What a bunch of bull
What it IsFord Taurus Preview – 2007 Detroit Auto Show: What a mess. After debuting the revamped 2008 Ford Five Hundred family-sized sedan in Detroit, a month later Ford announces a name change to Taurus. So, the Taurus returns, the Five Hundred is dead, and the resulting marketing morass surrounds a big sedan that's actually pretty darn good. The Taurus has been updated with new styling, more power and standard safety features, and a quieter interior. The Five Hundred? If you've got one, maybe it'll be a collectable car one day. Then again, it may come back next year...
The 2008 Ford Taurus is very significant to Ford’s current and future success. Every new Ford product is essential to its North American “Way Forward” turnaround plan. During the heyday of the original Taurus, Ford had the best-selling family sedan in the United States. But Japanese competition marginalized the Taurus, which ceased production in the fall of 2006. It is the job of this new version, along with the smaller Fusion, to regain the sales volumes of the once-iconic Taurus.
What’s Under the Hood
An improved powertrain motivates the 2008 Ford Taurus. Its new 3.5-liter Duratec V6 engine yields 260 horsepower, a substantial improvement compared with the previous 3.0-liter V6’s output of 203 hp. A new six-speed automatic transmission has been tailored for efficiency, and the Taurus achieves a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) rating in states that follow California’s strict emissions guidelines, the first V6 to earn the PZEV rating. The CVT has been dropped. Ford has also revised the Taurus's front shock towers, allowing for 10 mm more travel. New front springs and dampers combine with an upgraded rear suspension for a more luxurious ride. Fuel Efficient Power Steering (FEPS) varies power steering boost, maximizing effectiveness and economy.
What It Looks Like
The new 2008 Ford Taurus reflects updated styling sensibilities seen – and celebrated – in the smaller Ford Fusion. The Taurus receives entirely new sheetmetal from the windshield forward. The highlight is Ford’s three-bar chrome grille that aligns with new headlights that define the front fascia’s crisp and modern appearance. New smaller and lower-mounted side mirrors improve visibility while reducing wind noise. Revised rear styling includes new, attractive taillights. Inside, a new 2-tier clamshell console brings creative stowage. Limited models are accented in chrome throughout, including on the door handles, side vents and license plate décor strip.
A tall, “Command Seating” stance makes entry and egress on the 2008 Ford Taurus SUV-like and also aids down-the-road visibility. Inside, the front passenger seat folds flat and the rear seats split 60/40 for creative stowage solutions of items up to 9 ft. long or just gobs of gear. Ford says the Taurus has best-in-class front and rear leg room, and noise levels in the spacious interior are reduced 5 percent, easing conversation and adding relaxation to the drive. The new, two-tier center console has hide-away storage in the lower compartment. A new steering wheel design moves the front airbag further away from the driver to help reduce unnecessary injury.
What Ford Says
Ford says the 2008 Ford Taurus blends the Five Hundred's existing positive traits with improvements in the areas where it was most needed. Ford boasts that it still has the most expansive interior in its class, with impressive front and rear leg room and standard safety features, a 60/40 folding rear seat and a fold-flat front seat. “(Taurus) has a strong reputation for safety, quality and comfort,” said Cisco Codina, group vice president of North American Marketing, Sales and Service. “With a more distinct look, new features and a completely new powertrain, the (Taurus) will be even more appealing.”
What We Think
Ford’s first Five Hundred attempt misjudged the marketplace by assuming that advanced transmissions, unique seating and available all-wheel-drive would trump the desire for raw engine power and sophisticated, cutting-edge styling. Making just 203 horses, the old engine always felt as if it was catching up via the expansive transmission ratios. The addition of 57 horsepower under the hood of the 2008 Ford Taurus will be a welcome improvement, as will the new sheetmetal and styling characteristics along with standard side and curtain rollover airbags. With a 5-star safety Gold Award from IIHS, the Taurus now looks and acts the part as a Ford flagship sedan.
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Co.