If the essence of the minivan concept is comfort and driveability with cargo capacity - the theme Chrysler established in 1984 - then Ford's new Windstar is not only right on the money, it's ahead of the game. At least for the moment. Besides being a little bit bigger than Chrysler's increasingly popular long-wheelbase minivans - the Dodge Grand Caravan and Plymouth Grand Voyager - the Windstar is also a tad more civilized in ride quality, handling, versatility and all-around comfort. And even though appearance is always a subjective issue, there are those who say it's better looking, too. This is not to say that Ford has revolutionized the world of minivans. Chrysler has been improving its minivans continuously since 1984, and its line includes a broad range of powertrain options, including all-wheel drive. But the Windstar does represent a painstaking refinement of everything that made the front-drive minivan such a good idea to begin with. It's quiet, well-appointed, and roomy, and it has excellent road manners, as well as an impressive list of standard safety features. And with a price range that matches the Chrysler Grands almost dollar for dollar, it's a must-drive for anyone interested in a king-size minivan.
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