By on July 18, 2007

08taurus_7105.jpgFord is hawking their “new” Taurus (née Five Hundred) as America's safest full-size sedan. This tells us two things. First, the Ford division famous for producing the world’s safest cars (Volvo) is as good as gone. Second, The Blue Oval Boyz replaced their alleged allegiance to Bold Moves with a profound proclamation of Risk Aversion. Whether or not either decision is correct is a moot point; FoMoCo doesn't have the time nor the money to not to sell Volvo or develop edgy new automobiles. So is Ford’s safe car a safe bet? As the Afrikaners say, Ja nee.

Even a cursory glance reveals that the new Taurus is the same size, shape and stance as the "old" Five Hundred– if only because it's the same car. Luckily, the moniker change necessitated a face lift. Proportionally correct lighting pods remove much of the old model’s goofiness, while the tri-bar grille adds maximum Forditude. Even with fender vents and an Altezza lighting festival out back, the Taurus can’t quite shake off Mister Mays’ retro-futurist homage to Volkswagen’s bland sedans.

I repeat: there’s no getting around the Taurus’ quasi-VW creases. While the Limited-grade’s chrome side mirror skullcaps add extra presence (in the proud Detroit tradition of pay-as-you-go invidious distinctions), the Taurus is only somewhat less forgettable than the Five Hundred lurking underneath.

08taurus_6578.jpgThe Taurus’ interior also remains largely unchanged from its predecessor– if only because it's the same car. And let’s just say there’s a reason why the “old” Five Hundred was known for its spaciousness, rather than anything else. Spatially speaking, the Taurus' class-leading volume works against it; the wood veneer and oval dashboard clock fail to warm a cold, cavernous cabin. The Taurus Limited [re-]attempts to redress this sterility with perforated leather covers. Nice as they are, they fail to lighten the interior's Calvinist demeanor.

One tug at the Taurus’ vent registers reveals a distinct lack of plastic integrity. And while the door panels have the right soft bits and timber trimmings, the Accord’s tight-fitting elbow padding still drops a bomb on Ford’s (wide) gap band. The tiller’s rock hard airbag cover is the biggest let down: a constant reminder that bean-counted consumer touch points work for Rangers, but its no [fuzzy] dice on a flagship Ford. The only condolence: the gauge cluster’s richly detailed faces, a smattering of chromed knobs and the leather/chrome clad gearshift’s vault-like detents. 

08taurus_74172.jpgThe Five Hundred’s 3.0-liter Duratec V6 was safe (i.e. slow) at any speed. Combined with a well trained six-speed autobox, the reborn Taurus’ 3.5-liter replacement morphs the sedan from zero to hero. Rest to 60mph now requires just 7.6 seconds of your time. Equally impressive, the 263hp Taurus hustles from the git-go and delivers linear power from the basement all the way to the penthouse.

Torque steer is out there, somewhere, but only the really determined gas masher will find it. Anyway, fear not, for the Taurus sits upon a cost-engineered variant on Volvo’s robust P3 platform, complete with the usual safety cage and crash force management and additional rollover and crash sensor (the computer determines how much to inflate the air bags and how long to keep them inflated). Considering the Taurus’ new level of handling prowess, this is not a purely psychological selling point.

08taurus_7137.jpgTragically, the Blue Oval suspension tunerz took the path of least roll resistance. This chassis is no longer a poor man’s Volvo S80; it’s a reincarnated Ford LTD. True to land yacht lore, the new Taurus pitches in corners, bobs in bends and dives in panic stops. Luckily, braking is still solid with 18” rims and discs at all corners– once you get over the long travel pedal and spongy effort.

One fast turn in the Taurus and its clear that Ford took one step forward and one step back. The extra power is much appreciated, but the Taurus is dying for last year’s springy bits. Understeer arrives quickly and stays until the party’s over and everyone– including the tow truck driver– have gone home. Meanwhile, the Taurus’ numb steering has more on-center play than Yao Ming on a fourth-quarter fast break.

Even with hundreds of internal modifications (e.g. cramming sound-deadening stuff into every unseen orifice), a disconcerting amount of tire growl still invades the cabin. On the positive side, the numerous tuning-tweaks have had a negligible effect on this chassis’ already impressive ride quality.

08taurus_35.jpgIf wallow and float were the missing ingredients stymieing the Five Hundred’s commercial prospects, the “new” Taurus will be a guaranteed home run. Hey, it's not inconceivable. The return of the Bull heralds the death of the Crown Vic. Most Fordies loyal to Ye Olde Panther platform will likely find the Taurus a suitable replacement. While lacking the Vic's brick-house construction, RWD poise and old school seating, the “new” Ford Taurus is the Toyota Avalon of American sedans. How great is that?

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81 Comments on “Ford Taurus Limited Review...”


  • avatar
    shaker

    I suppose that the Gillette grille helps this beast “cut the wind” keeping the cd less than 0.5…
    You’re right that Ford will now have to kill the Crown Vic; they’re vying for the same demographic!

  • avatar
    jurisb

    when I noticed the so called taurus name- holder, what struck me in design, was this old and obsolete side window next to c-pillar. at such angles they made windows a century ago. well at least not audi, that tried this oldie thing on a6.
    the taurus has lost it`s only trump, the provokative ,distinct looks. could you attract a client in ford because of reliability? no. because of gadgetry? must be kiddin. design. may be, overdiscounting. may be. being american? may be. today taurus looks as boring as german sedan, yet not giving a single hint of german meticulousness inside, or under the hood. volvo platform? yeah, right. where did the volvo get money to build a new platform, being constantly drained by ford ownership? so, i guess it is amazda 6 platform. so a, ajapanese platform, a japanese gearbox, a german -boring looks, an american attitude of bean counting and detailing, american reliability( at least refers to those parts that were ford designed) … and you are trying to convince me to buy this?If i am a patriot, if I like good cars, with distinctive looks, if i want reliability, and quality….. what it has to do with FORD?

