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Here's what I thought would be a cool idea. I like to read reviews on the cars that I own. It is interesting what the experts feel is good & bad about the car that I drive. I am going to start collecting and posting all available car reviews from reputable sources that I can. I invite everyone else to do the same. make sure you dont just post the link to the url. Who knows how long most sites keep old stuff up, and I absolutley hate seeing red x's in a thread I like. If you dont have hosting email me the picture and I can host it no problem. Just let me know which article it goes with and where to place it. Try to keep the text and pictures in the same order that you see it, so that it doesnt look jumbled when you post it.
Here's an example, so try to model it after this:
 

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Comparison Test: American Family Values
2002 Chevy Impala, Dodge Intrepid, and Ford Taurus
By Mac DeMere, Bob Nagy & Chris Walton
Photography by John Kiewicz
Motor Trend, August 2001



Welcome to the heartland. In this virtual center of the U.S. car industry, comfort, convenience, safety, and reliability rule. It's also a place where total value is often measured by more than just purchase price alone. For this square-off, we've gathered three prime examples of the domestic-family-sedan state of the art. We put them through their paces at the track, as well as drove thousands of miles in the real world to see how each measures up in terms of both practicality and driving pleasure. The cars were equipped as identically as possible, given the non-scientific selection of press pool vehicles, and each delivers at least 200 horsepower from its V-6, transfers that power to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic, and bottom-line tallies within a stone's throw of $25,000. Add or subtract a couple of minor options, and they're essentially all the same price. So, which one is best for you? That's what we're here to discover.

After a brief hiatus, the Chevrolet Impala nameplate is back. But instead of again being affixed to a potent V-8 muscle sedan, it now aims to make its mark as a value leader within the V-6 family-sedan segment. Although the price of entry starts at $18,705 for a base Impala that comes impressively well appointed, stepping up to the $22,365 highline LS nets a 3.8-liter OHV V-6 in place of the 3.4-liter engine, sport-tuned suspension, upgraded wheel/tire package, anti-lock feature on its four-wheel disc brakes, a driver-side airbag, plus cruise and traction controls to hit but a few of the highlights. Our car carried the LS Preferred Equipment Group (auto-dimming mirror, driver info center, keyless remote), leather seat trim, upgraded stereo system with CD, and power passenger seat along with heaters for both front perches. Even this loaded specimen still only commanded $24,715 out the door, including freight.

Ford intends to take an equally stout run at regaining its one-time sales leadership in the family sedan segment with the massively overhauled Taurus. Although it retains nearly all of its predecessor's key dimensions, the new sheetmetal and taller roofline bring 3.7 cubic feet more interior volume and a 1.2-cubic-foot larger trunk. Couple that with significant advances on the safety and convenience front and a starting price of just $17,695, and it could be in line to mount one of the all-time market comebacks. By the time you've reached the ultimate SE grade, in the form of a $20,895 SE Comfort variant we chose for this test, the goodies roster expands to include Ford's 3.0-liter DOHC Duratec V-6 engine and a massive array of power-assisted amenities. Our car also arrived with the primo Mach sound system and six-disc CD changer, full leather, side airbags, a class-exclusive power-adjustable gas and brake pedals set, and a power passenger seat. Even with all that on board, its bottom line rose to just $24,100.

The last generational changeover for Dodge's Intrepid was in '98, when the line got the look and the powertrains it has today. At $20,390, even the base car enjoys flowing sheetmetal that wraps an equally formidable selection of desirable comfort and convenience features. Along with a more potent 3.2-liter SOHC V-6 engine, key extras gained by springing for the $1795 hit that elevates one from base to ES trim include keyless remote entry, foglamps, alloy wheels, power driver seat, split-folding rear bench, and an additional 500 pounds of tow capacity. Our tester was further enhanced by a comprehensive option package that added automatic air conditioning, high-end stereo with CD changer, leather upholstery, trip computer, anti-theft system, and numerous lesser touches. The associated $2560/one-price-gets-all tariff for that prepackaged gaggle of goodies boosted our car's sticker to a heady $26,480.


INSIDE LINES

If you're looking for a big family sedan, you've come to the right place. All three of these roomy four-doors carry EPA "Large car" classifications, and each comes within a couple cubic feet of the others with respect to its official passenger compartment volume index. Prime parallels include the ability to easily handle four adults in comfort or carry five full-sizers on shorter stints. It's equally true that, even even under the best of circumstances, the rear-seat "slot rider" is destined to be the least happy camper.

Up front, we found the Intrepid's buckets provided the best combination of comfort and support. They were also the only ones to feature power adjustability for both seat elements. The Impala was second in this department, although it lost a few points for a lower cushion that some drivers felt is too deeply recessed for long-distance support. The Taurus buckets went a bit too far in the opposite direction for our tastes; considerably harder and less contoured, you generally felt seated more on them than in them. That basic design philosophy carried over into the aft quarters, as well, where both the Chevy and Dodge offer more inviting rear benches.

Those who do plan to tote three rear-seat adults on a semi-regular basis would do well to seriously consider the Impala, as its slightly more upright greenhouse configuration provides better headroom for outboard passengers. However, if your rear-seat occupants generally are kids, we'd slightly favor the more plushly padded center perch in the Intrepid over the Impala's but deemed both far more desirable than the rear seat area of the Taurus.

Our test crew's feelings were divided on the general aesthetic and functional execution of the dashboard and control areas of this threesome. Where the Taurus opted for a new, more blatantly conservative approach, while the Intrepid delivered a more contemporary presentation, our evaluators expressed roughly equal sentiment in favor of each. That bi-partisan favoritism came at the expense of the Impala, which uses such a bland and plasticky combination of surface textures and switchgear its design was voted a solid third place in the mix. Helping offset that deficit, the Chevy gives its driver standard dual-zone climate control plus tire-pressure and oil-life monitoring systems. None of those three items is even optional on the Dodge or Ford.

As for coping with other types of payloads, all three sport 60/40 split/folding rear seatbacks and have the ability to haul a growing family's worth of suitcases, baby strollers, or pet supplies without batting an eye. However, mere capacity numbers don't quite tell the whole story. Regular cargo toters will be most impressed with the Impala. Although its decklid cutout has a slightly higher liftover than the Taurus', the Chevy's nifty space-saver hinges and gas-strut supports coupled with a generous pass-through opening to the interior give its 17.6-cubic-foot bay a slight real-world edge over even the Intrepid. Despite the latter's slightly larger absolute trunk dimension (18.4 cubic feet), the Dodge rated second best due to a narrowish trunk opening, barely adequate lift supports, and a less-accommodating pass-through. Ford made huge strides in the 2000 Taurus redesign when it came to enhancing utility and a vastly improved decklid cutout makes access easier to its expanded 17.0-cubic-foot bay. But space-stealing C-hinges on the trunklid and a wide but relatively narrow interior pass-through dropped it to third on our list.


Ford's sophisticated 3.0-liter all-alloy Duratec V-6 makes 200 horsepower and 200 pond-feet of torque.




SAFETY CHECKS

While all three of these vehicles feature a strong, rigid unibody with the requisite computer-optimized front/rear crumple structures, side-impact door beams, and dual front airbags, a closer examination of the fine points shows the new Taurus brings some class-leading tech.

Seeking to build on the five-star frontal crash ratings its predecessor earned from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this 2000 variant incorporates standard and optional features the other two cars don't offer. Heading the list is Ford's new Advanced Restraint System, a comprehensive hardware/software package that more accurately tailors the response of the passive safety equipment to any given impact. Key elements include a crash severity sensor linked with a driver-seat position sensor, dual-stage front airbags for driver and passenger, and the latest strain of belt retractors and pretensioners.

Unlike the Impala and Intrepid systems, which rely on the current iteration of "depowered" airbags paired with conventional retractors/pretensioners, Ford's ARS is designed to actively modulate the amount of bag inflation energy released in a given crash. One more advantage: The Taurus is the only one in this group to offer dual front-side bags as an option. Curiously, a driver-side-only side-impact bag is optional on the base Impala--but standard on the LS model--while the Intrepid makes no provision for side bags at all. All three cars are equipped with child seat anchor points in the rear package shelf but only the Ford and Chevy boast three-point belts in the center seat spot. The Taurus alone offers a standard-equipment emergency inside-the-trunk glow-in-the-dark release. A similar item is optional on the Impala but not yet available on the Intrepid.


THE FINAL ASSESSMENT

We now arrive at the moment of truth--or in the minds of certain hardline Bow-tie faithful, Blue Oval brigadiers, and Mopar aficionadoes--the moment of half truths. Following a spirited bout of verbal jousting among our staff evaluators, we deemed the new Ford Taurus top pick in this family sedan faceoff. However, its primacy over both the second-place Chevy Impala and third-finishing Dodge Intrepid should in no way be construed as overwhelming. Here's our thinking:

Ford faithful-and everyone else for that matter--can take heart in the fact that the new Taurus truly is better than before in every functional way imaginable, and attractively priced to boot. Yes, it lacks the plush seat comfort of the Dodge and Chevy. And some may feel its more conventional styling treatment has become perhaps a bit too conservative. However when it comes to genuine substance--particularly in the realm of passenger safety--coupled with genuine affordability, the new Taurus is tough to beat. Its trick Duratec V-6 is just icing on the cake. And it does have those cool power-adjustable pedals. For the legions of formerly loyal buyers who defected when the last generation's styling just went too weird, this package is definitely worth a second look.

If the whole family guy thing hasn't quite quashed the last vestiges of boy racer in you, there may be a Chevy in your future. Although a far cry from the last sedan to wear an Impala logo, it's still the quickest and most responsive of this trio in absolute terms. While we're less than thrilled with its interior accoutrements, we heartily salute the Impala's bulletproof powertrain, solid functionality, and serious value packaging.

Which brings us to the Dodge. Although starting to show its age in some functional areas, the Intrepid still boasts the best overall styling, smoothest ride, and what we felt to be the greatest amount of genuinely useable interior space of this threesome. If those aspects of its persona are enough to offset its slightly sluggish performance, relatively high interior noise levels, and perhaps most telling, the price premium it commands in comparison to its newer Chevy and Ford foes, this Dodge may still be your sedan of choice.

