This has been our best vehicle. We have owned it for 12 years now hauling lots of kids, drywalling, etc. We have quad seating and added a 2nd bench so that we can carry 10-11 people. This van worked great for vacations-lots of room. I have loved sitting up high and used it to teach my children to drive! We do tend to go through brake pads every 30K. The air still runs cold! No major repairs! Only had to replace the idle arm, battery and tires. I will be sad when we replace the "Vanmobile".
I love sitting up high and the seats are more comfortable than any other vehicle owned!
This was the worst vehicle we have ever owned!! We put $6,000 in repairs in it during the 2 years that we owned it. We finally ended up junking it and are still paying for the repairs we did. We hated this van so much that we are very leary of buying a Ford ever again. The repairs we did were timing belt cover seal, alternator, new engine, catalytic coverter (final straw) It let us down on vacation the first summer that we owned it. It was just a terrible, terrible experience!!!
The size and the looks were ok too.
Tear up the engine design and learn from their mistakes! Also at one time the van burning was a desired improvement. It was smoking under the hood and we were sincerely hoping for a fire so that it would explode and we could be done with it!!
We were looking for a van 3 years ago to replace our Dodge Caravan. I wanted a truck but we had to settle on one vehicle and this was it. Since then we have (a) hauled kids (b) hauled materials, including 4x8 sheets of drywall inside (c) done a lot of camping. This van works good for all aspects. This has been reliable and taken us everywhere we needed to go. The 4.8 V8 works fine, but if you can find one with a 5.3 V8 you'll be happier with the power and the gas mileage will be the same. The V6 is underpowered, even if you are only hauling people, and it gets the same mileage! Repair costs can be above average but the frequency of repairs has been the least of all our vehicles.
Ride height gets you up above most other cars, improving visibility. Starts, corners, and stops well. Good flexibility for cargo space.
Tune ups have to be performed by a mechanic (special parts, tough access). Big van = 15 mpg.
Our 1997 Club Wagon 4.2L V6 has 206,500 miles and we still use it frequently for our family. We bought the van when it was a year old and since then have only had a few major repairs -- like a transmission tailshaft seal, alternator replacement and some sporadic brake problems. The motor runs well and has decent power for a V6, but it isn't getting the best economy anymore -- about 16 mpg. It still has the original 4r-70W 4 speed automatic transmission. It slips a little in reverse and shudders at stops once in a while but otherwise no major problems. The brakes aren't the best, we tend to go through front pads frequently (every 30K or so).
Very simple & easy to use controls. Plenty of space and decent seats for a long ride.
Improve brake wear-- perhaps go to a bigger set with 4-wheel discs, and change front suspension to double-wishbone to give better handling & tire wear.