Replacing the Aerostar, the Ford Windstar provided a design and form more in touch with what minivan buyers were looking for in the mid-1990s. Debuting for 1995, the Windstar adopted more car-like front-wheel drive system. Designed to transport up to seven occupants, the 1995 Windstar included a standard anti-lock braking system and dual front airbags. First introduced with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine that would generate 200 horsepower in 1998, the Windstar Wagons less-expensive trim levels quickly received a smaller, slightly more fuel efficient 3.0-liter V-6 powerplant.
In 1999, the Ford Windstar Wagon received a significant refresh. Adopting larger headlights and a more truck-like grille appearance, the 1999 Windstar Wagon offered the availability of dual sliding rear entrance doors (this feature was made standard on all Windstars in 2002). In addition, Ford Windstar has been recognized as the first minivan to dual power sliding doors. The 1999 model of the Ford minivan also boasted a range of available safety equipment.
The 1999 Ford Windstar Wagon touted being the first minivan tested by the NHTSA to receive five-star ratings for front and side impact crash tests. Head and chest side airbags along with reverse sensing system was optional. On the high-end SEL trim model of the 1999 Windstar, a dual media system was standard allowing the front and rear passengers to listen to separate forms of entertainment.
For 2000, rear passenger entertainment was enhanced with the availability of a VCR-based video system with roof-mounted, flip-down LCD display. When the second and third row seats are removed, the Ford Windstars maximum interior cargo room is rated at 139.4 inches. From 2001 to 2003, the Ford Windstar Wagon was offered only with the 3.8-liter V-6 engine. Replacing the Windstar in 2004, a drastically reengineered version of the Ford minivan emerged named the Freestar.