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    Bland.

    The 500 was known for its underpowered engine and lousy CVT.

    The new Taurus will be known for… Nothing, just a generic big car.

  • avatar
    Humourless

    The mid-’80s Taurus was simply breathtaking in terms of how it looked when placed beside 99% of all other affordable cars of the era.

    The mid-’00s Taurus is simply prosaic in terms of how it looks when placed beside 99% of other affordable cars on the market.

    To me, that sums up the problem quite neatly. What is a Taurus? How is this a Taurus? If I squint I sorta kinda see the original’s headlamps in the design. But I see precious little else – either in the metal or on the spec sheet – that promises innovation or cutting edge design.

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    It sounds like they’re inching closer to viability with the overgrown Passat.

    What is it with Ford and these tail lights? I know they’re all into this retro thing with the Mustang and all..but the “hot” tail light from 5 years ago ain’t exactly..”retro cool” now. They could make a case for it on the “sporty” version of the Fusion, but the crowd that opts for the 500..err..Taurus..probably isn’t concerned with impressing the tunerz at Sonic’s.

  • avatar
    tsofting

    Sajeev,
    Great write-up, as usual! Do you have any thoughts on Ford’s desertion of the CVT? When the 500 bowed, with a CVT, I felt it was a big commitment, and a big gamble. To offer the CVT as the only automatic option ought to mean that Ford had unlimited faith in the tranny. Now it seems – oops – it wasn’t that smart a move after all. Does this mean that the CVT is dead and buried, again?

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    In my view, the problem with this car was always design. Even old folks know they’ve seen that canopy on an old VW and probably mistake it for such. How do you go retro-futuristic minus the futuristic on a design you penned 15 years ago? The new design and name do nothing to resolve this problem and in fact may compound it. By leaving the most distinctive feature intact and calling it a name that doesn’t really fit who will notice it as a new car? Who will even take the time to learn the other differences.

    On another note, I am suprised to hear the all new steering gear is unresponsive. It is bizzarre to me that Ford chose to design a 100% new rack and pinion gear for this car at huge cost, especially when hydraulic steering systems are nearly obsolete in the car market. It is truly sad that it isn’t even as good as the one it replaces.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Zzzzzzzz for all the captions but one! He, he, he.

    The Fusion should be the Taurus. At least in spirit they are somewhat related. Oh well.

    I don’t mind the appearance of the new Taurus. Although I suppose ‘I don’t mind’ isn’t really a ringing endorsement for a car design. Those tail lights must go! (The Aveo and the Taurus, bringing Altezza lights back!) It does have one feature that I do like and that is a huge greenhouse. Something to be said for being able to see out.

    I agree that this spells the end of the Crown Vic and the Grand Marquis. Although that might serve it well in terms of sales (hey, adding all those copcars and taxis will give it a real sales boost) it also immediately taints the design in some consumers eyes…a lot of people don’t want to be in the same car that all the cops and taxis use.

    Pity that it has some shortcomings, although those are easily fixed I guess. It is not a breakthrough product, but it seems overall to be a good, ‘workmanlike’ car.

  • avatar
    whitenose

    I wonder if Mullaly has ever been in a Japanese car in this class. Doesn’t sound like it.

    The taillights look to me, the Altezza-ignorant, like a Mercedes reference. The current (07) Accord does it better, though.

  • avatar
    pb35

    “Altezza lighting festival.” Awesome. What is the fascination with these lights anyway? They’re hideous. I wouldn’t buy a Taurus just because of those lights.

  • avatar

    NickR,
    Yeah, I have no idea why they brought back a mid-sized nameplate for a full-sized car, but it sort of makes sense. I have recommended the Five-Hundred to my conservatively-driving neighbors who were looking to get something like a Crown Vic. Maybe I am weird, but I think it is decent-looking and reviews have it pegged as being about perfect for a good all-around conservative choice for people who want a big vehicle that performs fairly gracefully, as long as you don’t plan on autocrossing it.

    Don’t forget, the new Mercury Sable (ex-Montego/same as new Taurus) is out too! It should offer some different interior options for around the same price.

  • avatar
    Seth

    I am a taurean and I cringe everytime “taurus” gets bashed. Please… someone change the name to any other sign? Capricorn maybe??

  • avatar
    86er

    I agree that this spells the end of the Crown Vic and the Grand Marquis. Although that might serve it well in terms of sales (hey, adding all those copcars and taxis will give it a real sales boost) it also immediately taints the design in some consumers eyes…a lot of people don’t want to be in the same car that all the cops and taxis use.

    Cops aren’t going to buy this.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Ford designers who worked on super duty trucks need to get involved more with their car designs. Those HD trucks are very butch looking and 500 could use some of that.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Looks like RoboCop’s helmet. Come to think of it didn’t the cops drive original Taurus’ in that movie.

    I personally don’t get Ford’s styling direction these days, they lack cohesion or a unified focus or something amiss.

  • avatar
    Paul Milenkovic

    Don’t think this is off topic in the review of a land-yacht class automobile.

    What happened to the column transmission selector? What is the deal with putting a console shifter and a big honkin’ console in between the two seats.

    When front drive came to big cars, one of the big selling points was that you didn’t have the transmission tunnel so you had this enormous amount of room to stretch your legs and move your feet around. Yeah, yeah, both hands on the steering wheel and foot on the gas ready to cover the brake at all times, but there are long road trips and highways and cruise control, and not having my foot bump against a center console is a big deal for me.

