I’ve always liked the Ford Taurus. I’ve owned 2 in my lifetime, and they’ve generally served me well. That’s why I was so perplexed when Ford decided to abandon the name. The Ford company had this apparent bout of corporate weirdness a while ago and decided that all the new cars they produced would have to start with the letter F; Fusion, Freestyle, Five Hundred. So they tossed out one of the most iconic and recognized brand names in automotive history, and replaced it with…a number. If anything, they should have just called it the F-Taurus. Eh? Faurus? No?
Well either way, they’ve changed their minds again and brought the Taurus back. We’ve suffered through the name drama and came out the other side with some completely different cars. Instead of a real Taurus wagon, we have a Freestyle with a 2008 Taurus X label as Suzanne pointed out. And instead of the mid-sized Taurus sedan, we have a full-sized Five Hundred with a 2008 Taurus label. But really, the mid-sized Ford Fusion is much more like the descendant of the old Taurus than the Five Hundred is. The Fusion even replaced the Taurus on the NASCAR track. Ford had a niche, the Ford Taurus was always a mid-sized car, but the Fusion has already been so successful there that Ford probably doesn’t want to quit on a good thing. Yet they want the name recognition of the Taurus back. And so, we get a different, full-sized Taurus; and a big SUV-ish Taurus X that looks suspiciously like a Ford Freestyle. Smart business move, but kind of a disingenuous naming move.
I choose to look at it differently though, since I’m a fan of the Taurus and I want to stay that way…I’m not going to look at this as a stranger with a Taurus label…I’m looking at it as a metamorphosis, a transcending leap from mid-size to full-size. A glorious thing.
Metamorphosis is an understatement though. The new Ford Taurus is a beast compared to the original. It’s 400-600 pounds heavier than its average mid-sized ancestor, depending on whether you want the FWD or AWD. It’s longer, taller, wider and just more robust all around. And the engine is much more powerful. The 2008 Taurus has a 3.5L DOHC V6 Duratec 35 engine that puts out 263 hp.
Let’s put that in perspective: I used to own a 1997 Ford Taurus LX with the 3.0L DOHC V6 Duratec 30 (the largest engine they offered then). That engine put out about 200hp, and that was fast for a Taurus. This 2008 model, with its weight and power, probably feels nothing like the Taurus of old.
But strangely, as far as mileage goes, the new Taurus is pretty much in line with the fuel economy of the original. It’s rated at 18/28 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 17/24 mpg with all-wheel drive.
Being in the full-size category, Ford must have felt that the 2008 Taurus needed to be a little more “upscale”, since it has options that the original never dreamed of. All-wheel drive and electronic stability control, air bags everywhere, a DVD entertainment system, voice activated interface for your MP3 player and cell phone, and an vast interior.
Plus, the 2008 Taurus was rated the safest American full-sized car. It had the highest crash test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it five stars and selected it as the “Top Safety Pick”. And you know what that means? Aside from not dying in a bad accident? Low insurance costs. The 2008/09 Ford Taurus ranks #1 on the list of least expensive cars to insure. It’s fairly inexpensive too, starting out at $23,245 and scaling all the way up the the fully loaded Limited AWD for around $35,000, which is still good considering the Avalon and V-6 Lucerne both cost more fully loaded. Now let’s just see if the new Taurus can reclaim it’s title as the everyman’s car.
Hopefully, if things go well, we’ll eventually be reviewing the 2009 Ford Taurus SHO.