For the record, any one of these three can get the family job done. Only by matching the specific details of each against your own personal criteria set will a victor emerge for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3


Pre-Owned: 1996-1999 Ford Taurus
Bread-and-butter family transport

By David Newhardt
Photography by Matt Stone
Motor Trend, December 2002

Since its introduction in '86, the Ford Taurus has enjoyed healthy sales in the ultra-competitive midsize five-passenger sedan segment. While the "aero" styling was considered mildly radical at its debut, the Taurus quickly became the mainstream benchmark and received a minor redo in '92. Ford took a risk with that original aero look and did so again with a major redesign for '96. Hoping to blunt critics and strike out in a new direction, the third-generation '96 Taurus was bold, unique--and panned for its obsession with ovals. Underneath the new look was a refined version of the prior generation.

The '96-'99 Taurus came in four trim levels: G, GL, LX, and topline SE. Available in four-door sedan and four-door wagon configurations, it offered two V-6 engines when first launched. Standard was the venerable 3.0L/145-hp overhead-valve Vulcan V-6, an adequate, durable, though hardly exciting powerplant. Next up was the Duratec DOHC 3.0L/200-hp V-6, which injected a bit of fun into the equation. In late1996, the high-revving, limited-edition SHO (Super High Output, pictured) model entered the lineup with a 235-hp Ford/Yamaha V-8 mated to an automatic transmission, plus a sportier suspension, larger brakes, special ZF steering, and more.





Behind the wheel, the base-engine Taurus is benign and predictable, the consummate rental car. The 200-hp version is a lot punchier around town and offers better highway passing power, so that's our recommendation. The only transmission available is a four-speed automatic. The ovular design theme is carried through into the interior with mixed results, but comfortable seats and a smooth ride serve well for long commutes.

Finding a Taurus to buy isn't a problem, as Ford sold in excess of 300,000 units each year, including rental-fleet sales. What the Taurus offers most is basic transportation value; it's not hard to find well-equipped '99s for less than $10,000. Expect to pay top dollar for a mint SHO, however, as few were built, and many were driven hard. Problems with the '96-'99 Taurus are generally minor and primarily concern secondary components, as well as occasional difficulties with the aforementioned transmissions, but there's no shortage of Technical Service Bulletins. Good service is the key to avoiding a turkey with most any car, and the Taurus is no exception. With the vast numbers out there, shop around and don't settle for anything but a clean, well-maintained example. Finally, don't discount the wagon body style, as it's as roomy as many SUVs, comes with standard four-wheel disc brakes, and is cheaper to buy, run, and insure.



Specifications
Body type: 4-door sedan, 4-door wagon
Drivetrain: Front engine, fwd
Airbags: Front dual
Base curb weight, lb: 3400
Base engine: 3.0L/145-hp OHV V-6
Optional engine: 3.0L/200-hp DOHC V-6
Brakes, f/r: Disc/drum
Price range,: $3815-$8660/
wholesale/retail: $5705-$11,635
(per Kelly Blue Book): $8385-$18,070 (SHO)
Recalls: Transmissions,seatbelts, throttle linkage.
Visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov
NHSTA frontal-impact: 4-star/4-star rating, driver/pass


1996-1999 Ford Taurus
WHAT'S HOT
·Plenty to choose from
·Duratec engine is strong performer
·Good transportation value

WHAT'S NOT
·Lots of recalls
·Fit/finish/materials quality not up to Camry/Accord levels
·Controversial styling
 

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Discussion Starter #4


MotorWeek Online


When Ford introduced the first mid-size Taurus sedan and wagon in 1986, it was hailed as a bold and innovative family car design, and Taurus soon became the top seller in its class. But when Ford tried to repeat history with an even bolder Taurus in 1996, press and public reaction was noticeably cooler. So for 2000 Ford has prepared a redesigned Taurus that's both less extreme to see, and a lot more user friendly to drive. Will this be the Taurus that brings the buyers back?

It certainly could if they're family buyers to whom safety is vitally important. Because safety was Ford's primary goal when redesigning the Taurus for the 2000 model year.

Though the fact that Ford designers gave Taurus sedan and wagon a less radical, now sleekly attractive new exterior, will surely bring back many more buyers put off by the previous overly ovoid shape. This bull's styling now is conservative, to be sure. But it fosters the impression of a safe, solid place to spend your driving time. A theme both the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have used to surpass Taurus in sales.

To back up that reassuring look, Ford designers equipped the now-larger Taurus interior with a host of major, and minor, safety features. Which, for the first time in its class, are all tied together in a fully integrated system.

First among them are dual stage front airbags. A computer matches inflation speed to the impact severity. Seat mounted front side airbags are also an option. Plus, the front shoulder belts boast phyrotectnic pretensioners to hold you in place at the beginning of an accident, and energy management retractors to then release the belt tension in a controlled manner, thereby reducing the chance of serious chest injury. While optional power adjustable gas and brake pedals, an exclusive to Ford Motor Company, help keep shorter drivers a safe distance from the airbag. The pedals move in a 3-inch range by way of a seat mounted control.

The all-new instrument panel is not only made of new energy-absorbing materials, but has a more eye-pleasing, Lexus-like shape. Ford's Integrated Control Panel also lost its oval shape, yet climate and audio controls remain clean and convenient.

Order the bucket seats and Comfort Package, and you get a center armrest large enough for a CD-changer. An improved front bench seat with flip-fold console is still available.

The big news in the rear seat is a big increase in head room. Thanks to a taller roof, it's up nearly two inches, while trunk space grows by 1.2 cubic-feet, for an easier-to-access 17 cubic-foot total. Note the glow-in-the-dark interior trunk release to prevent inquisitive children from becoming trapped.

The most familiar parts of the 2000 Taurus are its upgraded 3.0-liter V6 engines. The pushrod Vulcan is quieter and gains 10 horsepower for a total of 155, while torque is up 15 to 185 pound-feet, while the 24-valve, twin-cam Duratec is more responsive with 200 horses and 200 pound-feet of torque.

A 4-speed automatic is standard, rotating now standard 16-inch wheels. Which when spun-up by the Duratec V-6, sprint to 60 in 8.1 seconds and through the 1/4 mile in 16.1 seconds at a fine 87 miles-per-hour. Except for a slight dip in the midrange, power comes on strong and smooth. Shifts are sharp and precise, without the harshness of last year's gearbox.

Handling hardware is upgraded for 2000, too, with new struts and springs, and revalved power steering. Front-wheel drive plow is still quite noticeable. But this bull is quicker and more precise in corners than last year. Though a lack of steering feel, and lots of body roll, made us feel detached from the road during an emergency lane change.

As for braking, stops from 60 average 128 feet. Our car's front discs and rear drums, coupled to an optional anti-lock system, delivered excellent feel and stability. Though we wish the Taurus sedan got the wagon's 4-wheel discs.

Available with ABS is an all-speed traction control. New to Taurus, it uses both brake and engine control to reduce wheel slippage during acceleration and cornering on slick roads.

As a daily driver, the 2000 Taurus feels as safe, solid and dependable as it looks. No family car has more standard and available safety equipment. Plus, it now rivals both the Camry and Accord in passenger comfort and mechanical refinement.

And, the Taurus easily holds its own against competitors in price. The LX sedan starts at $18,245, with the high volume SE carrying a base price of $19,295. Taurus Wagon, in SE trim only, starts at $20,450.

With its integrated approach to safety, more dignified styling, and refined powertrains and chassis, the 2000 Ford Taurus is once again a serious contender for top sales honors, and the mid-size family sedan that, we think, will bring buyers charging back to Ford showrooms. And that's no bull!


2000 Ford Taurus
Engine: 3.0-liter Duratec DOHC 24-valve V6
Horsepower: 200
Torque: 200 lb feet
0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.1 seconds @ 87 mph
60-0 mph: 128 feet
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ford Taurus: Nice Personality

One person's boring is another's dependable car






"A DECENT, BORING CAR" is not the kind of moniker an automaker wants stuck on one of its models. But in the case of the 2000 Ford Taurus, that label, given to us by a Taurus owner, was not only seemingly sought after by the folks in Dearborn, but the buyers wanted it as well.

Stung by the harsh criticism its '96 edition received from both the media and the car-buying public, the 2000 model is mostly new. Gone is the bubble-like exterior shape with its all-rounded edges along with the oval-overdose interior treatment.

Everything the driver of a 2000 Taurus sees and touches is new. Ford calls this car the "third generation," and while the platform is not all-new, more than 80 percent of the Taurus is new. Only the exterior door panels are carryovers from the previous model.

On the inside, the integrated control panel survived the redesign, but it is now a rectangle, with square buttons. Interior door panels are made up of rectangular pieces and on the outside, the rear deck is... well, it's squared off. Get the drift?

The statement made by the redesign could be taken as, "We've corrected our mistake." That's where the boring kicks in.

Like it or not, the oval look made a statement-a statement many didn't like or appreciate-but a statement just the same. The old look, both inside and out, was cutting-edge. But Ford is in the car-selling business, and customers said they didn't much care about being on the edge. They wanted their old Taurus back. What they've gotten, though, is an even better car.

For less than $25,000, owners told us they received a pretty high level of luxury appointments in a competent car. The optional 24-valve twin-cam Duratec V6 pumps out 200 horsepower and the four-speed electronically controlled transaxle is a smarter version of previous gearboxes, making fewer unnecessary shifts while providing quicker downshifts for passing.

Ford engineers went to work on reducing cabin noise and succeeded in cutting the din by 30 percent from the old version. Ford's adjustable foot pedals are available as an option. Softer front springs coupled with standard 16-inch wheels and tires have improved the ride quality and softened the thumps and bangs of expansion joints and railroad tracks.

The brakes have a good feel-especially with the optional ABS, but we would like to have seen four-wheel discs all around rather than the front disc/rear drum setup.

Despite the sweeping changes made to the Taurus, the car is easily recognizable-its lineage still shows through the generations.

Boring to some is comfortable to others, and in the case of the new Taurus, we'd say it reaches a new level of comfort.


Views and Reviews

OWNERS

THE RIDE IS MUCH IMPROVED, in handling bumps, and in NVH. I sell real estate so I drive on different roads all the time, and it was very noticeable. The traction control was helpful here in New England, and the antilock brakes come in handy. The steering has more feel, less kickback, and it tracks much better in crosswind situations. The biggest change is the transmission, it doesn't hunt for the proper gears, or abruptly downshift as my others did. The upshifts are crisp and smooth, a much better feel, more linear.
PETER A. DAVIES, Easthampton, Mass.



THE CAR IS VERY LUXURIOUS for a midsize car. The handling reminds me of European automobiles. We have the dohc engine, which provides good performance on the highway although it is not fast off the line. The only defect we have found was a loose bolt in the ventilation system. This was fixed at no cost.
TIM FLETCHER, Ridgecrest, Calif.



