Ford Aerostar
Ford Aerostar LWB 1992-97 1992–1996 Ford Aerostar
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production USA
Successor Ford Windstar
Ford Transit Connect
Class Large minivan
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Front engine, All-wheel drive (1990–1997)
Platform Ford VN1 platform

The Ford Aerostar was a minivan produced by Ford Motor Company for the North American market; the first such design by Ford, it was sold from the 1986 to the 1997 model years. It was sold in both passenger van and cargo van configurations in two body lengths with both rear wheel drive and all wheel drive configurations. The Aerostar was sold only under the Ford brand; the first minivan sold by the Lincoln-Mercury division was the 1993 Mercury Villager. Production was ended after the 1997 model year after its replacement by the Windstar in the 1995 model year; both product lines were sold from 1995-1997. The role of the Aerostar cargo van was left unfilled until the 2010 introduction of the Transit Connect.

The aerodynamic styling (.37 coefficent of drag) resembled the Ford Taurus introduced alongside it for 1986. An early commercial ad campaign compared the side profile of the Aerostar to that of the NASA Space Shuttle[1]. For much of its later life, the Aerostar would be marketed as part of Ford's light-truck lineup.

Ford Aerostar police

1997 Aerostar Wagon in use by Prince William County Police (Virginia)

First generation (1986–1991)Edit

First generation
Ford Aerostar 1986–1987 Ford Aerostar XLT
Assembly United States: Hazelwood, Missouri (St. Louis Assembly)
Layout front engine, rear-wheel drive
front engine, all-wheel drive (1990-1991)
Engine(s) 2.3 L Lima I4
2.8 L Cologne V6
3.0 L Vulcan V6
4.0 L Cologne V6
Transmission(s) 5-speed TK5 manual
5-speed M5OD manual
4-speed A4LD automatic
Wheelbase 118.9 in (3020.1 mm)
Length 174.9 in (4442.5 mm) (standard-length; 1986–1991)
190.3 in (4833.6 mm) (extended-length; 1990–1991)
Width 71.7 in (1821.2 mm)
Height 72.2 in (1834 mm) - 74.0 in (1880 mm)
Curb weight 2,808–3,235 pounds (1,274–1,467 kg)[2][3]
Related Ford Ranger
Ford Bronco II

The first-generation Aerostar was introduced in July of 1985 as a 1986 model[2]. Originally unveiled in concept form in 1984[4], the body of the production version differed little from the concept except for detail changes to the grille and headlights. While the Aerostar was originally planned to use an optional diesel engine, this option was cancelled after the release of the concept.

Ford engineers chose the front-engine layout for the Aerostar for a variety of reasons. Ford found buyers of vans preferred the engine placement in front in terms of safety and engine access (in comparison to German and Japanese imports)[4]. In contrast to Chrysler, Ford used a rear-wheel drive layout with the Aerostar; this provided it with the same 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) tow rating as the GM minivans, 2½ times the capacity of the Chrysler vans[4][5]. During its development, Ford chose to use a number of lightweight materials in its body design; the Aerostar used plastic bumpers, fuel tank, rear door and hood with the addition of aluminum drive shafts, axles and wheels[2]. Although the Aerostar was designed from a dedicated platform (a first for an American minivan), many of its components were borrowed from the Ford light-truck lineup (from the Ranger/Bronco II). One major exception was the rear suspension, a 3-link coil spring suspension with a live rear axle; it was designed specifically for the Aerostar and was unique among American-market minivans of the time[2].

At its launch in 1985, the Aerostar was available in a single body length as a cargo van (Aerostar Van) and a 7-passenger van (Aerostar Wagon). The standard engine was a 2.3 L four-cylinder sourced from the Fox platform while the 2.8 L Cologne V6 sourced from the Ranger was an option; a diesel engine was cancelled during the development phase[4]. A 5-speed manual transmission (Mazda TK5) was standard with an optional 4-speed automatic (Ford A4LD). The exterior and interior featured several notable design quirks. The Aerostar was one of the few American minivans ever to feature a handbrake in between the front seats; this was a feature retained by both of its successors and the current Transit Connect. Another quirk in early Aerostars is that while cupholders were an option only for the third-row seats, it could be ordered with up to six ashtrays and two cigar lighters; the interior may have been designed with a smoker in mind. Unlike other American minivans of the time, the 2nd-row windows on the Aerostar slid open, in a way similar to the VW Vanagon. Like Chrysler's minivans, the Aerostar was exported to Europe in small numbers, which is why the rear license surround is sized to accommodate European number plates in addition to American ones.

