Overview & Reviews
With its Freestar, Ford learned the hard way that in the world of automobiles, there are few segments more cutthroat than the minivan category. Moms have ruthlessly high standards when it comes to their family transportation, and only those haulers with the most compelling mix of refinement, convenience features and luxury amenities survive. The Ford Freestar's sales had been disappointing from the outset, and as a result, 2007 was its last year of production. Crossovers, Ford believes, are the future of family transportation.
Ford's minivan wasn't completely without merit. Safety is an important factor in minivans, and in this area, the Freestar didn't come up short. It earned a perfect five stars in NHTSA frontal crash tests, and mothers and their pint-sized soccer stars were protected with features like standard stability control and optional side curtain airbags. Unfortunately, its success in this area paled in the face of its litany of shortcomings, which included sluggish acceleration, dismal fuel economy, ungainly handling and an unimpressive cabin.
For these reasons, savvy used minivan shoppers will find the Ford Freestar a relatively unsatisfactory proposition. If you're looking for a minivan, you'll no doubt find your needs better served by one of its competitors.
Most Recent Ford Freestar
The Ford Freestar was a seven-passenger minivan. Three trim levels were offered: SE, SEL and Limited. The Freestar could also be had in a cargo van body style, making it ideal for contractors needing a light-duty hauler.
The base SE trim was reasonably well equipped, with air-conditioning, full power accessories, a CD player and keyless entry all standard. The SEL added tri-zone air-conditioning, a power driver seat and second-row captain's chairs. The top-of-the-line Limited included upgrades such as chrome wheels, leather upholstery and automatic climate control.
Two engines were offered. A 3.9-liter V6 for the SE provided 193 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. The SEL and Limited trims got a 4.2-liter V6 that generated 201 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. Neither engine was especially frugal, turning in real-world fuel economy numbers that were among the poorest in the segment.
At first blush, the Freestar's cabin seemed like a winner. But a closer look revealed shortcomings. Materials looked nice but to the touch became apparent as subpar for the segment. The legroom in the second row was cramped. The lack of versatility didn't help either. Those second-row seats were heavy and tough to remove. And though the third-row seat folded flat, it didn't offer a 60/40 split like virtually all others in its class. At 135.7 cubes, cargo capacity fell short relative to others in the segment.
In editorial reviews, the Ford Freestar earned praise for having reasonable around-town power and a forgiving ride. The engines didn't fare as well when pushed, though, as they ran out of breath when quick passing was attempted. Performance was exacerbated by the van's aged four-speed automatic transmission -- most competitors used more advanced five-speed units. Also, the engines had a rougher, noisier power delivery than nearly any other V6 in the minivan segment. In consumer ratings, the Freestar was panned for its poor ride quality and dismal fuel economy.
Past Ford Freestar models
Ford introduced the Freestar back in model-year 2004 to replace the aged Windstar, which was sold from 1995-2003. Although Ford touted it as an all-new vehicle, the Freestar minivan was little more than a rebadged Windstar with minor upgrades, including a freshened interior equipped with a fold-flat third-row seat. A pair of more powerful V6 engines replaced the Windstar's 3.8-liter V6. Unfortunately, Ford's minivan put on weight during the transition, so even with the larger of the V6s, it was no faster than before and slightly less fuel-efficient to boot. This made the Freestar about as appealing as, well, the Windstar. Straight off the bat, it was trampled by the competition, both import and domestic, and Ford did little to rectify the situation.
The Freestar remained pretty much unchanged for its production duration, so buyers shopping for one on the used market will find few differences between the model years.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 260.00
Built Ford Tough - 2005 Ford Freestar
By flin1 - December 31 - 10:06 am
I bought this van with 89K on it for my daughter. She was happy just to get some wheels and I wanted a lot of iron around her. It's about to turn over 200K and still going strong. It needed a head gasket a while back and some breaks a couple of times. The transmission seems fine and I had synthetic ATF put in it when I bought it. I like Ford vans.
195000 miles and still alive. - 2004 Ford Freestar
By Zach - December 6 - 9:32 pm
I have a 4.2 l sel that is almost ready to roll 200k. I read the reviews on the transmission mine is original at 200k. I had the tranny flushed every 50k miles and done maintnance and here we are. The van has been exceptional. So if you take care of your car and do maintnance your car will take care of you. This van has a lot of negative reviews but has been great for me and my family. Im willing to bank i will get my freestar over 250k and will report back when I do. Outstanding vehicle.