WE WERE IMPRESSED WITH THE LOOKS, performance and handling of the car. Sadly, with only 400 miles on the odometer, and 100 miles from home, it stalled in the middle of the 405 in Los Angeles.
The selling dealership has inspected the car and hasn't a clue. For all of their efforts, I now have an extra 70 miles on the car and a greasy footprint on the carpet. Other than that, when the car runs, we love it.
STEVE COLES, San Marcos, Calif.



THE COLORS THEY OFFER THE TAURUS in are very cool and with the 24-valve six-cylinder, it is a very peppy car.
That engine will let the car get up and go when it needs to while providing a very smooth and quiet ride both on and off the freeway. Overall, this car has been very good to me during the past three months and I would definitely recommend it to other people.
CRAIG ROGERS, Detroit


U.S. MEDIA

THE TAURUS HAS ALWAYS HAD GOOD structural integrity, and it's now further enhanced by stiffer bracing to the cross-car instrument panel beam. And there are small touches at work as well, such as new brackets for the side mirrors that provide a more rigid mount with less vibration for clearer vision and less noise.

Road & Track

FOREIGN MEDIA

THE COMPANY HAS DEVELOPED what it calls a Personal Safety System that works like this: About a dozen components "think" about a collision in the nanosecond it takes computers to think and decide on various responses based on the severity of the crash, the driver's seating position, whether a seatbelt is being worn and so forth.

The Taurus has earned the U.S. government's highest rating for frontal crash performance for both driver and front passenger. That's not an inconsequential attribute in a car designed to haul the family around.

The Montreal Gazette (Canada)

Road Test Data

STANDING-START ACCELERATION

0-30 mph:2.76 sec

0-40 mph:4.19 sec

0-50 mph:6.16 sec

0-60 mph:8.18 sec

0-100 km/h

(62.1 mph):8.72 sec

0-80 mph:14.03 sec

0-quarter-mile: 16.23 @ 86.4 mph


ROLLING ACCELERATION

20-40 mph (first gear):2.8 sec

40-60 mph (second gear):4.4 sec

60-80 mph (second and third gear):6.4 sec

BRAKING

80 mph-0:239 ft

60 mph-0:137 ft

30 mph-0:33 ft

FUEL MILEAGE

EPA combined:23.6 mpg

AW overall:17.78 mpg

HANDLING

490-foot slalom:41.7 mph

Lateral acceleration

(200-foot skidpad):0.76 g

INTERIOR NOISE (dBA)

Idle:43

Full throttle:75

Steady 60 mph:66
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sep. 15, 1997

By TODD LASSA


So far, we've enjoyed driving our long-term Taurus sports sedan, the only problem being a few occasions when our SHO did not go. At the end of our second quarter with the car, we spent a day at our dealership's service department to have the fuel rail replaced. We can now report that the fix works.
The rail, which delivers fuel under pressure to the injectors, was delivering more than 43 psi at the inlet; according to a technical service bulletin, this meant that it had to be replaced. The free repair is available to all 1996-97 Taurus/Sable owners whose cars suffer stalling under low-speed deceleration or acceleration.

After many weeks of trouble-free driving, we caused some trouble of our own. One driver clipped the right-front fender against a carport pillar in the company parking lot. It was a low-speed impact-just the few miles per hour necessary to pull out of a parking space. The body shop had the car a week and charged just under $500, including the equivalent of two days labor. The cost is about standard for any ding more serious than nicked paint these days.

The car had been back from the body shop only three days when another staffer clipped a hard plastic construction barrel with the driver-side mirror. The housing was undamaged, but the glass popped out. The dealer charged $61.22 to replace it.

A month later, drivers reported a vibra- tion in the steering wheel under hard braking. It was a light pulsing at first, but grew worse during a trip to Ohio. The car was due for routine service anyway, so when it went to the shop we had the brakes checked. The dealer resurfaced the rotors under warranty, and the shaking has stopped. (The service was performed in our fourth quarter with the car, so costs will be reported later.) We don't recall any particular treatment that might have warped or damaged the rotor surface-the car is sometimes driven hard, but one can presume that most SHOs are treated similarly.

With the time it has spent in the shop, the SHO's odometer hasn't been advancing as rapidly as we had hoped. However, since several of us have travel plans, the keys to the SHO will be in demand. It's a fast, comfortable and entertaining choice for anyone setting out on a long drive and we expect to rack up a lot of miles in our last quarter with the SHO.. .provided we can keep it out of the body shop and the service bay.

Third-quarter report. Miles driven this quarter: 6455. Total miles: 17,987.

Average fuel mileage this quarter: 20.4 mpg. Service: Replace fuel rail per technical service bulletin, under warranty, no charge; 12,000-mile lube/oil/filter, rotate tires, battery service, brake check, $88.33; repair, align and refinish front bumper cover and right-front fender, $488.58; install new driver-side mirror glass, $61.22.
 

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Ford 100: Taurus led the first revival of Ford

By DAVE GUILFORD






The auto industry's hits don't come much bigger than the 1986 Ford Taurus.

The Taurus' jelly bean shape set the industry's styling template for 15 years. It cruised like a visitor from the future onto American streets filled with blocky, chrome-bedecked barges.

Consumers loved it, making the Taurus the top-selling car in the United States for five consecutive years, from 1992 through 1996.

The Taurus, conceived when Ford Motor Co. was losing billions, vaulted the company to solid profitability.

Ford's internal changes during the development of the Taurus were equally groundbreaking. Ford's first two nonfamily CEOs, Philip Caldwell and his successor, Donald Petersen, evangelized on behalf of a new corporate culture that emphasized employee creativity and teamwork.

But today, the Taurus tale is bittersweet. Through the untimely death of a key executive and the loss of discipline during prosperous times, the company fumbled away many of the lessons it learned.

The Taurus and its sibling, the Mercury Sable, are slated for extinction. And Ford Motor Co. is struggling to emerge from another severe financial crisis.

Even so, the Taurus launch was one of those exceptional times when an automaker's designers and engineers propose an uncompromising, visually stunning vehicle and the company actually builds it. As Ford searches for the key to a revival, it could do worse than to re-examine how it built the Taurus.

A push from Caldwell

In the early 1980s, Jack Telnack was hearing things from senior Ford executives that he had never heard before.

Telnack, then chief design executive for Ford North American Automotive Operations, chose the design team for the Taurus and Sable. Early in the process, Caldwell grilled Telnack about the new vehicle. Ford's CEO seemed intent on reversing the traditional roles of conservative executive and free-spirited designer.

As Caldwell recalls, he asked Telnack: "Are you going far enough? Are you going modern enough? Are you really doing a style and a design that is going to be the beginning of a trend rather than the last cycle of a trend?"

It was an unprecedented conversation for Telnack, later Ford Motor design chief. "I'd never heard a CEO say that."

After a while, Telnack began to believe that the exhortations went beyond standard rhetoric. The design staff had heard rah-rah speeches before, only to see executives turn timid when it was time to sign off on a production vehicle.

But this was different, Telnack says. "They'd always back off and say, 'You've gone too far,'" he says. "Phil didn't do that. He pushed us."

Caldwell's statements reinforced the message Telnack was getting from Petersen, then Ford's president. Petersen says he was distressed by the dull work he saw in Ford studios when he returned from Europe in 1980 after a stint as executive vice president of international automotive operations.

"Frankly, I wasn't happy with what I was seeing," Petersen says. "I asked them if they were pleased with what they were doing. There was head shaking."

New rules

Petersen says he urged designers to forget past restrictions. One early result was the aerodynamic forebear of the Taurus, the 1983 Thunderbird.

Ford design had been loosening up before that, according to Telnack. The 1979 Mustang, with a slanting front end, broke the mold of older Ford products. And European automakers were moving in the same direction. The Audi 5000, for instance, offered a smoother shape.

But the Taurus brought a fully aerodynamic design into the U.S. mainstream. Ford was targeting middle-class family buyers who were, Telnack admits, probably more concerned about trunk space than leading-edge styling.

With the Taurus, Ford offered changes that went beyond the overall shape - windows flush with the body, considerably less chrome, a lowered front end, tires pushed out to the corners of the body and an aggressive stance.

Although the rounded shape gradually won acceptance, the decision to delete the traditional grille remained controversial. Designers wanted to replace the usual chrome-covered rectangle with an oval opening.

Debate became so intense that the product development team produced two prototypes - one of which had a traditional grille. Ford's design committee weighed the two, Telnack recalls. It was only when William Clay Ford Sr., the head of the committee, approved the no-grille design that it went forward.

The planets line up

"It was Bill Ford who said, 'We're going with this one,' " Telnack says. "I just about leapt up and threw my arms around him."

There were solid reasons to approve the Taurus design. Telnack says that the smoother shape produced significant savings in gas mileage, providing "no-cost fuel economy." And Ford's desperate need for a breakout success required that it gamble on a head-turning look.

It was a rare opportunity, Telnack says: "You could almost say that it was the right alignment of planets at the time that allowed us to do the car."

As revolutionary as the Taurus design was, it was only part of a broader transformation of Ford's inner workings. The innovative structure of Ford's Team Taurus helped make the design statement possible.

Team Taurus was put together by Lew Veraldi, a hard-driving engineer who knocked down the barriers between the disciplines involved in vehicle development. In the past, engineering might spend considerable time to create a component, only to be told by finance that it was too costly. Or manufacturing might veto a design as impossible to build, junking months of work.

But in Team Taurus, representatives from the various disciplines worked together. Petersen says that made for much earlier resolution of potential problems. For instance, the team took early prototypes to plants to avoid last-minute manufacturing problems.

"They did some marvelous things to make the vehicle easier to assemble," Petersen says. "There really wasn't a lot of time in the old system. The assembly plants would have seen a prototype, but it would have been too late to make significant changes."

Veraldi demanded quality. At a crucial moment, as the first cars were being built, Veraldi halted production to fix ill-fitting body panels. The decision delayed the launch for several months as production dies were remade.

In the 1991 book Taurus: The Making of the Car that Saved Ford by Eric Taub, Veraldi said: "In the past we would have just pumped the cars out and said, 'Well, we'll get better later.' "

Veraldi's team pushed employee involvement. Assembly line workers were encouraged to call attention to quality problems and suggest fixes. Though the practice is common today, it was radical at the time. Ford ran its plants with a top-down system that rewarded making production numbers above all else.

