Ford Taurus is First Produced
The Ford Taurus is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in the United States.
Originally introduced in the 1986 model year, it has remained in near continuous production for more than two decades, making it the fourth oldest nameplate that is currently sold in the North American Ford lineup. It has had a more upscale Mercury branded version entitled the Sable (1986-2005; 2008-2009), as well as a performance variant, the Ford Taurus SHO (1989-1999 and 2010- ). It was a front-wheel drive mid-size car during its first production run, and it is now a full-size car available in front- or all-wheel drive.
The original Taurus was a milestone design for Ford and the entire American automotive industry, as well as a very influential vehicle that brought many new features and innovations to the marketplace. Since its launch in 1986, Ford has built 7,519,919 Tauruses through the 2007 model year, making it the fifth best selling North American nameplate in Ford's history; only the F-150, Escort, Model T, and Mustang have sold more units. Between 1992 and 1996, the Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States, eventually losing the title to the Toyota Camry in 1997.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, sales of the Taurus declined as it lost market share to Japanese midsize sedans, and as Ford shifted resources towards developing SUVs. It was discontinued in 2006, with production initially ending on October 27, 2006 and 2007 being the last model year. Ford had decided to replace the Taurus with the fullsize Five Hundred and midsize Fusion sedans, as well as replacing the Taurus wagon with the Freestyle crossover SUV. However, Ford revived the Taurus name a few months later during the 2007 Chicago Auto Show by renaming two new models that were intended to be updated versions of the Five Hundred and the Freestyle, the "2008 Taurus" and "2008 Taurus X", respectively. A new model of Taurus was then released for the 2010 model year.
The first-generation Taurus was launched in 1985 as a 1986 model to strong fanfare and sales, replacing the slow-selling mid-size Ford LTD. (The full-size Ford LTD Crown Victoria remained as part of the Ford line up.) Upon the Taurus' debut, Ford was producing a range of rear-wheel drive cars, as Chrysler and General Motors offered more front-wheel drive vehicles. With the introduction of the Tempo, Ford had started its own transition to front-wheel drive. The Taurus displayed a rounder shape than its contemporaries, often likened to a 'jelly bean' or 'flying potato', inspired by the design of the Audi 5000 and Ford's own Tempo. The aerodynamic design of the Taurus also made the car more fuel efficient, allowing Ford to meet the more stringent corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard applied by the United States government. The Taurus' success ultimately led to an American automobile design revolution; Chrysler and General Motors developed aerodynamic cars in order to capitalize on the Taurus' success.
The first generation was available with either a V6 or an inline four-cylinder engine, and came with either a manual or automatic transmission. (The Taurus' twin, the Mercury Sable, has never offered a manual transmission in either of its incarnations.) Along with the exterior of the Taurus, its interior was ahead of its time, and many features originating from it are still used in most cars today. The interior was designed to be extremely user friendly, with all of its controls designed to be recognizable by touch, allowing drivers to operate them without taking their eyes off the road. For example, the switches to the power windows and power locks were designed with one half of the switch raised up, with the other half recessed, in order for its function to be identified by touch. To further enhance this "user friendliness," the dashboard had all of the controls in the central area, within reach of the driver. The left side of the dash also curved slightly around the driver, to make controls easily accessible as well as creating a "cockpit" feel. However, it wasn't curved enough to prevent the passenger from easily identifying and using the vehicle's main controls as well.
The interior of the Taurus was highly customizable to fit buyers' needs, with a large number of options and three different configurations. This meant that the interior of the Taurus could be spartan or luxurious, depending on the buyer's choice of options. On models with an automatic transmission, the Taurus' interior was available in three different seating configurations. The interior equipment depended on model. The most basic model, the L (see below), came standard with just an AM radio and a front cloth bench seat, while the LX, the highest model, came with a high level of standard equipment.
The 1986 Taurus was received very well by both the public and the press. It went on to win many awards, most notably being named Motor Trend's car of the year for 1986, as well as being named on Car and Driver's ten best list for 1986. Over 200,000 Tauruses were sold for the 1986 model year, and in 1989, the millionth Taurus was sold. When production ended in 1991, more than 2,000,000 first generation had been sold.
The Taurus received its first cosmetic update in 1992. The second generation dropped the manual transmission and the four-cylinder engine, resulting in all second generation vehicles (with the exception of the Taurus SHO) with automatic transmissions and V6 engines. Length was increased by a few inches, and weight was up a couple of hundred pounds over the previous generation. Every body panel, save for the doors, was redesigned. However, many of the redesigned components closely resembled that of the previous generation, leading many to falsely believe that this generation was just a minor face-lift.