    It seems around the time of the 1996 Taurus, the shift came to wanting to be cocooned in a car somewhow — I remember these “focus group” adds for Ford where some dope wants “the car to wrap around me.” One yahoo with agrophobia or whatever you call fear of open spaces, and all sedans have this look, and now they all have the console tranmission stick.

    Yeah, yeah, AWD option means that the transmission tunnel is back, I am either an old fogey or a very long-legged person who belongs in an F-150 pickup. But the new Taurus is meant to be land-yacht class. Center console, console shifter, feet bumping against that bundling board – what happened to cruising around town with your sweetie slid over on to the middle seat (OK shoulder belts and air bags).

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    whitenose:
    I wonder if Mullaly has ever been in a Japanese car in this class. Doesn’t sound like it.

    He was a Lexus LS430 owner prior to being hired by Ford. One of his first complaints were all the different headlamp switches, and told the troops to standardize on just one.

    If the current Taurus had been introduced 3 years ago, it would have made a bigger splash, but it’s simply playing catch-up.

    Altezza squared: the new Sable’s taillights are completely white. Ugh.

  • avatar
    ThresherK

    Paul,

    Simply using the term “bundling board” is revealing.

    But I’m with you on this. At a time when so few cars in this country have a manual available, giving up so much interior space for the “sexy center console” (yes, I’ve read the description) is appalling.

    If not in real room, the feeling of not being hemmed in, mentioned in other design aspects like tumblehome and dash features, surely counts in the console area. (Disclaimer: I’m lean and blend-in tallish.)

  • avatar
    NickR

    Cops aren’t going to buy this.

    You don’t think so? Why not? I am not arguing, I am just wondering why you think they wouldn’t. I agree that the Impala and even the Charger are more ‘typical’, but…

    Anyway, curious to know your thoughts.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    This car is crazy bland. But so is the Avalon, the LaCrosse, the Sonata and the Malibu. Bland sells. Bland serves a purpose and this car is good for what it is supposed to be. Functionally it’s solid. A SHO version would be nice and so would a less clunky looking grille and tail end. So much untapped potential in this platform.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    When the 500 bowed, with a CVT, I felt it was a big commitment, and a big gamble. To offer the CVT as the only automatic option ought to mean that Ford had unlimited faith in the tranny.
    Tsofting: The 500 had the CVT in AWD configurations only. I don’t care for CVTs in my experience, but since AWD is not a common trait of vehicles in Houston, I never tried this one. From the sounds of it, nobody’s gonna miss it. The 6-speed is a sweetheart, quite responsive for a large sedan.

    You’re right that Ford will now have to kill the Crown Vic; they’re vying for the same demographic!
    Shaker: from what I’ve seen (salespeople, Ford’s website) the Crown Vic is for fleet consumption only starting in 2008. Retail buyers walking in for a Panther are likely to be escorted over to a Bull.

    The Fusion should be the Taurus. At least in spirit they are somewhat related. Oh well.

    NickR: they needed to shut the old Taurus’ Atlanta plant down about 2 years earlier for that to work. I agree, but I don’t fault Ford for their decision…at least not that one.

    Don’t forget, the new Mercury Sable (ex-Montego/same as new Taurus) is out too! It should offer some different interior options for around the same price.
    Neilberg: tu-tone interior colors and woodgrain textures are gonna be the full extent of it.

    What happened to the column transmission selector? What is the deal with putting a console shifter and a big honkin’ console in between the two seats.

    Paul: Nice idea, not gonna happen with beancounters and a global-sourced chassis. Only a American design like the Panther (or GM W-body) would do such a thing.

    Or as Cake once said: stick shifts and safety belts…bucket seats have all got to go.

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    I like the changes. I doubt many of the folks that will consider the Taurus will have an issue witt the suspension as you did. Geesh, when the 500 came out, most reviews said it was a good car, except the powertrain needed to be stronger and it needed more visual apeal. Ford goes and does what it is told, still no respect. There is no pleasing some people! (that’s just what Jesus said!)

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    double post

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    triple post

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Geesh, when the 500 came out, most reviews said it was a good car, except the powertrain needed to be stronger and it needed more visual apeal. Ford goes and does what it is told, still no respect.

    Well if they didn’t mess with the best part of the 500 (suspension and steering) the review would be a lot more “respectful”.

    All they had to do was put the 3.5L in, change the name/style and it would be a nice ride for pistonhead and pistonhead’s family.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Ford just cannot wrap its collective brain around the current marketplace. There was nothing really wrong with the 500 outside of the CVT and vehicle weight. The Taurus and Taurus X need to have AWD (preferably RWD biased), achieve at least a 3000# tow rating (air suspension option????), and tack on an extra grand and make that interior as close to Audi spec as possible (the design isnt offensive, its the subpar materials!). Seriously, what is so flippin hard about this FoMoCo? If you are going to sink the ship, at least go down FIGHTING….THAT is american (or at least, used to be.)

  • avatar

    My preference would have been to upgrade the mechanical power and leave the looks alone until the refresh next year. Poor Ford – no money and a legacy vehicle that is tough to make pretty.

    B Moore – Autosavant.net

  • avatar
    umterp85

    At the end of the day this is all about sales numbers; the Taurus will outsell the 500. Ford is starting to take the right steps to turn the ship. Better quality, good value, and competitive vehicles will keep the current base. That should buy Mulalley some time to have a product line that not only competes but beats—The Fusion and Edge are a good start–much more needs to be done.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    At least they upgraded the motor from the 500. I remember test driving one about a year ago. I thought I was going to become a hood ornament trying to merge on to I-264.

    Not that impressed with this car and will wait for the refresh to see if they do anything worthwhile with it.

    So far it just looks like motivation to keep my Crown Vic running for a long time.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I’ll agree that this will never be patrol unit material. The origional Taurus was used by some budget constrained departments (including the one I did my academy time with) and they were horrible as police cars.

