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SEE ALSO:Ford Buyer's Guide

Before 1984 only one American automaker produced minivans and it accounted for less than one-percent of truck industry sales. Ten years later every domestic manufacturer makes one, as do many overseas producers. This popular vehicle class now accounts for a market share of around 20 percent and sales of over one million units annually. The newest entry in this field is from Ford. Its all-new 1995 Windstar minivan was originally to be the replacement for the aging but still popular Aerostar van which, due to popular demand, will still be in Ford's lineup for awhile.

The all-new Windstar is the minivan in Ford's future. The Windstar was designed to possess very passenger car-like comfort, handling and performance characteristics. It is based on the popular Taurus sedan and offers a similar powertrain, plus an extended platform and a longer wheelbase, wider width and higher cabin. The result is a very roomy minivan with flexible interior arrangement patterns, a quite low step-in for easy access, and a higher seating position for improved visibility with 65 square feet of curved tinted glass. The Windstar can comfortably accommodate a driver and from one to six passengers, with a cargo area varying from a high of 144 cubic feet with just the front seats occupied down to 24 cubic feet when three rows of seats accommodating up to seven passengers are in position.

APPEARANCE: The Windstar is a well-rounded vehicle that follows the design trends that Ford has pursued in its automotive products for the last ten years. Its appearance bears resemblance to its corporate logo, Ford's blue oval trademark. The now-familiar two-box minivan design is highlighted by a short steeply sloped hood and large cabin. Up front there are three oval air intakes and wide wrap-around headlights. The sculpted side panels have contrasting bumper strips for parking lot protection. A large top-opening rear hatch plus three wide easy opening doors provide easy access.

COMFORT: The roomy interior of the seven-passenger Windstar GL is cloth upholstered. Each front bucket seat is manually adjustable, while the two rows of rear seats are easily removable. The back bench seat provides seven inches of fore and aft travel. Both the sound and climate systems have dual controls for the rear area of the large cabin. Earphone connections allow the two back seat passengers to listen to and tune the radio when the sound is off for the rest of the vehicle. Separate switches control the temperature and volume of air for the rear area. The rear side windows can be opened and closed remotely by the driver. The large rear hatch features a convenient pull-down strap, plus a nearby remote lock/unlock switch for the rest of the doors. The curved dash carries a complement of analog instruments plus audio and climate systems and cup holders. A 30-second accessory delay allows powered accessories to be used after the engine has been turned off.

SAFETY: As standard equipment the Windstar is equipped with dual front airbags and front knee bolsters, side impact beams, sliding door child safety lock, five-mph front and rear bumpers and three point safety belts for all outboard passengers. Vision from all seats is excellent.

ROADABILITY: Ford's Windstar GL is an above average highway cruiser that also offers a smooth quiet ride. Its ride is passenger-car like in softness and corner lean. It is quite stable at highway speeds, and wind noise is practically unnoticeable. As in most vehicles the about of road noise is dependent upon the type of tires and the road surface, and in this area the Windstar is very quiet when cruising down the road. The Michelin XW4 P205/70R 15 inch all-season tires provide a good grip on the road, while the standard anti-lock brakes assure safe stopping qualities.

PERFORMANCE: The heart of the Windstar's powertrain is its well-proven 3.8 liter, overhead valve, balance-shaft-equipped V-6 engine, coupled to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. This combination is similar to that used in the Lincoln Continental, and generates 155 horsepower and 220 lb. ft. of torque at low rpm's to provide excellent maneuvering and driving qualities. This powertrain is managed by Ford's latest electronic engine control - EEC-V, which provides quicker response and smoother shifting in varying traffic and driving conditions.

CONCLUSIONS: In the Windstar Ford has developed one of the largest, quietest and well-equipped minivans that almost falls into the midivan class. The GL model provides combines functionality and economy along with comfort, performance and convenience.


	   Base Price              $ 19,240
	   Price As Tested         $ 22,225   
	   Engine Type             V-6, ohv - pushrod, efi
	   Engine Size             3.8 liter/232 cid   
	   Horsepower              155 @ 4000
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         220 @ 3000
	   Wheelbase/Length        121"/201"  
	   Transmission            4-speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             3740
	   Pounds per Horsepower   24
	   Fuel Capacity           20
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 octane)
	   Tire                    Michelin XW4 P205/70R 15  M+S 
	   Brake                   anti-lock standard    disc/drum
	   Drive Train             front engine, front drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      17/24/18.6     
	   0 to 60 mph                  11.0 sec
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                18.1 sec           
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .32