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Ford Freestar/Mercury Monterey



  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Most of the things I'm with you, but a few exceptions:

    1) Toyota Sienna CE (base model) does NOT offer cruise control standard, and no lighted vanity mirrors.

    2) Cassettes is NOT dead. At least for me. I still have 100's of recordings on cassettes which I don't have the time to convert for CD's. But I agree that a CD player should be standard. But I don't like those cars which does not offer cassette at all - no option! Just 6-CD changer. I like Toyota b/c they always offer both, 6-CD + cassette option.

    3) Reading lights is a good point, I've even contacted Ford for that before they released the Freestar. All competitions gives you reading lights for all seats. This is not luxury, but important and very useful.

    4) Captain chairs is OK, but I also like it the other way, give me an option to take a bench even on the SEL. I love bench seats for many reasons, mainly b/c the room I gain to put in another suitcase in between the seat & door.
  • I read the report from CR also and after reading it I wondered if I owned the same car they reviewed. I have the Limited with the 4.2. Most of my driving is city/rural not freeway. The worst milage I got was 19.3 mpg, the best 21.6. I have filled my tank 11 times. I had traded my 1999 Windstar SE. Freestar is great!!
  • I am a die-hard fan of the Ford Motor Company and I think that they have been doing some great things lately, with new vehicles like the 2004 F-150 and the upcoming 2005 Five Hundred. However, I'm a little disappointed with the Freestar. Don't get me wrong because it looks like a very good vehicle and is definitely an improvement over the previous Windstar, but I think it's still not up to par with the competition. What really upset me about this the most is how Ford "pulled a GM" in designing the powertrain. Instead of coming up with a new sophisticated overhead cam engine and 5 or 6 sp. auto tranny, it simply pulled two pushrod engines out of the parts bin and matted them to an outdated 4 sp. auto. Although some of you are upset with how CR seems to overpraise Honda and Toyota, they do offer smooth DOHC engines and 5 sp. transmissions. Ford didn't even meet the competiion. It still fell behind. In fact, I think the only other places you can find OHV engines in the Ford lineup is the 3.0L's used as base engines in the Taurus, Sable, and Ranger, the soon-to-be replaced 3.8L base engine in the Mustang, and of course the 6.0L Powerstroke, but that is also a diesel. I think if Ford wanted to take the minivan market seriously, it would've come up with something more impressive in this regard. I suppose there is a good chance that when the Duratec 35 comes out it will be put in the Freestar, but couldn't Ford have put in the SOHC 4.0L and 5 sp. auto from the Explorer until then? Also, the exterior styling isn't that attractive. In my opinion, the front end is chunky and doesn't have a smooth, modern look to it. And although it might not be a widely chosen option, I believe that AWD definitely should've been offered. Ford should have thought of this from the start when designing the platform for the Freestar. I live in the Midwest and if for some reason I would buy a minivan, I definitely would want AWD.
        Ford is a great company and can make great vehicles. The Freestar is a comfortable family hauler, but I don't think it has the refinement or innovation to dethrone the competition.
  • Like a post above - I was (sometimes I think/wish) a die hard Ford guy. I had an 1989 Escort and a 1995 Ford Windstar. Dad had a 1991 Aerostar and a 1997 Ford Tempo. But (3) out of those (4), the Escort, Windstar, and Tempo, gave us lots reliability problems. The Aerostar is hard to grade since the engine block cracked in half just a few hundred miles before warranty was up (75,000 miles) and Dad got a new engine for free which gave it new life to 150k. If discovered 1000 miles later we would have been 0 for 4 in cars from Ford in the 1990's.

    But I was still crazy enough to still take a look at the Freestar because of the mega rebate for intense suffering/pain/agony suffered with the Windstar.

    Gotta agree that a CD/Cassette combo offers much more utility for us old folks from the 80's. I got 200 hundred cassettes too and at least they can be played in a car (unlike the old vinyl). Didn't check competition thoroughly for combo CD/cassette, but not a show stopper to me.

    Regarding cruise control standard on the base, I was referring to Nissan Quest, which also has standard lighted vanity mirrors and lights in all the rows. I like the Sienna as well, but the missing cruise control seemed like a short coming on the base model and you pay full MSRP, which you may recover if you trade and don't drive into ground.