The interior was also completely redesigned for 1992. The Taurus received a new dashboard that, like the previous generation, was designed to be user friendly. All of the vehicle's main controls were located near the left side of the dash, to be within easy reach of the driver. As in the previous generation, all of the controls were designed to be recognizable by touch, and to be operated by drivers without taking their eyes off the road. The new dash also contained three buttons to the right of the gauge cluster that allowed drivers to operate the radio without taking their eyes off the road. The radio was also redesigned, while the rest of the lower dash was carried over from the previous generation, as was the steering wheel. The new dash was also designed to contain a passenger's side airbag, the first time that it was offered in a mainstream sedan. It was optional in 1992, and became standard in 1994, making the Taurus the first car of its kind to have standard dual front airbags.
This generation sold just as well as the first, and became the bestselling car in the United States, a title it would retain for as long as this generation was sold. When production ended in 1995, more than 1,400,000 second generation had been sold.
When it hit the market for the 1986 model year, the Ford Taurus quickly became a sensation in America. This front-wheel-drive midsize family sedan looked like no other Ford before it thanks to aerodynamic styling highlighted by a grille-less nose that fronted an elegant, rounded form. A well-thought-out, comfortable and roomy cabin greeted passengers, and while the car's running gear and suspension design were nothing earth-shattering, they kept overall pricing very competitive. A year later, the Taurus was Ford's best-selling car.
A wagon version was also available for those modern, active '80s families, while driving enthusiasts welcomed the arrival of the pavement-scorching Taurus SHO sport sedan a few years later. The SHO featured a Yamaha-designed, 220-horsepower V6 and a buttoned-down suspension that allowed this Ford to give the pricey German sedans a run for their deutsch marks.
The Ford Taurus was, through most of the early- and mid-'90s, the best-selling car in America. Unfortunately for the Blue Oval, an oval-themed redesign in the mid-'90s failed to elicit the same excitement as the first-generation Taurus. At the same time, increasingly more competent rivals from Japan boasted superior reliability records. Combined, these two elements dampened the Taurus' popularity considerably. As the years wore on, Ford's once bright segment star was seen more often in rental car lots than suburban families' driveways.
Although Ford announced in late 2006 that it was pulling the plug on the Taurus, its death was short-lived. Perhaps realizing it might have been a bit premature to give up on a name with so much consumer awareness, Ford resurrected the Taurus moniker for 2008 when it renamed its revamped Five Hundred full-size sedan. More recently, the "new" Taurus received a thorough reworking, including all-new styling inside and out and the revival of the SHO moniker, that has made it wholly competitive with other large sedans.
Current Ford Taurus
Bridging the gap between family sedans and large luxury cars, the redesigned 2010 Ford Taurus is a big, comfortable American-style sedan with an up-to-date design. The typical Taurus will be front-wheel drive with the base 3.5-liter V6, a solid engine that cranks out 263 hp. All-wheel drive is optional on upper Taurus trim levels and standard on the high-performance SHO model, which employs a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 good for a healthy 365 hp. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission.
The new Taurus is offered in SE, SEL, Limited and SHO trims. Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, full power accessories, a power driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column and a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio jack. Higher trim levels add niceties like bigger wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, a power passenger seat, leather upholstery and the Sync electronics interface system (which includes Bluetooth and an iPod interface).
The Taurus SHO adds the twin-turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension, xenon headlamps and special upholstery. Other Taurus options, depending on trim level, include a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, massaging front seats, a hard-drive-based navigation system, and a 12-speaker Sony-branded premium audio system.
In reviews, we've generally been impressed by the current Taurus. It's certainly an improvement on the previous model thanks to its all-new design inside and out, as well as the most powerful Taurus engine ever in the SHO model. The distinctive twin-cowl dashboard layout looks and feels sleek, and the driving dynamics are solid, if not particularly exciting.
We've found the Taurus' ride typical of a big American sedan: smooth, quiet and comfortable. Acceleration from the base V6 is perfectly adequate, while the SHO's twin-turbocharged V6 provides V8-like thrust at all speeds. Rear passenger space is a bit tighter than we'd expect from such a large car, but the trunk is a cargo-hauler's dream.
Used Ford Taurus Models
The previous fifth-generation Taurus was technically produced only from 2008-'09, although prior to that, this particular car was known as the Five Hundred. Those interested in a used Taurus should keep this in mind, since despite its flaws, the Five Hundred was indeed a better car than the Taurus that came before it.
The 2008-'09 Taurus was a full-size sedan available with one engine: a 3.5-liter 263-hp V6 mated to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive was available as an option. Trim levels included the base SE, the midgrade SEL and the loaded-up Limited. Even base models came nicely equipped with power front seats, a leather-wrapped wheel, an auxiliary audio jack, stability control and a full complement of airbags. The Limited came with items such as leather upholstery, driver-seat memory settings and the Sync system.
The interior hardly won design awards for its visual flair, but the controls were logically arrayed and there were plenty of storage areas. Legroom was plentiful front and back, and the distinctive driving position was SUV-like in elevation -- a boon for shorter drivers, but potentially a headroom-robbing annoyance for taller ones. This Taurus' trunk was nothing short of gargantuan.
