Expert Review: 2005 Ford Freestar Wheelchair Vans

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The 2005 Freestar Wheelchair Van

The Freestar can make a credible minivan. Although usually set up as a side-entry wheelchair van, it is possible to explore rear-entry alternatives.

The most popular conversion involves dropping the Freestar’s floor to provide up to ten additional inches of interior clearance. An auto kneel is added, along with a powered wheelchair ramp. This is done with vehicles that have the sliding rear door option and, generally, keyless entry.

The Freestar has enough interior space to serve as a wheelchair van without any additional structural adjustments. Buyers will generally be forced to consider different seating options, for instance.

2005 was the last year, Ford introduced the Freestar, its successor to the Windstar. We soon learned that the Freestar was basically a simple renaming of the venerable minivan that had a fallen out of favor (and didn’t match with Ford’s new everything starts with an ’F’ branding plan). Last years’ Freestar was an improvement over the final years of the Windstar and the new model doesn’t add many changes to the mix.

Notable Strengths

Ford continues to make one of the safest wheelchair minivans on the market.

Notable Weaknesses

Lackluster performance makes the Freestar a second-tier choice, at best. The crowded wheelchair minivan marketplace is stuffed with interesting new vehicle. The staid and traditional Freestar just can’t compete with them.

2005 Ford Freestar Overview

After two down years for its once-popular Windstar franchise, Ford scrapped the well-recognized model name last year and re-branded its minivan the Freestar. The Freestar is a better product than were the last few Windstars, but Ford still isn’t producing a top minivan pick for family drivers or those interested in a wheelchair van.

Trim Levels and Options

The seven-passenger Freestar is available at three different trim levels.

The SE is the base model, but it does boast a nice assortment of features, including keyless entry and a powered accessories.

The SEL adds an assortment of other extras including an upgraded climate control system, an improved stereo, and a power drivers seat.

The Limited is the luxury version of the Freestar, offering upgrades ranging from chrome wheels to a leather interior.

Appearance

The Freestar isn’t breaking ground with its design. It’s a traditional, if not somewhat dull, wheelchair minivan. The same analysis applies to the interior. It’s spacious, but unimpressive and plain.

Powertrain

One area of change for the Ford wheelchair minivan has been the engine. The old 3.8-liter that powered the Windstar is gone, along with the reliability issues it created.

2005 Freestars rely on either a 3.9-liter V6 that offers 193 horsepower or a 4.2-liter V6 that produces 201 horsepower. The larger engine is available to SEL and Limited drivers. The Freestar comes with an automatic transmission. There’s no manual transmission available.

Driving the 2005 Freestar Handicap Van

Ford has solved a few of the problems that plagued earlier handicap minivan model years. The steering is tighter than in the past and the overall ride is smoother and quieter on the highway.

Unfortunately, other minivan makers are way ahead of Ford. The Freestar handles like a truck. That might have been acceptable several years ago, but today’s handicap minivans feature car-like handling. No one feel forced to bounce around in the cab of a minivan these days.

Most drivers won’t detest the Freestar, but few will actually enjoy the way it drives and handles.

Safety

Airbags. Antilock brakes. Traction control. The 2005 Freestar has all it needs to be safe. The NHTSA and the IIHS have both awarded the minivan with honors for scoring so effectively in collision tests.

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