Power-adjustable pedals and a rear-seat video entertainment system are new options on Ford's front-wheel-drive minivan. With the power pedals, the accelerator and brake pedals adjust within a four-inch range to help drivers attain a more comfortable position. Ford also offers this feature on some of its cars and sport utility vehicles.
The rear-seat entertainment system includes a 6.4-inch liquid-crystal display screen that flips up from the center console for viewing by middle and rear-seat passengers. A VCR and jacks for video games also are mounted in the console.
Windstar comes in one size: 201 inches long with a 121-inch wheelbase, which is a couple inches longer than a Dodge Grand Caravan. Windstar offers the choice of a single sliding door on the passenger side or the more popular configuration of sliding doors on both sides.
A power open-close feature for both sliding doors is standard on the SEL model and optional on the SE model. A power feature for just the passenger-side door is optional on LX and SE models. A rear liftgate is standard on all models.
All passenger models seat seven, and the base and LX models have two front buckets, a two-place middle bench and a three-place rear bench. Two bucket seats replace the middle bench as standard on the SE and SEL models and as an option on the LX. The middle and rear seats are removable, and the three-place bench has built-in rollers and can be mounted in the middle row. Shopping-bag hooks are a new feature on the back of the three-place bench.
A cargo model comes with two front buckets, carpeting and a cloth headliner in the front compartment.
Under the Hood
Engine choices are a 3.0-liter V-6 with 150 horsepower or a 3.8-liter V-6 with 200 horsepower, both with four-speed automatic transmission. The 3.0-liter engine is standard on the cargo van and base passenger model. The 3.8-liter V-6 is standard on the LX, SE and SEL passenger models and optional on the cargo van.
Traction control is standard on the Limited model and optional on the LX, SE and SEL models.
Windstar is the first minivan to receive the federal governments highest ratings for both front and side crash tests (the Honda Odyssey recently became the second). Side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional on all models, and antilock brakes are standard on all. The sonar-based Reverse Sensing System, which sounds a warning when the Windstar comes within six feet of an object when backing up, is optional on the LX, SE and SEL models.
Windstar doesnt set the pace among minivans in most areas, but it is at the head of the pack in safety ratings, which should be a strong recommendation for a family vehicle.