Full 2006 Ford Taurus Review
What's New for 2006
The wagon has been dropped from the lineup, leaving just the Taurus sedan, and the Duratec V6 engine is no longer available.
For two decades, the Taurus was the Yankee entry in the midsize car sales war, the Ford sedan that jumped into the ring to duke it out with the top-selling Camry and Accord. But even with substantial fleet and rental sales numbers to prop up the figures, the Taurus hasn't won a match since the mid-1990s. This year it loses its starting role in the Ford lineup to the Fusion, a stylish new sedan based on the excellent Mazda 6 platform.
The 2006 Ford Taurus will stick around as a lower-cost alternative to the Fusion and the larger Five Hundred sedan, but its wagon body style and the 200-horse Duratec V6 are history. Still, the Taurus does have a few lingering advantages. It's roomy, safe and loaded with features for the price. Downsides include poor expected resale value, spotty build quality and a generally unrefined driving demeanor. And don't go looking for state-of-the-art features like a navigation system, stability control or even side curtain airbags -- those aren't available. If you're at a Ford dealership and looking at midsize sedans, we suggest skipping the Taurus.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Ford Taurus comes in two trim levels, SE and SEL. Standard items on the SE include remote keyless entry; air conditioning; cassette stereo; power locks, windows, and mirrors; cruise control; a trip computer; and a front bench seat (allowing the car to seat up to six). Move up to SEL trim and you get all of these items standard, along with a keyless entry keypad on the driver-side door, body-color rearview mirrors with approach lamps, alloy wheels, perimeter alarm system and a stereo with CD player. Additional SEL features include wood trim accents and front bucket seats with a center console, floor shifter and power adjustments for the driver. SE models can be upgraded with a Preferred Equipment package that includes alloy wheels, rear spoiler and power driver seat. The SEL offers a Premium Package with a six-disc CD changer, automatic climate control, leather seating, rear spoiler, power passenger seat, HomeLink universal transceiver and auto headlamps.
Powertrains and Performance
There is one V6 engine offered: the 3.0-liter "Vulcan" V6. Power is rated at just 153 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. This V6 is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Expect to average 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Front disc/rear drum brakes are standard. An optional Safety/Security package bundles seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants, antilock brakes and traction control into one group. The Ford Taurus earned a perfect five-star rating in NHTSA frontal crash testing and three stars in side-impact tests. In 40-mph frontal offset testing conducted by the IIHS, the Taurus has earned a "Good" rating and was named a "Best Pick" among family cars.
Interior Design and Special Features
Ford Taurus cabins have a dated look and feel, but most controls are easy to find and use. The broad, flat seats aren't especially supportive but can accommodate occupants of all sizes. Carrying six passengers is a legitimate prospect if your Taurus has the front bench seat. The front bench seat also includes a flip/fold center compartment with cupholders and storage cubbies. The trunk measures a spacious 17 cubic feet.
The engine is noisier than most competing V6s and has less power than most competing four-cylinder engines. The automatic transmission gets the job done but is slow to downshift and not especially smooth. Ride quality in the 2006 Ford Taurus is generally comfortable, but can be harsh over more severe bumps and ruts. Braking distances are longer than those of most peers, and neither the suspension nor the steering is suited for brisk driving around corners.