By on April 9, 2019

2019 Ford Taurus SE Oxford White, Image: FordMy first installment centered around the neglected, beancounted “heart and soul of an American hero,” with a sense of pride in bespoke platforms and powertrains. But the re-killing of the Ford Taurus lacks nationalistic sorrow: the hometown hero was a name looking for a globally-engineered sedan, in a declining market, foolishly butted up against another Ford sedan with cooler stuff (a la hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and a SHO-worthy Sport with 325 turbocharged horses). 

Ouch. RIP Ford Taurus. 

2019 Ford Taurus SE Oxford White Rear, Image: Ford

Like the first four generations of the American Taurus, this sharply-creased sedan has very little styling DNA in common with products from Japan, South Korea or Europe. No surprise it made a reasonably bad-ass Police Interceptor after the Crown Vic’s demise. Sure, the Fusion is handsome, but its Poor Man’s Aston Martin theme is a bit obvious. 

Peep those broad shoulders, Chrysler 300-like chop-top roofline, neoclassic slant back butt that’s license plate free (on the bumper, where it belongs!), the not really-Aston Martin grille and angry wedge headlights: the hunky proportions give it a proper American family hauler feel, DLO fail and fake fender vents aside.

That said, this Oxford White, front-wheel drive, SE-grade example had puny (puny?) 18-inch wheels with zero chance of being a SHO-off. A good thing, as the Taurus SE nails the Ace of Base thing — the trunk is huge (but with a small aperture), the stereo’s decent (plus SYNC connectivity), and the interior feels reasonably luxurious even with stiff cloth seats. Too bad about the space inefficiencies: while 4 inches wider than a Fusion, it’s seemingly offset by a thicker console (that always touched my knee). 

Perhaps not, but the Fusion has slightly more overall interior room.

2019 Ford Taurus SE Interior, Image: Ford

The refreshed 2000-2007 Taurus was a beancounter’s dream — not so this time!

Fully expecting a de-contenting buffet in the Taurus’ last throes, even the SE has richly padded/stitched door panels, fine chrome accents abound, and all requisite features are backed by a blizzard of buttons across its laid back dashboard. So kudos to Ford for actually learning from their mistakes. Why not have a decadent swan song?

And the mandatory — but tiny — back up camera exists for a reason: these sixth-gen bulls have deplorable visibility. As if one needed further reason to eschew sedans for an SUV, even the (chrome ringed!) trunk release button sits on the center stack. An odd location until you consider the Taurus’ most likely customer: Police fleets, not would-be Camry/Avalon buyers. 

It’s no Panther chassis, which is mostly a good thing. The non-beancounted Ford intercepts oncoming traffic even with the base 288-hp V6, only needing a more responsive transmission recalibration to get moving with spirit. Torque steer is minimal and NVH controls are luxury car worthy — jail-worthy speeds happen quickly and effortlessly (with the likely perk of your trip to the slammer mimicking yours), but at least the prodigious brakes put the previously-tested 2006 model’s soft disc/drum affair permanently to rest. 

Handling is flat enough with reasonable grip, and the SE’s ride isn’t far from the 2006’s magic carpet waft (accomplished with spongy flight bench seating and sidewall-friendly 16-inch wheels).  It’s an excellent ride/handling balance, so while you may want more, you clearly don’t need it: the Taurus SE is a competent package showing how far fleet-spec sedans progressed in these 12 years. 

Which is a serious upgrade over my 2006 Taurus experience, considering it’s only $2,500 more (adjusted for inflation).

Bringing back the Taurus was a good idea back in 2008, but clean-sheet family sedan from unibody to powertrain was needed. Don’t give me that “nobody wants a sedan” nonsense — that’s what Tesla sells/hypes to the point of eye-watering stock valuations, with waiting lists longer than a queue of Super Duties. 

Ford Mustang EV Mach E, Image: Ford

This was The Car That Saved Ford, and the solution is clear: whatever Ford’s doing with an electric Mustang sedan, keep up the good work but change the name. What better name to bring back for a genre that thrives on grille-less front facades? 

