What's New for 2009
After extensive revisions last year, the Ford Taurus X carries over mostly unchanged for 2009.
With prominent platform-mates like the Ford Taurus, the Lincoln MKS and particularly the hip new Ford Flex, the 2009 Ford Taurus X can be forgiven for feeling left out. Riding on the same "D3" platform that underpins those more memorable models, this understated crossover SUV has much to offer families who need a practical people hauler that won't break the bank. The Taurus X is pleasant to drive, and it will accommodate six or seven passengers almost as ably as a minivan. Throw in decent performance, a comfortable ride and available all-wheel drive and you've got all the makings of an all-star family vehicle.
With 263 horsepower on tap, the Taurus X moves out smartly, though the engine snobs among us aren't high on the 3.5-liter V6's raucous noisemaking when you give it the crop. No one will mistake the Taurus X for a European sport wagon, but its handling is secure and its ride comfort is quite agreeable. In other words, this family-minded Ford is wholly adequate from the driver seat, with the exception of its frustrating non-telescoping steering column. That makes its versatility all the more impressive -- six honest-to-goodness adults can kick back in the Taurus X's spacious cabin, and while its 85 cubic feet of cargo space isn't going to have minivans or larger crossover SUVs quaking in their boots, it's still more than most people will ever need.
Another feather in the Taurus X's cap is the Ford-exclusive Sync multimedia integration system, which enables iPods and Bluetooth-capable cell phones to be operated via voice commands. The interior layout is otherwise unremarkable, a bit dated even, but it's undeniably user-friendly. Some may see the Taurus X's anonymous styling and identity as a drawback, but we like the idea of a vehicle that gives you the impressive functionality of a Flex in a less audacious wrapper -- and for a little less money, to boot.
Perhaps the Taurus X's biggest problem is the plethora of capable competitors in this hotly contested segment. The Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook quadruplets are all vying for your attention, as are the Hyundai Veracruz, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander. However, we think it's worth keeping the 2009 Ford Taurus X in mind as a dark-horse candidate. It's not the flashiest crossover on the block -- nor even the flashiest crossover among Ford's offerings -- but it provides just about everything a large family needs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Ford Taurus X is a crossover SUV with three rows of seating. There are three trim levels: SEL, Eddie Bauer and Limited. The default seating capacity is six, with second-row captain's chairs and a two-person split-folding third-row bench, but an optional second-row split bench seat increases capacity to seven on any trim.
The SEL comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power driver seat, an in-dash CD changer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, full power accessories, cruise control and a trip computer. Opting for the Freestyle Eddie Bauer earns you 18-inch wheels, two-tone leather upholstery in the first and second rows (vinyl for the third), wood grain interior trim, the Sync MP3 player and cell phone integration system, satellite radio and dual-zone automatic climate control. Power adjustments for both front seats (with memory for the driver), power-adjustable pedals, a two-tier center console and a six-CD changer with MP3 compatibility also come with the Eddie Bauer. Finally, the Freestyle Limited adds front-seat heaters, a second-row center console (on six-passenger models), a premium Audiophile stereo, reverse park assist and a cargo net.
Options include 18-inch chrome wheels, adjustable pedals, reverse park assist (on SEL and Eddie Bauer models), Sync, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rear-seat climate controls, heated second-row automatic flip-forward seats, a moonroof and a power liftgate.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Ford Taurus X is motivated by a 3.5-liter V6 making 263 hp and 249 pound-feet of torque. A conventional six-speed automatic routes this power to the front wheels, with AWD optional.
Fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive model, while the AWD version comes in at 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
The 2009 Ford Taurus X is equipped with four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags with rollover sensors. It also features the SOS Post-Crash Alert System, which honks the horn and turns the flashers on in the event of airbag deployment. More impressive are the Taurus X's perfect five-star scores in all front- and side-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Taurus X also received the top rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Taurus X's cabin is pleasant and spacious, especially for first- and second-row passengers. Adults in the third row will still enjoy adequate head- and legroom, a rarity in non-minivans. Furthermore, the Taurus X's low step-in height and optional button-activated flip-and-fold second-row seats make third-row ingress and egress a cinch, if not quite as convenient as a minivan's sliding doors. The conservative dash layout won't get anyone's heart racing, but storage space and cupholders abound.
Materials quality is spotty, though. The Limited's leather upholstery looks and feels good to the touch, but the cloth upholstery in SEL models is unimpressive, as are the interior plastics in general. In brighter news, a deep 16-cubic-foot cargo well behind the third row provides ample carrying capacity, even with all seats upright. For more room, the second- and third-row seats fold flat into the floor, expanding capacity to 85 cubic feet.
While the 2009 Ford Taurus X won't set any land speed records, its 3.5-liter V6 provides surprisingly swift acceleration off the line, and families should be able to load up this wagon on road trips without causing it to strain on highway grades. However, we're not fans of the V6's noisy and unrefined engine note at higher rpm, along with the six-speed automatic's laggardly downshifts. The cabin is reasonably quiet at speed, and the Taurus X provides laudable ride comfort.