Yes, today marks the end of production for the Ford Freestar minivan. It could never quite compete with the competition from Chrysler, Toyota, or Honda. But in Europe, Ford makes a whole line of award-winning vans--what is the deal?
With today marking the funeral of the Ford Freestar here in America, it seems fitting to bring you news of how Ford vans are doing elsewhere in the world. Think of it as lesson number 4123 in what Ford is doing right everywhere but here. Not only do we not get the Euro Focus-a BMW by the standards of our Focus-we don't get the futuristic-looking Mondeo or any of the award winning Euro-only vans including the C-Max and the Transit Connect shown below. In fact, Ford vans to so well in Europe that the blue oval has green-lighted a few special projects.
The first is the Transit XXL, a limousine with four sliding doors based off of the Transit Tourneo. It was accomplished using only off-the-rack parts by fusing together two regular short-wheelbase vans. Head- and legroom for all eight passengers is beyond complaint, and dual-zone air conditioning ensures that the cool air makes the 7.4-meter trip to the rear. The van also features navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and DVD video screens throughout the cabin. It's a good thing there is so much to do inside though, since the base 2.2-liter diesel goes unchanged-this van won't be going anywhere in a hurry. That job goes to the Transit Connect X-press.
The X-press van starts with the shell of a Transit Connect, under which extensive Ford Focus RS components have been laid. That includes a 212 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter gas engine, four piston Brembo front brakes, eighteen inch wheels, and a ride height 70 millimeters below stock. That means your packages can be moving at 60 mph in under seven seconds on the way to a top speed of 130 mph. Inside, Sparco race seats hold the driver and one passenger in place, and the project team at Ford even installed a rally-style driver/navigator intercom system. The most impressive feature? The team responsible love their jobs enough that members gave up their free time to work on the project.
So goodbye to you, Freestar. You came, you saw, you got beat. Perhaps with the end of one era, a new one-full of European market vehicles-can begin. Chrysler did it with the Sprinter van and they don't even have a problem selling their regular minivans. And according to a few European blogs, rumors have started swirling that Ford may bring one of its Transit vans (most likely the;Transit Connect shown here);to our shores in the near future. But we'll just have to wait and see.