Runs and Drives well and still looks great! - 2006 Ford Freestar
By Bill Adams - October 13 - 12:03 pm
The van was purchased in 2011 at 94K miles, and now has 165K on it. It spent its first year as a Hertz rental unit in Hawaii, then as a privately owned vehicle in the Twin Cities area before we bought it. So far there is no body rust, and all features and functions work as they should. It is still almost completely squeak and rattle free, and has a good tight and solid feel overall. Wind noise is a bit below average. Engine, transmission, and exhaust appear to be original and unopened and are working well and not leaking. This is probably the quietest and smoothest shifting AT I have ever owned. The engine burns no oil. Service and Repairs so far: Routine oil & filter changes with Mobil-1 5W-20 every 6K miles. Had right front wheel bearing replaced at 145K. Pads & rotors (normal wear & tear at 155,000 - DIY). Spark plugs, coil pack, and wires (did it myself at 96K as a preventive measure). Problem with water in PCM connector causing misfiring and error codes (fixed myself by cleaning & sealing connector - no recurrence). New rear shocks at 155K (by myself - easy for a diy-er on this vehicle). New headlight bulbs twice (DIY - no tools needed except possibly a car key). New serpentine belt at 100K as a preventive measure. I have a complete ATF flush/change every 15-20K as a preventive measure - it has paid off in the form of NO transmission problems on 2 other minivans (98 Ford Windstar and 95 Plymouth Voyager) that were notorious for transmission problems. We use it for towing a small utility trailer with no problems, and a 1900 lb. boat plus trailer, which is the max I would want to tow with it. When towing the boat we run it in 3rd. gear if there are any hills at all, and try to run with the A/C off. Pros: Good crisp handling (for a mini-van), snappy performance w/good passing performance, 6-disc CD player & cornering lights (SEL and Limited only), good heating and A/C, which will freeze you out if you want it to, rear seat folds flat into floor, nice styling, comfortable front seats, good sound system. Cons: Blind spot to driver's left rear, so-so mileage (18-20 local driving, 21-24 highway), road noise (varies with pavement surface and type of tire, and as a fleet vehicle may not have had as much sound deadening material added when built fleet delete?), only one switch to operate both rear vent windows, middle seats are heavy and hard to take out or put back in, and middle and rear seats are too low - okay for children and short people, uncomfortable for tall people. IMO, Ford started out in the mini-van business with a great basic design that attracted many customers at first, and might have grabbed a larger share of that market segment. However, by cutting corners, letting customer care slide, and making ill-advised mechanical changes, they failed to attract and maintain a loyal customer base. Considering that they haven't made Windstar, Freestar, or Mercury Monterey minivans since 2007, there are still quite a few of them on the road, and I know people who like them and who will hate to part with them when they finally wear out. However, early in the program and occasionally thereafter, there was in-the-field debugging that had to be done, and by failing to quickly address the weaknesses, Ford caused the line to die prematurely. IMO. But we really like ours and hope to get about 300K miles out of it, depending on how badly it rusts and future parts availability.
Van has been in dealer's repair shop 4x in 2 month - 2005 Ford Freestar
By Bill Gould - September 18 - 12:07 am
I bought this van used with 150xxx miles on it and was very, very happy with it. It is comfortable to ride in. I buy and sell used furniture and I removed the second row seats so that I can carry a lot of "cargo". It handles very well. Put on full set of new tires and the ride was improved, very smooth and quiet. BUT....out of the blue one day I lost power without warning (later found that this was fairly common on this model). Dealer replaced torque converter because it was a recall item. It has been back into the repair shop three other times since them, each time I was told it was one sensor or another, which were replaced. It is currently in the repair shop for the fourth time, has been there five days already and no word on what will make it work the way it is supposed to. Thankfully I have a free loaner car to use while waiting to hear. Great car, ..........until it breaks down.
2006 Freestar Transmissions Fail as With '04 '05 '07 - 2006 Ford Freestar
By paulflovillaga - September 4 - 5:29 pm
They all have the same problem: Torque converter shaft shatters, causing instant loss of power, typically in intersections, from a stop.
Transmission issue - 2005 Ford Freestar
By tster1 - May 23 - 11:50 am
there is a well documented transmission/cruise/torque converter/PCM relationship issue I have experienced. Tranny blew and dealer says not torque converter to blame. It was a sudden and catastrophic failure.
transmission failure in 2006 - 2006 Ford Freestar
By judysmith43 - May 19 - 8:07 pm
my ford 06 freestar has 55,000 miles. I was pulling out onto a busy street. my transmission stopped working with no warning and I was able to coast to the middle lane. luckily some men helped push me across a lane of very busy traffic where I called a tow truck who took me to a repair shop. the tourque converter was shot and my transmission had to rebuilt and cost almost 3000 dollars. the 2005 and 2004 freestars were recalled for this very same problem, but the 2006s have not. this is inexcuseable and very dangerous. I and my two young passengers could have been seriously injured or killed.
Transmission for the 3rd time, 99,000 miles - 2004 Ford Freestar
By haringbastos - April 11 - 10:51 pm
I wish I never bought this van... Transmission failed 3 times!!!. Driving 65 miles per hour then all of a sudden fail. Always in the shop every month for something. Good looking van but it is actually junk and scary to use.
One of the best Ford products I've owned - 2004 Ford Freestar
By chilcutt - March 16 - 10:04 pm
Been a ford man my whole life. Never owned a van till now. Bought a 2004 Freestar over a month ago. Got a good deal had 178,XXX miles on it yet drives like it has 10 miles on it. I did have to put new brakes and rotors on the front. And replace the drivers side CV axle. This is very minimal repair for a vehicle with that many miles on it. The trans runs very smooth and it is the original, I must have gotten lucky after reading the reviews and knowing very well about Fords trans problems. I love it. I haven't even used all the features this van has yet. The previous owner had to keep it in a garage, it's rust free and I live in MI. Good looking and a pleasure to drive.
2006 Freestar vs 3 boys - 2006 Ford Freestar
By moetzierocks - January 22 - 9:00 pm
We purchase our 2006Ford Freestar used with 45k. We have had one minor and one major repair since then. We had the repair a piece for one of the auto sliding door to work. And we had to replace the entire drivers central console due to the led communication panel failure. I could have lived without it but an odometer is required to pass state inspection. Other than that we love the car. We use it to trailer our 1500 lbs of gear to Cape Cod. The big high torque engine is amazing. Always power to spare. We love the entertainment system with DVD and wireless headsets. The car has plenty of room for even the longest trip. We even have used the trunk as a junior RV for long weekends.