The Ford Futura has a retro-sounding name and a history that goes back to 1962. The last version of the Futura was built in 1998; however, its radical departure from previous Ford designs raised eyebrows, and later it was given a makeover to refresh its appearance. The updated model first hit the showrooms in 2004 and rapidly gained approval as a much more modern-styled car, successfully addressing the concerns expressed by owners and critics of the original vehicle.
This big station wagon has obvious design features taken from the American Ford Taurus, an offshoot of the Ford Falcon range. The design incorporates technology that grew out of Ford’s partnership with Mazda, and it is based on the architecture of the Mazda6. The Futura is powered by a 4-litre, 6-cylinder engine with an overhead cam and has a four-speed transmission unit. Passenger comfort has been enhanced by the use of a resin firewall that cuts down considerably on engine noise and vibration.
Unlike others in the Series II range, the Futura came with 16-inch alloy wheels and air conditioning fitted as standard. SRS airbags for the driver and front seat passenger were another feature that owners had as standard, along with the latest in pyrotechnic seatbelt tensioners. The increase in the overall, structural strength goes into making it one of the safest cars of its time.
The Ford Futura’s 4-litre engine is sufficiently powerful for most roads, and even when fitted with a tow bar, it is more than capable of pulling large trailers or medium-sized caravans without a problem. There are issues of increased fuel consumption and lower speeds though with larger caravans.
The car is available in both manual and automatic and the 4-litre engine has a fuel consumption rating of 11.5 L/100km or 474 km driving range. The E-gas Automatic, LPG version runs a little more efficiently managing some 18 L/100km, giving it an estimated range of 647 kms.
The upgrading of the braking system, such as the larger brake pads, improved rotors and new front callipers, gives drivers a confident feeling behind the wheel. Even with as large a car as it is, coming to a safe stop at higher speeds is certain. The vehicles on-road feel is smooth as it glides along on its big 16-inch alloy wheels. The braking performance can be enhanced further with optional anti-lock brakes, working together with the traction control that comes as standard; this gives better handling on loose gravel and wet or icy surfaces.
All in all, the changes made to the later versions created a more stylish, modern-looking car and addressed the concerns about handling and safety. For a large car, the Futura handles well, is comfortable to drive, and provides a quieter interior than earlier models.
One of the great selling points for the Futura is its economical running cost that is even more relevant today than when it first hit the roads. There is also the capacity for installing a LPG tank that will cut fuel costs even further, and the added bonus that you will not lose as much storage space as with other models if choosing the LPG option.
Initial scepticism about the lines of the Futura led to a restyling of the car, giving it a sharper rear bumper, grille, and bonnet. The changes to the rear shape of the car equally created additional space to the already large luggage boot area. In the front, the Futura is very generous with both its headroom and legroom, making for a relaxing ride. Rear passengers, despite plenty of legroom, may find the headroom not as generous due to the downward slope of the roof design. All Futuras come with a rear spoiler as standard.
Carrying space is not a problem for the Futura with its cavernous boot and convenient folding, rear split seat arrangement. This allows you to substantially increase the vehicle’s carrying capacity while still retaining a rear seat if necessary. The interior is blessed with ample storage space too, and there are useful compartments, a large glove box, and map pockets scattered liberally throughout the cabin.
Designers also carried out work on the dashboard layout, making the instrument panel easier to read and friendlier, incorporating an improved entertainment centre with a CD player, AM/FM digital radio, digital clock, and enhanced air-conditioning system controls.
In building the Futura, Ford was aiming to compete alongside other mid-sized station wagons like the Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Nissan Ultima, and Toyota Camry. They achieved this quite well in terms of design, space, and price. Ford achieved their desire of creating a spacious and attractive car that would be stylishly appealing yet affordable.