Car reviews - Ford - Falcon - GLi 5-dr wagon
Space, comfort, suited to local conditions, versatility
Room for improvement
Some refinement questions, dirt road stability issues on early EF models, thirsty and noisy 4.0 engine
7 May 2003
THE Falcon station wagon has been great value for money since the early 1960s. Ford has stuck to the formula of a big car with an inline six-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels and buyers have kept coming back for more.
The EF version of the Falcon wagon was launched in late 1994 as an evolution of the EA Falcon.
The wagon shares most of the sedan's mechanical parts but has a 129mm longer wheelbase and a higher roof line, which makes it the king as far as interior and cargo space are concerned.
There are two levels of equipment for the station wagon - the base GLi which came with either a 4.0-litre six or 5.0-litre V8 and the Futura which was sold in six-cylinder guise only.
The GLi had a generous safety and convenience equipment list which made it excellent value for money. Remote central locking, power steering and electric adjustment for the exterior mirrors were standard. It also has Ford's Smartlock anti-theft system and an AM/FM radio/cassette with four speakers.
Safety features include a driver's side airbag, improved seatbelts and a stronger cabin structure.
Ford offered an optional bull bar for the Falcon which was designed so it did not degrade the airbag protection in a crash.
The 4.0-litre, six-cylinder engine has more than enough power - the V8 has only 8kW more - to provide the Falcon with effortless city and highway performance while remaining reasonably economical, considering the size and weight of the car.
The Falcon's forte is the ability to seat five adults in comfort - six with the optional front bench seat - with plenty of luggage space.
When the split rear seat is folded down the cargo area is not far short of two metres long.
The wagon's weakest point is the rear suspension. While the front is the same as the sedan, which is fine, the rear uses leaf springs to maximise the load area. This copes adequately with smooth roads but bumps and rough roads will see it step out of line, particularly on corners.
The introduction of the Series II EF wagon in October, 1995, made a passenger's airbag optional for the GLi.
Ford also improved the front seats, fine-tuned the suspension and modified the tailgate so it opened 50mm higher for better access.
The Falcon's ability to carry people and luggage and its reputation for being tough and durable make it one of the top wagon buys.
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