To Caldwell, the Team Taurus style took hold when executives no longer had to press employees for ideas. Seeing concepts bubble up from below was "beautiful to behold," he says. And the success of Taurus sent a wave of positive energy through the company.

"When you've been in the swamp, and we were in the swamp, and you get to dry ground, that's where the reward comes," Caldwell says. "You have the financial rewards, but you also have the rewards of accomplishment that you are identified with."

Ford forgets

In a fairy-tale version of the Taurus story, the company would be rewarded with permanent success. Ford reaped significant profits, of course. (See chart on Page 242.)

But Ford failed to maintain its edge. In the view of David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., "Ford forgot what it learned." It never established a common development process modeled after Team Taurus. And Veraldi's death from heart problems and diabetes in October 1990 robbed Ford of its champion for quality and teamwork.

"He was the one who had the strength of personality to make it happen," Cole says.

The Taurus' success, coupled with high profits from the explosion of light-truck sales in the 1990s, sapped the company's discipline, Cole says. By the second-generation 1996 Taurus, he says, development was slower, cost discipline was looser, and detailed quality benchmarking was lacking.

"In the next generation, I knew they had lost it," Cole says. "It was like some other company had developed Taurus."

Petersen agrees to an extent, saying, "It's just very, very hard to keep priorities the way they should be - that quality is the No. 1 priority."

Petersen says he winced when he heard executives say quality was no longer an issue: "I thought to myself, 'Like hell. Uh-oh, uh-oh.' "

After years of imitation, the Ford aerodynamic shape is common today. Ford is cutting back Taurus production after seeing U.S. sales fall from the peak of 409,751 in 1992 to 332,690 in 2002. Ford has said the Taurus and Sable will be replaced.

And Ford Motor Co. once again is beset by the kind of losses it suffered two decades ago. The question is whether Ford once again can marshal the innovation and discipline that produced the jelly bean-shaped Taurus in 1985.

Ford's breakthrough

The Taurus development team did things differently:

-Brought aerodynamic design to U.S. mainstream

-Allowed multidisciplinary team to work side-by-side

-Encouraged employee involvement at factories

-Delayed launch to fix quality problems
 

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Bad SHO: Performance Taurus owners accuse Ford of foul play

Dec. 02, 2002





Here’s another engine problem: Media reports and online complaints at www.v8sho.com document more than 200 cases of camshaft failures in Ford Taurus SHO 3.4-liter V8 engines, but owners of the 1996-99 high-performance models say they’re not getting anywhere in their dispute with Ford Motor Co.
Website member Larry Eck says as many as 700 current or former SHO owners log on, some complaining of repair quotes as high as $21,000.

“Many of us, including myself, had a travesty happen,” says owner Jim Merriman. The travesty for Merriman: cam sprocket slippage, which disrupted valve timing, causing valves to collide with pistons, causing significant damage. Merriman said the damage resulted in a $6,000 bill to rebuild one side of his Yamaha-made V8. Of the nearly 20,000 third-generation SHOs made, V8sho.com contributors believe between 5 and 10 percent are cam sprocket failure victims.

Ford’s response, via press release: It’s aware of the problem, but believes “the condition is not widespread.” “Many” repairs are covered by warranty; Ford has paid half the bill for some expired warranty customers and works to lower repair costs in cooperation with suppliers.
 

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2003 Mercury Sable LS Premium Station Wagon

AutoWeek
March 10, 2003






STOLL: This sure isn’t the station wagon in which my father drove us to Denver every summer. It’s a really comfortable, smart and safe vehicle, and it could be the only real domestic competition in the midsize wagon market worth considering. When my dad would load us all up with magnetic chessboards and a plug-in-the-lighter television set, there were floaty, bouncy, faux-wood-paneled wagons coming from everywhere it seemed, but that’s no longer the case. Where’s the competition for this vehicle?
Okay, the domestic wagon market is a bear right now, but you would think GM would have something to go against the Sable/Taurus wagon. This is a legitimate driver, stable and powerful enough for getting the job done. And it had third-row seating even before it was a fad. This drives, or seems to drive, even better than a Sable sedan, really impressive through a lane change. Flooring it to 6500 rpm on the straightaway was actually some fun. I think it’s only about 200 pounds heavier than a four-cylinder Camry, but it has room and power advantages oozing from its pores (granted, quality may be an issue, especially considering you can get a four-cylinder Camry for around 20 grand, but not with all the stuff on this car).


ROSS: Like Stoll, I grew up in wagons and vans, and the only thing on this car that reminded me of those days (besides the obvious) is the old-style odometer. Unlike the mini-wagons we see plenty of today, this full-size wagon has some style. Drop in some tinted windows, a set of MJ’s, and lower the front by two inches, and you’d be big pimpin’. The interior is comfortable, but I was never able to find the exact seat position for myself. Overall, not a bad package: Gas mileage was good, pickup was excellent and passenger room was superb.


DATE IN FLEET: Feb. 18-March 4
AS-TESTED PRICE: $26,140
POWERTRAIN: 3.0-liter V6; fwd, four-speed automatic HP: 200 @ 5650 rpm TORQUE: 200 @ 4400 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 3504 pounds
 

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10Best of 1986 — Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable

Car & Driver
January 2002






Specifications:
Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-, 6-, or 8-passenger, 4-door sedan or 5-door wagon
Base price $9645-13,860
Engine type(s) 4-in-line or V-6, iron block and head(s), Ford EEC IV engine control system
Displacement 1553-182 cu in, 2499-2986cc
Power (SAE net) 92-140 bhp
Transmission(s) 5-speed, 3- or 4-speed auto
Wheelbase 106.0 in
Length 188.4-191.9 in
Curb weight 2850-3200 lbs
EPA fuel economy, city driving (est.) 20-24 mpg
 

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January 2002





Specifications:
Vehicle type front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-, 6-, or 8-passenger, 4-door sedan or 5-door wagon
Base price $10,650-15,243
Engine type(s) 4-in-line or V-6, iron block and head(s), Ford EEC-IV engine-control system
Displacement 153-182 cu in, 2499-2986cc
Power (SAE net) 90-140 bhp
Transmission(s) 5-speed, 3- or 4-speed auto
Wheelbase 106.0 in
Length 188.4-191.9 in
Curb weight 2900-3300 lbs
EPA fuel economy, city driving 19-23 mpg
 

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Discussion Starter #12
January 2002





Specifications:
Vehicle type front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-, 6-, or 8-passenger, 4-door sedan or 5-door wagon
Base price $12,640-21,628
Engine type(s) 2.5-liter 4-in-line, 3.0-liter V-6, DOHC 3.0-liter V-6, 3.8-liter V-6
Power (SAE net) 90-220 bhp
Transmission(s) 5-speed, 3- or 4-speed auto
Wheelbase 106.0 in
Length 188.4-193.2 in
Curb weight 2950-3400 lbs
EPA fuel economy, city driving 18-20 mpg
 

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Discussion Starter #13
January 2002



Specifications:
Vehicle type front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base price $24,262
Engine type(s) DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6
Power (SAE net) 220 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Transmission(s) 5-speed
Wheelbase 106.0 in
Length 188.4 in
Curb weight 3450 lbs
EPA fuel economy, city driving 18 mpg
 

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By LARRY WEBSTER
JIM CAIOZZO

Car & Driver January 2000



With much of today's media attention focused on the growing sport-ute market, humdrum sedans get little--if any--of the limelight. But these sedans still account for a significant portion of new-vehicle sales in the U.S. In 1998, for example, the Ford Taurus and its twin, the Mercury Sable, were Ford's second-best-selling vehicle behind the F-series pickup truck. And just three cars accounted for about 10 percent of the 8.2 million cars sold in 1998--the Taurus/Sable, the Dodge Intrepid/Chrysler Concorde, and the Chevrolet Lumina. So despite all the ink that sport-utes get, consumers still clamor for American sedans.

With such big numbers at stake, it's no wonder we see regular updates and improvements to these cars. For 2000, Chevrolet has produced the new Impala. Ford has updated the Taurus and the Sable. The current Intrepid, on the other hand, dates back to only 1998.
The Intrepid has been a perennial favorite around here, taking 10Best honors in 1998 and 1999. We have, in fact, called the Intrepid our favorite American sedan. So the big question arises: Can this new Impala and the improved Sable match wits and unseat the Intrepid as the domestic gem?

We acquired a Chevrolet Impala LS, a Dodge Intrepid ES, and a Mercury Sable LS. All three cars are top-of-the-line models with V-6 engines, front-wheel drive, and four-speed automatic transmissions. Careful readers will note that we usually would beg a Ford Taurus for a comparison test since it outsells the Sable by about three to one. Mercury, however, was able to supply us with a Sable before Ford could offer up a Taurus.
Evaluating these cars was as simple as taking a fall color tour of Ann Arbor's most challenging back roads. As we do in every comparison test, we included in-town and highway driving with a full battery of instrumented tests. We did not, however, test a new interior trunk-release feature in the Sable. It's supposed to allow a trapped person an easy way out. Later in 2000, the Impala will also come standard with an automatic trunk-release system; this one senses motion and heat inside the trunk and politely pops it open. The Intrepid has no such feature.

One thing is now certain--these American sedans have finally abandoned their floaty rides. All three vehicles displayed surprising back-road prowess, yet they soaked up highway bumps with aplomb. None of these cars would be our first choice for an entertaining Sunday drive, but if asked, they'll play around in the turns rather than flop sideways and feebly mutter, "Uncle."


Third Place: Mercury Sable LS

Even though the previous-generation Taurus/Sable sold well--thanks to plenty of less-profitable fleet sales--it was not the overwhelming success Ford had hoped for, and by 1997, the Toyota Camry had unseated the Taurus as the bestselling car in the U.S. (If, however, one combines Taurus and Sable sales, Ford still has the bestselling car.) Many claimed the car's egg-shaped styling was too unconventional for most sedan buyers, but that's not the only reason sales slumped. We never included the last-generation Sable in a comparison test, but in June 1998, we tested a Taurus against nine other sedans. It finished ninth. Many of us didn't care for that car's design, and we found other distractions, too--the artificial feel of the variable-effort steering, the poor shift quality, a dashboard awash in similarly sized black buttons, and tight rear-seat quarters. We felt Ford needed to go back to the drawing board.
For now, however, all the Sable gets is a freshening, not an all-out redesign, as you can see. As such, the major dimensions remain. The wheelbase and the width are the same as they are in the old car. (The new car is a mere 0.1 inch longer and 0.7 inch taller.) No new packaging miracle has made for a larger passenger compartment. Rear-seat volume is the same, and a smidge more front headroom gives the '00 car an extra cubic foot of front-seat space. Trunk volume also holds steady at 16 cubic feet. All in all, it makes one wonder: Why did FoMoCo bother with the update?


