with the modifications implemented to fix it, and so far no issues pertaining to it therefore the alterations worked. It effected certain years, and Ford was able to resolve what the issue wasn't. Not a design issue, just a part issue which was rectified.

    The 4F50N transmission has been improved upon, I'm sure it's durability will be vastly improved with the modifications implemented. Upon the design of the Freestar, Ford was fully aware of the faults in the prior Windstar, and the engine/tranny wwere certainly addressed to be much more durable.

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

    No, if you turn back some messages (probably the first few pages of this thread) I shared where the next generation of Ford minivan's is going. Don't expect much "work"/investment on the current model aside from some trim level changes and packages groups switched around. Maybe a new toy here and there to stay competitive.
  • jvp06jvp06 Posts: 12
    It's an internet posting. Who cares how ur(excuse me "your" grammar is. Plus I do own a Windstar 99 LX. But you know whats really funny. Im only 15 years old and I know this all. My parents own the Windstar and they just ordred a Sienna. I've seen our mail come in, and the recalls have plowed in. And as for our Winstar probelms, I am in the car every day, I think I know what goes wrong with it. O yeah and my grammar- it's called internet talk- you know- u=you lol= laugh out loud u'd=you'd and we are on the internet.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    15 years old....I should have guessed. Why are you, oh excuse me "u" not in school? I knew a lot when I was a teenager too, and my parents knew so little. Funny how much smarter they got as I got older.

    Anyhow, I got a brief look at a new Freestar last night when I had my Taurus in for a 30K miles transmission fluid and filter change. Looked a bit spartan inside compared to our 1996 Caravan SE sport, but was acceptable. Exterior they certainly didn't make distinct from the Windstar, I really had to look close to discover it was a Freestar, not a leftover Windstar.

    We looked at Windstar back when we bought the Caravan (short wheel base version), but my wife didn't want a minivan as long as the Windstar, and also didn't like the parking brake next to the seat where she likes to set her purse(not my problem but was important to her). The Caravan has done us well, so no regrets, and no transmission problems either. Only major expense to date has been AC repair. I see the parking brake is still on the floor on Windstar, and there is still no short wheel base version, so the decision would have been the same today as it was when we bought the Caravan.
  • Glad that you finally received your Freestar.
    Sorry that you had those few flaws. I must be lucky because my last two Winstar's had no defects on delivery. I now have 275 miles on my Freestar and I agree that the cabin noise has been reduced considerably. I have the Limited and expect I have a few more bells and whistles to get use to. One thing that may have been over looked is that my message center monitors all the the systems mentioned in the owners manual except my oil system. I e/m my dealer and said I'll stop by tomorrow on my way home from Door County, maybe I'm not doing something right
    If my message center is correct I'm getting 19.4 m/g. Never did get better mileage until I reached 20,000 miles. The head lamps and the interior were improved nicely and I won't have a car without the reverse sensing system,so my wife and I are well pleased. Good luck to you.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Is the engine noise quieter than Windstar? On my test drive last week on a Freestar SEL when I started the 4.2L Engine it sounded really roaring loud (like a F-150 pickup truck from which it comes) - it was even worse than my Windstar!

    Now, trainboy and lyonsden: If you had Windstars before, what do you think about the 2 un-illuminated things I wrote about above? No more lit glove box, and so is the audio power/volume control knob - they both used to be lit in the Windstars and even in the old Aerostars. Does that not bothering you?
  • I wanted to wait until it got dark to check this stuff out. The radio volume knob is not illuminated as you say, however all of the radio controls are on the right side of the steering wheel and they are illuminated. I think Ford is saying "keep you hands on the wheel". As far as the glove box light, that is so low on the priority list for me. It is rare for me to open the box, so that is no biggie. Now you have something to look forward to on the '05 model. Look at it this way, you lost the light, BUT you gained a new place in the dash to store things like change and garage door openers.

