The van was purchased in 2011 at 94K miles, and now has 189K on it. It spent its first year as a Hertz rental unit in Hawaii, then as a privately owned vehicle in the Twin Cities area before we bought it. There is still no body rust, and all features and functions work as they should. It is still almost completely squeak and rattle free, and has a good tight and solid feel overall. Wind noise is a bit below average. Engine, transmission, and exhaust appear to be original and unopened and are working well and not leaking. This is probably the quietest and smoothest shifting automatic transmission I have ever owned. The engine burns no oil.
Service and Repairs so far: Routine oil & filter changes with Mobil-1 5W-20 every 6K miles. Had right front wheel bearing replaced at 145K. Pads & rotors (normal wear & tear at 155,000 - DIY). Spark plugs, coil pack, and wires (did it myself at 96K as a preventive measure). Problem with water in PCM connector causing misfiring and error codes (fixed myself by cleaning & sealing connector - no recurrence). New rear shocks at 155K (by myself - easy for a diy-er on this vehicle). New headlight bulbs twice (DIY - no tools needed except possibly a car key). New serpentine belt at 100K as a preventive measure. I have a complete ATF flush/change every 15-20K as a preventive measure - it has paid off in the form of NO transmission problems on 2 other minivans (98 Ford Windstar and 95 Plymouth Voyager) that were notorious for transmission problems. We use it for towing a small utility trailer with no problems, and a 1900 lb. boat plus trailer, which is the max I would want to tow with it. When towing the boat we run it in 3rd. gear if there are any hills at all, and try to run with the A/C off.
Pros: Good crisp handling (for a mini-van), snappy performance w/good passing performance, 6-disc CD player & cornering lights (SEL and Limited only), good heating and A/C, which will freeze you out if you want it to, rear seat folds flat into floor, nice styling, comfortable front seats, good sound system.
Cons: Blind spot to driver's left rear, so-so mileage (18-20 local driving, 21-24 highway), road noise (varies with pavement surface and type of tire, and as a fleet vehicle may not have had as much sound deadening material added when built (fleet delete?), only one switch to operate both rear vent windows, middle seats are heavy and hard to take out or put back in, and middle and rear seats are too low - okay for children and short people, uncomfortable for tall people.
IMO, Ford started out in the mini-van business with a great basic design that attracted many customers at first, and might have grabbed a larger share of that market segment. However, by cutting corners, letting customer care slide, and making ill-advised mechanical changes which resulted in serious problems with prevously bulletproof engines, they failed to attract and maintain a loyal customer base. Considering that they haven't made Windstar, Freestar, or Mercury Monterey minivans since 2007, there are still quite a few of them on the road, and I know people who like them and who will hate to part with them when they finally wear out. However, early in the program and occasionally thereafter, there was in-the-field debugging that had to be done, and by failing to quickly address the weaknesses, Ford caused the line to die prematurely. IMO. But we really like ours and hope to get about 300K miles out of it, depending on how badly it rusts and future parts availability.
Update - Not much new to report at 189,000 miles. No repairs or service beyond regular maintenance. New tires and a wheel alignment about 15,000 miles ago.
The 2006 Freestar is the best vehicle I've owned. It was my first "real" car purchase (my first one that cost over $4k) at a time that I had young kids and Scouts to haul frequently.
It was a program car with about 28k miles on it when I bought it. I got the Ford Certified warranty with it, which I later used to repair a bad wheel bearing. Other than the wheel bearing, I've had NO problems with this car. I've only replaced tires, brakes and plugs & wires (as prevention at 75k miles).
Unfortunately, with only 92k miles on it, I'm faced with having to let it go. It's begun to get some rust on the inside bottoms of the doors, which will soon come through to the front. (We live in North Dakota, and deal with salt and other melting solvents on the roads). The bigger concern, though, is that the driver's side wheel well is rusting out, which has loosened the panel that holds the ring that the third-row seat clips to inside. The ring moves, and I'm certain that if I had anyone in the back row in an accident, the seat could pull loose, flipping them backwards and creating head and neck injuries or worse. I'd hoped to keep the van for a few more years, and we may still -- but we'll have to use it as a 4-seat vehicle, instead of 7. And if we pass it down to our teenagers, we may remove the third row to eliminate the temptation of cramming friends in the unsafe third row.
I've loved having the extra space that the third row has allowed by folding flat, and how the second row bucket seats tip forward for extra cargo room. And I especially loved having that space without paying the extra $10k for Stow-n-Go in a Caravan. Mine had the leather seats -- and the driver's seat has worn quite a bit over the years.
Overall, it's been a great vehicle with nearly no problems. Just wish the body had held out longer.
UPDATE: Shortly after posting my review, I found out there was a recall on my van -- just not on MY van. I wasn't in a state included in the recall for the rusting wheel well -- but I live 1 mile from the border of a state that was included. I called Ford and they agreed to have it checked out by the local dealer and within a few hours, Ford had agreed to replace the wheel well and it was in great shape again. Safe to use the third row seat again! There is still a bit of rust forming, but I'm in N.D., with a lot of snow and salt on the roads, so it's understandable. I now have about 98,000 miles on the van and it's still running great, so I hope to get several more years out of it.
The Ford Freestar is a good product. The only thing is the rear seat is low to floor. This is so the seat when folded can go into rear cargo space in floor. Ok for kids. Not so comfy for adults on long trips. The interior is great. Very comfy captains chairs in 2nd row...overall very nice van.
My 2006 Freestart has 120,000 miles on it and I just picked my car up from the shop. I had to get my transmission rebuilt. The mechanic said that it was my torque converter fell apart with lots of metal pieces in my pump and inner workings! Seems like a constant problem!
Had 2006 Sport for about a year and 25k, no problem so far. Drawn to it by the price (for the same level, 6-disc CD, reverse sensing system, alloy wheels DVD, etc), I would have spent $10k more on Japanese models. Overall, a great vehicle for the price.