The engines also remain the same. There's a choice of two 3.0-liter V-6s, in either pushrod or DOHC form. Output has climbed slightly from last year's, with the pushrod unit gaining 10 horsepower for a total of 155; the Sable's DOHC engine remains at 200 hp. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission.
For this comparo, Mercury coughed up an early top-of-the-line Sable LS. Standard on the LS with the Premium package are the DOHC engine, leather seats, front airbags that deploy with two levels of force, power-adjustable pedals--a terrific new feature--and automatic climate control, for a $21,795 base price. Curiously, even though Mercury is quick to point out the Sable's commitment to safety, anti-lock brakes--a must-have active-safety device in our opinion--are a $600 option, and side airbags cost an additional $390.

With so few changes to the old car, we didn't expect much, frankly, but the Sable surprised us. Right off the bat, testers commented on its handsome new interior. The tan and gray dash was a welcome sight after getting a gander at the Impala's cobbled-looking unit. And although the seats lacked enough lateral support to hold you firmly in place, they were supremely comfy while cruising.
Our test drivers criticized the numb steering but commended the Sable's unexpected driving dynamics. "Gives a good account of itself in the curves and has good brake feel," wrote Tony Swan. In our handling tests, all three cars were amazingly close, posting nearly equal lane-change speeds and lateral-g numbers. Although the Sable did not give off the vibe that it couldn't wait to get at the curves, it did oblige when pushed. On paper, the revamped Sable doesn't look changed, but it handles and drives leagues better than the old car.

We were also surprised by its powertrain. It posted the second-quickest acceleration times in nearly every test, even though it has the smallest displacement. Good performance is owed in part to the Sable's 3385-pound curb weight, lowest of the pack. In most situations, the tranny quickly downshifted when asked, but at times it refused to go down two gears when necessary.
All was not rosy, however. The dash is still riddled with too many equally sized black buttons that can't be identified at a glance. It's readily apparent that the Sable has less interior volume than the two other cars. Our test drivers gave the Sable the lowest rear-seat space rating with both two and three passengers in place. Disregarding package-related comfort concerns, the rear seat itself may have been the most comfortable of the bunch with its supple leather surface, good thigh support, and comfortable hip point. Adversely, that high cushion means taller folks will skim the headliner, and the roofline arcs down into the rear-door glass, cutting visibility.

Trunk room didn't measure up, either. That down-sloping trunklid kept volume at 16 cubic feet--two fewer than in the others. The Sable is the only car here without four-bar trunk hinges, so there is a further intrusion into the cargo area.
The Sable was in the hunt, but there wasn't one area in which it shined. It even had fewer features than the others, although it cost about the same. In this segment, value is paramount.


Second Place: Chevrolet Impala LS

This car missed winning the top spot because of one glaring shortcoming: its looks. Inside and out, the Impala is a styling flop. Especially unappealing is the dash, which looks like a haphazard gathering of shapes, cut-lines, and colors. One tester said the Impala's interior makes for a perfect rental car. Our test car's drab gray didn't help much. Considering the handsome sheetmetal coming from Olds these days, we wonder who's in charge of Chevy's styling. Is this brand differentiation run amok? The only interior bright spot is its large, easy-to-use buttons.

If its looks kept the Impala from the top spot, the powertrain made the car a contender. Our test car, the priciest LS model, came standard with GM's impressive war horse, the 3.8-liter pushrod V-6. Lesser Impalas make do with a 3.4-liter V-6. Both engines use only one transmission--a four-speed automatic.

The Impala won every acceleration test, beating the Intrepid to 60 mph by better than a full second. The two other cars cannot click off up- or downshifts as seamlessly as does the Impala. Throttle response is right-now prompt.

The Impala moves through turns with unexpected alacrity. We scored it highest in handling with an eight. Body roll is kept to a minimum, and the steering communicates clearly. Even the brakes feel good, with a firm pedal and moderate fade. Frankly, we were surprised. Have Impala engineers been spending time in Corvettes, or what?
Since it's nearly four inches shorter in length than the Intrepid, the Impala's rear seat is tighter than the Intrepid's. You feel it in rear-seat legroom, which a bit tighter than in the Intrepid, but far roomier than in the Sable. Six-footers have ample headroom back there, but unfortunately, the headroom is achieved by a cushion that sits low, and it makes you feel as though you were plopped in a pit with your knees pointed skyward. So there's little thigh support, and the Impala tied the tight rear quarters of the Sable for comfort.

We did find that the Impala's chunky styling afforded an ample trunk. Although the Chevy offers the same cubic-foot rating as the Intrepid, its lid is higher, so we were able to fit more grocery bags and cases in here than we could in the previous king-hauler Intrepid.
Considering the price-sensitive nature of this vehicle segment, the Impala should do very well. It tied the Intrepid in our features' survey despite being about two grand cheaper. The Impala LS's base price of $22,925 includes a long list of standard items--anti-lock brakes, a side airbag for the driver, and a power driver's seat (which has an annoying manual seatback). And the options are inexpensive. Heated front seats and a power passenger seat cost only $425, and an AM/FM/cassette/CD player is just $223.

With so much going for it, the Impala missed the top spot by only one point. Perhaps if we weren't so vain, the Impala's combination of good driving dynamics, roominess, and value might have made it the winner. But then again, who wants to run around in plain clothes?


First Place: Dodge Intrepid ES

Credit Ford's 1986 Taurus with redefining the American sedan from an imprecise cloudmobile to a decent driver's car, but credit Dodge with significantly raising the bar with the first Intrepid, introduced for 1993. That car gave Americans what many of us want in a car--plenty of space, without the unconnected driving sensation of piloting a land yacht.
We praised the Intrepid from day one and continued the applause with the current car. Compared with nine mid-priced sedans from around the globe (see "Salt-of-the-Earth Sedans," June 1998), the Intrepid tied for fourth, but among its domestic peers, the Intrepid is top dog.

The win here is an indication of how we rate sedans. We look at the whole package, and the Intrepid is the Dudley Doright of American sedans.
Let's start with the styling. Quite simply, the smooth curves and the large glass area looked great to all of us. We gave it a nine in styling. Second in the styling department was the Sable with a six, and the Impala came in last with a five. The handsome styling continues inside, where the expansive dash looks neat and orderly, and there are few ergonomic flaws. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Intrepid's in-dash four-disc CD changer. It's a breeze to load your tunes.

As we mentioned earlier, the Impala has surpassed the Intrepid in the handling department, but the Dodge still impresses with the way it masks its size. "Not the clear handling champ it was two years ago," commented Steven Cole Smith, "but it's plenty solid and predictable." The Intrepid tied the Impala for most skidpad grip, but it was the slowest through the lane-change maneuver by 0.2 mph. We found the Intrepid less willing to swing out its tail during the lane change; rather, it slid the front tires and scrubbed off speed. We would have liked some rear-end action, but the Intrepid's understeering nature probably makes it the safest of these automobiles.

Our Intrepid ES came with the $500 optional 3.2-liter SOHC 24-valve aluminum V-6 engine. This engine's 225 hp was the highest of the bunch, and the 225 pound-feet of torque equaled the Impala's output. Our test car, however, didn't perform as we'd expected. Weighing in at 3595 pounds, the Intrepid had the most advantageous power-to-weight ratio, yet it was the slowest-accelerating car in the group. The Intrepid's gearing is likewise well-suited for off-the-line thrust. The last 3.2-liter Intrepid we tested (C/D, January 1998) performed much better, recording a 0-to-60-mph time of 8.6 seconds, 0.7 second better than this Dodge. For some reason, some of our test car's ponies were out to pasture.

The engine clearly was not playing its best game, but the tranny displayed an appreciated willingness to downshift promptly. While we're on that subject, let's not forget the Intrepid ES's standard AutoStick feature, which allowed much more precise gear selection than did the others.
Without doubt, the Intrepid has the best back seat in this group. There's nearly limousine-like room in the hind quarters. Granted, the Intrepid is the largest car here so it should have the most room, but it also has a supportive, comfortable back seat--especially for two passengers. And the trunk is only marginally less useful than the Impala's.

Careful optioning will keep the Intrepid reasonably priced, but our loaded model was the most expensive here, at $26,745. Its available features included such goodies as an automatic climate-control system, a sunroof, a trip computer, and power seats.
In two or three years, we'll see the first new Intrepid since Daimler bought Chrysler. But since the Impala is a new vehicle and the Sable just refreshed, don't expect the Intrepid to relinquish its top spot anytime soon.


Mercury Sable LS
Highs: Handsome, soothing interior; adjustable pedals; and finally an automatic gearbox from Ford that downshifts promptly.
Lows: Forgettable styling, smallish rear seat, lack of features compared with its competitors.
The Verdict: A huge improvement over the old car in steering feel, ride and handling, and refinement, but it's still playing catch-up.


Chevrolet Impala LS
Highs: Prompt throttle response, better than expected back-road moves, lots of features for the money.
Lows: Plain exterior; busy, misshapen dashboard.
The Verdict: An excellent effort from the bow-tie folks, but they could use a styling lesson from Oldsmobile.


Dodge Intrepid ES
Highs: Sharper Image interior, attractive exterior, refined engine, expansive interior space.
Lows: Lackluster acceleration, high price.
The Verdict: Still America's best large sedan, but not the easy winner anymore.


Curiosities
Stuck in the gate: The Sable has a sporty center-console-mounted shifter, but it's saddled with a gate marked "D, D, 1" and has no overdrive switch.


Hidden-away switches: The Impala is the only car with heated seats, but the switches are hidden at the sides. More than once we asked, "Is it hot in here?" only to discover the seat heater was on.
Pedals that move: Power-adjustable pedals make their American-sedan debut on this Sable (below), allowing shorter drivers to position themselves in a safer position farther away from the steering-wheel airbag, while still able to reach the pedals.


No trips to the trunk: The Intrepid's four-disc changer combines easy loading with the capacity to hold more than one CD. A much better idea than having to go to the trunk to change discs.
 

