Four-door sedans are the bread and butter of the automotive industry. While pickup trucks might be king in North America, around the world it is the sedan which receives the most attention from automakers who are all competing for the same slice of the practical transportation market. Buyers like sedans because they are comfortable, easy to get in and out of, especially for rear passengers, and generally have good trunk space. This roominess makes them especially popular with families, and the term 'family car' has long been associated with four-door sedans. Insurance rates are low, and in the case of sport sedans, these vehicles can be a lot of fun to drive. Sedans also don't draw attention like a coupe, making them better for flying under the highway patrolman's radar and giving them a sleeper aspect that has long been exploited by the AMG and M divisions of Mercedes-Benz and BMW respectively.
Ford has a long history of producing excellent passenger sedans. Some of which, such as the Ford Crown Victoria, became legends in their class due to their excellent versatility, large, comfortable interiors and bulletproof drive trains. The original Taurus sedan, introduced in 1986, ushered in a new era in four-door design, trading in the boxy, square look of most 80's vehicles for a windswept, aerodynamic body that reduced wind noise, increased fuel efficiency and set the Taurus apart from the cookie cutter sedans of the day. The Taurus would go on to become the best selling car in the country, trouncing stalwarts such as the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.
In the 1990s, however, Ford diverted a significant amount of money away from their sedan development after overspending on the successor to the Taurus, which suffered a lukewarm reception from buyers. Focusing on SUV's, Ford sedans were left to die on the vine, and it wasn't until the early part of the new millennium that four-door cars began to once again receive the attention they deserved from the Detroit automaker.
The cars mentioned in this article represent those that have reaped the most benefit from Ford's renewed investment in their sedan lineup. Each of these vehicles is not only practical and well-built, but also displays the value and design edge that once saw Ford completely dominate the four-door market. Each of these vehicles, while targeted towards a particular segment of sedan buyers, makes a great choice for anyone looking for a dependable daily driver from a brand many people associate with well-priced family vehicles.
2006 - 2007 Ford Fusion
The Ford Fusion was built in order to help Ford cement its position in the small to mid-size market, a class which had remained relatively unexploited by the company since the demise of the Ford Contour in the year 2000. The Fusion hit showrooms as a 2006 model, and at the same time also made its debut on oval tracks across the United States as the new face of Ford in the popular NASCAR racing series.
The 2006-2007 Ford Fusion is based on the same platform as the successful Mazda 6 sedan. Originally designed by Mazda in 2003, the chassis is imported but the sheet metal and power train are all blue oval. A 2.3 liter, 160 horsepower 4-cylinder engine is standard equipment, but higher trim levels can opt for a 3.0 liter Duratec V6 which pumps out 221 horsepower and 205 lb-ft of torque. The smaller engine makes use of a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic, while the V6 is exclusively available with a 6-speed auto. Late 2006 editions and all 2007 models were given the option of all-wheel drive, making the Fusion a popular choice in winter climates.
Inside, the Fusion does not make the same mistake as the Contour did when it comes to the overall quality of the materials used in the passenger compartment. Well-designed, uncomplicated controls are matched with optional wood trim, soft-touch panels and good seat fabrics which are also available in leather. Interior space is reasonable for a vehicle of this size, and the trunk is deep without being inconvenient or crowded.
The 2006-2006 Ford Fusion is a great entry level used sedan for anyone looking to move up from a compact into something with more passenger room and a larger footprint on the road. The Fusion is concrete statement from Ford that they are back in the sedan market to stay.
2005-2007 Ford Five Hundred
Realizing that the Ford Crown Victoria was aging less gracefully than had originally been hoped, Ford decided to move their full-size sedan program forward with the Ford Five Hundred in 2005. The Five Hundred was a breakthrough for the company, a large car that didn't rely on an enormous wheelbase or V8 engine in order to keep up with the competition. The Five Hundred was the heir to the combined legacy of the Crown Victoria and the outgoing Ford Taurus, a modern sedan that wouldn't break the bank at the gas pump or find a market composed primarily of retirees.
The first generation Five Hundred certainly looks large from the outside, but the overall styling impression is one of strength, not excess. The vehicle lacks the standard 3-bar grille of most of its Ford contemporaries, but the black honeycomb is attractive in its own right. Behind the new front fascia sits a 221 horsepower, 3.0 liter V6 engine, which can be matched with either a 6-speed automatic transmission or a continuously variable unit if all-wheel drive is also ordered. When it comes to fuel economy, the front-wheel drive, 6-speed edition of the Fusion sees an impressive 29 miles per gallon on the highway and 21 miles per gallon in city driving.
Also notable is the interior organization of the four-door sedan. Both the front and rear seats make use of the same generous amount of leg room, ensuring few complaints during long car rides while bearing a full load of passengers. A folding front and rear passenger seat leverages the Five Hundred's large trunk to increase the overall length of transportable objects to 10 feet. Safety is also excellent, as the Five Hundred borrows from subsidiary Volvo's S80 sedan when it comes to impact and crash protection.
The 2005 - 2007 Ford Five Hundred has a lot to offer buyers on the lookout for a used full-size sedan. With available all-wheel drive and one of the largest interiors on the market, the Five Hundred is definitely worth a test drive, especially for families who find themselves hitting the road for highway trips on a regular basis.
2000 - 2007 Ford Taurus
While the Taurus was much maligned by buyers critical of its convention-bucking oval design both inside and out when it was re-styled for 1996, Ford took the criticism in stride and in fact used it as the basis for the significant changes they made to the vehicle for the year 2000. The Taurus reverted back to a much more conservative exterior appearance, although it did retain the same general aerodynamic, rounded shape of the previous model. The interior of the car was also upgraded in order to meet buyer expectations that had been driven sky high thanks to excellent vehicles from class leader Toyota.
Buyers can select from two different 3.0 liter V6 engines to power their Taurus. The first is a 155 horsepower Vulcan unit, while the more upscale trims levels have access to a 200 horsepower Duratec which employs dual overhead camshafts. Both motors shift gears using the same 4-speed automatic transmission. The Duratec is the clear winner when it comes to performance, and when matched with traction control and the Taurus' well-adjusted chassis the sedan is quite responsive to throttle inputs, in addition to transmitting excellent road feel to the driver through the modern steering system.
The Taurus no longer suffers from the strange interior fabric patterns and swoopy styling that helped to erect a wall between buyers and Ford showrooms that lasted until the end of the 1990's. The four-door sedan is now quite a pleasant place to spend some time, with excellent, supportive seating and great shoulder and leg room for all passengers. Later versions of the Taurus benefit from an optional leather-wrapped steering wheel, attractive wood trim and keyless entry.
The 2000 - 2007 Ford Taurus has come a long way to recapture some of the brand's former glory, restoring the shine to the previously proud name and presenting an attractive sedan option on used car lots across the country.