    As far as the starting noise, if you were at the dealer, were you in an enclosed area or packed in with other vehicles where the noise reverberated? I don't hear any real difference between the models. Once I am going, it is quiet>>>>..... If you want to spend more money, the Honda is probably a bit quieter when starting.

    Good Luck,
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Glovebox lights aren't prorities for some people, I myself have just a tube of those "Wipes" to clean hands, and maybe some air freshner's.

    But as compared to many other vehicles, Ford's generally have much better lighting overall. Even back in the 90's, many Ford had illuminated powerlocks/window switches. And even their steering wheels might have illuminated switches/buttons as well, NOT many manufacture's can even claim that. As well as the exterior puddle lamps which are now becoming quite common.

    Let's take a look the Honda's for example. Majority of their window switches aren't even illuminated, if anything maybe the driver's window switch if your lucky. Or the buttons behind the steering wheel (like the power sunroof which has an odd location there), and a few other's.

    So if we were to look at other vehicles out there in comparison, then we might appreciate Ford's a bit more.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Yeah, BECAUSE Ford was always the best in lighting (the only car with stepwell lamps and baby sleeping mode - I love that!) and so many other minor lighting Ford offered, signal mirrors, and what not? and now, they claim it's the BEST minivan ever! That just does not make sense in my eyes.

    The illuminated glove box is also not a big issue for me, but when going with my wife she uses it all the times. She has there special glasses for night, candies & gum many flavors, and a few more useful items. We are so used to the light, that we can't think of buying a 'better' minivan missing this.

    BTW, Toyota Sienna's glove box is also not illuminated, nor do they have illuminated controls for cruise, power door locks, windows & mirrors, and they copied Ford with the sliding door stepwell lamps - but no baby sleeping mode. So Ford is still better than others in this area.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    The nice thing about English (American?) is that it's malleable and there's no society of linguistic scientists cramming officialdom down our throats, like, say, the French government. With little bitty text screens on cells, we best get used to new words and contractions. It's about communicating, not parsing common usage, especially conversationally.

    Lyonsden1, I think it's a good practice to keep track of a few tanks of gas manually to double-check the message center. Please keep us posted.

    Steve, Host
  • So I talked to my sales rep today and he said to bring in the van. All in all, we found 24-25 paint flaws on every panel but the hood and roof. The local Ford dealership offered to fix all of the paint, which I realize that is what they are supposed to do. The body shop manager said he was against repainting a new vehicle and I agree. They weren't sure if the flaws were in the base coat or the clearcoat. Only 2 flaws, door drips on the back door corners, were obviously clearcoat. The rest of the flaws they said that they would need to sand them out and fix as necessary.

    My wife and I are totally against that because the repairs are guaranteed for the original period of 3yrs / 36K miles. My wife's unit doesn't get much use; the old one was 8 years old with 83K on it. I don't want to have to deal with paint warranty in 4-5 years. I told the dealer he would have to do better than fixing something this new. He said to call on Monday. I also called Ford Customer service and give them the same info and asked to speak to a person who can resolve the paint issue.

    Richard, on your new unit, how is the paint on that? Most of our flaws were around door handles and on the horizontal ledges under the windows. We also had a big nick inside the gas door next to one of the screws, like the tool hit the new paint. Does your unit have power side doors? If so, did you get a key fob with 3 buttons or 5 buttons?

  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Even though most people don't care about these little 'toys', there are still people like me who consider everything. So I want to add to my above words that Ford is still the best with light stuff, that it's not always the case. For example, 3rd row reading lamps - most other minivans offer them as a standard option. Honda, Toyota, Chrysler & Dodge, and so on. But in the Windstar/Freestar, only the top models get this little lamp, which could be very useful. And same goes for illuminated key ring (ignition ring), which Toyota and Chrysler offers them with a light to give your easier access to the ignition, but Ford and some others does not offer it at all.

