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Ford Freestar

 

Ford Freestar

Ford Freestar
Overview
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 2004–2007
Assembly Oakville, Ontario, Canada[1]
Body and chassis
Class Minivan
Body style 4-door minivan
Layout FF layout
Platform Ford V platform
Powertrain
Engine 3.9 L Essex V6 193 hp (144 kW) (US only)
4.2 L Essex V6 201 hp (150 kW)
Transmission 4-speed AX4N automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 120.8 in (3,068 mm)
Length 201.0 in (5,105 mm)
Width 2006–07: 76.4 in (1,941 mm)
2006–07: 76.6 in (1,946 mm)
Height 68.8 in (1,748 mm)
2006–07 SE, SEL & Limited: 70.6 in (1,793 mm)
Chronology
Predecessor Ford Windstar
Successor Ford Flex/Ford_Transit_Connect 2014 (United States & Canada)
Ford Transit (Mexico)

The Ford Freestar was a minivan manufactured by the Ford Motor Company from 2004 until November 2006. It replaced the Ford Windstar for the 2004 model year. The name change accommodated Ford's strategy to rename all their cars to words beginning in F. The Freestar and its twin, the Mercury Monterey, were built in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

The Freestar could accommodate up to seven passengers and featured an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission as part of the van's standard equipment. Five trim levels were available: base, SE, Sport, SEL, and Limited. In the United States, the Freestar was available with two different gasoline-powered V6 engines. The smaller 3.9 L (available only in the United States) developed a maximum power of 193 hp (144 kW) at 4500 rpm and 240 lb·ft (325 N·m) of torque at 3750 rpm, while the larger 4.2 L produced 201 hp (150 kW) at 4,250 rpm and 263 lb·ft (357 N·m) of torque at 3650 rpm. While the smaller engine came on the base model in the United States, the larger 4.2 L engine was standard on all models in Canada and Mexico.

Name change

The Freestar name change may have led to the van's early demise, and is perhaps a textbook example of how a name change can kill what was once a strong product line.[2] The Toronto Star cited one naming expert who called it the "Ford Fiasco." Naseem Javed, president of ABC Namebank International predicted "It will cause confusion and chaos for consumers. Others called the scheme to rename Fords with a word starting with the letter F as "just foolish." Ford said that dealers suggested the idea, and that it fit the $600 million redesign of the Ford minivan. Joe Greenwell, vice-president of marketing and operations for parent Ford Motor Co. believed the new name would "stimulate interest in the product."

Mercury Monterey

Mercury Monterey
Overview
Production 2004–2007
Assembly Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Body and chassis
Class Minivan
Body style 4-door Minivan
Layout FF layout
Platform Ford V platform
Powertrain
Engine 4.2 L Essex V6 201 hp (150 kW)
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 120.8 in (3,068 mm)
Length 201.5 in (5,118 mm)
Width 76.6 in (1,946 mm)
Height 68.8 in (1,748 mm)
Chronology
Predecessor Mercury Villager

For the 1950-1974 full-size car, see Mercury Monterey.

The Mercury Monterey minivan was the Mercury version of the Freestar that arrived after Mercury stopped marketing the smaller Villager, itself a rebadged Nissan Quest, in 2002. Just like its Freestar twin, the Monterey offered seating for up to seven passengers. However, the Monterey offered more luxury options, and had the 4.2 L V6 engine as standard. Although the Monterey was based on a Ford Freestar frame, it had a curb weight approximately 200 pounds heavier than that of the Freestar according to Consumer Guide. Like the Freestar, sales of the Monterey minivan were very low as the design would prove uncompetitive against stronger entries from other automakers, as well as an overall decline in the minivan market. Upon its debut in 2003, the Monterey was the first minivan to offer both heated and cooled front seats. Monterey minivans came in three trim lines: Convenience, Luxury, and Premier. When the Monterey was introduced to the market, the base price (a Convenience trim) started at $29,995; the fully loaded Monterey Premier, which came with class-exclusive heated and cooled front seats, started at $35,735. Features such as power-sliding doors and a rear-seat DVD player were available on Luxury and Premier trim lines. Only 567 Montereys were sold in August 2006. When production ended after a short run of 2007 models, only 1,354 were sold. The Oakville Assembly plant underwent retooling for the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover SUVs. The last Monterey rolled off the assembly line on August 25, 2006.

