Ford Freestar

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Ford Freestar
Ford Freestar
Automotive industryFord Motor Company
Production2004–2007
AssemblyOakville, Ontario, Canada
PredecessorFord Windstar
SuccessorFord Flex
Ford Transit Connect (limited production)
Car classificationMinivan
Automobile layoutFF layout
Automobile platformFord V platform
Internal combustion engine3.9 L Essex V6 193 hp (144 kW) (US only)
4.2 L Essex V6 201 hp (150 kW)
Transmission (mechanics)4-speed AX4N Automatic transmission
Wheelbase120.8 in (3068 mm)
Length201.0 in (5105 mm)
Width2006-07: 76.4 in (1941 mm)
2006-07: 76.6 in (1946 mm)
Height68.8 in (1748 mm)
2006-07 SE, SEL & Limited: 70.6 in (1793 mm)

The Ford Freestar is a Minivan that was 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 can accommodate up to seven passengers and features 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 engine. The smaller 3.9 L (available only in the United States) develop 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 produces 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 is standard on all models in Canada and Mexico. The 4.2 liter engine is commonly criticized for extremely poor fuel economy, and an exceptionally low power to displacement ratio.

Contents

Name change


The Freestar name change may have led to its early demise as perhaps a textbook example of how a name change can kill what was once a strong product line. [1] 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
Mercury Monterey
Production2004–2007
AssemblyOakville, Ontario, Canada
PredecessorMercury Villager
Automobile layoutFF layout
Automobile platformFord V platform
Internal combustion engine4.2 L Essex V6 201 hp (150 kW)
Transmission (mechanics)4-speed Automatic transmission
Wheelbase120.8 in (3068 mm)
Length201.5 in (5118 mm)
Width76.6 in (1946 mm)
Height68.8 in (1748 mm)

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

The Mercury Monterey Minivan was the Mercury version of the Freestar. It filled a gap in the Mercury lineup after production of the small Nissan Quest-based Villager ceased 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. 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. 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 SUV. 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.

Price difference between the Freestar and Monterey


The MSRP price for a 2007 Monterey Luxury model was $28,595 while the MSRP price for a 2007 Freestar Limited was $29,575.

Reliability Issues

The main weak point of the Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey is the poorly designed transmission system. Almost every Freestar has had or will have transmissions problems, requiring towing. There is a problem with the power terrain control module (PCM) as it can easily get wet and malfunction. Limp mode is not automatically engaged on the vehicle, the driver must disconnect the computer manually, allowing the vehicle to move without the computers faulty control. There is also a problem with the clutch, as it will wear out and not engage.[1] The poorly designed transmission contributes to a very poor fuel economy, of 15 L/100 KM, or 16 mpg. [2]The brakes wear out quickly, and problems with the design create a squealing noise.

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. The "all-new" (as Ford advertised) Freestar on the other hand, was nothing more than a lightly-restyled Windstar. It used the same V-platform, which dated back to 1999, and basically all that was changed was 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.

Ford announced its return to the minivan business with the 2010 Ford Transit Connect, a Compact MPV.

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. It is not yet known if Mercury will receive a version of the Flex, or another vehicle as a replacement for the Monterey. There is also a rumor about an upscale Lincoln version called the MKT coming in 2010.[2]

Countries sold

  • Canada
  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Taiwan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • Netherlands

References

  1. Van Alphen, Tony (February 8, 2003). "Ford plays name game with popular Windstar minivan". Toronto Star. http://www.metrostate.com/library/stories/03/feb/TheStar.shtml. Retrieved on 23 April 2008. 
  2. Keenan, Greg (July 7, 2006). "Ford puts the brakes on minivans". Globeandmail.com (CTVglobemedia). http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060707.RFORD07/TPStory/Business. Retrieved on 23 April 2008. 

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