Year-by-Year changesEdit

  • The 2.8 L Cologne V6 was replaced with the 3.0 L Vulcan V6 from the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable.
  • 4-cylinder engine discontinued; the Aerostar became the first minivan with a standard V6 engine.
  • Eddie Bauer trim option introduced for Wagon models
  • TK5 manual transmission replaced with M5OD manual transmission.
  • "V6" engine logos deleted from the front fenders.
  • Aerostar script was moved from the front fenders to the left side of the rear liftgate; the box beneath it showing the trim level changed from red background to gray.
  • Two-tone paint was dropped from the XLT trim.

1989 faceliftEdit

For 1989, Ford made minor but noticeable detail changes to the exterior; the grille was restyled, full wheel covers became an option, and larger side-view mirrors were added. In an effort to add more cargo space, Ford added an extended-length variant to the Aerostar lineup. Fourteen inches longer than the standard model, the extended-length Aerostar (which did not receive a separate model name) was available in both Van and Wagon versions.

1989-1991 Ford Aerostar SWB

1989–1991 Aerostar XLT Wagon

In 1990, the Aerostar overtook the Astro and Safari twins in sales to move from 3rd to 2nd behind Chrysler. The 160-hp 4.0 L Cologne V6 was added to the engine lineup, and E-4WD (Electronic 4-Wheel Drive) all-wheel drive became an option.

Year-by-Year changesEdit

  • Extended-length model added
  • Folding 3rd-row seat introduced as an option.
  • E-4WD all-wheel drive model added (XLT, Eddie Bauer trim)
  • 4.0L Cologne V6 becomes optional engine

Second generation (1992–1997)Edit

Second generation
1992–1996 Ford Aerostar XLT extended-length Wagon
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Assembly St. Louis Assembly Plant
Hazelwood, Missouri
Layout front engine, rear-wheel drive
front engine, all-wheel drive
Platform Ford VN1 platform
Engine(s) 3.0 L Vulcan V6
4.0 L Cologne V6
Transmission(s) 5-speed M5OD manual
4-speed A4LD automatic
4-speed 4R44E automatic
4-speed 4R55E automatic
5-speed 5R55E automatic
Wheelbase 118.9 in (3020.1 mm)
Length 174.9 in (4442 mm) (standard-length)
190.3 in (4834 mm) (extended-length)
Width 71.7 in (1821.2 mm)
Height 72.2 in (1834 mm) - 74.0 in (1880 mm)
Related Ford Ranger
Ford Explorer
Mazda Navajo

For 1992, the Aerostar received minor design changes on the exterior to improve its aerodynamics. Although no sheetmetal was changed, the Aerostar now had an updated front end. To live up to the "aero" part of its name, the sealed-beam headlights were replaced with the flush-lens composite type being integrated into all Ford cars and trucks. The front turn signal lenses changed from all-amber to mostly clear in color to match the headlights. The grille insert was changed yet again, moving the Ford logo from the center to the top third of the grille. This was done to match the similarly redesigned Econoline and the then-new Explorer. The Aerostar's distinctive A-pillar windows were blacked out further to look slightly smaller. On XLT wagons, two-tone paint was re-introduced as an option (for the first time since 1988); instead of the Eddie Bauer tan, silver was the typical accent color. On vans with two-tone paint, bumpers were now painted completely body-color; gray bumpers were still fitted to single-color Aerostars. 1992 also marked the introduction of plastic wheel covers.

Other changes were made as Ford introduced new safety features to the Aerostar. The interior received a major redesign as Ford added a driver airbag as standard equipment; 3-point seatbelts on all outboard seats were also added. With the addition of the airbag, Ford took the opportunity to make major changes to the dashboard. The design and layout of the controls was changed to improve ergonomics, while the gauge panel, climate controls, and other minor controls (wipers, headlights) were replaced with parts common to other Ford vehicles. The gear selector for the automatic transmission moved from the floor to the steering column; a floor console with cup holders and a coin holder took its place. In Aerostars with analog instruments, a digital odometer was added. The placement of the radio controls stayed the same, but the faceplate was updated from the mid-1980s design.