    Worse reliablity issues than the Caprice or Crown Vic, underpowered and just far too cramped. After the radios, siren and light controls, and shotgun rack were added the front passenger seat room was non-existant. Stumbling out on pins-and-needles legs to a hot call was no fun at all.

  • avatar
    50merc

    ” .. the “new” Ford Taurus is the Toyota Avalon of American sedans. How great is that?”

    If Taurus can start acquiring some of Avalon’s image for reliability and cosseting quiet and comfort, it’ll be pretty darn great. And I think that’s Ford’s hope. How well Taurus can slalom is not the target market’s priority.

    The thing that strikes me is how the Taurus could be the platform for rejuvenating the Town Car. (Remember, Ford originally termed the extra-roomy 500 its “flagship.”) Put a formal roof on it, square up the rear end and install a truly sumptuous interior with minimal or no console. Ford would then have something to give the Town Car demographic a reason to buy.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    This is something minor…but Ford:

    PLEASE for all things holy, dump the pointless, tacky, and cheap-looking “side vents” from your designs! Ford isn’t the only one (I’m looking at you Mini Cooper S (on the hood) and Pontiac (all over the place)), but really, are we looking at today’s version of the dreaded vinyl top, trunk-mounted luggage rack, and gold trim package?

    Oh yeah – the “Taurus.”
    Yawn.
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • avatar
    umterp85

    50 Merc—My understanding is that the 500 / Taurus platform is the basis of the 2009 Lincoln MKS—-the good news here is that the MKS will be unique design and not a blatant badge engineer job like the MKZ / Fusion.

  • avatar
    86er

    So far it just looks like motivation to keep my Crown Vic running for a long time.

    Ditto.

  • avatar
    Rick C

    Has anybody sat in one of these yet? Wondering if I’m the only one who thinks the ridiculously narrow driver footwell totally spoils the otherwise vast interior. With no room to move my left leg laterally, and the console hard by my right, I end up feeling cramped inside this thing, even though it has unbelievable amounts of leg and headroom otherwise. I don’t know what’s tucked behind that big box alongside the footwell, ahead of the driver’s door, but it needs to be moved to open up a few more inches of width. Big turnoff when you first sit down and try to get comfortable, as it is.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Wondering if I’m the only one who thinks the ridiculously narrow driver footwell totally spoils the otherwise vast interior. With no room to move my left leg laterally, and the console hard by my right, I end up feeling cramped inside this thing, even though it has unbelievable amounts of leg and headroom otherwise.

    Felt the same way about the console size relative to seat width. Its almost as space inefficient as the Crown Vic. Well, maybe not that bad. :)

  • avatar
    86er

    I still remain to be convinced as to how this vehicle is touted as a replacement for the Panther.

    As mentioned above, the interior doesn’t communicate “big”, nor does it drive that way. This vehicle feels like any other cookie-cutter car out there, i.e. zero road presence.

    Hip and shoulder room are good by Eurasian standards but are found lacking on this continent.

    When I step into a Crown Vic, I know I’m driving a big car. And that’s what I wanted. The Anti(tode)-Civic.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Just put red taillights on it and it’s as boring looking as an Avalon.

    I don’t like what I’m hearing about the console being too wide and lack of foot room.

  • avatar
    TedsGMC

    Yes1 To comment on the “new” Ford Taurus You mean to tell me this might be Fords “savior” from going out of business? Lets face facts Ford isn’t going to be able to make a profit until 2010. Hopefully they won’t be out of business by than.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Wow….absolutely WONDERFUL. A whopping 40 responses!!!

    That says everything.

    If this were a review of the new Accord, there would be ~150 replies…some positive, some negative, but at least there would be interest in the vehicle.

    The Grim Reaper is a-knocking on Ford’s door….and nobody cares!

  • avatar

    I agree with substantially all of this review.

    I had about 4 hours of seat time in this thing and I found it mildly pleasant. Is that faint praise enough for you?

    I echo the comments on the footwell. I was actually stunned. If I could compare, it felt a lot like the passenger side of a Ford Econoline because of the intrusion of the inner panels.

    However, the rest of the car was roomy, and the backseat was tremendous. The car is a decent alternative for the import-hater who wants to buy passable American iron. I doubt it will convince the Camry or Accord buyer to switch over without significant incentives, though.

    As for the fender vents, I believe this trend is unfortunately going to become the Opera Windows of the modern design era.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    This Taurus will most likely compete with…

    1) Lucerne
    2) Avalon
    3) Azera / Amanti
    4) Grand Marquis
    5) Camry

    I doubt if it will sell. The overall design is simply too bland and the interior components on the lower to mid-end are way too cheap.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    yawn

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Not my cup of tea – I much prefer my Grand Marquis. It doesn’t seem any different than any other large front wheel driver – didn’t GM learn the folly of dumping your old school RWD full sizer for a lesser vehicle?

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Again Ford turns its back on the Australian Falcon, in favour of warmed over eurotrash imitations.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I still remain to be convinced as to how this vehicle is touted as a replacement for the Panther.

    86er: don’t think they’ll ever tout the Taurus that way, Ford would rather let the Panther slip away and hope that nobody cares. But when you’re the last of a breed, people (even if its only a few on the Interweb) will indeed notice.

    I don’t like what I’m hearing about the console being too wide and lack of foot room.

    Dynamic: the new Taurus is another non-American platform reworked to appeal to Americans. Works if you’re Honda or Toyota…wait…so many of their sedans are designed exclusively for the American market…

    To comment on the “new” Ford Taurus You mean to tell me this might be Fords “savior” from going out of business?

