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Available Windstar Minivan Models
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Ford widens the driver door as a stop-gap measure until the 1999 Windstar arrives with a fourth door. Subtle styling revisions and a new Limited model round out the changes for 1998.
Until mid-1994, nobody had seriously challenged Chrysler's domination of minivan sales. All previous attempts by domestic and imported manufacturers couldn't match the Chrysler standard for user-friendliness. They were either underpowered, too high off the ground or the wrong size. When Windstars rolled into Ford showrooms in 1995, Chrysler had finally been bested at its own game.
For a while, at least. The Windstar's superiority proved to be short-lived. The totally redesigned 1996 Chrysler minivans quickly regained best-in-class status in terms of style and convenience: the main reasons people buy minivans in the first place. Then, General Motors arrived on the scene with totally redesigned minivans in 1997. Gone were the underpowered dustbusters; the new models were sleek, functional and attractively priced. The Windstar is still a good minivan, but the stiff competition in this segment is forcing Ford to offer sweet lease deals and big incentives.
Not everyone favors the Windstar's styling, but the interior is adequate. With room for seven, dual airbags and a commodious cargo area, the Windstar keeps passengers comfortable. Controls and displays are housed in an attractively swept dashboard, lending a well-crafted tone. The radio is crammed with buttons and tiny lettering; it's time for the new family of Ford radios, complete with big buttons and a volume knob, to debut in this van. Climate controls are mounted low, but are easy to modulate without glancing from the road. An optional center console adds generous amounts of much-needed storage, but cuts access to the rear seats. There's little to complain about, and quite a lot to like. Construction quality is fine and the interior is spacious and attractive. A single body size and style is offered, in Base, GL, LX or Limited trim, with four-wheel antilock brakes standard on all models.
The Windstar receives interesting changes for 1998. New models show stop-gap features designed to appease potential buyers who can't live without a left-side passenger door. The most notable are the oversize king-door and tip-forward driver's seat that are intended to allow passenger access from the left side. To people who feel that it's important to have a left side passenger entry, this is a poor substitute. Fortunately for Ford, the Windstar has other features that make up for this missing portal: namely its awesome horsepower available with the optional 3.8-liter engine. Cranking out 200 horsepower, the 3.8-liter equipped Windstar is the fastest minivan on the market.
If you're searching for a minivan with good towing ability, fast acceleration, gobs of interior space and comfortable seating for seven, the Windstar is definitely worth a look - especially because your local Ford dealer should be offering deep discounts to stay competitive with the Caravan and Chevy Venture.
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