    So I guess everybody has some minor things to improve!
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Oh yes those lighting key fobs, I've seen them in others cars but I've never had an issue finding the hole for the key though. Do people remember waaayyy back when, when the key ignition was on the steering column (not lighted either)...I guess if you can master that, you can master pretty much anything else lighted or unlighted...

    I myself interior instrumentation. It could be on a great car (like BMW's) and just that ONE aspect kills it for me. In fact, I turned down a BMW as a gift once, just because of the red instruments.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    I also manage without that light - I just wanted to be honest when saying that Ford is the BEST when in fact it's not 100% so.
  • Funny how we get set in our ways. Sam, I agree that the glove box light can be important; I remember when I finally got a car that had the light. I didn't use it much, but I had it.

    As far as the red lights, red is the best color for night. My Cessna had both red and white instrument lights, with separate controls. When I would fly at night and be in the middle of nowhere, the red lights made it easier on your eyes to go between inside and outside. If I was setting on the ground and getting setup to depart, I would use the white lights first, then dim them and bring up the red light. I think Ford had the right idea and I like the red lights.

    Here is a good thing; and I realize that dual media radios are not new, just new to our family. We ordered the 6 cd dual media radio and it is cool. Today my boys and I went to Best Buy and got some headphones for the rear jacks. The kids had a cd running in the back and I was able to listen to the radio. Again, Ford is aiming at families.

    Drive safe,
  • Ant, you need to limit your driving to daytime hours. That way none of the fancy colors will bother you. I don't know if you are old enough to remember, but cars didn't used to have tinted dash lights. They were simple, clear bulbs on a rheostat. Kinda white when bright and a warm orange when dimmed. Tinted bulbs came around in the mid '60's. My '64 Falcon Ranchero had blue-green and I agree, that was cool! You could buy lamp paint to paint the dash lamps for a different effect.

    Have fun,
  • When I read the number of defects you had on your paint job, I went out to checked mine(very closely) for defects. Honest Randy, I couldn't fine any. Mine was as smooth as a babies you know what.
    As I mention earlier, I have the limited and the power doors are std. and I did got 5 buttons on the fob.
    I became aware that most of the features that are optional on the 04 limited were std.equiptment on my 2000 SEL. I was also informed that the price of the base 04 is $1800 less than the base 03.
     Did you opt for the message, if so does yours monitor your oil system?
    Sam, I hadn't notice the lights until you mentioned it. That's not important to me. I can understand why it is to you because you use it so much. As for the engine noise it might seem loud when you start the engine cold but she'll quite down real soon. I have hard time hearing whether it's running or not when I'm at a stop light
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    I visited the dealer again, and had another good look on the Freestar, and I still have some comments, about the 'updated' change from Windstar to Freestar.

    The so-called 'quality' interior causes some problems. Nothing major, but a step down from the Windstar. Some examples :

    The dash dimmer control also controls the interior lamps on/off (always was a big mistake). In the Windstar they used to be up & down, and now in the Freestar it's changed right & left. Not smart. But the main problem is, that since all the controls works very soft, you can NOT feel if you turn the lamps on or off. Is this supposed to be quality? It's hard to describe on paper, but try it once for yourself - especially those who are switching from a Windstar, and feel the difference for yourself.

    Now, about the sun visors. The Windstar have a very good design, which covers the entire area above the drivers head, and the whole window if folded to the window side. So the Windstar's visor does not need an extender as many other vehicle does. Back many years, when I had my old '92 Aerostar, it drove me crazy many times when the sun was shining very hard in the back part of the side window, and since I had no visor extender, I was unable to do anything but suffer. In my '02 Windstar it's a pleasure. It covers the whole area, and that was one of the main reasons I always loved the Windstar, and I was thankful to Ford for the detailed thinking. But now in the Freestar it's gone. The same old dated visor as in the Aerostar. No extender, no nothing. How can you call it the best minivan ever?