    A mild redesign of an unpopular chassis should never be considered a corporate savior. Just another stopgap until their fresh(?) models come out in 2009.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    After looking at the Falcon Wikipedia entry where its suggested that the 08 Falcon may be engineered to be fitted as left hand drive – if so hopefully the Taurus/500 is a short term stopgap till 09 when it and the panther can be pushed off a cliff .

  • avatar

    Are there any interior trim options besides the plood? Gloss black or faux-Al perhaps?

  • avatar
    ronin

    One big, long-standing American car icon is the highway cruiser. Something that can go long distances in comfort. Read “On the Road-” nobody chose a little MG sports car for burning up the miles.

    I went to look at the new Taurus in just this vein. Not in the current review trend of, how far aways is it from being a BMW, but how close is it to being a Buick Roadmaster.

    The Ford goes a lot in this direction. But to a responders point, there is no option for front bench seats, as there stil is in an Impala or Vic. I don’t think Americans ever demanded bucket seats only, I think this was thrust upon them.

    But there is one disappointment in what we often here as the ‘monstrous cabin’ in this model, and that is that it is narrow inside. Although rear foot space is very nice, here is less width in the interior than in the Impala. True to Ford’s tradition of offering less interior space than the size of the car would justify (a la Panther), this skinniness is inexplicable.

    It’s even more apparent in the soon to be Taurus X, long and skinny inside. Nice for tight spots, but compared to the beaminess of say the Pilot, it’s just not there.

    But I am glad that Ford is making a car like this, whatever it is called, and I hope it is successful.

  • avatar
    dl_caldwell

    While the car is far from perfect, it does offer some unique features. It’s large with a massive trunk. It has available AWD, traction control, ABS and stability control. A car like this would make a very compelling choice for the commuter who needs the all-weather capability of a SUV without the miserable gas mileage, miserable handling, or the growing stigma of a SUV. This thing may not be a sports car, but compared to a Ford Explorer…

  • avatar

    I just wanted to give a link back to my favorite line ever in a TTAC review.
    Like the themed restaurants in front of which it will inevitably park, the Five-Hundred is a blatant attempt to appeal to the lowest-common denominator, blueprinted to offend as few as possible.
    The dish has a new name but apparently it still has the same old recipe.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    It’s not a real Ford – it is a Eurojapanese bland sedan with a few American styling attributes, just like the Chrysler 300.

    Ford ruined the Town Car taking it down the Eurojapanese route – same thing for their lower market large cars, apparently.

    I have to say there is almost no new cars that I find the styling or design to my liking – they are all interchangable anymore.

  • avatar
    50merc

    I’m thinking of buying a new highway cruiser, and the 500/Taurus’ unique features put it on my list to investigate. But now I read “the ridiculously narrow driver footwell totally spoils the otherwise vast interior. With no room to move my left leg laterally, and the console hard by my right, I end up feeling cramped inside this thing” and “Felt the same way about the console size relative to seat width.” Does anyone at Ford sit in their car designs before starting production? Sounds like I’ll have to instead look at CUV’s and competing sedans.

  • avatar
    tchas35

    Nothing mentioned about the car suggests that I should be looking at one.

    But in a review of a model resurrecting an iconic nameplate of the 80s, a line like “the Accord’s tight-fitting elbow padding still drops a bomb on Ford’s (wide) gap band” has to get some recognition.

    Take a bow (and a ride on the party train), Mr. Mehta

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Has anybody else mentioned the tail lights are hideous? (Snort.) Altezzas don’t belong on a geezer-mobile, anyways.

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    I have put nearly 36k miles on my 05′ 500 in the past year and a half. I have had no complaint about the cars quality. Heck, it is one of the easiest cars to do an oil change on that I have ever owned.

  • avatar
    NickR

    C. Alan, does your have the CVT?

  • avatar
    Rick C

    If you can afford to give up a fair amount of trunk space and a bit of rear seat legroom, the Fusion is a lot more appealing than the Taurus. It feels roomier and more comfortable for the driver, aided greatly by a telescoping steering wheel, and much wider footwells (in a smaller car????). It’s still reasonably roomy for 4 adults and has a decent trunk. I don’t think the new Taurus will compete with Accords and Camrys – that’s what the Fusion is for. Rather, It’ll be competing with the LaCrosse & Lucerne, lower end Avalons, and Azeras, and perhaps the Impala. I don’t mind the Taurus’s styling, but the interior will be a tough sell vs. the above named cars. Nothing here that’ll coaxe me out of my ’96 Grand Marquis yet (just hit 50k miles!).

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    I know I never demanded bucket seats. In fact I am their most vocal opponent. This is the reason I hate all Toyotas and Hondas. The BMW vs. Buick Roadmaster remark was spot on. Why do reviewers constantly test cars out of context? For once it would be nice to get an SUV/full size pickup review without the complaints that it isn’t agile.

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    NickR:
    I have the 6 speed, not the CVT.

  • avatar
    Rodney M.

    I must say I tire of hearing how the Taurus looks like something other than American. What the @#%$ makes an American car look “American”. I understand that the new Taurus looks very similar to the old Passat. But the new Taurus (and the old Passat) also takes alot of design cues from 1 and 2 gen Taurus (I owned a 93). It seems to me the design has come full circle – and maybe time to be put out to pasture (anybody catch the pun?).

    Will I own one of these? Highly doubtful. My current and past history with Ford leaves me little hope for them and even less desire to own another one.

  • avatar
    Greenstripe

    In the last 6 months I count 2 Ford dealers that have ceased to exist with 20 minutes of my home. I wish Ford the best with this product but fear the worst.

  • avatar
    zenith

    At least make a split-bench seat, like the one in my Ranger, available.

    Otherwise, I think the Taurus is a fine family car. I used to be partial to big Ford sedans before the acquisition of 3 stepkids put me into a Plymouth minivan.

    I tried the RWD Aerostar ( at the time, Ford had yet to develop a front-wheel-drive minivan) and didn’t like how it handled on snow and ice.