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by Sue Mead (1999-10-04)





CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia - "It's as revolutionary as Windows 95," explained Stephen Kozak, a safety manager at Ford Motor Co., speaking about the blue oval logo's new Personal Safety System, pioneered in the upgraded 2000 Ford Taurus.

We were on a Virginia countryside ride and drive that included a stop at the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, where Taurus has received high marks in the institute's crash testing. In fact, Ford boasts the new Taurus has the highest level of crash protection ever offered in a vehicle at this price.

In addition to safety upgrades, the Dearborn, Mich.-based manufacturer's most popular car gets a thorough remake for the 2000 model-year, wearing more than 900 new parts that bring improved quality and comfort. Most important, though, might be the new parts that give it a new look - a look that Ford hopes will bring the family hauler back to the top of the sales charts.



Stylists asked to 'cool it'

Bowing to customer demand, the avant-garde midsize sedan gets more mainstream clothes for Y2K - gone is the dramatic ovoid theme. Nose-job details include a broader grille opening and larger headlamps said to produce 25 percent more light than those on the outgoing model do. A less curvaceous roofline not only looks more at home on American roads but provides headroom gains of nearly an inch up front and 2 inches in the rear, addressing a weak point in the accommodations of the previous version.

A rectangular rear window (offering significantly better visibility) replaces the previous oval-shaped glass. Though the 1.2 cubic-foot increase in trunk space may seem small on paper, the useability of the trunk is vastly improved due to the more conventional shape afforded by the broader, taller decklid. The only carryover body panels, in fact, are the trademark sculpted doors. Three new metallic colors are available this year; three have been deleted.

Climb in, and you'll notice a vastly different interior. Whereas the old model used ovals even in the design of the audio controls, the new version presents a strikingly geometric and businesslike cockpit, more in keeping with its Japanese competitors. There are map pockets - finally - on all doors and on the backs of the front seats. Two power points are also standard on all models.



Safety is Job 1

Some of the biggest interior changes, Ford argues, are those you will likely never see. The flagship of the brand is also the company's first vehicle to include Ford's Personal Safety System as standard equipment. This integrated approach to accident survival incorporates seat belt pre-tensioners (to instantly take up belt slack and reduce peak belt loads in a crash, seat belt usage sensors, a driver's seat position sensor, a crash severity sensor, and dual-stage inflating airbags.

With these tools, the Taurus tailors its safety response to the specific nature of the crash event, reducing the likelihood of injuries from the airbag itself. Shorter drivers (those under 5 feet 6 inches), for whom the danger of airbag injury is compounded by sitting close to the steering wheel, can choose the optional power adjustable pedals (a first in any passenger car) to allow for a safer driving position. They're also an aid to full-sized taller drivers. Side airbags with head and thorax protection are also optional.

An interior glow-in-the-dark trunk release, child seat tethers, and safety locks on the rear doors are standard equipment, all adding to improvements in child safety.




Under the hood

Under this domestic family sedan's new skin, upgrades to the mechanicals abound. Both Taurus V-6s have been retuned for more power, driveability, and refinement. The Vulcan 3.0-liter now makes 155 horsepower at 4900 rpm (up 10 bhp from last year) and 185 pound-feet of torque at 3950 rpm (up by 15 lb-ft).

As an option, the Taurus can be had with the sportier DOHC Duratec engine. Also a 3.0-liter, it cranks out 200 bhp at 5650 rpm and 200 pound-feet at 4400 rpm - both are 15-unit increases. For 2000, the Taurus SHO (a V-8-powered screamer) will not be offered. Both V-6 Fords are certified as Low Emission Vehicles.

An electronically controlled four-speed automatic is the sole transmission offering; this year it boasts smoother gear changes and a longer service life.

Roadgoing improvements this year include standard 16-inch wheels and tires (over last year's 15-inch configuration) for crisper steering response and sharper looks. Suspension settings have been revised for a better ride without sacrificing Taurus' excellent composure under duress. Directional stability is especially impressive. Brakes (disc front/drum rear on the sedan, four-wheel discs on the wagon) provide more than adequate stopping power.

The 2000 Taurus will ship in four trim configurations. Entry level LX models get AM/FM tunes, five-place seating with center console, a tilt wheel, A/C, an automatic battery saver, remote trunk release, grocery bag hooks, defogger, the Securilock passive anti-theft device, power windows and mirrors, and the new Personal Safety System. The move to the SE adds body-color exterior mirrors, alloy wheels, cassette, keyless entry, and cruise control.

Touted as Ford's best buy, the SE SVG (special value group) features unique bumpers, map/reading lights, illuminated vanity mirrors, six-passenger seating, ABS, and a power driver's seat. Top-shelf comfort models come with all of the above plus heated outside mirrors, racier wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, the Duratec engine, and keypad entry. Leather seats are an option, as is a console-mounted shifter, traction control, and a power moonroof. Wagons, which represent 10 percent of sales, will be equipped much like the SE sedan.

Taurus has fallen behind in the race to be America's best-selling car. Whether its new Clark Kent looks and upgrades will lure buyers to showrooms remains to be seen, but without a doubt, Ford has worked some magic on its newest version that should pay off. With prices from $17,695 to $21,550, Ford expects to sell some 400,000 of the 2000-year models.

2000 Ford Taurus
Base Price: $17,695
Engine: 3.0-liter "Vulcan" V-6, 155 hp; 3.0-liter "Duratec" V-6, 200 hp
Transmission: electronically controlled four-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 108.5 in
Length: 197.6 in
Width: 73.0 in
Height: 56.1 in (58.0 in on SE models)
Weight: 3328 lb - 3532 lb
Fuel economy: 20 city/28 hwy (Duratec engine; Vulcan figures N/A)

Major standard equipment:
Air conditioning
Anti-lock brakes
Dual front airbags
Power windows, locks, and mirrors
Tilt steering
Power steering
 

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Discussion Starter #16
by Paul A. Eisenstein
(1999-03-29)






Have you driven a Ford Taurus - lately?

There was a time when the answer was likely to be "yes." The midsize sedan was not only Ford Motor Co.'s No. 1 passenger car, but for much of the early 1990s, it was the nation's best seller.

But all that changed with the launch of a second-generation Taurus in the fall of 1995. Whether it was the result of the radical new styling, the smaller trunk, the awkward rear doors or the higher price tag, Taurus started to slump, while the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry raced for the top of the sales charts.

Now, Ford is hoping to shore up the sagging sedan with a significant redesign for the 2000 model-year. Though the new Taurus shares the same platform as the outgoing model, it's roomier and offers substantially more cargo space. The headlights are brighter. The interior is quieter. There's more horsepower. And the styling is a little less radical.



The evolution continues

"It's time to evolve, time to meet customer needs," acknowledged Dave Marinaro, Taurus chief program engineer, during a recent background session for the automotive media.

Size isn't everything, of course. And in the aggressive promotional campaign it's readying, Ford will focus on other aspects of the new Taurus. One of the critical goals for the new vehicle, Marinaro explained, was to "deliver a level of safety not yet delivered in our industry."

At the heart of the car is Ford's new Advanced Restraint System. The system is designed to make airbags operate more effectively during an accident - and to reduce the chance of inadvertent airbag injuries.

"It allows the car to think about the crash situation and react accordingly," said Steve Kozak, director of Ford's restraint systems department.





Sensors will detect whether occupants are wearing their seat belts.
The Y2K Taurus offers smart airbags so children
and small adults can ride safely in the front passenger seat.
Another sensor will detect just how close to the steering wheel the driver is sitting. Crash-severity sensors will measure the forces involved in a collision, then decide just how aggressively the two-stage front airbags will deploy.

In minor accidents where front-seat occupants are buckled up, they will inflate more slowly than in a severe crash where front-seat occupants aren't wearing their belts. In some collisions, one airbag might inflate more aggressively than the other.



The customizable sedan

The Taurus also will be the first vehicle in the world equipped with power adjustable pedals, which can move 3 inches fore or aft. This will allow smaller drivers to sit farther away from the steering wheel, Marinaro noted, which should further reduce the chance of inadvertent injuries in the event of an accident that deploys the car's airbags.

The Taurus also will be equipped with a new trunk-release system designed to make it easy for a child to avoid being unintentionally trapped in a locked trunk.

Ford's emphasis on the safety features in the new Taurus doesn't come as a surprise. For years, the auto industry argued that "safety doesn't sell."

But today, "chances are, if you ask a customer what's important, safety will be one of the first two things they mention," said Helen Petrauskas, Ford Motor Co.'s vice president of environmental and safety engineering.



Hitting hard on safety

Ford is by no means the only automaker emphasizing the safety features of its new vehicles. Safety was the centerpiece of a speech Ron Zarrella, president of General Motors Corp.'s North American operations, delivered at the Chicago Auto Show in February.

"Leadership in our business is more than just great-looking vehicles," Zarrella told a packed audience during the Chicago show's press preview. "Leadership also has to do with vehicle safety."

GM intends to start equipping its vehicles with a new sensor that can detect whether a child is sitting in the front passenger seat. If so, it will disable the airbag. Ford officials said they're working on a similar "smart" system, but didn't believe their version would be ready for use in time for the 2000 Taurus launch.

The new Taurus will receive its full, formal introduction at the New York International Auto Show. Prior to the briefing, Ford officials were reluctant to discuss their marketing plans in any depth. But they hinted they'll address another concern customers had when the last Taurus came out.

"My objective is to be equal to or lower in (production) cost" than the outgoing Taurus, even with all the added new content, Marinaro said. Industry observers expect that to translate into, at most, a very small price hike next fall, when the 2000 Taurus reaches showrooms. And that should bode well for the new car's success, said Jim Hall, a Detroit-based marketing consultant with AutoPacific Inc.

The changes made on the new Taurus "fix a lot of the problems the last car had in the marketplace," Hall said. "The new car is good enough to be in the running for No. 1 again."

But considering the competitive nature of the American market, Hall quickly added that even with a brand-new car, Ford will likely have to offer rebates and other incentives to fight off competitors like the Camry. And even then, Taurus might not hold its lead for long. Two years from now, Toyota will launch a new Camry, and Honda will unveil a new Accord.

In the midsize market, it seems, success is, at best, a short-lived phenomenon.
 

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2002 Ford Taurus



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Soccer mom with sex appeal.
Ford Taurus Base Price (MSRP) $18,750 As Tested (MSRP) $25,205
Taurus is the popular mid-size sedan without the boredom factor. It's a bowl of chocolate-chip mint in a sea of plain vanilla. While most sedans in its class seem designed to blend into the scenery, the Ford Taurus stands out like a wildebeest in plaid pajamas.