    Speaking of sun visors, Ford Taurus offers dual visors, which is a very good thing. Once you get used to it, you can not think of driving without it. Windstar adopted this feature for the 2001 model year on the Limited model only, but they dropped it. For 2003 this feature has been eliminated. I could not understand Ford for not offering good sun visors, an extender, and dual visors. Too bad for the best minivan ever.

    Now about the rest of the interior controls. I mentioned already in an earlier post about the 'vent' control. In the Windstar it used to be 2 additional controls on the drivers door for the rear vent windows. Now they changed it and replaced it on the right side (passenger side) of the audio. What a mistake! And now only one control for both windows!

    When Lincoln (Ford) released the new redesigned Navigator & Aviator, most auto magazines were impressed of them. One complaint no body forgot to mention was that the controls for the power windows has been moved to the center console. A very unpopular place, which requires searching and fumbling many times, and getting used to a crazy unnecessary change. Ford didn't take a lesson, and instead of leaving all the window controls in the Freestar the same way as in Windstar, they changed it to the right side of audio controls.

    And besides that, most switches are much smaller, and harder to find. Leave alone the power controls for window/door lock/mirrors and power seat controls, but the message center controls are hidden and much smaller than ever, the memory switches on the Limited are very small and are on the door at the window - not too smart, and of course the gauges are much smaller than ever, even though it's modern. Who needs modern and quality when it brings more problems than it solves?

    The interior door handles were also much better in the Windstar, in both, the front and rear sliding doors. And so are the audio and climate controls. It's clean styling, but very complicated (especially the automatic climate in Limited), they requires time to learn and get used to, and forcing you sometimes to take off your eyes of the road - Something I can't say about the Windstar. In the Windstar everything was very simple and clear.

    I hope that someone at Ford reads all our posts (ANT14, can you confirm that?), and next time Ford designs a new minivan, they should take me ;-)

    Now a word about pricing.

    Ford had announced that the new models will be priced similar to the old Windstar's. However, this seems true only about base prices, but once you start with the optional stuff, the prices are much higher than the Windstar. And besides this, Ford now requires you to pay for options that were standard on the Windstar, as Lyonsden wrote above. Let me give a few examples.

    The 2003 Windstar Limited with all options (actually VHS player was the only option) was about $35,500, including destination. The 2004 Freestar Limited with all options is $36,565 including delivery. And most features are now expensive options. New deluxe crossbars is $95; $150 for a 6-Disc CD changer; $305 for memory seats; $305 for power passenger seat; $245 for heated seats; $695 for the canopy rollover detection system w/side airbags. So it's a difference of more than $1,000 (and I loved the Limited wheels on the Windstar more than those of the Freestar).

    And this price is before all the 'late availability' options, as power liftgate; 17" wheels; self-sealing tires; towing package and DVD entertainment system. With all the options it will be a hefty 37-38 grand! For this price you can go with the Mercury Monterey version with even more luxury.

    And the SEL is priced $33,645 with destination, also more than Windstar.

    I'll finish here. Sorry for the long post. I must spit out everything from my stomach :-)

    Thanks for reading
  • I really appreciate your checking your new Freestar. I really can't figure why this van's finish is trashed. We are supposed to hear from Ford on Monday so I will share that experience. To answer your question, I do not have the message center, like Ant, blinking things bother me. I have had rental vehicles with that option and put it on the low priority list. The only thing that really interested me was the gas milage stats. I had a rental Caddy with a Northstar V8. The instant gas milage really took a dive when I would nail the accelerator- fun!

    Sam, I can see that you are a very diligent purchaser. My wife and I looked and looked at all of the main players. We kept coming back to Ford for several reasons. First, we had a good track record with our four Windstars (3 company and one personal) as well as the 4 Company Taurus's that proceeded the Windstars. Also, the Windstar runs on regular gas and get decent milage. We live in a very small town and when we go anywhere, it is a 40 mile minimum round trip, so mileage is important. The available roll-over canopy was the big point. I think the Sienna has that as well, but the van cost more, burns premium gas and I think the inside trim is cheap and weak. Another minor point for us and a deal breaker, was the driver's keypad entry, which Ford has. Honda doesn't have the leg room for us.

