We bought this car hoping that it would be a reliable family car, and from the very beginning this car has given us nothing but problems. Every month something goes wrong. We have had to in two years replace just about every major part (minus the transmission) of the car. If you want a car that will run well and be reliable take your money somewhere else. Ford Taurus's are terrible cars. I will never buy a midsize ford again.
Overall this is is a very comfortable car and has many nice luxury features. Interior and exterior have held up well, car parked outside mostly. Reliabilty is bad. Bought car with 76,000 miles. Transmision went out at 79,000 miles. Head gasket blew shortly thereafter. Both are known defects for this engine and transmission. Our newest car is now a Saturn. (see review)
I bought this car over 8 years ago, and it has always exceeded my expectations (now over 202k miles). It's been a great family wagon, with the 3rd seat, higher than expected mileage (about 27 to 29 mpg, and great value. The repairs have been minimal, so we've saved a lot of money over this long haul!
I've noticed most of the good reviews are in regards to the SHO. SHO may be a better car; I had a '91 GL Wagon I bought in '96 with 65K on it. I never put more than 6K on it per year. I couldn't, it was never out of the shop. Whenever I told a mechanic I had a Taurus, they'd reply, "I'm sorry to hear that." There was no end of trouble with suspension, alignment, and sealed bearings. The alignment was so bad the tires went bald on a 500 mile trip and nearly killed me. After the second time the transmission went out I'd had enough. If you get this car, drive it straight to hell, because that's where it belongs.