Ford Trucks and Cars For 1998
By Carey Russ
Ford has been the leader in light truck sales since 1986, and offers a full lineup of pickups, sport-utilities, and vans. The Ranger compact pickup has been revised this year, and the F-Series full-sized pickup line celebrates its 50th anniversary. The midsized Explorer and large Expedition continue to give Ford a major presence in the sport- utility market. The restyled 1998 Windstar minivan was an early introduction, and the full-sized Econoline and Club Wagon fill full- sized van needs.
The popular Ranger pickup enters 1998 with some significant changes inside and out. As before, it is offered in regular and extended cab, 2- and 4-wheel drive form, with a choice of two wheelbases for regular cab models. Both regular cab versions have longer wheelbases and more cab space this year. A new, stiffer front frame and redesigned front suspension improve ride and handling for all Rangers. Four- wheel drive Rangers now have their own distinct front styling.
There are three gasoline engine choices for the 1998 Ranger, a new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and 3.0 and 4.0-liter vee-sixes. For the first time, an electric-powered model is offered. The electric and 4-cylinder models are available in 2-wheel drive form only. V6-powered 4-wheel drive models have a new 4x4 system that allows easier use of 4-wheel drive at nearly any speed.
The Explorer is the best-selling sport-utility vehicle in the world. Ford is not resting on its laurels, though. The 1998 Explorer has a new antilock braking system, a standard antitheft system, chassis upgrades, and value-oriented packaging and pricing. A new liftgate makes cargo access easier.
One reason for the Explorer's popularity is a wide range of models. The 1998 Ford Explorer is available in 2- and 4-door body styles, in 5 trim levels. There are 2 different 4.0-liter V6 engines, and a 5.0-liter V8. The 4.0-liter, 160-horsepower pushrod V6 has 160 horsepower and is matched to a 5-speed manual transmission. The 4.0- liter overhead cam V6 has 205 horsepower and a 5-speed automatic. The torquey, 215-horsepower V8 matches with a 4-speed automatic. All are available with 2- or 4-wheel drive.
Explorers with remote keyless entry now have "puddle lamps", small floodlights mounted on the bottom of the rear-view mirrors. Just the thing for avoiding muddy boots while out on the trail, or in the city.
More Ford F-Series pickups have been sold than any other car or truck nameplate. Since the name's introduction in 1948, over 26 million F-Series trucks have been sold. More than 8 million are still on the road. All 1998 F-Series trucks will have a special 50th anniversary commemorative badging.
The current-generation F150 and F250 were introduced during an extended 1997 model year, and have only minor changes for 1998. They continue to combine aerodynamic styling, carlike comfort, and truck ruggedness. Extended-cab models have a standard third door for easier access to the very functional rear seat.
As always, a wide range of choices in cab, bed, driven-wheel, and engine configuration and several trim levels ensures that there is an F-Series pickup for nearly every use.
The 1998 Windstar was introduced last spring, and featured new front styling and a larger "Family Entry" driver's-side door designed for easier access to the second-row seats. A new, luxury- oriented Limited model, and two special appearance packages were introduced late in the 1997 calendar year.
A choice two different V6 engines, each matched to a 4-speed automatic transmission gives the Windstar plenty of power for minivan chores. The Windstar is the only minivan to receive a 5-star rating in government front crash tests. Dual depowered airbags and antilock brakes are among its many safety features.
The Expedition sport-utility vehicle made its debut last year and looks have the same effect on the full-sized SUV segment as the Explorer has had in the midsized segment. It is offered in 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive form, in two trim levels and with a variety of seating configurations. Two modern overhead cam V8 engines are available, giving the Expedition a towing capacity of up to 8,000 lbs. and a payload of up to 2,000 lbs.
Changes for 1998 are minimal, consisting of new color schemes and lower emissions.
Econoline Van and Club Wagon
Ford is a major presence in the full-sized van market. The Econoline is the cargo version of the big Ford van, and the Club Wagon is the passenger model. Both were extensively updated in 1997, and have minor changes for 1998.