Not only does the Taurus look like it came from the future, it drives like it came over from Europe, and with something double its really quite reasonable price tag. Two engines are available, and both deliver a vigorous response. Taurus rides smoothly enough for family duty, but with crisp and sporty handling that would satisfy an aspiring Formula 1 driver.

Not only that, but the cabin is functional and attractive, with controls that are straightforward and easy to use. The materials, switchgear and interior textures have a high-quality look and feel.


Ford Taurus Model Lineup
In fact, the only serious downside of the Taurus is its dauntingly confusing model lineup. Already one of the most complicated we have ever seen, it has been subtly reshuffled for 2002.
Ford Taurus LX ($18,750) is the least changed of the trim levels. This is the base model, but it offers a reasonable list of standard equipment including second-generation, dual-stage airbags; air conditioning; power windows, mirrors and door locks; speed-sensitive power steering with tilt steering wheel; and tachometer.

Ford Taurus SE ($19,560) is the lower-mid-range model and adds cruise control, remote keyless entry, color-keyed mirrors, a cassette or CD player (no charge either way), and five-spoke aluminum wheels.

Ford Taurus SES ($20,575) is a popular model, with ABS, six-way power driver's seat, and "aerodynamic" bumpers, among other luxuries. SES Deluxe ($21,675) adds bucket seats, console, floor-mounted gear selector, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a rear spoiler. Backing up the Deluxe model's sportier demeanor is a switch from the standard 3.0-liter pushrod V6 to a 3.0-liter Duratec unit with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder.

Ford Taurus SEL ($22,445) is nearing the top of the line. It also comes with "aero" bumpers and the more powerful engine, automatic headlights, automatic climate control, power adjustable pedals, heater mirrors, a perimeter anti-theft system, machined aluminum road wheels, and both cassette and CD capability. Then, at the absolute pinnacle of Taurusitude, sits the SEL Premium ($23,105), with side-impact airbags and traction control.

Ford Taurus Wagons come in SE, SE Deluxe, SE Premium, and SEL Deluxe trim, none of which quite correspond to the same trim levels on sedans. In general, however, Taurus wagons are slightly better equipped than their sedan counterparts. Starting at $21,495, even the SE features four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, front and rear anti-roll bars, a six-way power driver's seat, a cleverly adjustable luggage rack, and its own unique bumper shape with step pads at the rear. You only have to step up to the $22,810 SE Premium to get the Duratec V6.

With its 60/40 split rear seats folded down, the roomy Taurus wagon has space for a maximum of 81.3 cu. ft. of cargo; or with six passengers aboard, there's still 38.8 cu. ft. behind them.

As mentioned, two engines power the Taurus. Lower-level models use a 3.0-liter ohv 12-valve V6 Ford calls the Vulcan (presumably after the god of iron working, not Earth's staunchest interplanetary ally). The Vulcan produces 155 horsepower and 185 pounds-feet of torque. Our past experience with this engine has been generally positive. Although not particularly quick from a standstill, once rolling it delivers more than adequate performance, along with a nicely rorty exhaust note.

The more sophisticated Duratec V6 displaces the same 3.0 liters, but has dual overhead cams working 24 valves. This higher-revving power plant produces 200 horsepower and 200 pounds-feet of torque. Good as the Vulcan engine is, take one drive with the more responsive Duratec, and you may never be satisfied with less.

Both engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission.

Ford Taurus Walkaround
Approaching the Taurus at curbside, you'll first notice the muscular, forceful appearance that sets it apart from its blander-looking competitors. The grille is broad, aggressive, and unmistakably Ford-oval, grinning between the large cat's-eye headlamps. Taurus' flanks undulate handsomely with crisp character lines, and its rear end bears a resemblance to the sexy stern of the Jaguar S-Type.

Ford Taurus Interior Features
Seating arrangements have been revised for 2002. LX and SE sedans, previously five-seaters, now nominally seat six, thanks to a seating console between their separate front seats. This is the same arrangement used on last year's SES, and that model keeps it for 2002. SES Deluxe and SEL buyers now get the bucket seats and console that used to come with lesser models, but they can have their six-seat capacity back for a $105 credit. Leather bucket seats are a no-charge option in every Taurus sedan except the LX.
All wagons have the seating console, but SEL Deluxe versions also offer leather buckets as a no-cost option.

Primary controls and instrumentation are admirably simple, straightforward and easy to use. Ford's well-publicized adjustable pedals (standard on SEL, and a $120 option on most other Tauri) make a comfortable driving position possible for even very short-legged drivers. The small-diameter, leather-wrapped steering wheel (SES Deluxe on up) has a pleasingly thick grip. Buttons for the cruise control are mounted on the steering wheel and are easy to operate. The highly legible white-on-black gauges include an analog speedometer and tachometer. A single stalk on the left of the steering column operates the washer and wipers and the bright/dim control for the headlights. The power-window automatic-down circuit operates on the driver's-side window only, and there is no automatic-up. On the dashboard just below the tachometer is an on/off switch for the optional traction control, useful when driving with chains and/or in snow.

On the other hand, the central console containing audio and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls is an intimidating sea of similar-looking push-buttons and toggle switches. While elsewhere the Taurus is ergonomically first-rate, operating the controls on this panel requires careful reading of the various closely spaced labels. Among the audio controls, only the volume is a rotary knob. It would be more convenient if the station-tuner were a twist-knob as well.

The removable six-CD changer/cassette is cleverly concealed in the center console at the driver's right elbow. This is far more convenient than the remote 12-CD changers commonly hidden in the trunk of other cars.

The center console is furnished with twin foldaway cupholders, though the swing arm meant to hold your cup in place is not as firm as it might be. Overhead, our SE had a tilt/slide moonroof, with a difference. With only one touch of the button, it opened automatically. Very bright idea. But to close it requires holding the button down, perhaps for safety considerations. Each of the lighted vanity mirrors in the two front sun visors features a rheostat for regulating their brightness, another novel touch.

Our SEL Premium had the five-seat layout, and the excellent front seats provided very good lateral support for a family sedan, without being too tight for the Big Guy driver. The cushions and seatbacks are more firm than soft, but firm is usually best on long drives.

The roomy rear compartment seats three, although the seat forms two semi-buckets and has a pull-down central armrest containing two cupholders. An HVAC duct at the rear of the center console provides climate control for rear passengers. Dual baby-seat anchors are provided on each side of the rear seat. In the SE wagon and SES and SEL sedans, the rear seatback is split 60/40 and folds down, providing an enormous pass-through luggage capability for skis and other long items. The trunk is of generous size and contains the Taurus' mini-spare tire.


Ford Taurus Driving Impressions
The 2002 Ford Taurus is a genuinely satisfying car to drive. Its Duratec V6 is as responsive as a finger snap, delivering crisp acceleration from low revs straight through to the glass-smooth full-throttle shift point. This engine not only provides good thrust, it makes an understated but nicely throaty declaration that it means business. The current SEL model reminds us a bit of the high-performance Taurus SHO.
Automatic transmissions have been improving by leaps and bounds in the past five years, and the Taurus four-speed is no exception. Its shifts are positive, authoritative, and at the same time, almost impossible to feel. The kickdown response is not quite as quick as with some of the best European automatics, but it's still very, very good.

If you ever wonder just how important modern electronics have become, the Taurus with its powerful Duratec engine can quickly demonstrate the benefits of traction control: Simply switch off the traction control, nail the throttle, and the front tires will shriek as they claw for traction. With a powerful modern front-wheel drive package like the SEL's Duratec engine, traction control is almost necessary, reducing wheel spin to help you better control the car.

The Taurus chassis proves an uncommonly successful home for this forceful Duratec drivetrain. Its all-independent suspension provides a smooth, impact-free ride. Unusual in a family sedan, Taurus uses gas-pressurized shock absorbers, so that when it is pushed in the corners, it remains stable, nimble and ready for more. Cornered hard, its body roll is moderate, and the nicely tuned variable-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering delivers a steady stream of road information. And when the turning is done, this steering system provides improved on-center response, guiding you straight down the center of your course once more.

In an emergency lane-change demonstration set up in a parking lot, the Taurus stopped smoothly, with its ABS allowing steering control during hard braking. Braking performance was much smoother than that of a Dodge Intrepid tested at the same time.

With its excellent chassis and Duratec power, Taurus comes very close to being a very good sports sedan for the price of a family mid-size.

Final Word
The Ford Taurus is more than practical family transportation. It is a genuinely exciting family sedan. It offers little to complain about, combined with many reasons to nod and smile appreciatively. The Taurus offers very good mid-market value with excellent drivetrains, good looks, plenty of creature comforts, and the added bonus of a surprising level of driving pleasure.


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From Edmunds.com (weblink at end of article). 2004 Ford Taurus

Editors' Review


Summary


What Edmunds.com Says
No longer a top contender in the midsize car segment, the Taurus is still a decent buy if a low initial price is more important to you than overall refinement and resale value.

Pros
Low price, roomy interior, good crash test scores, available as a sedan or a wagon.

Cons
Low-grade interior materials; doesn't ride, handle or stop as well as top competitors; poor expected resale value.

What's New for 2004
New front and rear fascias give the Taurus a slightly updated look. Minor interior enhancements include a revised instrument cluster, new steering wheel design and a passenger seat weight sensor for determining airbag deployment.

Get a free updated insurance quote for this vehicle

What happens after the manufacturer warranty expires?
Get a free extended warranty quote.

Overview


Introduction:
For almost two decades now, the Taurus, along with its corporate twin, the Mercury Sable, has been the Yankee entry in the midsize car sales war. Each year, the Taurus jumps into the ring to duke it out with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The goal? To earn that prestigious title of "best-selling car in America." But even with substantial fleet and rental sales numbers to prop up the figures, it hasn't won a match since the mid-1990s.

It does have advantages, however. It's roomy, safe and loaded with features for the price. It is also frequently discounted through rebates and dealer incentives. The downsides include poor expected resale value and spotty build quality compared to top import choices like the Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat. Moreover, these cars hold a considerable advantage when it comes to actual driving dynamics -- all have quieter engines, smoother shifting transmissions, stronger brakes and tighter handling. However, Ford's family sedan is still a good value for shoppers on a strict budget who aren't as concerned about refinement and resale value.


