Printer Friendly

Twins: Ford freestar & Mercury Monterey.

One of the sensible things that Ford has done in the development of the new minivan that it is bringing to market for '04 is recognizing that there is something fundamentally useful about the predecessor vehicle, the Windstar. That is, in creating the Freestar, which is ostensibly a new vehicle, it is re-using approximately 40% of the Windstar. Yes, it is fundamentally the same platform that's being processed at the Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant. The wheelbase between the two vehicles is nearly the same (the new one is 120.8 in., which is 0.1 bigger); the overall length is the same (201.5 in.). But there are new engines (3.9-liter and 4.2-liter V6s) and a new four-speed automatic transmission. The suspension. Steering. Brakes. Wheels. Tires. Seats. Interiors. All new. The front of the vehicle is new (to handle the frontal offset crash testing that's now exceedingly important, especially for vehicles like minivans), as is the rear. The floor pan is new (accommodating the deep well necessary to accommodate the fold-into-floor third row seat). So although there is 60% new, the fundamental box is the same, facilitating operations in the plant. And because there didn't need to be a big tear up at the plant to accommodate the Freestar, they were able to work on ergonomic and processing improvements in the plant, over 800 of them, according to vehicle engineering manager Tom Musselman.

There is another sensible thing that Ford did. Heretofore, the Mercury minivan, the Villager, which went out of production in June 2002, was a short-wheelbase minivan. It shared the vehicle with Nissan, which offered it as the Quest (to see what's become of that, see http://www.autofieldguide.com/articles/070301.html). This time out, Mercury and Ford are sharing the same vehicle. In Mercury's case, it's the Monterey. There are differences between the two vehicles. For example, the 4.2-liter (cast iron block, aluminum head; 201 hp @ 4,250 rpm; 263 lb-ft torque @ 3,650 rpm) is standard on the Monterey. Mercury, which is undergoing a product revitalization program (look for a new sedan, the Montego, which will be its version of the Ford Five Hundred; the Mariner, a compact SUV based on the Ford Escape; and a new "flagship" car coming in the next three years), is positioning itself in the market as having "modern design, smartly done," with particular emphasis (and spending) on interiors.

CLEVER SEATS--Yes, the third row in the Monterey folds flat. The second row is readily flipped up with a one-handed maneuver to get it out of the way for access to the third row. [By folding the third and removing the second rows, there is a behind-the-first-row cargo capacity of 134.3 ft3.] But the most clever seating in the vehicle is the front seats that offer both heating and cooling. This function is based on the "Peltier effect," which was discovered in 1834. Essentially, this makes use of wires produced from elements within the thermoelectric series. Take two of them, and create a circuit with two junctions. Then when a current is produced, a temperature difference is created. In the Monterey seats, a small electric fan directs the heated or cooled air through the cushions and backrests.

CLEVER PRICING--Presumably, by making more equipment standard on the Freestar [e.g, from power locks, windows and mirrors to remote keyless entry to four-wheel ABS] they were able to create better manufacturing accounting. Consequently, several Freestar models carry the same approximate price as comparable Windstars, or are a better deal. The Freestar SE has a base MSRP [including a $685 destination charge] of $26,930, $70 less than an '03 Windstar LX standard. The top-ended Limited has a base MSRP [including destination] of $33,630, $1,800 less than an '03 Windstar Limited.

By Gary S. Vasilash, Editor-In-Chief
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gardner Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:On Cars
Author:Vasilash, Gary S.
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:638
Previous Article:Facilitating roundness testing.
Next Article:Twins: Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon.
Topics:


Related Articles
LINCOLN-MERCURY MOVING TO IRVINE FOR ITS TRENDINESS.
THINKING BIG BY THINKING SMALL: NEW LINCOLNS SPORT LEAN LOOK.
MOTORING INTO THE FUTURE; CHRYSLER SALUTES 15 YEARS OF THE MINIVAN.
DOLPHINS TEAM OWNER OUTBIDS OTHERS FOR MAGIC DEALERSHIPS.
HUIZENGA DEAL COULD REV UP COMPETITION.
FORD BEGINS MASSIVE RECALL.
Fixing Ford: Darryl B. Hazel revived the Lincoln Mercury division. Now the 33-year veteran faces the greatest challenge of his career.
Me too!
Ford Motor Co.
The auto industry.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters