Car reviews - Ford - Falcon - Futura 5-dr wagon
Comfort, space, family versatility, ABS and cruise control standard, strong and durable
Room for improvement
Agricultural rear suspension compromises handling and ride finesse
7 May 2003
THE EL is the last of the E series of Falcons which first saw the light of day in 1988.
There may not be too much difference in styling between the original EA and the EL but under the skin the improvement in quality, safety and equipment has been enormous and transformed the Falcon into one of the best value for money cars on the market.
Ford spent $40 million upgrading the EL Falcon to keep it competitive until it was replaced by the AU Falcon in September, 1998.
Most of the money was spent on improved safety equipment and suspension development.
The Falcon station wagon follows the styling theme and shares a lot of the sedan's mechanical parts with a longer wheelbase (the wagon is 129mm longer) and a 100mm higher roof line, which makes it a big car.
The Futura wagon was lightly restyled around the front but you still need to look carefully to pick it from its predecessor, the EF Falcon.
The EL wagon was sold with two levels of equipment the lower level GLi and the Futura, which has as much convenience and safety equipment as many much more expensive luxury cars.
Power steering, anti-lock brakes, a driver's airbag and cruise control are all on the list. There's also remote central locking, an anti-theft system and electric windows for the front doors.
Popular options were air-conditioning and a reasonably priced passenger's airbag.
There were lots of small but useful features introduced with the EL such as speed-sensitive intermittent wipers and a battery saver function which automatically turns off the interior and glovebox lights after an hour if they have been left on.
The 4.0-litre engine carried over from the previous model with minor changes to reduce mechanical noise.
But the big improvements are in the steering and suspension.
The EL benefited from some fine tuning which eliminated the criticisms and it requires much less concentration to drive on the highway.
Considering the wagon's size, weight and leaf spring rear suspension, it handles, rides and corners well and is predictable and vice-free.
The Falcon wagon is also a very capable tow car. Buyers optioned them up with a high capacity tow pack and a limited slip differential for heavy duty towing.
An LP gas conversion is well worth an extra $1700 provided it is a genuine Ford/Tickford installation.
The EL Futura Falcon is a strong, dependable workhorse with a high level of comfort and safety.
Add in low service costs and generous people and cargo space, and the Falcon is hard to beat as a family wagon.
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