These are all core attributes shared with the Five Hundred it replaced, along with outstanding crash test scores, good outward visibility and competent handling that didn't detract from ride comfort. But the Taurus' meatier power, quieter cabin, comfier ride and higher level of feature content (including the excellent Sync electronics interface) make it a more attractive choice than the Five Hundred.
The previous (fourth) Taurus generation ran from 2000-'06. Although the basic body shell was identical to the third-generation Taurus, this version dispensed with many of the oval-themed components used before and the result was a more attractive car.
A pair of 3.0-liter V6 engines (155 hp and 200 hp) were the engine choices and a four-speed automatic remained the lone transmission. Four trim levels were offered: base LX, midlevel SE models and luxury-themed SES and SEL. Even the LX provided air-conditioning and power windows, while springing for the SEL meant you got the 200-horse V6, an in-dash six-CD player and automatic climate control. By the end of this generation, just two trims remained (SE and SEL) and the wagon was dropped. Also, in a fit of American carmaker rationale, the better of the two engines (the 200-hp V6) was discontinued as well.
In an Edmunds.com 2000 family sedan comparison test, the Ford Taurus finished a respectable third out of nine cars, thanks to strong performance (it had the 200-hp V6), solid handling and ride dynamics, and a user-friendly cabin. Six years down the road, however, it was easily eclipsed by more competent rivals from Japan and Korea.
The 1996-'99 third-generation Taurus was an odd duck that considerably softened the formerly best-selling car's appeal. Evidently using Ford's oval symbol for inspiration, the Taurus designers went overboard on ovals, with the car's grille, rear window and dashboard's center stack having the ellipsoid form. Trim levels were comprised of base G, midlevel GL, luxury LX and high-performance SHO.
The high point of this third generation was the debut of the Duratec V6 that made 200 hp. It was offered alongside the dated, 145-hp Vulcan V6. The high-performance Taurus SHO was fitted with a 3.4-liter V8 that made 235 hp. No manual gearbox was available, however, so like every other Taurus, the SHO had a four-speed automatic. In our road test of a 1999 Taurus (with the base V6) we found performance acceptable but unrefined, the transmission sometimes slow to downshift and the ergonomics confusing. On the upside, the seats were comfortable, handling was composed and the brakes (with optional ABS) were strong and progressive.
The second-generation Ford Taurus ran from 1992-'95. An evolution of the original, its lower-profile nose and slightly crisper lines tastefully updated the car, while hardware improvements included new safety features such as antilock brakes and a passenger side airbag. Trim levels initially stood pat at L, GL, LX and SHO, though a sporty SE debuted in the last year (1995) of this generation.
Most Taurus sedans and wagons came with either a 3.0-liter V6 or 3.8-liter V6. Horsepower was the same at 140, but the larger engine provided more torque. This generation's SHO was available for the first time with an automatic transmission. (It was manual-only before.) Auto-equipped SHOs had a larger version of the muscular V6 (3.2 liters versus 3.0), though engine output (220 hp) was the same for both SHO engines.
The first-generation Ford Taurus ran from 1986-'91. Compared to the boxy architecture of its competition, the jelly bean (and aerodynamically efficient) look of the Taurus was a breath of fresh air. A 90-hp inline-4 (with either a manual or automatic transmission) and a 140-hp V6 (automatic only) were offered. The former engine was a joke in a midsize family sedan, so it was eventually cancelled. On the other end of the spectrum was the hot-rod SHO, which featured a ripping 3.0-liter V6 designed by Yamaha that made 220 hp and sent this family sedan to 60 mph in around 7 seconds. Thanks to its handsome looks, solid overall performance and accommodating cabin, the first Taurus was a home run for Ford that rode the top of the sales charts for much of its early life.
Aside from being a practical family transportation machine, Ford Taurus is an authentically stimulating mid-size sedan. It is offered in good and reasonable price with exceptional drivetrains, good and sleek appearance, tons of comfortable features and surprising level of driving satisfaction. Many people have been driving this sedan around the road and the reason for this is because they are durable and firmly built. Moreover, Ford Taurus Ford parts are now available on-line for easy, convenient and fast buying of performance and aftermarket parts.
Another fact that counts is that Ford Taurus is one of the best-selling vehicles in the whole United States. Recently, Ford Taurus has gained the Government's highest 5 Star Front Crash Test Rating. Contributory to this award is Ford Taurus? personal safety system which is standard on all models of Taurus. The Taurus is a success because it is dependable, spacious and has numerous standard features that the buyers are looking for. Taurus is continuously earning a double five-star rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; it also has the highest rating in the NHTSA awards for frontal crash tests. Moreover, it is chosen as the 'Best Pick' by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety because of its offset frontal crash test.