    Really liked the Quest and its test drive, but can't find a way to buy one with the reliability issues of undersized heater/fan, radios that break relentless with no apparent short term fix, and door closing issues (which wouldn't open at test drive in 4F cold). Going to wait it out and see if something better shows up in the fall or if Nissan can get their act together on these few issues. Really like a few Freestar features, but they could have done so much more knowing where the competition was and where they are going.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    " I suppose there is a good chance that when the Duratec 35 comes out it will be put in the Freestar, but couldn't Ford have put in the SOHC 4.0L and 5 sp. auto from the Explorer until then?"

    Not really, the next Ford family of minivan will be riding on a new Mazda6 derived platform. It will be a totally different vehicle as we know it. And yes it'll have the Duratec 35.

    The 4.0L SOHC couldn't be placed into the Freestar because that's a RWD specific engine/tranny combo. Much more money would have needed to be invested to make it FWD, let alone, the structure is Taurus derived and that would have required quite a bit of firewall modification to make that combination fit.

    " I believe that AWD definitely should've been offered"

    The Freestar/Windstar are Taurus platform derived, they do not have the capability for AWD.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    You must start to realize, once for all, the story of the Freestar:

    The Freestar isn't an "All-New" model, as Ford claimed. As we all know, it's an updated Windstar. Since Toyota came out with the new Sienna, and Nissan with the Quest, Ford understood that the Freestar will no longer play a big role in minivan sales, and there is "something" they gotta do about it, and in a rush! before it's too late.

    So they revised the Windstar, they tried hard to improve everything possible in a hurry, especially interior quality, improve some reliability issues of the old engine/tranny problems, make it quieter, stiffer frame, and fold-flat rear seat. They hoped, at least it should be better than the Windstar, so it will be a bit more competitive.

    However, a new engine, transmission, AWD, and some other stuff was impossible in such a short time. Of course they now want to release the new minivan on the Mazda6 platform, but, as you see, this will take them several years. It will also take them many years to come up with the new Duratec engine, as well.

    So if you like the Freestar, you should know Ford did (almost) the best they could in the Freestar, and would they have more time & money, they probably would give you some more.
  • Very true - I think Ford would have been better off to keep the Windstar name and simply introduce it as the improved version that it is. To call it "All New" and give it a new name without following through doesn't seem productive. Buyers are going to research the van anyway and aren't going to be fooled. In a few years they apparently will have an "All New" van, but will buyers bother to research it again or just assume its another updated Windstar?
  • Thanks for clearing that up. I have to say that I too don't see why a whole new name was thought up for an updated model, especially when the name "Windstar" at least had recognition as being a safe vehicle. Well I guess it really doesn't matter to me either way since I would never buy a minivan.
  • Hi everyone!
    Does anyone know how to find out about the $4000 rebate to previous Windstar owners. Can it be combined with the finance options?
  • I, too, am interested in hearing what is being presented to former Windstarians. My local dealer in Huntsville, AL, said that the "Windstar rebate" was for people coming off a lease.

    Otherwise, he said, there was the standard $3000 rebate plue $1000 of "dealer cash" as an incentive.

    Not sure if the dealer cash is simply a sales pitch that simply means they'll agree to take $1000 off MSRP for you if you beg and cry loud enough.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    One more word about the cassettes: It has a big advantage over all other media types:

    You can buy a media converter (or whatever it's called) at many stores (radio shack, walmart) for less than 20 bucks, that is a cassette which you put in your cassette player, and has a headphone plug to plug in any headphones jack, and plays the media on the cassette player.

    If I'm not clear enough, let me give you an example; You have your CD player, MP3 player, or you want to watch a movie on your portable DVD player, or use your laptop to watch a movie, etc. you take that cassette, and plug the other end into the headphones jack, and now you hear everything on the speakers of your car, or cassette player at home!