    Personally, I probably would have opted for the Excursion with the 6.0L diesel (for good milage), but it was too big and too much money for the family.

    We kept were conservative on the options. We got the SEL because of the standard package features, then added a 6 CD changer, Power side doors, safety canopy, floor console and the cargo net. We bought it on "X" plan for ~$27,120, which is within a few $'s of dealer's invoice.

    I agree with you about some of the changes of some of the gizmos. The vent switch moving to the dash is wierd, but then the passenger can control the rear vents. My '96 Windstar had them under the heater and A/C controls, that was worse. I don't like one switch for both, but I am over that already. I do really like the radio controls on the steering wheel. I also like the a/c and radio controls for the kids in the back. We don't care for roof rack, we never used it on our last van. I can always pick up the cross bars if we change our mind. The rest of the options we discussed and decided that we really didn't need any of them and we'll spend our money somewhere else. Remember, we live in sunny California, and don't deal with snow or ice.

    I guess it boils down to a bunch of compromises...

  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
        Being I'm 27, I can't say I remember much the instrumentation that you mention. I am aware many of them worked as you explained, then later most switched to having light bulbs shine over the pod to illuminate, and so on. In fact, I can't remember even driven a car older than an 82. I've surely sat inside many classic vintage cars such as Mustangs of yesturday, but can't say I've ever ridden in them.
        Imagine my shock in 1990 when I got into a friend Civic, and it had no power windows and shows me a "crank" to open it. Had no idea such a thing exsisted prior to that, let alone how to use it. I was picked on quite awhile for that stunt considering I was a bit sheltered in that aspect of automobilia.

         I'm not sure as to what Ford reads, or who exactly might be visiting such sites from the office, but I will say that Ford upper brass have visited sites online. As to specifically WHICH sites, I wouldn't know. I wouldn't doubt it though....
          IN reference to having the power window switches in the center console, that is a money saving factor actually, quite common used in a few vehicles. At least in the Avi they are placed CLOSE to each other, unlike the BMW 3 Series, and Saturn L300 which have them around shiftgate and you must move your hands around to open them. SO it COULD be worse. The positive aspect is, that if your too busy driving, the front passenger can take car of that themselves, same with the vent windows. Many times I've had to dive across someone's thighs to close their driver's side window because they are too busy on the cell phone to notice they window has been opened since the toolbooth 3 miles back.

          Being we are on the topic of interior materials though, today I test drove a Toyota Highlander for a friend who is finally trading her VERY unreliable POS Passat... Anyhow, I was very dissatisfied with the headliner. It was some cheap mousy materials, same kind found in the Corolla actually, but this on a Highlander Limited. My friend was rather turned off by that aspect, she expected much better and that alone turned her off completely as well as the power window switches not illuminated. I guess she had much higher expectation, YET she'll 'accept' certain factors (idiocincracies) on some of the Ford/Lincoln's I've had (she's an import lover actually).... Go figure...
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Thanks for your answers. Very interesting about the Highlander which supposed to have best quality materials - at least according to Consumer Reports.

    Now I know you're 27 years, OK, same here, I just turned 27 last week... happy birthday :-)
  • shuedshued Posts: 107
    This Sunday, I have checked the new FreeStar SEL trim. Pretty good. I have found that the second row seat is a little low for me. How about your guys opinion? Other feeling is: this van is a catch up only and no extra strong point than those of Sienna, and Quest. Freestar will get some customers from Chrslyer and GM, but will difficult from Japan brands.
  • jvp06jvp06 Posts: 12
    It is true- the freestar may have some good points that will draw people from gm and daimler chrysler minivans. but with a poor reliability record of the windstar and a tough asian car company competition it will be hard to beat
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Hello guys who bought the Freestar - do you feel a difference (improvement) in power or torque when pulling from a standing point? The new 4.2L engine supposed to give you strong acceleration.

