Minivan; Built in Canada
  • 3-door van
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $2,800*


1995 Ford Windstar


1995 Ford Windstar


1995 Ford Windstar


1996 Ford Windstar interior


1997 Ford Windstar

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride/handling
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Instruments/controls
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Steering feel

Windstars haven’t proven to be quite as successful as Ford had hoped, but Ford’s front-drive model equals or beats Chrysler’s minivans in key areas of performance and accommodations. Therefore, Windstar is well worth a try.

Overview

Ford’s first front-drive minivan went on sale as an early 1995 model. Windstars came in one size, with a sliding right rear door and a one-piece liftgate. Dual airbags, antilock brakes, and seating for seven were standard. Windstar’s 120.7-inch wheelbase was the longest of any minivan. At 201 inches overall, it measured 8.2 inches longer than a Grand Caravan, and about 11 inches longer than a Mercury Villager. Cargo volume is 144 cubic feet. GL and upscale LX models held a 155-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine. All models used a 4-speed electronic automatic transmission. Standard towing capacity was 2000 pounds, but a 3500-pound towing package became optional later.

Yearly Updates

1996 Windstar
The Windstar’s 3.8-liter engine gained 45 horsepower in its second season. A smaller (3.0-liter) V6 became standard in the GL, with the 3.8-liter an option. All-disc brakes now were available, with a trailer towing package or new all-speed traction control. Seatbelts got new automatic locking retractors. In midyear, a tip-slide feature for the driver’s seat became available, to allow passengers to enter the middle row of seats from the driver’s side.
1997 Windstar
A lower-priced base model (called Standard) joined the Windstar lineup, with limited option availability.
1998 Windstar
Changes for ’98 included a wider driver’s door that allowed easier access to the middle and rear seat and new front styling. A line-topping Limited model was also added. Windstar was redesigned for ’99.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

For their first season, all Windstars had the same engine: a 3.8-liter V6, developing 155 horsepower. A 150-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 arrived in 1996 (standard in GL), as the 3.8-liter rose to 200 horsepower. All Windstars have a 4-speed automatic transmission.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/25

20.9

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/232
Engine HP 155-200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220-230
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/24

15.9

Road Test

Start-up acceleration with the 3.8-liter engine is okay, but the relatively heavy Windstar fails to feel truly lively. The automatic transmission typically pauses before downshifting to pass, and often shifts roughly. The stronger 1996 version of the 3.8-liter doesn’t improve performance dramatically, but its extra passing power is appreciated. The 3.0-liter V6 has to struggle, and feels sluggish when passing. Gas mileage is not the greatest either way. We averaged 15.9 mpg with one Windstar and just 13.8 with another. A 3.0-liter Windstar averaged 16 mpg in urban driving and 20-21 mpg on the highway.

The absorbent suspension delivers a comfortable, stable ride at highway speeds and also on bumpy urban streets. Body lean is moderate, and tires grip well in spirited cornering. On the downside, steering feels loose and imprecise.

Getting in and out of the front seats is just about as easy as in most passenger cars. Climbing into the rear requires ducking around a shoulder belt for the middle seat. The rear seat must be pushed all the way back on its 7-inch track to produce adequate leg space.

Major controls are backlit at night, and the dashboard is conveniently laid out. The stereo is easy to reach, but controls are small and hard to decipher. Round dials for the climate system are easy to use. With all seats in place, Windstar offers 16 cubic feet of cargo room–more than a Grand Caravan/Voyager.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Ford Windstar LX 3.8-liter

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 49

Specifications

3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
120.7 201.2 75.4 68.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
144.0 20.0 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 38.9 40.7 39.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1998 Windstar 3-door van

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 64
Injury 65
Theft 27

Trouble Spots

Airbags
Description: Diagnostic trouble codes for the airbag system flash intermittently requiring reprogramming. (1995)
Air conditioner
Description: Moaning air conditioners are repaired by replacing the A/C compressor clutch and pulley. (1995-97)
Brakes
Description: The parking brake may fail to release because the release rod breaks. (1995-98)
Engine noise
Description: A clunk heard and/or felt from the floor on acceleration, deceleration, or turns is caused by movement between the body and subframe, which is corrected by installing revised insulators. (1995-96)
Oil leak
Description: Ford extended the warranty on 3.8-liter Windstars to 7/100,000 and may compensate owners for repairs related to head gasket failures. (1995)
Poor transmission shift
Description: Vehicles with the AX4S automatic transmission may shift harshly from first to second gear. (1996-97)
Audio system
Description: Whining noises in the radio speakers are caused by the fuel pump in the gas tank. An electronic noise filter must be installed on the fuel pump. (1995-96)

Recall History

1995
Description: Wiring-harness insulation can abrade on a brace between instrument panel and cowl, resulting in short-circuit and possible fire.
1995
Description: Some passenger airbags may not inflate properly; also, igniter end cap can separate, releasing hot gases.
1995
Description: Improperly tightened alternator-output wire may result in overheating and possible fire.
1995 in certain hot-weather states
Description: Cracks can develop in standard 20-gallon fuel tank.
1995-96
Description: Tearing of bond between inner and outer hood panels during minor front-end collisions can result in gap at leading edge of hood; could lead to total separation of outer hood panel.
1995-98 vehicles equipped with the Texas Instruments speed control deactivation switch (SCDS)
Description: The SCDS may leak internally and then overheat, smoke, or burn. A vehicle fire could occur. Ford will notify owners and dealers will install a fused wiring harness for the SCDS. Dealers will also inspect the abs control connector and repair as necessary. Repairs will be completed free of charge.
1996
Description: Due to improperly torqued fasteners, driver’s seat on a few minivans may not hold properly in an accident.
1996
Description: Park-pawl abutment bracket has sharp edge, which can cause pawl to hang up and not engage gear; vehicle can move even though indicator shows Park.
1996-98
Description: Certain off-lease vehicles, Canadian in origin but sold in the U.S., have daytime running lights that do not meet U.S. specifications.
1996-98
Description: Brake master cylinder on certain vehicles is oriented so warning statements are not entirely visible by direct view.
1997
Description: Servo cover can separate, causing transmission fluid to leak and contact catalytic converter; could result in fire.
1997-98
Description: Front coil springs could fracture as a result of corrosion. Some tires have deflated due to contact with a broken spring.
1998
Description: Damaged bearings on a few minivans can increase steering effort.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.