    So I got out of the Ford car habit,though still owning Ford pickups.

    I like both of my present vehicles,and don’t want another payment but if something happened that totalled either vehicle, I’d check out Ford.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    What the @#%$ makes an American car look “American”.

    Rodney: I gather you’ve never seen the (2003?) Ford 427 concept: just one look was all it took. All it needed was a fastback, NASCAR-retro coupe to go with. Damn.

    Problem is America needs something revolutionary like the original Taurus or Chrysler LH cars, something overtly American like the Crown Vic or a hybrid like the Chrysler 300.

    There is plenty of room for American creativity, when Detroit sets the budget for it. Its just a shame that J Mays pens the same sedan for every company he works for…

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    ”Problem is America needs something revolutionary like the original Taurus or Chrysler LH cars, something overtly American like the Crown Vic or a hybrid like the Chrysler 300.”

    Respctfully, is there any reason to believe this, or is it mostly a last ditch hope that “All American” stylling could save the B3?

    I mean, Ford had the Taurus for many years (and it was only a class leader for a few years) Chevy has had the ‘Vette for over half a century. Ford has the retro Mustang, and has had the retro T-Bird, and of course it’s police cruisers. Chrysler did it’s LH cars, and almost w/o a doubt will be offering hybrid powertrains on most of it’s cars in the near future (as will all automakers) And yet, despite the existance of cars with that look “American”, that look sexy, that look the way an enthusiast thinks a car should look, the B3 continue to loose market share.

    I don’t know that fashion is the way to go. First because there is really no assurance that we can design a more “American” looking car than the Japanese. Second, because the Japanese do shorter product development than the B3, any styling advantage could be short lived. Third, it just looks to me as if most people are quite satisfied with plain cars, as long as they actually work. Swinging for the fence everytime you’re up to bat isn’t a good strategy for winning ball games.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Respectfully, is there any reason to believe this, or is it mostly a last ditch hope that “All American” styling could save the B3?

    Well I’d like to think that styling is both a method of attracting customers and promoting your brand and national heritage. Take Porsche; they do a damn fine job at it, IMO.

    I mean, Ford had the Taurus for many years (and it was only a class leader for a few years)

    The failure of the Taurus coincides with its dumping into rental fleets, which coincides with its design (both style and engineering) getting stale. Quality too, but let’s not go there for now.

    Chevy has had the ‘Vette for over half a century.

    Even during the 12 year run of the C4, its been an absolute home run for the General. One reason, American styling, American performance and (somewhat) frequent updates.

    Ford has the retro Mustang, and has had the retro T-Bird, and of course it’s police cruisers.

    The Mustang is a winner, for similar reasons to the vette. The Tbird was cost-engineered retro (i.e. kinda strange looking with Lincoln LS hard points) too expensive for its market, looked dated by the time it hit the streets and…once again…had infrequent updates that failed to keep the momentum.

    Chrysler did it’s LH cars, and almost w/o a doubt will be offering hybrid powertrains on most of it’s cars in the near future (as will all automakers)

    The LH design had the legs to succeed, but the engineering and customer retention wasn’t there. And Hybrids aren’t necessarily a critical part of American style.

    And yet, despite the existance of cars with that look “American”, that look sexy, that look the way an enthusiast thinks a car should look, the B3 continue to loose market share.

    But the D3 (not B3) is none of the above. From your examples above, its easy to see why:

    1. Real American cars (Mustang, Vette) succeed.
    2. The true believers in American Iron remain. (body on frame Crown Vic)
    3. Sitting on your laurels is financial suicide. (old Taurus)

    …and…

    4. Why the poseurs (Ford D3 chassis) fail miserably. It doesn’t look good for the latest D3 Taurus, but I wish it the best of luck. Its not a bad car.

    Back to your original point: yes, I think there’s reason to believe.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    “1. Real American cars (Mustang, Vette) succeed.”

    Not in numbers that make up for the loss of market share overall. GM and Ford will become very small companies if they just sell ‘Vettes and Mustangs. GM used to have half the NA market, and Ford/Chrysler split most of the other half. These “Wow!” cars havn’t stopped the slide.

    “2. The true believers in American Iron remain. (body on frame Crown Vic)”

    How many people want their father’s (grandfather’s) Ford ? OK, Cops/ Taxi co.s,/ Rental co.s,

    3. Sitting on your laurels is financial suicide. (old Taurus)

    Agreed. But you can’t expect the stylling dept. to hit a home run every time. It’s hard to see the rise of the transplants having much to do with style – their cars are exceedingly dull to look at.

    All the Corvettes and Camaros havn’t kept GM at 50% market share – that’s all I’m saying. Same goes for Ford and Chrysler. Only so many people want a Mustang or a Viper. (or can afford one)

    People want value and reliability. It least it appears so to me. Otherwise it’s very hard to explain people driving Camcords.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    GM and Ford will become very small companies if they just sell ‘Vettes and Mustangs. These “Wow!” cars havn’t stopped the slide.

    Correct, Dynamic. And to expect otherwise is rather foolish. But look at how the original Taurus “inspired” the rest of the Ford/Lincoln/Merc fleet both visually and in marketing tools, and how by 1987 they outsold GM and everyone else. Vettes and Mustangs (and Tauri) are supposed to influence an entire brand and impress people.

    How many people want their father’s (grandfather’s) Ford ? OK, Cops/ Taxi co.s,/ Rental

    Like the Vette/Mustang, it’s a niche player. In today’s global economy, even automakers should know better and support a highly profitable niche, not letting it die on the vine. Look at Scion: Toyota doesn’t need a niche player, but they nailed it…and they aren’t resting.

