Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Ford Taurus Overview
A Solid Favorite
The Ford Taurus is a proven commodity in the world of family sedans. Its designthough agingcontinues to attract buyers who demand solid value, durability and a well earned track record. Ford must be doing something right because even in the face of such staunch competitors as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the Taurus continues to sell in volumes that keep it among the top 5 best selling sedans in the country. The Taurus' design has proved so popular with Americans that it requires only occasional cosmetic freshening to keep it competitive, and the fact that the Taurus is also offered in a wagon form makes it especially attractive to families and those who need a little extra stowage space.
For 2003, Ford has added a myriad of new features without raising the Taurus' reasonable window sticker. As with last year's model, the Taurus is available in four trim levels: LX, SE, SES and SEL. The entry level LX and slightly up-level SE both come with a 3.0-liter, 12-valve V6 engine that produces 155 horsepower. This engine delivers respectable acceleration and good fuel economy. Optional on the SE and standard on the SES and SEL is the 3.0-liter 24-valve Duratec V6, which sees horsepower jump to 200. The Duratec's 24-valve configuration helps the engine to breathe better, producing more power while consuming less fuel. With the Duratec V6, the Taurus becomes a very competent performer with excellent off-the-line pick up and good passing power.
A few minutes behind the wheel of the Taurus and you'll understand that while this car is a good highway cruiser, it is not setup for performance-oriented driving. You may find the steering is a bit over-assisted but not to the point where you lose your connection to the road. On mildly uneven pavement, the Taurus telegraphs some vibrations into the cabin but on smoother pavement, its ride is comfortable and relaxed. The Taurus' automatic transmission works well with both engines, though you may find it hesitates for just a second on quick downshift, such as when you punch the accelerator.
Depending on the trim level, you'll find the Taurus' interior to range anywhere from handsome to practically luxurious. That may sound like a bit of a stretch for a Taurus, but when you consider the SEL model comes standard with Imola leather seats and offers the option of a real wood and leather steering wheel, you'll see just how good Ford's bread and butter sedan can look. New features this year include: backlit cruise control buttons, power windows, door locks and tilt wheel are now standard on all models. All Taurus trims feature better sound insulation around the windows and door frames and a dashboard mounted switch for the optional adjustable pedals.
The Taurus' interior is filled with numerous functional items such as cup holders, storage bins and steering wheel mounted controls. The dash has a nice symmetrical look, though you'll notice how the radio and ventilation controls are bundled together in a single center dash panel with no clear separation between the two. The design is actually easier to decipher at night, with the radio buttons backlit in green and the ventilation controls in orange. A new optional sport package available on the SES includes two-tone seat inserts, aluminum alloy wheels, monochromatic trim (in place of chrome) and special badging. While this model is intended to appeal to younger buyers, it does not offer a sportier suspension or a manual transmission.
The Taurus provides plenty of legroom for four adults, but the thick plastic windshield pillars and inward sloping rear pillars create a cozy feeling for the passengers, which is especially noticeable in the backseat when sitting three abreast. The adjustable foot pedals and power driver's seat make it possible for just about anyone to find a comfortable driving position, though the driver's seat could have more lumbar support. The fold down rear seat allows you to expand the Taurus' cargo space and also offers another way of loading bulky items that won't fit through the trunk's narrow opening. A rear-facing third seat is optional on the Taurus wagon.