Reliable if you take care of it. That car was awesome, bought used in '97. Nothing went wrong until few months ago. Great reliable car up until I left the lights on. Twice. Had to replace battery and alternator. Didn't fix problem, then I needed a map sensor, whatever that is. Still died on me. Then a completely different problem that same month; ignition module. Didnt help nor did a tune up. My fault, didn't change oil on time, drove on empty, never got transmission fluid flushed, etc. Great reliable car while it lasted. Only buy with low mileage.
This is one of the most interesing car i have ever owned. When I first bought my Taurus it was fun, reliable, clean and all over nice. But six mouths later that all changed. I ended up spending close to $2000 to get my car fixed. And ever since then my car has went down hill. I love my car but i think it is time for us to part.
I bought this vehicle used with 22,000 miles on it. At first it was a pleasure to drive. The first two years I put 250 miles a day driving to and from work. Not long after I bought it I was replacing parts. A new radiator. A new air conditioning compressor. A new muffler. And brakes -- never could get them fixed properly. Electrical problems left and right. Several wheel boots that froze with winter ice and snow -- that was a bummer. I understand that this was a very bad year to buy a Taurus.
The '86-'91 Ford Taurus starts life as a great car. It has a good ride, seats 6, looks good inside and out, and is relatively comfortable. It is also really fun to drive for an affordable family sedan. For the first 5 years you will love it. However, after 5 years you will start to hate it. Things start to make noise, alternators die every 4 years, and other things go wrong. My advise would be to buy a Taurus with VERY low mileage. As long as it isn't worn out, the '86-'91 Ford Taurus is a great car. Just watch out for the higher mileage vehicles.
Back in 1990 the Taurus was perhaps the best in the "family car" class. I ran the car over 200,000 miles with surprisingly few problems. Nothing flashy but it was a runner. Only recurring problem was a TFI module Ford would not recall. Skipped to Honda Accord in 1998. Sorry Ford, while you were ahead in 1990, by '98 you were not.