Vehicle Overview
Ford introduced the Freestar in 2004, replacing the company's Windstar minivan. Mercury's Monterey is closely related, and both are manufactured in Canada. Little has changed for the Freestar in 2007. Six new exterior colors are available, and the lineup still includes three models: SE, SEL and Limited. A cargo van version is also available.

Distinctive front-end styling themes differentiate Freestar trims. The SE model has a body-colored grille, whereas a chrome grille and 16-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels go on the SEL. Limited models have chrome exterior trim and power sliding doors, as well as heated signal mirrors with puddle lamps and 16-inch chrome wheels.

Large upright headlights and an eggcrate grille integrate with the hood and front fenders. Contoured rear bumpers promise a low liftover height. Sound-insulation treatments include thick front side windows and a noise-absorbing dash panel. Roof rails are standard.

Standard wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inch tires on alloy wheels are optional. Measuring 201 inches long overall, the Freestar rides a 120.8-inch wheelbase. Self-sealing tires and a power liftgate are optional.

Freestars can seat up to seven occupants. Second-row bucket seats in upper-end models include a fold-and-tumble feature. The third-row seat can be positioned to face the rear for tailgate parties. Cargo space behind the third row totals 27.4 cubic feet and expands to 135.7 cubic feet when the third row is folded into the floor. A covered compartment atop the dashboard holds small items.

Overhead consoles on the SEL and Limited contain readouts for outside temperature, a compass and auxiliary buttons for the power sliding doors, if installed. The Freestar has nine cupholders; the front-door cupholders can hold 20-ounce beverages. Ford's Conversation Mirror lets drivers watch children in the rear.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, a CD player, a tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, and power locks, mirrors and windows. Power-adjustable pedals, a DVD entertainment system, a six-way power passenger seat and Ford's Reverse Sensing System are optional. The SEL offers a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

Under the Hood
A 194-horsepower, 3.9-liter V-6 is standard in the SE model. A 4.2-liter V-6 in the SEL and Limited generates 201 hp and 263 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines team with a four-speed automatic transmission.

All-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are standard. On Freestars equipped with Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability system, panic brake assist — which applies added pressure in an emergency — is included. A Safety Canopy side curtain airbag system is available. Three-point safety belts are standard in all seating positions.

Driving Impressions
Like its Windstar predecessor, the Freestar seems a little more trucklike than most minivans. When parking, this minivan seems unusually wide.

Performance with the 4.2-liter V-6 is energetic, and the automatic transmission yields prompt, smooth shifts. Moderate engine noise during acceleration is present. The Freestar is fairly easy to drive and maneuvers with acceptable agility. The ride is sufficiently smooth on good surfaces.

The seat bottoms are short but offer good support. Front headroom is abundant, and elbowroom is adequate. Second-row occupants get plenty of space when bucket seats are installed. Squeezing into the third row isn't too difficult.