What's New for 2001
There are several model/series changes, as well as updates to the exterior, interior and powertrain. Ford says a new transmission has improved shift quality and the 3.8-liter V6 is standard on all Windstars. The base model is now called the Windstar LX three-door. The SE Sport is a new trim level and it includes driving lights, painted bumpers and body-side molding, a rear lift gate spoiler, a second-row bucket/console seat, a roof rack with brushed aluminum crossbars, black rocker cladding, and different wheels and tires.
Much of the Ford Windstar's reputation is based on safety. And in the highly contested minivan market, that's a pretty good piece of turf upon which to stake a claim. In the many years it has been tested, the Windstar has earned the U.S. government's highest frontal crash-test rating for both the driver and front passenger. Additionally, the Windstar can be equipped with optional side-impact airbags that give the minivan top government marks for side-impact crash safety. Ford has gone even further for 2001, equipping its minivan with dual-stage airbags that deploy based on information provided by new crash severity sensors, seatbelt usage sensors, and a driver's seat position sensor. A low tire-pressure warning system is new, as are safety-belt pretensioners.
Windstar is offered in five different trim levels -- LX, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Limited. The LX is the only trim that can be ordered in three-door form; the rest are four-doors. Power-sliding doors are available on all but the LX.
The Windstar's interior in fairly agreeable, and for 2001 Ford has made minor trim upgrades. There is a new Family Entertainment System with an overhead screen to keep young children occupied. The Dual Media audio system is still available, which allows front-seat passengers to listen to one media such as radio or tape while rear-seat passengers can listen to a separate media (such as a CD) through headphones. Our main complaint about the interior of all Windstars is a lack of legroom for second- and third-row passengers.
On the top-line Limited, you'll now find power heated seats; a memory system for the driver seat, mirror and pedals; a wood and leather steering wheel; chrome door handles; and dual-blade sun visors. The Limited can be identified by its unique 10-spoke aluminum wheels and special Light Parchment Gold paint (black is optional). Inside, floor mats are embroidered with Limited script and door panels have wood grain trim.
Windstar has several new option groups worth noting. The Family Security Group II includes self-sealing tires, a perimeter anti-theft system, a reverse-sensing system and traction control. The Value Group includes an AM/FM cassette and tilt steering with cruise control. The Power Group adds adjustable pedals and a power driver seat. There is also the Convenience Group that includes adjustable pedals, a center-bin storage cover, an illuminated sun visor, interior storage nets and power-heated signal mirrors.
On the road, the Windstar comes up a bit short in terms of ride quality. But overall, it provides a good blend of everyday practicality, useable performance and innovative features. It is also wrapped in a shell that will protect your loved ones from all but the most serious crashes, when properly restrained. As long as you don't need to haul adults in back on a regular basis, it should serve your needs well.