The Ford Aerostar was launched shortly after the introduction of the Ford Taurus. It was a minivan sold in North America from 1986 to 1997 in passenger van and cargo van configurations. Two body lengths were available in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. For 12 years (1985 to 1997), a total of 2,029,577 Aerostars were made at Ford's St. Louis assembly plant in Missouri.
1986 - 1991: First generation Aerostar
Introduced in 1985 for the '86 model year, the very first Aerostars were offered as an Aerostar van (single body length cargo van) and Aerostar wagon (7-seater passenger van). The passenger vans came in XL (base) and XLT (deluxe) trims while the cargo vans were available in either base or XL trims. These first-gen Aerostars were powered by a standard 2.3 L four-cylinder engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission.
Aerostar Eddie Bauer
The Aerostar became one of the first Fords to be offered in Eddie Bauer trim. The said trim, which was launched in 1988, was also recognized as the first minivan to be available in luxury trim. The Aerostar Eddie Bauer was outfitted with a large and powerful engine--a 3.0L V6. A choice of all wheel drive and rear wheel drive were still offered.
Electronic All-wheel-drive Aerostar
The XLT and Eddie Bauer models were also offered in electronically controlled four-wheel-drive option. It was introduced in 1980 and was available until the production of Aerostar ended in 1997. What made this E-4WD model different from the rest of the 4WD Aerostars was its capability to engage the moment rear wheel spin is detected. The wheels are powered automatically without a need for driver input.
1992 - 1997: Second generation Aerostar
It was only after six years when Ford gave the Aerostar a major redesign. The most noticeable update in the vehicle's fascia was the new sealed-beam headlights and the amber turn signals that were replaced by clear units. Another thing that distinguished the redesigned Aerostar from its predecessors was the unique A-pillar windows that were blacked out to make them appear slightly smaller. The vehicle's safety features were also upgraded. A driver's side airbag became standard and all outboard seats got 3-point seatbelts.
The second-generation Aerostar was also offered in van and wagon body styles. The wagon came in XL, XLT, and Eddie Bauer trims. The 1992 Aerostars were also outfitted with plastic wheel covers. The standard engine for this generation of Aerostars was the 3.0L Vulcan, with the 4.0L Cologne V6 as an option.
From 1994 to 1996 model years, Ford offered a Sport option package for non-Eddie Bauer wagon. But, this package was basically a cosmetic upgrade only since the only trim powered by the 140-hp Vulcan V6 engine was the XLT. What makes the Aerostar Sport package unique, though, was the 2-tone paint, a combination of silver with bright pastel or red color.
It was in 1995 when Ford started to phase out the Aerostar. For its final year of production in 1997, the Sport, XL and Eddie Bauer models were also discontinued, leaving the market with only the van and the XLT wagon.