On the Road: 2002 Ford Windstar Wheelchair Vans

road-test-2002FordWindstarWheelchair-van

The 2002 Windstar wheelchair van is a classic runner-up. It’s not as good looking as its top competitor is. It doesn’t have as many options. It doesn’t perform as well on the road. It’s just one step behind in every way. That’s why most people who will choose between a Windstar and a Grand Caravan or Caravan will end up with a Dodge in their driveway.

The problem for Ford gets even worse than being in second place, though. As the Windstars start piling up a few miles, we’re learning that there may be some relatively serious reliability issues. If Ford was hoping to come from behind, it appears as though their going to be very disappointed.

Model Lineup

Ford’s offering the 2002 Windstar wheelchair van in five different trim packages. They have a cargo version for commercial buyers and then (from entry level to top of the line) the LX, SE, SEL and the Luxury Limited.

The LX is a bare bones, entry-level vehicle and the Luxury Limited is loaded with features. Most buyers will land somewhere between top and bottom, getting the must-haves and top extras but stopping short of some of the Luxury Limited’s collection of gadgets.

The option packages are nice, but they don’t quite compare with the competitions. Consider the rear-seat entertainment system. Ford offers a model with a screen that’s a little less than seven inches in size that relies upon a VCR. Dodge offers a screen that approaches nine inches and as a DVD player.

That’s the general sense one gets throughout the 2002 Windstar’s mobility van lineup. Everything seems one level and two years older than it should be.

Appearance

The 2002 Windstar handicap van looks a bit like a low profile shoebox with an elongated front end. It isn’t beautiful, but that’s forgivable. Most wheelchair minivans aren’t examples of breathtaking design. Overall, the Ford’s appearance could be described as functional and non-descript. It’s a middle of the road Ford.

The interior is dull an unexciting, as well. The color schemes tend toward the darker and of the spectrum and the somewhat dated instrument and control panels that populate all Fords are clearly on display.

There’s nothing to hate about the 2002 Windstar’s wheelchair van looks. There’s nothing to love, either.

Engine

The 2002 Windstar uses a 3.8-liter, V6 engine that produces 200 horsepower and is marred to a four-speed automatic transmission. A few years ago, that would’ve been one of the biggest and baddest engines in the class. Today, it’s middle of the pack material.

We should note that many buyers of the 2002 Windstar handicap van have subsequently voiced complaints regarding the reliability of both the engine and the transmission. While we didn’t notice any of these problems while taking it for a spin, many of the complaints are sufficiently credible, justifying close scrutiny of the Windstar.

Driving the 2002 Windstar Handicap Van

When you lack the frontrunner’s good looks and charm, you need to be able to make up for it with action and accomplishment. Unfortunately, the Windstar handicap van isn’t able to get over the hump when it comes to actual performance.

The steering is adequate and the tight suspension does keep one more in tune with the road below. That comes with a price, though. The Windstar feels more like a bouncy truck than it does like a sleek automobile.

It’s another situation in which the Ford isn’t doing anything wrong–it just isn’t doing things right enough to justify positive attention.

Safety and Reliability

The 2002 Windstar wheelchair van did a good job, passing its collision tests by the government and insurance industry with flying colors. The vehicle comes with front airbags standard (side units are an option), antilock brakes and basic traction control. There’s no reason to be concerned that you’re putting yourself in danger by hopping into a Windstar.

Reliability questions do surround the vehicle. A growing cadre of Ford Windstar owners is reporting significant problems with the transmission and engine. One should carefully evaluate these reports to determine whether there appears to be reliability problem that completely rules out the Windstar as an option.

The 2002 Ford Windstar Wheelchair Van

At first glance, the Windstar appears to be a quality wheelchair van choice. It’s made by one of the auto industry’s most famed manufacturers and it offers the kind of interior space that makes conversion manufacturers drool.

The Windstar is amenable to a variety of modifications and has even attracted the ongoing attention of industry leader VMI. However, the fact that the underlying core of the minivan doesn’t offer much except for second-place status and a risk of reliability problems, most buyers would do better to look at Grand Caravan.

When the Windstar is purchased and used as a wheelchair van, it’s usually laid out for side entry with a ramp. That involves lowering the floor, making sure that operate power sliding doors are in place, adding an automatic ramp and complementing the whole affair with a vehicle knees system.

The modifications then move to the inside with the use of easily removable seats or transfer seats to allow the wheelchair user to drive and installation of porter restraints for security. Additionally, one can install alternative hand controls and other adaptations.

If the Windstar were a better minivan, it would make a better wheelchair van. Unfortunately, it really is a runner-up at best.

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