As with the 1986-1991 model, the Aerostar was offered in a cargo van and three different trim levels for the 7-passenger minivan. The XL, XLT, and Eddie Bauer were carried over. An exception is 1997, the final year; all versions except the XLT and the cargo van were discontinued. The standard engine for second-generation Aerostars is the 3.0L Vulcan V6 with the option of the 4.0L Cologne V6. All-wheel drive was continued as an option through the end of production.

Year-by-Year changesEdit

  • Integrated child safety seats were introduced as an option.
  • Sport option package introduced for XL and XLT Wagons
  • The rear liftgate received a center brake light.
  • Body-color bumpers became an option on wagons without 2-tone paint.
  • 5-speed M5OD manual and 4-speed A4LD automatic transmissions discontinued.
  • Final year for XL, Sport, and Eddie Bauer trim levels.

1997 changesEdit

1997 was the final model year for the Aerostar. Only two versions were sold: the cargo van and the XLT-trim wagon.

  • The 4.0L V6 gets paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission; a first for minivans.
  • 14x6" seven-hole alloy wheels (1" wider than normal) are introduced as an option.
  • On the taillights, the amber turn indicators are replaced with red ones.
    • The taillights are interchangeable with 1986-1997 Aerostars.
    • Retrofitting these to a 1986-1997 Aerostar requires drilling an extra hole inside for the turn signal indicator.

Models and Trim levelsEdit

Ford called the passenger version of the Aerostar the Wagon and the cargo version the Van; the wagon came in 3 trim levels and both Wagons and Vans were available in two lengths.

Aerostar Van (1986–1997)Edit


1989–1991 Aerostar Van

The cargo version of the Aerostar did not sell as well as the wagon, as the Aerostar's in-between size worked against it in comparison to the GM Astro/Safari twins. Aside from the lack of windows and trimmed interior, Aerostar cargo vans differed little from Aerostar wagons. One externally visible difference was the use of rear double doors instead of a hatch. On these, the license-plate opening was American-sized instead of the wagon's European-sized one (the cargo van was not exported). The Aerostar Van did not catch on as a base for conversion vans either.

The Van was sold with any available engine and came in both standard and extended lengths.

XL Wagon (1986–1996)Edit

'89-'91 Ford Aerostar SWB

1989–1991 Ford Aerostar XL Wagon

The XL was the standard trim for the Wagon. It also was the most popular model early on in the Aerostar's life. Most XLT features were available as extra-cost options on the XL, so not all XLs were stripped models. An "XL Plus" model featured a lot of options grouped together such as power windows and locks, rear A/C, etc., but lacked the XLT's alloy wheels, upgraded cloth seats, etc.

The XL was available in both body lengths; any engine was available, but only in rear-wheel drive.

XLT Wagon (1986–1997)Edit

93-97 Ford Aerostar

1992–1996 Ford Aerostar XLT Wagon

The XLT was the deluxe trim for Wagons, eventually overtaking the XL in sales. The XLT was available in either body length and could be ordered with any engine (although few were specified with the smallest engine available). The XLT was available in both rear and all-wheel drive (the latter, from 1990–1997). Standard were many features available at extra cost on XL and cargo van versions (power windows/mirrors/locks, privacy glass, and a rear window wiper/defogger.)

Optional Features
  • Overhead Trip Computer with Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
    • Trip Computer features include: Distance to Empty (English/Metric), Trip Mileage, Average Fuel Economy, Instant Fuel Economy, Average Speed (English/Metric), along with dual map lights.
  • Rear Climate Control
  • 2nd-row Captains Chairs (Quad Seats)
  • 8-speaker stereo with cassette player
  • Premium Sound System with 7-band Equalizer
  • Anti-Lock Brakes (rear-wheel only, later made standard)
  • Electronic 4-wheel Drive (see below)

Eddie Bauer Wagon (1988–1996)Edit

1989 Aerostar Eddie Bauer Wagon (standard-length)

1989 Aerostar Eddie Bauer

The Aerostar was one of the first Fords (as of 2010, the only van) to be branded in Eddie Bauer trim. Introduced in 1988, the Aerostar Eddie Bauer was the first minivan by to be offered in luxury trim; at the time, the Chrysler Town & Country nameplate referred to either a station wagon or convertible.

Eddie Bauer trim combined the features of the XLT with two-tone exterior paint (tan as the accent color on the rocker panels and wheel trim) and a tan outdoors-themed interior. As on the XLT, cloth seating surfaces were standard, but after 1992, leather seats became an option. One usually overlooked feature of the option package is that the middle and rear bench seats would fold out flat converting the two bench seats into a bed, though quad seats ("captain's chairs") were often ordered as an option.