    My friend did it several times, and it's a good thing if you don't want to install an aftermarket DVD in your car. If your car is equipped with a cassette player, you can connect every media which have a headphone jack. My friend used a laptop to watch DVD's, and everything was amazing. Good view from a 15" monitor, and beautiful sound from the cars speakers.

    that's one more reason why every car should stay with a cassette player.
  • I just test drove the new Freestar and was not impressed. There is plenty of torque to get moving and the 4 speed was OK, but it didn't feel any different than the Windstar.
    There are no reading lights which means my daughter will still resort to a flashlight; The seat cushions are too short to support my long legs; There is too much plastic for a list price over $36,000 (limited); No light in the glove box; Where are the fog lights that work in the fog; Why doesn't the rear seat fold flush into the floor; Head restraints need to fit flush into the seatback when not in use so we can see out the rear window; Why isn't there a trash bin for the second/third rows; Why are ashtrays and lighters optional?
    It seems the Ford design team has been taken over by the accounting department. I don't mind paying for quality, I do mind paying for lack of quality and trivial $5 dollar items which should be put in every car and truck. Hey Ford, make sure you remember that we are your customers, not the dealers.
  • willie19willie19 Posts: 139
    New to this forum and would like some advice regarding the purchase of 04 Freestar Sport model (Canadian Version).My wife and I are thinking of Sport Value Package which includes :
    Advance Trac
    All-speed traction control
    Brake Assist
    Reverse Sensing System
    17" bright machined alum. wheels
    P235/55R17 BSW all-season tires
    The MSRP for the above value pack is listed as $1200 with package discount of $205 stated in Canadian $.
    My question to you savvy guys is this:
    Will the larger 17" tires give me a better/worse ride as in handling,extra fuel consumption,erratic speedo reading, traction in snow, etc. I think this is a good package but unsure about the tire size. Another question re self sealing tires is extra at list Can.$250. Is this worthwhile? Thanks.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    I'm not the big expert, but usually, bigger tires result in better handling, but not a lot. Fuel mileage should be the same; traction in snow not a big difference, but may be a bit better.

    I have now my 2002 Windstar with 16" self sealing tires, and while I don't know if it's a worthwhile option, I must say that in almost 25 months I never had a flat tire, so it seems to do a good job. These tires adds a bit to the car weight, though.
  • I liked your advice and plopped money down on a 2004 Ody yesterday with CD and cassette. Best of both worlds and can accept some future media types I had not thought of.

    Really, you can get a 2004 Ody LX for less money than a Freestar, with more leg room, CD and cassette player, a 3rd row flip seat, better gas mileage, 3500# towing, and of course inherent reliability. Paid $24,700+tax. Would have been around $22,900 or so had I not added the towing package ($1223), CD player ($495), and mud flaps ($120). Also, comes with cruise control and 240 hp at that price. Even the older Ody is better than the new Freestar. Think how far behind they will be after the new Ody comes out in September. If you really want a Freestar - wait until Fall after piles of 2005 Dodge/Chryslers are on the lot and new Ody comes out to compete with the Sienna and MPV. You will probably see unheard of rebates. Had to laugh that even the Chrysler dealer thought rebates were not far off on brand new product hitting the lots. Figured out priced too high for what you get already.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Congratulations on your new purchase. I hope you will enjoy it every minute... I've also enjoyed reading your deleted post in the Windstar problems. The Honda won't give this much problems for sure...

    Good luck and enjoy!
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    The power liftgate feature is being cancelled from now till the 2005 models start being produced. Therefore, if that's a must, you might have to make do with one already at the dealership. I'll be posting this on the Monterey forum as well.
  • see current issue for review. (Ford was picked for best truck so no anti-ford discrimination there.) "It's got a fast-yet-frugal V-6, a supremely comfortable cabin and seats that pull the easiest switcheroos. It's a bargain."
  • Samnoe,

    I followed your advice on this and it really ended up being something I initially missed when weighing the value of options. I have one of those 9" TV's strapped between the front seats. My wife and I liked it to keep the kids in line for long trips, but the driver was nearly deaf from turning it up to get the sound to the back seat. I went to Radio Shack and for $19.99, got the headphone jack to cassette converter. I works great, except for a little hiss picked up running through the cassette apparently. Still much better than the previous setup.

    Really glad I got the cassette and CD player together - best of both worlds and really handy for anyone with the portable TV.
  • trainboytrainboy Posts: 66
    Been there and done that as well. We folded down the 2 row seat and the kids sat in the back. What we did differently is we got them headphones. I used a coiled cord and a splitter plug-in gizmo. We had to change the DVD every couple of hours at bio break time. A couple of times we had to look back to see if we lost them because it was so quiet.

