Based on the Windstar Wagon passenger minivan that began replacing the Aerostar in 1995, the Ford Windstar Cargo Van was created as a commercial and work vehicle. Receiving the same exterior styling as the passenger minivan variant, the cargo van version of the Windstar differed marginally in dimensions.
With seating for only a driver and front passenger, the 1998 Windstar Cargo Vans cargo capacity was rated at 144 cubic feet. A 150-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 or a 200-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 engine propelled the front-wheel drive cargo van. The engine line-up for the Ford Windstar Cargo Van was coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. For first-generation minivan models constructed from 1995 to 1998, standard equipment on the Windstar Cargo included anti-lock brakes, dual air bags, vinyl seats and AM/FM stereo.
One large-scale corporate customer of the first-generation Windstar Cargo Van was the United States Postal Service. In 1999, the Ford Windstar Cargo Van received a substantial makeover notably identified with a larger front grille. Providing useful for loading and unloading the cargo area, the 1999 model year version of the minivan was offered with dual sliding doors.
Optional for 1999, dual sliding doors were eventually added as standard equipment to the commercial minivan. In 2000, the 3.8-liter V-6 powerplant was promoted to the role as the Windstar Cargo Vans base engine. After the 2003 model year, the Ford Windstar Cargo Van was replaced by a reengineered, commercial-suited minivan called the Freestar Cargo Van.