It’s a Taurus, for us — complete with a higher-wattage model under the SHO branding umbrella. And do note Tesla’s cheeky rear-facing seats also need a complementary picnic table, so we get our Taurus wagon back. I hear the EDM remix of that cheeseball 1980s theme already, and it’s worthy of Daft Punk’s Giorgio by Moroder.  

What could possibly go wrong?

Perhaps you noticed neither eulogy road test photographed the actual vehicle. Both my 2006 and 2018 testers were dealership loaner cars; neither seemed interesting/relevant at the time for proper photography. Then, months later, both models were killed. Oops! Consider this a lesson learned. 

[Images: Ford]

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38 Comments on “Ford Taurus: Oedipus Wrecks (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I know production is finished but I did notice the local high volume Ford Dealer has ONE Taurus in stock (and 80 F150s of every trim and drivetrain option.) The local CarMax has lots to choose from however. ;-)

    Is the Taurus’ 21 cubic ft of trunk space the current KING among vehicles you can buy new?

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Without looking up the numbers, I think the Impala and XTS make a good showing too, but I think the Taurus is the king. I rented one for a business trip/vacation, and all of my work detritus and luggage took up about a quarter of the trunk. I think the Taurus is less hampered by the big trunk/small opening phenomenon than the Chevy and Cadillac are.

      I’ll repeat that I’m sad to see this car go. If one can get past the (lack of) spatial vibe that the console and high sills impart, it becomes apparent that it actually is a roomy car. I preferred the previous-gen Taurus/Sable in terms of layout, but objectively the ’10-’19 has plenty of room for four adults. I’ll add that I think it’s totally fair if you CAN’T get past the spatial vibe.

      And I don’t care what the numbers say, four of me would fit better in a Taurus than they would in the Fusion (which is burdened by the sloped rear roof endemic to midsizers of its generation).

      Agree with Sajeev that the comfort/performance blend for the non-SHO V6 Tauruses is good. I haven’t driven the SHO or the 2.0T.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        True. I do, however, recall that my 2014 Lincoln MKS (same platform; very similar dimensions) had a massive trunk that could swallow grandma’s wheelchair and then some. The car itself sat quite high, but the low load floor helped, as did the tall opening, which addressed a concern of the pre-facelift 2009-2012 MKS. HOWEVER, the trunk release was located on the underside of the license plate area, which was…on the bumper for the face-lifted 2013-2015 models.

        I suspect it’s the same for the 2013-and-later Taurus, unless they were more clever.

        Ford inexplicably rectified that issue during the MKS’s final year, 2016, with a redesigned trunk lid. You can identify those cars because they have “L I N C O L N” spelled out across the deck lid, just like all of the brand’s current wares. Beneath that, there’s a long chrome signature that includes the reversing camera and a small recess for the relocated trunk release. The 2016 cars also had the current SYNC3 system, instead of MyLincoln Touch.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Great insight on the redesigned trunk, Kyree. I’d noticed that out in the wild and thought it was change solely for the sake of change. I preferred the look of the earlier design slightly, but the redesign will look better to my eye now that I know it entails a functional improvement.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          Taurus models with PEPS do have the trunk release in the license plate location.

          Fun fact is that warranty generated a change which included a sticker to be placed on the rear fascia pointing to where the release button was.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        This Taurus was a nice car, and certainly good for knocking down interstate miles. It’s just the overall feel was so bunker-like, especially in a dark color interior. The car drove well, but felt ponderous, like it couldn’t dart anywhere if it tried. Not bad, but it just wasn’t very inspiring.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      My old Jetta had a bigger trunk. I’d gladly buy another today…

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        For the record Gentlemen, the current Impala has a 19 cubic ft trunk, the XTS has an 18 cubic ft trunk, the Lacrosse has a 15 cubic ft trunk, the Charger has a 17 cubic ft trunk, and the Chrysler 300 has a 13 cubic ft(!!) trunk.

