Ford Taurus: Oedipus Wrecks (Part II)

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
ford taurus oedipus wrecks part ii

My 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.

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.

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 a 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.

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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  • EBFlex EBFlex on Apr 10, 2019

    "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.

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on May 15, 2019

    The only Tauruses we got were the 1996-2000 models. And those were not popular here in any way, they sold badly and not too many remain now. They weren't cheap, which is what killed them, a locally-built Fairmont was about the same price, and it was RWD/I-6, unlike the US-built FWD/V6 Taurus... With that being said, the earlier Tauruses and the outgoing Taurus look decent...but the outgoing one was starting to age a little...

  • GrumpyOldMan I had a '73 for around 18 years. It had a foot operated windshield washer pump, four grease fittings (one on each each door hinge), and coil spring rear/transverse leaf front suspension. No trunk, but a good size luggage area behind the seats. Almost made it to 200K miles, but the tin worm got it.
  • Dukeisduke As far as I'm concerned, the jury's still out on the new Tacoma. I've read about too many new Tundras with mechanical problems like failed wastegates. I'm not confident these won't have similar teething problems. Toyota should just stay away from turbos.
  • TheDrake I owned a ‘69 GT back in the mid seventies and it was a great little car. The 1.9 liter engine in a rwd car that weighed around 2,000 lbs made for a fun ride. Maybe the best handling car I ever drove, felt like it was on rails.
  • Dukeisduke I thought that was a picture from "Faster with Finnegan", I mean, "Faster with Cotten and Newbern".
  • Analoggrotto Telluride is such a hit that Ford is offering to License them with aftermarket accessories. Excellent use of visuals, a real Pulitzer here!
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