    Oh, and search the model-specific forums and you’ll see a lot of kids with Panther chassis cars. Its not for old people alone, and don’t tell me these thousands of people wouldn’t want a fresh, up-to-date Panther when they finish college, have kids, etc.

    Agreed. But you can’t expect the styling dept. to hit a home run every time. It’s hard to see the rise of the transplants having much to do with style – their cars are exceedingly dull to look at.

    Home runs aren’t guaranteed, but when you platform share you run the risk of groupthink. It just doesn’t work if you’re an American company trying to out-Toyota your competition without the reputation for quality, low labor costs, etc.

    What’s the key to differentiation? Styling and features/technology. That’s all Ford had in the 1980s (they were on the verge of govt. bailout, like Chrysler) and that’s what they desperately need RIGHT NOW.

    People want value and reliability. It least it appears so to me. Otherwise it’s very hard to explain people driving Camcords.

    The Taurus didn’t blow its 1985 competition out of the water with its reliability, far from it. (content-wise, it was a good value…still is)

    Considering it took 5-ish years for the Camcord to take over the sales throne from the original Taurus, style is almost as important as reliability.

  • avatar

    Very nice review. But I agree with NickR about the value of being able to see out, and I think, compared to most other cars out there, from the front this kTaurus is good looking. And, it harks back to the original. From the back–that’s another story. (Yawn.)

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Sajeev, that is one of the more lucid posts I have read over the past week. Great job.

    There is a lot of talk about style, reliability, reputation,… and virtually every other adjective that can be thrown at an automobile. They’re all well and good… but from my expeiences the three most important criteria are…

    1) Build Quality

    For well over 20 years Toyota and Honda have built exceptionally well made vehicles for the NA market. It’s something that has been cumulative and continuous for both manufacturers.

    When I get into a typical early 90’s Toyota or Honda, I can still feel the overall build quality that it was given on the day it was built on the factory floor. Seats are usually firm (most older American cars resemble lumps around the 10 to 12 year mark.) The gaps are far more narrow between the panels, which gives their cars a more unified look as time goes on. And the OEM components are generally simple and of top quality. A 20 year old Toyota is still a rather common site in certain areas of metro-Atlanta…. as are Olds Cutlasses, Chevy Caprices, and… well… not much else domestic wise.

    One forgotten reality that few point out. A lot of the durability and longevity for a given manufacturer has to do with the ‘quality’ of the initial owners. To this day, I’m still surprised that nobody really examines how important the demographics of an owner will be to a given car’s long-term quality. Rental fleets, generous financing terms, and market positioning all take their toll on a given brand’s perceived long term quality. Heck, a well-maintained 2005 Neon may actually be a good value. But you probably will never know it given how many of these cars end up in the wrong hands.

    2) Value

    The domestics have been the leaders in this segment until just recently. People in the States L-O-V-E having a loaded vehicle. Fortunately in the last ten years, a lot of the options in times yore have become standard even in the most lowly models. ABS, Cruise, Power Everything, Side Airbags, ‘Premium’ Sound w/ CD Players… you can get all of these features in virtually every compact and subcompact vehicle in today’s market. You can even get 0-60 times in the seven to eight second range in the near majority of affordable cars out there. 12 years ago these options would send you headlong in the 20k territory. Today, even with inflation you can get all of them for less from virtually any manufacturer out there.

    For domestics in the ‘car’ side of the business, the value advantage has largely disappeared.The loaded vehicle has become standard.

    3) Looks

    Notice I say ‘looks’ instead of style. A 1990’s Pontiac Grand Am may not have been styled in a way that attracted a sports car enthusiast. But it LOOKED like a sporty car. That, and the value equation is what made it so popular with American car buyers.

    Cars that are ’styled’ don’t always sell because they simply don’t have a good ‘look’ to them. B9’s, the current Focus, the Ion, Mazda 5’s, simply don’t look like anything obvious. They all have either a dowdiness or a blandness that doesn’t make it sell.

    If American buyers can’t get a Ferrari, they still want something that ‘looks’ sporty. One of the reasons why cars like the Eclipse, Celica, and Integra were so popular during the 1990’s is because they all looked sporty. The style may not have been there, but the look was obvious. The buyer who gets that vehicle, knows what he’s getting.

    With products like the Ford Five Hundred/Taurus there simply is no distinctive look. Is it an old person’s car? Maybe, but then why is the front so garish and the steering wheel buttons so numerous (12 in total?)

    Is it a luxury car? If so, whay are most them offered with cheap plastic dashboards and hand-me-down bin components?

    The Ford in this review simply has no look telling the buyer what it is. Some parts are nice, but you can’t sell a product by featuring a car that has a lukewarm 30 percent-ish niceness to it.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Not wishing to argue endlessly, I’ll make one last comment on the “style factor”. Taurus did sell because of style, but ultimately lost out to Camcorders. The reliability wasn’t there, and Americans like reliability. They say they want style, but most will give style a pass to get reliability. If this were not so, it would be impossible to explain the success of ToyoHon.

    There is no “All American” niche that others can’t exploit. Sure, there are those who will only buy an American made car, but increasingly there are fewer such buyers. The Japanese can make sports cars, and pony cars, and taxi/rental/cop cars too, if they put their mind to it. One thing we must recognize is that the Japanese can enter any market segment they choose.

    And don’t think the Japanese are too proud to ask for help. A pony car with body work penned by an Italian design studio, and fitted with Japanese mechancials could reduce Mustang’s fortunes considerably. And since the Japanese are already leading in subcompact/compact/midsize cars, niche is where they’re going. Well, actually they are already there; Z, S-2000.