    Also about the small lamps under the outside mirrors, is it useful? It seems to me that it is just a small red/orange lamp, and not bright enough?

    jvp06: As Ford claims, the Freestar will have much better reliability record than Windstar. All the engine and tranny problems are taken care of, and interior quality is also much improved, so most Windstar issues should be solved. Are they right? I've no idea. I hope so. Only time will tell.
  • Sam, compared to my '02 Windstar, the power seems about the same. I live in a semi-hilly rural area, when I go up on grade, the new unit may do less downshifting. One thing I do notice is the shifting is less noticable than my '02. When the '02 downshifts you do feel that. The new one is pretty quiet.

    Hope that helps,
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    The shifts should be smoother over the Windstar version, and what power is gained by the 4.2L might not be felt as much as expected because of the new torque converter which will give it a much softer launch.
  • ANT - are the ratios the same in the "new" transaxle? Is the final drive ratio the same?

    Another thing that could hamper acceleration is all that added weight. :-)
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yes the ratios within each gear are the same, final drive ratio differ's. Yes weight increased a bit, so what will be gained by the 4.2L will overcome that. BUT the transmission has been engineered to shift much faster, so you receive the gain in that aspect.

    Final Drive Ratio 3.56:1
    Gear Ratios
    1st 2.77:1
    2nd 1.56:1
    3rd 1.00:1
    4th 0.70:1
    Reverse 2:26:1

    Final drive ratio 3.54:1
    Gear Ratios
    1st 2.77:1
    2nd 1.56:1
    3rd 1.00:1
    4th 0.70:1
    Reverse 2.26:1
  • Thanks ANT - I appreciate the information.
  • cadellcadell Posts: 10
    Not so proud owner of a 95 Windstar. Yes, it's had all the posted problems. Just running it into the ground for now. Do not drive it further than AAA can tow me back.

    Took a look at the Freestar at the Anaheim Auto Show. Not impressed at all. Still looks like a windstar. Controls, seats and general layout are far behind the forein models. Ford will not catch up with this van. It could, however, run a little better. It could be more reliable than mine was as a first year vehicle. But, I wouldn't bank on it. Nor, would I invest in one. I will not make the same mistake twice. As I said, just my opinion.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Don't want to burst any bubble, but a recall has been issue. #S03S09 It's for all Freestar/Monterey models built at the Oakville, Canada assembly plant from JOB1 through to 27 October 2003.

    It pertains to the power steering low pressure hose not being fully seated in the rack and pinion steering rack. The line may come lose from the rack and pinion steering gear causing a loss of power steering fluid, loss of power steering assist and potential smoke or fire.
  • UGGG! This is not what Ford needed. Regardless of how small or insignificant this recall may be it will be viewed by those who were a little hesitant about purchasing a Freestar to have an excuse not to.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    The new Quest had a recall for something already and the new Sienna got a lot of bad press for their fuel tank leaking in the crash test resulting in a recall.

    Recalls are so common these days I doubt that many people will hold it against Ford.

    They have a long way to go to match the BMW X5 rollout!

    Steve, Host
  • The Freestar follows the much maligned Windstar - a vehicle not known for its reliablity. Nissan and Toyota are far better positioned to absorb the negative impact of a recall. Consumers are more apt to view a recall from Toyota as an isolated problem while recalls from Ford are seen as evidence of a company that hasn't cured its quality ills.

    Ford better hope this minor hose problem is it in terms of recalls or else the Freestar will end up with a bad reputation right out of the box.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    Isolated? Oh yeah, like that sludge/gel stuff :-)

    You're an informed consumer since you're on Edmunds. The other potential Ford buyers won't have much of a clue about recalls unless loose hoses start causing fires that burn garages down (another gratituous X5 reference <g>). They'll be looking at the DVD and the rebates.