        I was just wondering if someone could name a current production sedan with a larger one than the Taurus.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Don’t give me that ‘nobody wants a sedan’ nonsense”

    Sorry my man. It’s over.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah no, the Model 3 is a sedan no matter how you slice it. And everyone knows about and/or wants one.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        The “Tesla” part is what sells the Model 3. not the “sedan” part. That the Elon Musk Fan Club will buy sedans in order to get their coveted Tesla isn’t evidence that the same is true for the market at large. Otherwise sedan nameplates wouldn’t be declining by double digits ACROSS THE BOARD.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m not disagreeing with you (actually either of you) for that reason. Sedan nameplates may come and go, but the sedan body style itself will always appeal to people if you actually give them a reason to care.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    Still loving my 2011 SEL. I agree on the visibility and transmission comments, though. It goes like a scalded cat, once it eventually decides to do it.

    I’ve never had another car where I can put the seats down and load a full sized mountain bike into it (without removing the front wheel) and close the trunk.

    It’s pretty stealthy too, since cops seem to ignore it and other drivers confuse it with a ghost car. In fact there is a ghost car identical to mine (with the usual interceptor differences) in my area, so that helps.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I noticed that Ford painted a fair % of this generation dark blue which screams “undercover cop”

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Unless the cops are buying the civilian versions, the 2013-and-later Taurus Police Interceptors (unmarked or not) can easily be identified by their unique front bumper, which looks to me like a straitjacket mask, and the lack of foglight blanks on most units.

        That said, it’s harder to discern in darker colors, like yours.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          1. Different grill
          2. Different front fascia which is unique to the interceptor sedan.
          3. Different tail lamps (Police units have non LED lamps)
          4. No chrome exhaust tips
          5. Units with rear park assist have all black sensors regardless of exterior color
          6. There was a version with a “civilian” grill that was flat black but very few were made.
          7. Different headlamps that did not say “Taurus” on the bezel inside of them, it said “Ford”.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I like El Toro’s looks, understated but not boring. That damn center stack though, I’d get claustrophobia in the driver’s seat. I’ll forgive that in a MINI, but not in a full-size sedan. RIP old hoss.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      What’s interesting about the MINI is it’s a small car but you don’t feel closed in when driving it. If anything, it feels more spacious than you’d think compared to its exterior dimensions.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I love a big cushy car and was all set to love this one but it missed the mark pretty much everywhere that wasn’t the SHO powertrain and the trunk space.

    The colossal center console made it feel like a small car on the inside. And its tall and stubby proportions made it look like a small car on the outside. With a Camry parked next to it for scale, sure. But a 110% Camcord without a 100% Camcord next to it could just as well be a Camcord itself.

    It has aged pretty well in my eyes though. A full decade and two more generations of Camcord evolving towards pure uniblob leaves a degenerate three box looking like a real car by comparison.

    At the end of the day would anyone at all not rather have a 300?

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      What in heck is with all the center console stuff?
      I mean, come on…I can name a dozen cars with massive centers and nowhere near the trunk volume.
      I just don’t get this.
      Its the main street media cut and past at work.
      once a rumor hit…it just runs on.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        There are plenty of other cars with awful center consoles now, but A) there weren’t in 2009 when the Taurus made its reputation, and B) I don’t like any of the ones that have come since either.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          @Dan — I haven’t driven a single one with a center console as *intrusive* as the one on the Taurus. It was not only too wide, but far too high, and felt like you were sitting in a damn bathtub.

          Around the time the car debuted, I had to rent two cars back to back, and ended up with a Taurus followed by a first-gen Fusion. Getting out of the Taurus and into the Fusion was mind-blowing — specs be damned, there was so much more room.

          What makes it infuriating is that there’s absolutely no platform constraint driving that interior. The 500 had gobs of space up front, and when it was released, they bragged about it having more interior room than the Crown Vic. Then they filled it with empty plastic when they restyled it.