    Quality (more precisely value – but that has a lot to do with quality, otherwise we’d still be snapping up Yugos) is where the D3 will live or die. IMHO.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    I know that people here are probably disappointed by the softening of the Taurus, but I have to say that I’m really not surprised. Despite what the head honcho has said before, I truly believe that the majority of Americans don’t really care how well their car handles. Not after years of buying top-heavy pick-ups and SUVs. Style, ride quality, space/utility, and straight-line performance (and recently, and to a lesser extent, fuel economy) are what sells cars to Americans, in varying degrees of importance depending on the person.

  • avatar
    86er

    I’ve noticed that any discussion of the new Taurus invariably leads to more discussion of the Panther platform.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  • avatar
    iowacarguy

    I’m totally confused about everyone’s criticism about lack of foot space. I drive a brand new Mercury Sable and do not notice this at ALL! I’m 6’4″ and wear a size 15 shoe and do NOT have a problem with this. Do all of you wear MoonBoots to drive? The criticisms of this car are unjust. I had a Montego and replaced it with a Sable last week and both were excellent road vehicles. I drive around 70K miles/yr and have NO issues with these vehicles for driving dynamics or with reliability. For those of us who actually drive miles, if you want to be uncomfortable, drive a Camry for an extended period of time and actually be a big guy. Seats are not long enough and leg room is cramped to say the least. Typical bias against anything that is American.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    “I’ve noticed that any discussion of the new Taurus invariably leads to more discussion of the Panther platform.

    Coincidence? I think not.”

    Of course it is not. Ford has marketed the Five Hundread/Taurus as the Panther replacement from Day 1. Flagship sedan anyone? You can’t have TWO flagship sedans. Crown Vics were never advertised to say the least but when the Five Hundread debuted, Vics were no longer even stocked on Ford lots. My wife’s uncle went in last year looking for a new Crown Vic at a Ford dealer only to get shoved into a Five Hundread. They told him Crown Vics were no longer made and this was it!

    As far as the new Taurus goes, it’s no Panther, plain and simple. Like it or not, there is a stigma to truly American cars, and this Taurus ain’t got it. The 300/Charger does, at least in looks, whilest not in underpinnings, and it’s selling like hotcakes. People who buy Camcords most often don’t have the slightest clue how to pull a dipstick out to check their oil….and/or because the neighbors have one.

    Believe or not, there are some of us still out there who know the difference, and money invested in a 427/Continental concept inspired Panther would have gotten alot farther than a failed Five Hundread and now a rebadged facelifted Five Hundread. Just what the autobuying public needed, another Avalon wannabe and one less full-sized RWD V8 B-O-F domestic sedan. (Crown Vic for those playing from home)

    When/if this new Taurus fails in two years, what then? Another nosejob? Cancel the Grand Marquis then? How much money will Ford throw at it to try and make people want it? That money would have been much better spent on the Panthers, period.

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    If the new Taurus fails in two years, it will be replaced by an elegant car built on S80′s platform. If it is successful, it will be replaced by an elegant car built on the S80′s platform. And in either case, a RWD sedan will likely be in Ford’s lineup for 2010 or 2011.

    I don’t know why people like to dispise Ford and, in particular, this car. The new Taurus is a great car (I’m serious, go drive one yourself). Its one really lacking feature is a better nose and swept beltline for style. It could also use a better interior, but it wasn’t bad. My four days in the rental proved it was far quieter and more refined than the Camry I had last week or the 300 I had the week before that, and I averaged the same mileage as the Camry and much better than the 300.

    Don’t get so hard on it before you actually try it out. I don’t believe this review does it justice.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    Don’t get so hard on it before you actually try it out. I don’t believe this review does it justice.

    I sat in one at the last Auto Show and saw the new Taurus on the turntable and was not impressed. Sitting in a Five Hundread didn’t help either. Acres of dash similiar to what was once hated in the 1991+ Caprices, instrusive center stack, acres or rear leg room but yet ridiculously narrow overal interior-wise. I’m talking Fusion narrow in a Crown Vic sized interior.

    My problem with the Taurus is not that it exists, but that the Five Hundread/Taurus was brought into existence to replace the Panthers despite what Ford has said. And the D3s aren’t suited or sufficient to do that.

    Not to mention the new Taurus’ front clip makes me think “blinged up Tempo”.

  • avatar
    86er

    Don’t get so hard on it before you actually try it out. I don’t believe this review does it justice.

    I’ve tried them. Didn’t like them.

    I’m not saying the 500/Taurus is a bad car, per se. I’m just saying that it’s no Crown Victoria replacement.

    The car in no way carries itself in a manner which would lead one to believe that they are driving a vehicle of any proportion or presence. Some people like that. For me, I bought a big car because I…wait for it… wanted something that rode and felt like a big car.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    For me, I bought a big car because I…wait for it… wanted something that rode and felt like a big car.

    Shhhhhh!

    People like you aren’t supposed to exist anymore!

  • avatar
    rocket

    Terrible car. There is nothing good about Taurus, nothing. It’s just sad to see how Ford screwed it up…again!

    I just drove one last week and it overheated. I was stranded in the middle of nowhere with the battery of my cel phone kinda low and it was getting dark, scary experience. Oh and the Brakes were not as tight as you would want them to. Scary car, just scary. I’ll never make that mistake again, my company owns a Sebring too, so next time I’ll make sure to hop into the Chrysler instead of that Taurus thing.

    Nightmare on Wheels man! Avoid it like the plague!

  • avatar
    asiansalesguy

    Did you actually drive this car more than just around the block? I showed up at Hertz today and they had a Taurus Limited in my space. I normally would not take a Taurus, but after looking inside this thing and sitting down I took it gladly. I’m a tall guy and it had more headroom than almost anything I’ve ever been in, the styling was a huge improvement over most American cars, and once I got it on the road it was a thrill to drive. I have driven Japanese luxury cars for the last 20 years and this is the first American sedan I’ve been in that I would gladly go out and buy.


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