Final sale numbers for the Mercury Monterey after a three year run totaled 32,195.

IIHS crash test results

The 2004-2007 Ford Freestar received a "Good" rating in the offset frontal crash test from the IIHS and outperformed the 1999-2003 Ford Windstar, but resulted in moderate injuries only on the head and neck. In the side-impact tests, it received a "Poor" rating without the optional side airbags for poor structural performance, potential head and neck injuries, and high forces on the driver's torso, but fared better with the side airbags, but resulted in a moderate head and neck injury to the driver.

Slow sales and early retirement

The Freestar and Monterey were criticized for poor interior quality, large transmission and brake problems, and their overall lack of refinement compared to the competition. Sales of the Freestar in 2006 were down 20 percent from 2005, and its Mercury sibling, the Monterey, had seen sales slump 40 percent from 2005. The last Freestar rolled off the assembly line in Oakville on November 17, 2006.

When the Windstar was first introduced, it was a strong seller that had beat Chrysler to an aerodynamically styled minivan. While the styling had barely changed, the "all-new" (as Ford advertised) Freestar has several key improvements over the Windstar it replaced. While it used the same V-platform, which dates back to 1999, the 3.9/4.2 engines were upgrades over the Windstar's 3.8, and the transmission and driveline received much needed strengthening. Improvements to the driveline included larger wheel bearings, and heavier drive axles. Four-wheel disc brakes were also now standard. The 4F50N transmission received upgrades for improved shifting and reliability. All these changes were in addition to the front fascia, the dashboard/center console, and the rear portion of the floorpan.

The Freestar's main innovation, a fold-flat third row bench seat, had already been adopted by competitors, and it placed last in many reviews. It was no longer competitive as Japanese makes had finally adopted the layout and size of the class-defining Chrysler minivans, and its early retirement also contributed to Ford's financial problems, as they had also discontinued the Taurus, Thunderbird, Ford GT and renamed the Ford Five Hundred back to "Taurus", a name more familiar to the buying public, reversing the "F" naming strategy which had failed.

The Freestar used the code A5 in the 5th and 6th positions of the VIN.

For the 2009 model year, the Flex replaced the Freestar in the United States and Canada, while in Mexico, the Ford Transit replaced it. In Mexico, the Transit is still sold alongside the E-Series.

Ford announced its return to the minivan market with the 2010 Transit Connect, a compact MPV but marketed as a delivery rather than a family passenger van. General Motors replaced Ford as the only American automaker with no minivans after the 2009 model year in the United States & Canada, although Ford had only two years of no minivans in the United States & Canada. Ford plans to sell the Ford C-Max in the United States starting in 2011,[3] making it the first time they have sold an MPV meant for non-fleet use since the Freestar.

Yearly American sales

Calendar Year Freestar Monterey
2003[4] 15,771 2,213
2004[5] 100,622 17,407
2005 77,585 8,166
2006[6] 50,125 4,467
2007 2,390 700

Awards

In 2009, the 2005 Freestar scored second place in J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Study, behind the Dodge Caravan.[7]

Successor

The Freestar's successor is the Ford Flex, which debuted at the 2007 New York International Auto Show. Sales of the Flex began in the summer of 2008 as a 2009 model. A more upscale model, the Lincoln MKT, was introduced in late 2009.[8]

Countries sold

References

External links

  • 2004 Ford Freestar Limited review by CanadianDriver
  • Ford Freestar review and rating by Consumer Guide Automotive
  • NHTSA Defect Investigation #PE09033 for Automatic Transmission on model year 2004-2005

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