  • avatar
    RS

    The Taurus is a great example of the sedan platform being over-styled to death.

    Many things the previous versions did well were completely ignored.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    If their transmission is as reliable as the engine (good enough but not legendary) and other misc stuff, they would probably survive better despite being ugly and cheap interior.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’ve had two Taurus as rentals and I didn’t hate them, I just couldn’t see buying one. Both ate up my 4.5 hour drive from Pittsburgh to Washington DC with competency and manners begetting a large, American sedan. Not impressive, just what was expected. The inside is too small for how large a car this is.

    I haven’t had an Impala yet, but I’d wager it drives better or has a more refined powertrain. Maybe not. Not a GM fan, so I wouldn’t consider it anyway.

    But if I was going to go full-on, full size domestic sedan of an aging platform, the Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger would get my vote. I’ve had those as rentals and I could see myself in one. I just don’t have a need for a large sedan, since we have the van for kid/family duties.

    My other sedan choice is another FCA product: Alfa Giulia. Oh, how I love that car. If I had to replace my Golf tomorrow, I’d try to find a used Alfa, Chrysler 300 or Charger to replace it, in that order.

  • avatar
    WelovetheBullSHO

    We own 3 Bulls all three are running and amazing!
    1997 SHO 3.4 V8
    2004 24 valve
    2019 se
    Because “Ford” decided to discontinue such a wonderful car
    I will only buy used and only TAURUS

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Taurus is a great value in a full sized sedan particularly the upper trim SEL and performance grade SHO. I know the Range Rover like colossal center console can turn people off but the drivers area is very cockpit like.
    I rented a Charger GT with the Pentastar a couple of weeks ago and found it to be a smooth cruiser that ate up the highway getting around 26 mpg combined. Part of me wishes for a new Magnum that splits the difference between sedan and CUV.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    One positive trait about the outgoing D3/D4 platform is the high H-point, even for the sedans. My 2014 MKS was really easy for my grandmother to slide in and out of. It’s no surprise that a lot of their clientele was older people.

    • 0 avatar

      The pre-facelift D3 was great for this: high H-point combined with a low beltline for wonderful visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      The high H-point is great, but it also contributes to the cramped feeling in the current Taurus. I’m relatively long-torso’d, and the current Taurus’s swoopier roof and seat that can’t be adjusted to the floor take away a fair bit of headroom.

      Then again, I find the same problem in the beloved LX cars.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    I rented a Taurus SEL of this generation once. It rode and handled well, got surprisingly good gas mileage, felt like a rolling vault on wheels, and I even kind of dug the Ford Touch interface. Overall, a nice experience.

    However, I had to cross it off my shopping list because that center console took up way too much space and the back seat looked way too small given the car’s overall bulk. Worst of all, its rearward visibility was murdered by its narrow back window and butt-in-the-air stance as if the car got stuck that way after the driver slammed on the brakes.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    You don’t think they didn’t de-content the Taurus when it ended? Think again.

    Dual note horn? Gone.
    Engine NVH cover? Gone.
    Center console lamp? Gone.
    Thicker carpet? Gone.
    Rear Power Sunshade on SHO and Limited? Gone.
    Auto dim mirror on SEL? Gone.
    Power tilt/telescope steering column? Gone.

    If anyone wants one, get a 2018 model. There’s plenty of those floating around and those don’t have the wimpy horn.

    • 0 avatar

      Brilliant: this is the type of stuff I hope to learn every time I read the comments.

      That said, the beancounting isn’t nearly as strong as the 1999 to 2000 re-design. And now I wonder how much worse off the 2007 is versus the 2000.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    1992-95 is Peak Taurus.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    “Sure, the Fusion is handsome, but its Poor Man’s Aston Martin theme is a bit obvious.”

    That always made me laugh. The Fusion looks like an Aston as much as Michael Moore looks like George Cloony.


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