2000 Ford Windstar SEL
2000 Ford Windstar SEL, Click image to enlarge

Ford had to play ‘minivan catch-up’ in ’98 when the competition got a 4-door jump on its top-selling people mover, the Windstar. Although not ready to add another sliding door on the left side, the short-term compromise was to make the driver’s door larger and allow access to the rear seat, via a tip-and-slide forward driver’s seat.

It actually worked quite well and may even be preferred by some buyers (with children) who do not want a rear door opening on the traffic side of the vehicle. Anyway, it was just a one-year offering and a left side slider was available the following year.

The Windstar has been around since 1994 – it’s bigger and roomier than a standard length minivan and its other claim to fame has been “safety”. The U.S. government crash test program has consistently given it a five-star rating, the highest possible, for both driver and front passenger protection.

Besides the doors issue, the ’98 Windstar also had some changes in the looks department that included a new hood, with a ‘power bulge’, a new grille, new headlights and the bumper fascia was changed. The Windstar’s low step-in height makes it easier to load the smaller members of the family and the extra wide body is noticeably roomier than most of the competition.

The base 3.0 litre V6 engine is probably good enough for most users and offers the best fuel consumption at 13.8 L/100 km in the city and 8.8 L/100 km on the highway. However, the 3.8 litre V6 engine was upgraded to a best-in-class (at that time) 200-horsepower rating. This engine was standard on LX and Limited and optional on other versions. With a trailer-towing package, Windstar is capable of pulling up to 1588 kg (3500 lb.).

2000 Ford Windstar SEL
2000 Ford Windstar SEL

1998 Ford Windstar
1998 Ford Windstar

1998 ford Windstar
1998 Ford Windstar
Click image to enlarge

A traction control (TC) system was another option package and it included rear disc brakes. If wheel spin is detected by the TC system, brakes are applied to the spinning wheel and rationing fuel or retarding the ignition timing reduces engine power.

Nice Windstar features include a sports car style hand operated park brake, a nifty little convex spy-mirror in the over-head console to checking on the little-ones in the back and the transmission has an overdrive lock-out button on the selector handle, that allows an instant manual downshift.

Windstar has an outstanding safety record and good safety features include adjustable shoulder belts and head restraints on the second and third row seats. A second row bench with dual integrated child seats, Uniroyal self-sealing tires, remote keyless entry and an anti-theft system were also optional.

In addition to that extra door, the ’99 Windstar came with a new air filtration system. Side air bags, built into the front seats, were a new option offering and so was a rear obstacle sensing system, which is activated when the transmission is put in reverse. In 2000, power adjustable pedals (brake and accelerator) and an audio/visual entertainment system, that can play games or movies, were new offerings.

Built in Canada at the Ford of Canada assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, Ford has made every effort to make Windstar the safety leader in the minivan sector, however, it has been plagued by a string of safety recalls in recent years. Used prices are reasonable and generally there’s a good supply of them on the market, making it easier to find a good one.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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