Ford Taurus RIP

Bob Elton
by Bob Elton
ford taurus rip

When Ford unleashed their new Fusion late last year, the American automotive press raved. Car & Driver's Csabe Csere predicted that the front-wheel drive sedan will "truly put Ford back in the car game." Road & Track's Matt DeLorenzo declared the Fusion was "Just the recipe for shaking up the midsize car market." Automobile said "Ford is serious about kicking its way back into the mid-size-car business." No wonder The Blue Oval is pleased with the Fusion and continues to advertise the car heavily. Strange, then, that the Mexican-built sedan was not the product that wore the mantle of the first financial quarter's "best selling Ford passenger car." That honor belongs to the Taurus.

Sorry, I should have said "belonged." That's right: the swoopy Taurus is finally dead. After 21-years on the showroom floor, despite outselling the Five Hundred and Fusion– combined– in the last quarter, The Blue Oval has pulled the plug on its ageing family four-door. The last retail unit has left the Atlanta assembly line. The final fleet car will disappear any day. It's the end of an era for American-built Fords, and a vehicle that was the best-selling US passenger car from '92 – '96.

Ford claims Taureans have/will migrate to the smaller Fusion or the slightly larger Five Hundred. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Even if you discount fleet sales (so to speak), Ford's Taurus replacements don't seem to be picking-up the slack or setting the sales charts on fire. Is it possible that buyers preferred the Taurus to Ford's best and brightest? If so, that's a sad commentary on the current state of Ford's product development process. It also tells us– if not Ford's management– how to build a popular sedan.

When it was launched in '85, the Taurus was a ground-breaking car. Ford's sleek, freshly-designed Taurus boasted a stiff chassis, a choice of V6 or I4 engines, optional ABS brakes and a practical, comfortable interior. The Ford faithful flocked to the sensibly-priced motor, at a time when Ford flockers were nowhere to be seen. Many credit the model's sales for saving FoMoCo from an ignominious slide into insolvency. There's no question that the Taurus helped Ford recover valuable market share and delivered profits that allowed the company to develop other, even more profitable vehicles, like the Explorer and Expedition.

The Taurus' stellar success sparked a number of books by Ford "insiders." While the accounts credit various Ford designers, engineers, managers and marketeers for the model's triumph, there's a common theme throughout the narratives: innovation, risk-taking and, most importantly of all, commitment. Author Mary Walton's "Car" chronicled the development of the second generation Taurus (which debuted in 1996). She reveals that the Taurus program managers' mantra was "beat Toyota". Their goal wasn't "equal Camry", or "come close to Camry", but 'beat Camry.' Possunt quia posse videntur. (They can because they think they can.)

Enraptured by SUV sales and profits, the Taurus slowly slipped from Ford's mind. After the second-generation Taurus– whose launch in '92 marked the model's zenith at 409,751 sales– Ford's mainstream motor failed to keep pace with the Camry. While Ford jelly-beaned the shape and revised the mechanicals, Toyota subjected the Camry to a regular, ruthless and relentless series of mechanical and sheetmetal upgrades and refreshes. The Taurus fell further and further behind, until it was no longer Ford's signature car or profit center. Finally, when even Ford could see that the SUV craze had begun to peak, the company realized that their ageing warhorse had fallen too far behind the competition to save.

Ford spent huge amounts of time and money to create the Taurus' theoretical replacement. The Five Hundred is built on Volvo's SUV platform; it's both longer and taller than the Taurus. This sedan's extra cabin room and "SUV-like" elevation were supposed to be the new model's key selling points. Buyers stayed away in droves. The underpowered Five Hundred is just a little too big. The Mazda6-based Ford Fusion arrived to hit the sweet spot. Alas, the fine-handling Fusion seems just a little too small for American sedan buyers. In retrospect, the Taurus was a Goldilocks special: perfectly sized for middle America's taste and budget.

Billy Ford should have the last Ford Taurus placed in the lobby of his company's headquarters. The final "new" Taurus would serve as a fitting tribute to a model that helped keep the lights on during some of FoMoCo's darkest days. The Taurus could also serve as a stern warning to Blue Oval product developers: develop the products we already have, as well as they ones you think people want. If not, both our products and our company face the same extinction shamelessly inflicted upon this worthy machine. I'd also suggest the following inscription: there are old cars and there are bold cars, but the best cars are old, bold cars.

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  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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