Fords minivan got a face-lift for 2002. For that reason, only modest changes have come for 2003, including new aero mirrors and thicker side windows. All models get painted front and rear fascias. Fords AdvanceTrac electronic stability system will become available later in 2003.
Launched in 1995, the Windstar minivan comes in a single size with a single powertrain. Six trim levels are available for the passenger version: the base model, the volume-leading LX (Standard or Deluxe), the sporty SE and SEL, and the luxury Limited. A Cargo Van is offered for commercial applications. The Windstar has been running neck and neck with the Honda Odyssey in sales but is well behind the Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan.
The Windstar rides a 120.7-inch wheelbase and measures 201.5 inches long overall, which is comparable to extended-length versions of other minivans, such as the Grand Caravan and Chevrolet Venture. Sliding doors on both sides are standard. Power operation for both side doors is standard on the SEL and Limited versions.
Passenger models include a pressure-based tire monitor warning system. A strobe light in the drivers mirror warns approaching traffic that the left-side sliding door is open.
The cargo model is equipped with two front seats only. Passenger versions seat seven occupants. Two rear bench seats are installed in the Windstar LX.
Privacy glass and a roof rack go on the LX Standard. Stepping up to the SE adds such extras as cornering lamps, second-row bucket seats, a six-way power drivers seat and power heated mirrors. Leather seating surfaces are used in the SEL, which has powered driver and passenger seats. The top-of-the-line Limited features heated front seats, 16-inch tires, a full-size spare tire, an in-dash six-CD changer and a memory feature.
Options include power-adjustable pedals, Fords reverse sensing system and an AutoVision rear-seat video entertainment setup that includes a removable VCR unit and a pull-down 6.4-inch screen.
Under the Hood
All models use the same 200-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine and four-speed-automatic transmission. The Windstar has an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) rating.
Side-impact airbags are standard on the Limited and optional on other models. All Windstars have antilock brakes. Ford has long promoted the fact that the Windstar was the first minivan to earn five-star crash-test ratings in government testing. Fords Personal Safety System works with dual-stage front airbags that deploy according to crash severity.
The Windstar feels less carlike than most of its competitors, including the league-leading Caravan and Grand Caravan. Fords model also feels a bit tauter and firmer on the road thats good for stability but adds to the trucklike sensation.
Fords V-6 engine is eager, but it doesnt cause this minivan to lunge forward when a quick burst of energy is needed. Automatic-transmission shifts are reasonably smooth, but theyre noticeable and a trifle trucklike. When the Windstar is pushed hard, it also emits a throatier engine sound than do some competitors. The front seats are acceptable, but theyre not quite as comfortable as those in some rival minivans.