The Eddie Bauer was available in either body length; the extended-length version was far more popular. It was offered only with the largest engine, so only the 1988-1989 versions came with a 3.0L V6. Like the XLT, there was choice of rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, with the latter proving very popular.

Extended-length Wagon/Van (1989–1997)Edit


1989–1991 Ford Aerostar extended length wagon

In 1989, to counter Chrysler's "Grand" extended-length minivans, Ford added roughly 14" behind the 3rd seat to create an extended-length model. The Aerostar's 119" wheelbase was unchanged, as it was already longer than any car that Ford sold at the time. With the additional cargo space, this version quickly overtook the standard length version in sales.}}

Available with:

  • Aerostar Van
  • Aerostar Wagon (XL, XLT, Eddie Bauer)

Sport (1994–1996)Edit

Aerostar XL Wagon with Sport option package

1997 Aerostar Sport

From 1994 to 1996. the Sport option package was available for any non-Eddie Bauer Wagon. However, this was an cosmetic upgrade only; the 140-hp Vulcan V6 was still under the hood of XL versions with this option. Sport-package Aerostars are most easily identifiable by their 2-tone paint; these are a combination of silver with bright pastel colors (or red).

The Sport Package upgrades consisted of:

  • Front Air Dam
  • Integrated Running Boards with an "AEROSTAR" logo
  • Full Wheel Covers (on XL-trim)
  • Alloy Wheels (on XLT-trim)
  • Color-keyed Rear Mud Flaps

Available with:

  • Aerostar XL Wagon (both lengths)
  • Aerostar XLT Wagon (both lengths)

All-Wheel Drive (E-4WD) Aerostar (1990–1997)Edit

Introduced in 1990 and offered until the end of production in 1997, Ford offered an electronically controlled four-wheel drive option on XLT and Eddie Bauer models. The option, called E-4WD, standing for Electronic 4-Wheel Drive, was more specifically an all-wheel drive system. With all-wheel drive, the 160 hp (119 kW) 4.0L Cologne V6 was standard equipment.

This system differed from other four-wheel-drive Ford vehicles of the time in that it engaged when it detected rear wheel spin, powering the front wheels automatically with no driver input required. Another difference is that the Aerostar's unique Dana TC28 transfer case employed a true center differential, though this center differential was regulated by an electronically controlled electro-magnetic clutch; this means that all four wheels are essentially powered at all times. As the system was not designed for off-road driving, there is no low-range gearing.

Available with:

  • Aerostar XLT Wagon (both lengths)
  • Aerostar Eddie Bauer Wagon (both lengths)
Ford Aerostar Timeline
Trim level 1980s 1990s
'86 '87 '88 '89 '90 '91 '92 '93 '94 '95 '96 '97
Cargo Van Van
Entry-level XL Wagon
Deluxe-level XLT Wagon
Top-of-the-line XLT Wagon Eddie Bauer Wagon


Engine Name Displacement Horsepower Years Available Notes
Lima SOHC inline-4 2.3L 100 hp (75 kW) 1986–1987
Cologne OHV V6 2.8L 115 hp (86 kW) 1986 The Aerostar was the last North American Ford to use this variant of the Cologne V6.
Vulcan OHV V6 3.0L 145 hp (108 kW) 1987–1997 The Vulcan V6 was the only engine for 1988-1989.
Cologne OHV V6 4.0L 160 hp (119 kW) 1990–1997 This engine was mandatory with the E-4WD option.
Name Manufacturer Type Years Available Notes
TK5 Toyo-Kogyo (Mazda) 5-speed manual 1986–1987
M5OD Mazda 5-speed manual 1988–1995 The manual-transmission option for the Aerostar was dropped after 1995
A4LD Ford 4-speed automatic 1986–1995 Available with both engines.
4R44E Ford 4-speed automatic 1996–1997 Available with the Vulcan V6 only.
4R55E Ford 4-speed automatic 1996 Available with the Cologne V6 only; replaced in 1997 by the 5R55E
5R55E Ford 5-speed automatic 1997 Available only with the Cologne V6; this was the first 5-speed automatic in a minivan.


Ford began to phase out the Aerostar in 1995. The Windstar was the de facto replacement for the wagon model, although Ford marketed it to a different audience (Ford marketed the Aerostar as a truck; the Windstar was considered a car). Although both the Windstar and the Freestar were offered in cargo van versions, the first direct successor to the Aerostar Van in terms of size and capability is the 2010 Transit Connect though the Transit Connect is front-wheel drive rather than rear-wheel drive.

