About Ford Wheelchair Mini Vans

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Ford no longer produces wheelchair mini vans. For several years, their Windstar and its later incarnation, the Freestar, were relatively popular wheelchair vehicle options, but Ford opted to discontinue the line and no longer has a mini van in its stable of vehicles. The successor to the Freestar, the Ford Flex, is a crossover SUV.

Many Freestars and Windstars were converted for use as wheelchair mini vans and remain in operation today. Freestars outnumber Windstars by virtue of their age. Ford officially stopped making Windstars in the 1990s and most are no longer in use. The last Freestars rolled off Ford’s assembly lines in 2007. That means that there are still many used Freestars on the market, but that overall availability of the earlier Windstar is in decline.

The Ford Freestar

Freestars were a credible wheelchair mini van option. Although they did not sell particularly well during their production, they were regarded as solid, no-frills mini vans. Used Freestars continue to demonstrate their value. Recent data from J.D. Power and Associates verifies the lasting value of the vehicles, they continue to rate among the most reliable vehicles in their class from the years in which they were produced.

The Freestar was priced appropriately and had the advantage of a massive motor company, significant advertising and a solid reputation behind it. Nonetheless, it failed to do well in the marketplace. That was attributable to a few different factors.

Name Change

First, many critics maintain that Ford’s decision to rename the vehicle was at the root of its undoing. The Windstar was relatively popular and well known. Consumers may have been either confused or turned off by the sudden change of name. Ford renamed various vehicles during this period. Some, like the Taurus (which became the Four Fifty) quickly reverted to their more recognizable monikers. The Freestar did not reclaim the Windstar name, however.

Competition From Dodge and Toyota

Second, Ford faced stiff competition from other manufacturers in the mini van sector. The Dodge Caravan continued to sell well and Toyota improved its Sienna. This increased competition made it hard for the Freestar to develop a fan base.

Third, the Freestar did have its share of shortcomings. It had an undersized interior, which decreased its popularity with those purchasing it as a family vehicle. That fact also undermined its viability as a wheel chair minivan.

Fourth, Ford was less innovative in its wheelchair mini van development than were other auto makers. The Windstar was not a ground-breaking vehicle, but Ford had always made an effort to measure up to the competition in terms of mechanical and aesthetic improvements. The Freestar was not an inadequate vehicle, but it was somewhat stale and did not break new ground during its production cycle.

Limited Interior Space – Still Wheelchair Accessible

Limited interior space didn’t completely ruin the Freestar as a wheelchair mini van. Many wheelchair users found that it offered sufficient space to meet their needs and that the vehicle was amenable to most popular modifications. Today, many Freestars are still in use, serving as solid and reliable, if unspectacular, wheelchair mini vans.

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