Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Ford Freestar Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Ford Freestar Overview

Body
The Wait Is Over

After years of making the most of an aging design, Ford has finally retired the Windstar and replaced it with an updated, modern design. The Freestar is not exactly all new as it does share the same chassis as the old Windstar. The body, interior and suspension, however, are all vastly improved, making this minivan extremely competitive in what is a tightly contested field.

The first thing you notice about the Freestar is its clean exterior design. In traditional Ford fashion, the Freestar is slightly boxy, with a big egg-crate front grille and massive blue oval emblem. There are five trim levels to choose from: S, SE, SES, SEL and Limited. Styling is rather subtle on the base vans and becomes quite pronounced as trim, body side paneling and sporty alloy wheels are added.

Power for the Freestar is provided by a 3.9-liter V6 that makes 193 horsepower and 240 lb-ft. of torque, a significant improvement over the Windstar's old 3.8-liter engine. SEL and Limited models get an even larger 4.2-liter V6 rated at 201 horsepower and 263 lb-ft. of torque. Both engines are teamed with a new smoother shifting four-speed automatic transmission and-when coupled with the optional tow package- can pull up to 3500 lbs.

Ford has invested heavily in making the Freestar as smooth, quiet and vibration-free as possible. The new suspension's settings employ heavier rubber bushings to isolate road noise and smooth out the ride, while still providing the driver the proper amount of road feel. The Freestar uses a good deal of sound deadening material throughout the cabin, including a sound absorbing dash panel, redesigned roof rack and exterior mirrors, and additional floor and ceiling insulation.

On the road, you can feel the difference between the old Windstar and the new Freestar; there is absolutely no rattling or vibration. The Freestar feels as solid as granite and the ride, handling and overall performance are greatly enhanced by the stiffer, more rigid body.

The really big news can be found inside the Freestar, where a host of safety, styling and convenience features have been added. The Freestar's floorpan has been reconfigured to permit the third-row seat to flip and fold flush into the floor. This design eliminates the need to lug the heavy third-row seat in and out of the vehicle every time you need to load in cargo; the flush folding design also creates a perfectly level loading floor when the seat is not in use. The second-row seats, which can be either captain's chair or a bench, are designed to flip-and-tumble forward and can be operated with just one hand. With all its seats in place, the Freestar can accommodate up to seven passengers. With its seats removed and hidden away, the Freestar provides an impressive 134 cubic-feet of cargo area.

Moving from the rear to the front brings us to the all-new dash and seating designs. The Freestar's dash looks more like something from a highline luxury car than a family van. The clean lines, attractive two-tone dashboard and numerous optional features make this one of the most attractive minivan interiors we've ever seen. Some of the more desirable features include power-adjustable foot pedals, steering-wheel mounted controls, DVD rear-seat entertainment, Tri-zone rear air conditioning, Reverse Sensing System and a power rear liftgate. You'll also find a number of thoughtful little features, like the convex "conversation mirror" that allows you to keep an eye on the kids or the 20 oz. soda holders located in the front door panels.

The new seats are simply the best Ford has ever placed in a minivan. Our SEL model came with the optional leather seating, six-way power passenger seat and captain's chair second-row seats. There was universal praise for the long-term comfort and overall design of both the front and second row seats; the third row bench was also deemed to be pretty nice, though we didn't spend too much time back there.

Perhaps the feature that matters most to families is the availability of front side-impact airbags and a side Canopy airbag curtain that covers all three rows. The front passenger seat contains sensors that tell the air bag whether the seat is occupied by a small child or not at all, disengaging the front airbag when it is not safe to deploy.

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