The last Ford Aerostar was built at St. Louis Assembly on March 17, 1997, after being sold alongside the Windstar for 3 model years.

The Ford WindstarEdit

In 1990, Ford overtook General Motors to claim the #2 spot in the minivan sales race. However, the success of the Chrysler minivan design had proven influential to a point that newer designs (the APV minivans from General Motors and the Mercury Villager/Nissan Quest) all had based their own designs on Chrysler's front-wheel drive unibody layout. Even Volkswagen had followed suit with its EuroVan.

Ford took note of this and planned for a 1994 introduction of the 1995 Windstar, a minivan designed with a Chrysler-style front-wheel drive unibody layout. In the fashion that the Aerostar was related to Ford's other light trucks of the time, the Windstar was mechanically similar to the upcoming 1996 Ford Taurus. With the upcoming introduction of the Windstar, Ford intended to discontinue the Aerostar after the 1994 model year. When word of this plan became public, Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan was bombarded with letters from the public and dealerships, insisting that the Aerostar continue production. Ford relented and announced that the Aerostar and Windstar would be sold together for the time being due to popular demand.

1st Ford Windstar

1995–1997 Ford Windstar; the replacement for the Aerostar Wagon.

Also, keeping the Aerostar gave Ford Motor Company an advantage over Chrysler and General Motors. At the beginning of 1995, Ford had three distinct minivans (Aerostar, Windstar, Villager) to sell across two nameplates while Chrysler sold one minivan across three brands. GM sold two distinct minivans (the Astro/Safari and the APV minivans) across four brands (Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile, Pontiac). However, by 1997, the Aerostar had been on the market for nearly 12 years; it was by far the oldest design on the market. Although some buyers purchased the Aerostar specifically because of its rear-wheel drive (and all-wheel drive) layout, minivan buyers had begun to expect features such as dual airbags and driver-side sliding doors. Adding these features would have required an expensive ground-up redesign to the Aerostar's platform.

Aerostar vs. ExplorerEdit

When the Aerostar was introduced in 1986, there were five four-door SUVs in the American marketplace (AMC had the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Wagoneer; General Motors, the Suburban sold by Chevrolet and GMC. From Japan came the Isuzu Trooper and the Toyota Land Cruiser. Aside from the GM Suburbans, 4-door sport-utility vehicles were still marketed primarily as off-road vehicles instead of family-oriented vehicles. The 1991 replacement of the 2-door Bronco II with the 2 and 4-door Explorer proved successful, and Ford soon had the best-selling compact SUV in America. To follow on the success of the Explorer, a number of other manufacturers had introduced their own 4-door SUVs. By the mid-1990s, the sport-utility vehicle had become just as much an alternative to the station wagon as the minivan, so minivan sales began to decline. The Explorer superseded the Aerostar (and Windstar) in the same way that the Aerostar had taken the place of the Country Squire a decade earlier.

The Aerostar and Explorer were both manufactured in the now-closed St. Louis Assembly Plant in Hazelwood, Missouri. As the 1990s progressed, this posed a problem for Ford as every Aerostar made was now becoming a missed opportunity for Ford to sell an Explorer. Ford announced in 1996 that the 1997 model year would be the final year for Aerostar production. However, the outcry over the cancellation was not as significant as it was in 1994 because as a market segment, minivans were starting to decline in popularity.


The Aerostar was named Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year for 1990.[6]


Smallwikipedialogo This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Ford Aerostar. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

  1. Ford Motor Company (December 1985). "Age of Aerostar (Ford Advertisement)". Popular Mechanics (magazine) 6-7. Retrieved on March 27, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Stepler, Richard (February 1985). "New-generation mini-vans". Popular Science 74-76. Retrieved on March 26, 2011.
  3. Dunne, Jim and Keebler, Jack (November 1985). "Challenging Voyager". Popular Science 18-24. Retrieved on March 27, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Dunne, Jim (April 1984). "Ford's aero van". Popular Science 54. Retrieved on March 24, 2011.
  5. Ford Motor Company (February 1986). "Age of Aerostar". Popular Mechanics 9. Retrieved on March 26, 2011.
  6. "Truck of the Year Winners". Motor Trend. Primedia, Inc. Retrieved on 2007-05-05.

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