The Ford Windstar was a minivan that was produced by Ford from 1995 to 2003. It was based on the Ford Aerostar, but it had a more modern design and features. The Windstar was replaced by the Ford Freestar in 2003.
Ford Windstar Overview
The Ford Windstar was a minivan produced by Ford, aimed at the North American market. Positioned to compete in the minivan segment dominated by offerings from Chrysler and other competitors, the Windstar went through several generations and refinements during its production run. Introduced in 1994 as a replacement for the Ford Aerostar. Produced from 1994 through 2003, after which it was replaced by the Ford Freestar.
The Windstar was built on the Ford V platform. It was offered exclusively as a minivan, with both three-door (initial years) and four-door options. Over its production run, the Windstar came with various V6 engines, with the 3.8-liter V6 being among the most common. The Windstar was a front-wheel-drive vehicle, a shift from the rear-wheel-drive Aerostar it replaced.
Designed to be family-friendly, the Windstar offered seating for up to seven passengers with versatile seating configurations. The Windstar was one of the first minivans to receive a five-star safety rating in U.S. government crash tests. Over the years, it introduced features like dual front airbags, ABS, and later, traction control.
Ford aimed the Windstar squarely at the family market, positioning it as a competitor to the likes of the Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, and the Honda Odyssey. The Windstar was generally well-received for its safety features and comfort. However, it also faced criticism and even recalls for certain mechanical issues, particularly concerning the transmission and head gaskets on certain model years.
In 2004, Ford transitioned the Windstar into the Ford Freestar. While the Freestar was essentially a continuation and evolution of the Windstar, the name change marked Ford’s shift in naming their vehicles – aligning with a theme where many model names started with the letter “F” (e.g., Ford Five Hundred, Ford Freestyle). The Freestar saw a relatively short production run, ending in 2007. It was effectively replaced by crossovers and SUVs in Ford’s lineup, notably the Ford Flex and the continued evolution of the Ford Explorer.