Ford Taurus X Preview – 2007 Chicago Auto Show: Just when you think the Freestyle is gone, well, it is -- sort of. Ford announced at the Chicago Auto Show that the Freestyle is getting a new lease on life thanks to revised styling and more horsepower under the hood. Oh, and it has a new name: Taurus X. Regardless of what we think of this marketing move, the fact is that if you’re shopping for a family car the new Taurus X is among the better rides available. No, it’s not flashy. Nor is it fun to drive, sporty, goofy, or any of those weird things that makes auto journos go giddy. Nah. The Taurus X is just roomy, good old-fashioned transportation. And judging from these improvements, it looks like the new emphasis is squarely set on good.
With a new look and more power, the Ford Taurus X may well be the kind of family car that families appreciate most. The only question is whether car-buying families are still paying attention after the dismal sales record of the Ford Freestyle, or if they’ve moved on to more stylish crossovers. It certainly doesn’t help that Ford dealerships are crowded with crossovers and SUVs like the new Edge and the Explorer. Based on the improvements that we've seen at the Chicago Auto Show, we’re rooting for the Taurus X to get some attention from car buyers.
Based on the recent introduction of the Five Hundred sedan at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show (which has now been renamed Taurus), the 2008 Ford Taurus X will get a new, PZEV-rated (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) 3.5-liter V6 engine that yields 260 horsepower. That’s up from the existing 3.0-liter’s output of 203 horsepower. A new six-speed automatic transmission handles power delivery. Also new for 2008 is an improved all-wheel-drive system.
Sometimes, there’s only so much you can do to make something pretty. But you can try, and in the right light, the Taurus X looks more modern, but still not as stylish as some of its competition. Updates include a new three-bar grille and headlights -- ala the Ford Edge -- as well as a restyled hood and revised front and rear fascias. Also new is a more integrated roof rack, and chrome accents throughout.
Available in five or seven-passenger configurations, the Taurus X gets some slight interior mods, along with slightly more room. That’s bad news for the competition, because the Freestyle was already among the more roomy CUVs on the market. New features for 2008 model include one-touch, flip-and-fold second row seats and Ford's Sync infotainment technology.
Ford would like you to buy a Taurus X. Currently, they’re offering rebates of up to $1,500 on remaining 2006 Ford Freestyles. The fact that it’s February of 2007 may have something to do with the urgency of their situation, and the importance of this redesign and revised naming scheme. Then again, Ford was planning on ending Freestyle production until someone reminded the planners that it was, actually, a pretty decent crossover – perhaps they should give it some time?
With a new look and more power, the Ford Taurus X will make everyone forget about the Ford Freestyle. With its family-friendly focus and improved powertrain, it may make people forget about the competition, as well. The only question is whether car-buying families are still paying attention to the Ford, or if they’ve moved on to more stylish crossovers and consistent automakers.