    I bet it's just going to be a little blip on the roll-out.

    Steve, Host
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    The item that's in question, was one of the new items changed over the WindStar unit, and overall much quieter and better operating... it's just the way it was re-routed. You change something to improve it, and you run the risk of having a situation as this occur.

    On the other end, if you don't replace enough items, you'll run into the "All it is just a Windstar" comments, whereas Ford is re-engineered this vehicle for much better reliability.

    On a positive note: biased media outlet Consumer Report has named the Focus tops on reliability in the small car, and sporty car categories. Even the Buick Regal edged out the Maxima and Camry in the family sedan category for reliability.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    <<<On a positive note: biased media outlet Consumer Report has named the Focus tops on reliability in the small car, and sporty car categories. Even the Buick Regal edged out the Maxima and Camry in the family sedan category for reliability. >>>>

    Sorry ANT14, CR has rated the Focus the best small car for the last 3 years BUT they will not recommend it because of its poor reliability. They have been consistent with this stance.
  • Or should I have titled this "Re-Focus"?

    dtownfb - I'm not sure if the Focus is shunned by CR because of a poor reliability record or due to lingering concerns from the botched launch of the vehicle and the subsequent recalls. As far as I can tell the vehicle has actually proven itself to be quite reliable.

    To keep things on topic - with the exception of the previously mentioned paint flaws and the steering recall have any new Freestar owners encountered quality problems.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Yes they recommended it, but because of past recalls they haven't placed it top, till now. They placed it top on the small car, and sporty car categories.

    I heard news that the Freestar and Sienna MIGHT be tied for JDPower's initial quality in the van category, this year. Don't quote me on this yet, this is just some preliminary information that has bee tossed around lately. I'll mention more as I receive the official data.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    To clear up a few things, CR has now moved Focus up to "average" reliability. This is not in their monthly magazine but in a new car newstand publication they put out in November every year. So, since they never recommend a car unless it is at average or better reliability, now it is on their recommended list. Their comparison(not reliability) ratings have always showed Focus on top but they didn't recommend it due to the worse than average reliability rating. Now it is still on top of their performance comparison ratings and since it is now rated average in reliability, it goes onto their "recommended" list.

    Shows Ford has worked hard on turning around Focus quality/reliability. Yes, it did have a very painful first 1-2 years.

    I would really be surprised if Ford makes the same mistake again on a new model, at least for the next 5-10 years or so. It must have been very painful for management to go through(along with the Firestone tire issues), and Bill Ford I think is much more quality "focused" (pun intended) than Nasser was.
  • Any product can be nitpicked to death. This is especialy true of a product in an extremely competitve market like the mini-van.

    Compared side by side with other mini-vans, the new Ford Freestar is not only a competitor, it is a leader. It has the most torque, very important with a van load of groceries and children, and still maintains its fuel economy. The ride quality is great and is very re-assuring on the road. In safety, the Freestar is a home run with its 5 star safety, shoulder belts in all seating positions, dual stage airbags, available side curtain airbags that cover all three rows and roll over sensors that can keep those open for up to 6 seconds. These are features designed to protect you and your children.

    There isn't another van out there that is easier to get in and out of the back seat, and not another van with a third row seat as versatile and easy to use as the Freestar's.

    The fit and finish inside the Freestar is second to none, especially the all impressive Toyota Sienna, which is not really that impressive if you look beyond the Toyota emblem on the hood.

    Is the un-lighted glovebox so important that you would overlook the rest of the van, you know, where the rest of your family sits? How often are you driving in just the right direction so that a little sun breaks through behind your sun visor? There are after market extensions available for any sun visor. And is it such a big deal that both windows vent off the same switch? I mean really, doesn't it save you the effort of having to operate two switches instead of one?

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

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

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

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

    Thats my 2 cents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I personally wouldn't expect to see the power gate before spring.
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