The Aerostar was dropped after the 1997 model year after being replaced by the Windstar in the 1995 model year and being sold alongside it for 1995-97. Until its 1997 cancellation, over 100,000 Aerostars were sold each year, outselling competition from GM every year after 1990, placing Ford in second place in minivan sales (at the time). The Aerostar was produced at Ford's St. Louis, Missouri assembly plant, which built the Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, and Lincoln Aviator. This assembly plant is now closed.
The Aerostar was Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year for 1990.
Unlike the front-wheel drive Chrysler minivans and their later clones, the Aerostar was designed as a rear-wheel drive vehicle. This compromised interior space somewhat (the interior floor was higher) but provided superior towing ability as well as increased traction when loaded.
The Aerostar differed from other minivans of its time because it was built on neither a car platform or a truck platform. The official designation for the Aerostar is VN1, which was also the first American Ford to get an alphanumeric platform designation (as opposed to "Fox" or "Panther") This design was developed because the designers in Ford's truck office were unfamiliar and uncomfortable with unibody construction, and essentially designed the frame rails into the Aerostar's unibody (this construction was also used on the Chevrolet/GMC G-Series vans, the second generation Jeep Cherokee), and today's Honda Ridgeline pickup. The aerodynamic sloped-nosed styling resembled the Ford Taurus introduced alongside it for 1986. An early commercial ad campaign compared the side profile of the Aerostar to that of the NASA Space Shuttle. For much of its later life, the Aerostar would be marketed as part of Ford's light-truck lineup.
Early models were available with Ford's 2.3 L Lima I4 engine, which at 100hp (70kW) was underpowered. Available as an upgrade initially was the 115hp (86kW) 2.8L Cologne V6. Both of these engines were dropped after the 1987 model year. Starting with the 1988 model year, all Aerostars came with either the 145hp (108kW) corporate 3.0L Vulcan V6 found in the Taurus and Ranger, or (starting in 1990) a 155hp (116kW) version of the Explorer/Ranger's 4.0L Cologne V6. The 4.0 L Cologne quickly overtook the Vulcan in sales.