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The Ford Taurus is a solid choice in a family sedan. If you value feature content and domestic origin more than build quality and predicted future worth, this is a great car to consider.
Excellent value for the money, high level of safety equipment and crash protection, available as a sedan or a wagon, usually discounted with rebates and incentives.
Rental car stigma, poor expected resale value, no rear disc brakes on the sedan.
Available Taurus Models
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Floor mats become standard on all Taurus models, and the base V6 benefits from improved fuel economy. All but the base LX get security approach lamps, while LX and SE come standard with six-passenger seating. A slew of no-charge options are available on various Taurus models for 2002: SE gets a free power driver seat and CD player; SES comes with free leather or a moonroof (regionally available); SEL adds leather or moonroof, or both (regionally available). SEL also has standard adjustable pedals for 2002. A new SEL Wagon debuts. A new SEL premium package includes a Mach audio system, side airbags and traction control. Optional on SES and SEL is a new Luxury and Convenience group, which provides an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and heated side mirrors. Four new colors round out the list of changes.
For several years now, the Taurus has been the Yankee entry in the midsize car sales war. It's like the WWF, but for family cars. Each year, the Taurus jumps into the ring to duke it out with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The goal? To earn that prestigious title of "best-selling car in America." But even with substantial fleet sales numbers to prop up the figures, it hasn't won a match since the mid-1990s.
Available as either a sedan or a wagon, Taurus comes in a wide variety of configurations. Sedans come in LX, SE, SES or SEL trims, while wagons can be equipped as SE or SEL models only. Standard on the Taurus LX are floor mats, V6 engine, air conditioning, rear defogger, power windows and locks, stereo, anti-theft system and tilt steering wheel. SE adds aluminum wheels, safety approach lamps, power driver seat, cruise control, a CD player and remote keyless entry. With SES, buyers get illuminated visor mirrors, split-folding rear seat and antilock brakes. Order the SES Deluxe package and enjoy a 200-horsepower V6 engine, five-passenger seating, a rear spoiler and leather-wrapped steering wheel. In some regions of the country, Ford will even include a free moonroof or leather upholstery on the SES. Step up to SEL, and you'll set yourself apart with machined aluminum wheels, a six-disc in-dash CD changer and automatic climate control. Free leather or a no-charge moonroof, or both, are available in various areas of the country.
Powertrains include the 3.0-liter Vulcan and 3.0-liter Duratec V6s. The main difference between the two engines is the cylinder heads. The base Vulcan has two valves per cylinder, while the Duratec has four valves per cylinder. The four-valve motor makes 200 horsepower at 5,650 rpm and 200 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. The base engine makes do with 155 horsepower at 4,900 rpm and 185 lb-ft at 3,950 rpm. Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic and meet low-emission-vehicle (LEV) standards in California and the Northeastern states. For 2002, the Vulcan motor also gets better fuel economy than before.
The Taurus benefits from a major emphasis on safety. Ford's Personal Safety System is the main feature of note in the Taurus. It's a collection of components that allows the car to understand the nature of a crash more fully and factors in whether or not the seatbelts are in use. With the system, the dual-stage airbags inflate at two different rates, depending on the situation. Additionally, safety belts are equipped with pre-tensioners that are designed to help reduce the risk of force-related injuries in a crash. The Taurus also offers power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, allowing drivers of smaller stature to move the pedals toward their feet rather than moving the seat too close to the steering wheel. Side-impact airbags, antilock brakes and traction control are also available. And before one of the kids gets trapped in the trunk, show them the glow-in-the-dark trunk release handle so they'll be able to let themselves out.
We give the Taurus high marks in the ride and handling department. On the road, the car transmits truly usable feedback to the wheel, letting the driver know what is happening with the tires. The Taurus has a compliant suspension with excellent rebound shock valving for spirited canyon driving, yet without the harshness that can render a cross-country drive unenjoyable. Drive the Taurus into a turn, prod the throttle, and the car responds in a predictable manner. But who drives a Taurus like that? Fortunately, on the highway, passengers are treated to a comfortably smooth ride.
The Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat edged the Taurus out in our most recent family sedan comparison test, and the Taurus also has a certain rental car stigma attached to it. However, Ford's family sedan is still an excellent value, and we wouldn't hesitate recommending one to a shopper in this class.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.