I have not noticed any transmission problems during up-shift or down-shift on this vehicle as other people have reported. (I have owned several Fords, and I know exactly what the problem feels like- my old F-250 and Fairmont did it!). We test drove ALL other minivans, and only the new Ford Freestar and Toyota 2004 minivan compare in comfort and performance. We live in mountainous terrain, and only the Fords and Toyota could not only go uphill, but downhill safely without lugging the engine or overheating the brakes. The Dodge/Plymouth was straight up dangerous on steep grades! The only real significant problem we have had is a re-occuring detonation/pre-ignition problem when under load in first gear. The Ford technicians at our local dealership say that nothing is wrong, which is probably what the OBD computer is telling them, but it still pings. Does anybody have any ideas? I think the timing is running to far advanced, but don't think I can adjust it on this vehicle myself??!
As for performance itself, the car gets about 17 m.p.g., runs fine, but it is not a "performance vehicle" as some people have stated. It doesn't like to take corners fast, and if you can call its acceleration great, then take a ride in our stock 2001 Ford Taurus with the 24 valve V-6! I guess you could call the engine adequate in this minivan, but like all the other minivans we drove, none really felt spirited. We call this vehicle "mom's taxi"~!