For Pricing information, see our Pricing page.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
Available as either a sedan or a wagon, the Taurus comes in a wide variety of configurations. Sedans come in LX, SE, SES or SEL trims, while wagons can be equipped as SE or SEL trims only. Standard items on the Taurus LX include 16-inch wheels; a front bench seat; air conditioning; a rear defogger; power windows, mirrors and locks; an anti-theft system with keyless entry; a tilt steering wheel; and an AM/FM radio. A cassette player and cruise control are optional. Move up to SE trim and you get all of these items standard along with aluminum wheels and a power driver seat. The SES adds a CD player, a split-folding rear seat and illuminated vanity mirrors. Step up to the SEL, and you'll set yourself apart with machined aluminum wheels, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, bucket seats and automatic climate control. Leather upholstery is optional on SES and SEL models, as well as SE sedans.

For more Style information, see our Compare Styles page.

Powertrains and Performance:
There are two V6 engines offered: the 3.0-liter "Vulcan" and the 3.0-liter "Duratec." The engines may be the same size, but the Duratec uses several advanced design features to produce more power. It's rated at 201 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque while the Vulcan makes just 155 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic. Expect to average 20 mpg in the city and 27-28 mpg on the highway with either engine.

For more Performance data, see our Specifications page.

Safety:
Side airbags are available on all models, as are antilock brakes, traction control and power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals. Notably, only wagons are equipped with four-wheel disc brakes; all sedans have rear drums. The Taurus earned a perfect five-star rating in NHTSA frontal crash testing and three stars in side-impact tests. In 40-mph frontal offset testing conducted by the IIHS, the Taurus has earned a "Good" rating and was named a "Best Pick" among family cars.

For more Safety information, see our Safety page.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Taurus cabins have a dated look and feel, but most controls are easy to find and use. The broad, flat seats aren't especially supportive but can accommodate occupants of all sizes, while the available power-adjustable pedals make it easy to find that perfect driving position. Carrying six passengers is a legitimate prospect if your Taurus has the front bench seat. The sedan has a spacious 17-cubic-foot trunk. The wagon's optional rear-facing third-row seat can be used to carry two additional children. When it's not in use, you'll have 38.8 cubic feet of luggage space.

For more Interior Features information, see our Specifications page.

Driving Impressions:
Both engines are noisier than most competing V6s, but the Duratec at least offers strong acceleration. The automatic transmission gets the job done but can be slow to downshift. Ride quality is generally comfortable, but can be harsh over bumps and ruts. Braking distances are longer than those of most peers, and neither the suspension nor the steering is suited for brisk driving around corners.

For more Driving Impressions, Recent Articles and Car Awards from our editors, see our Road Tests page.


Note: Heres the Weblink to the article
Edmunds.com 2004 Ford Taurus
 

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By: Mark Savage
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Ford Taurus was the top-selling car in the United States from 1993 to '97, putting the imports on their heels and signaling the resurgence of U.S. automakers. Then it disappeared.

But the car became dated-looking before it was boldly restyled for the 2000 model year. By then both the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord had caught up to it in design, sales and value.

Today, the Taurus shouldn't be overlooked as a solid, midsize sedan, a good value and a pleasant drive. The test car was a dusty gold SEL model, the top-level Taurus with a bunch of goodies at a moderate price.

The 2003 Taurus checked in at $24,840, including a few options, but basically the SEL has nearly everything you'd want on a family sedan. For instance, there are anti-lock brakes, keyless entry, automatic headlights, dual sun visors, a six-disc CD player, side air bags, traction control, sunroof, and power mirrors, windows and driver's seat.

One more thing; the Taurus has power-adjustable accelerator and brake pedals, a wonderful thing, especially for shorter drivers. These power-adjustable pedals allow a driver to get a comfortable distance away from the steering wheel and then adjust the pedals to fit his or her leg reach. Plus, Ford has moved the power pedal button onto the dash by the main instrument panel so it's easy to reach. No other midsize sedan offers this yet.

The SEL's interior is a winner, too: attractive, comfortable and quiet.

Start with the two-tone tan and brown leather and fake wood trim by the power window buttons on the doors and by the shifter and center controls. The test car added the wood trim package ($190) that includes a real wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel.

The instrument panel features silver-faced gauges with green lighting that is easy to see at night and stands out in the daytime. Ford delivers good seats that are mildly contoured. The driver's seat offers power adjustments, and one button raises and lowers the seat. However, the seat-back adjustment is manual, and there is no lumbar control here, so maybe a little more seat-back contouring would help.

The radio is a good one and comes with a cassette player, big channel buttons and big volume control knobs, so it's easy to use, even when wearing gloves. There also are separate bass, treble, balance and fade buttons and a six-disc CD player. But the CD player isn't in the dash, it's in the storage box between the seats and under the armrest. That's better than the trunk, but most cars now have their CD players in the dash.

You can hear the radio just fine, though, thanks to the quiet interior. Extra sound-deadening material in the floor has helped a lot to make the Taurus pleasantly quiet inside and much closer to its Honda and Toyota competitors.

Other pluses? Taurus puts its cruise control on the steering wheel, and there's an automatic climate control system that pumps out heat quickly.

Overhead, the SEL has a power sunroof and excellent interior lighting. Plus, the automatic day/night mirror includes a compass in the upper right corner. I also continue to like the way Ford puts dual visors in so many of its vehicles - convenient when driving this time of year when the sun is at low angles. The main visor also has a lighted mirror.

How does it drive?

I like the Taurus. Its 3.0-liter V-6 pumps out 200 horsepower, and although the car has a heavy feel, it will get up and go. Jumping to highway speed is quick and easy, and if you need to get away from a stoplight ahead of all those utes, Taurus will oblige.

In fact, you can spin the wheels in the wet, even with the traction control system that comes on the SEL. Still, it helps on wet roads when you accelerate normally.

Handling is good, but not as crisp as the competition. The Ford has a moderately heavy feel to the wheel, and the car doesn't clip off corners as neatly as some other midsize cars, ut there is little, if any, body lean in tight turns.

Ride is excellent, among the best in this size of car. Bumps and ruts barely disturb the passengers, and five will ride comfortably here.

Braking from the front disc and rear drum arrangement is fine, and as mentioned earlier, this one came with anti-locks. Shifting from the four-speed automatic was good, too, something Ford has improved over the years.

The Taurus also gets decent gas mileage. I managed 22.4 miles per gallon in about 70% city driving. The EPA says you should expect about 20 mpg city and 27 highway.

Note, too, that you can get into a Taurus for less than $25,000. Ford offers four trim levels, starting with the modestly priced LX, which starts at $19,340. It comes with a V-6 that creates 155 horsepower. Taurus also has something else few others in the midsize category can offer - a station wagon. The wagon even offers the rear-facing seat in the back to boost passenger capacity to seven, just like a minivan.

In short, Taurus remains a good, easy-driving and quiet midsize car - and a decent value in today's market.
 

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This is an article I found in an old issue of Popluar Mechanics. It was about the technology for the "new" 1986 vehicles. I just copied the Ford section and left out the GM, Chrysler, and AMC(!) sections.

Popular Mechanics - October 1985


Ford

Ford's '86 Taurus and Sable are the intermediate latecomers, so to make inroads they need more than aero styling. Horsepower is selling, and so a high-compression 3-liter V6 with fuel injection is the standard powerplant for Job 1, with a 2.5-liter Four not available in these '86 Fords until mid-year.

The 3-liter has a 60 degree angle between the cylinder banks, good for balance and engine compartment fit. It's slightly larger and rated as more powerful than the '85 Chevy 2.8 V6 (140 horsepower vs. 107 for the standard Chevy and 13 5 for the high-performance model). Injection is the port type with a separate fuel injector at each intake port. The 9.25:1 compression ratio seems high for regular unleaded, but the V6 has the latest Ford fast-burn combustion chamber, which cuts octane needs. It features a mask around the intake valve to promote fuel mixture swirl and a more centralized spark plug that projects deep into the chamber.

Both engines have low-friction technology, which includes low-tension piston rings, plus premium rubber gaskets and oil seals so they can use 5W-30 oil without leaking. The V8, which has to pass a 22.5 mpg standard for 1986 to avoid the gas guzzler tax, also gets sequential fuel injection (the injectors trigger one at a time following the firing order, instead of the simpler but less effective four at a time). Roller tappets, installed on some V8s last year, go on all of them in '86.

Taurus and Sable have a couple of better ideas that will undoubtedly see wide use: an electrically-heated windshield that can remove frost in a couple of minutes at 0' F, and structural plastic bumper that can really take a whack.

The windshield system is very different from the grid-heated rear window (which would interfere with the driver's view). It's an expensive design Ford used in the mid-1970s which required a second alternator, wired to produce 110 volts, and a windshield with an ultrathin gold film coating.

The new one begins with a standard three-piece windshield construction: outer and inner layers of glass and vinyl sheet safety divider. An ultra-thin coat of silver and zinc oxide is applied to the inner surface of the outer piece of glass. The coating does not noticeably affect visibility. A slightly thicker coat is applied around the perimeter of the windshield, and wiring terminals are attached to it.

Push a dashboard switch and the alternator runs without voltage regulation to quickly produce 70 volts or more. The high-voltage current runs to the windshield for four minutes. Then, the module breaks the circuit to the windshield and the alternator is again controlled by the voltage regulator. The windshield system is locked out if the battery is weak.
The structural plastic bumpers, also on Ford's Aerostar van, are a first U.S. application. They're a 2-piece design, an outer "face" section bonded to an inner reinforcement, and attached to conventional shock-absorbing members. The bumpers are rated for 5 mph, but take higher-speed impacts if the load is distributed evenly, such as bumper-to-bumper. At higher speeds, the bumper may get nothing more than a gouge. It takes a major whack to cause the bumper to crack.

The Aerostar van also gets a better Ford idea all its own: a self-adjusting parking brake. It has the standard brake handle with a spring-loaded pawl that locks against a ratchet-toothed section on the bracket. However, the brake cable is attached to a spring-loaded circular reel pinned to the bracket. This reel, which also has a toothed section, meshes with a second spring-loaded pawl in the handle. When the handle is pulled up, the reel rotates with its toothed section locked to the second pawl to operate the cable. Push the release button on the handle and a rod disengages the first pawl. When the handle is moved down, a tab on the bracket disengages the second pawl from the cable reel teeth. If there's any cable slack, the spring-loaded reel turns to compensate, moving its toothed section around a notch, so that the next tooth is opposite the second pawl. Lift the handle and the second pawl re-engages the toothed section at the new point, taking up any slack.
 
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