    A buddy of mine uses his laptop computer and a small power inverter for movies. Again, his kids use headphones as well.
  • Awhile back we tried the headphones - had two splitters to net out four headphones. Kids did not like sound in one ear only plus the cheap head phones ($2 at Menards) I got were wrecked by about Georgia in a Wisconsin to Florida trip from getting in and out and stepping on them. Wireless head phones sold with new vans would solve those issues and give stereo sound I believe as well. Anyhow, headphones would give Mom and me the opportunity to listen to stereo while they watched the movie. May give it a whirl again down the road now that they are bigger and less likely to destroy the head set wiring.
  • trainboytrainboy Posts: 66
    I bought some $10 units at Best Buy; I think they were Sony and fold up somehow. Marking the kid's name on them give a bit of ownership. Having their name on them means they have to put the headphone on the seat when they get out. If your headphone gets wrecked, then you listen to the radio, like mom and dad.
  • spartanmannspartanmann Posts: 197
    New CR issue lists Toyota Sienna as best minivan. Before you all start with the bias stuff, be aware that only one vehicle was named to the Ten Best list in two categories - Ford Focus.

    The issue also shows domestics doing better than Europeans on initial quality but still far behind "Asian" manufacturers, both Japanes and Korean. How new Korean manufacturers can have better intial product quality than Ford and GM is worth considering. As usual CR falls down by not differentiating quality of "Asian" manufacturers between domestically assembled cars and cars that are actually imported.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    And they also agreed that the Windstar's reliability was improved to "average" for '02 and '03 models.

    No Bias here (This month's CR magazine says on the cover "UNBIASED ratings & reviews"...) Nobody will say that Freestar beats Sienna, or comes even close. It's just sometimes that they point out the good in Toyota and the bad part in Ford's and GM's. But let's not get all over and over the same topic again.

    Let me finish off with CR's own words (pg. 16): "Our latest survey of subscribers' experiences with their cars shows that vehicles from Detroit's Big Three automakers are now slightly more reliable, on average, than those from European makers. They also tend to hold up better than the European makes as time passes, It's the first time in decades that U.S. cars have done so well".

    So that shows us that U.S. makers are working hard.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    So for every 10 domestic cars you get 1.8 problems, for every 10 asian cars you get 1.2 problems. Is that worth calling a "big" difference? The data suggests for every 10 domestic cars, on average 8 cars are problem free, which is the same # of prolem free cars for every 10 asian cars.

    The bottom line is initial quality is pretty much the same across the board. I think it's misleading for them to tell the public that "there's a big gap in quality between domestics and asian cars". In reality the difference is really minimal. I have read the issue so I don't know the difference in long term reliability.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    One has an 18% chance of getting a domestic new car with ONE problem, and 12% chance if he buys an asian brand. The difference is 6%, and we're only talking about your chance of having ONE problem here.

    Now what's the difference between their prices again...You get my point.
  • spartanmannspartanmann Posts: 197
    Quality sells - Period! There is a direct correlation between intial product quality and long term reliablity. The same manufacturers are the best at both. To pretend this is only a slight difference and doesn't matter is putting your head in the sand. All the Big 3 PR types immediately got out their blurbs about passing the Europeans. They obviously understand the importance of competing on quality.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    One has an 18% chance of getting a domestic new car with ONE problem, and 12% chance if he buys an asian brand. The difference is 6%, and we're only talking about your chance of having ONE problem here.

    Now what's the difference between their prices again...You get my point.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Spartan, your point is well taken. I was only talking about the initial quality. And contrary to what one might expect, better initial quality doesn't necessarily translate to better long term reliability. There're plenty examples of that in the J. D. Power ratings, where asian brands with lower initial quality ratings actually turned out to have better mid and long term reliabilities. I still believe there's a correlation, but probably to a much lesser degree than we thought. My 2002 Malibu has a 5-star initial quality rating, better than the Camcord. I certainly hope its long term reliability will be better too :) So far so good.

    Numbers don't lie. According to my math, initial quality IS pretty much the same among manufactures. But long term reliability might be an entirely different issue.

    And again, minor difference might have a big impact on consumer perception as you said, which is why I said CR's remarks might do a disservice to the public.
  • spartanmannspartanmann Posts: 197
    Top sellers are Accord and Camry. They are consistently among the best in both intitial quality and long term reliability. Lexus puts almost everyone else to shame in both categories as well. No surprise they are dominating the luxury market.

    I agree there is never an exact correlation between the initial quality and long term reliability, but the combination sure seem to work for Honda and Toyota. If the Bid 3 ever catch up in either department, you'll be buried under the PR blizzard.
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