Used 2003 Ford Taurus Review

If you value feature content and domestic origin more than build quality and predicted future worth, the Ford Taurus is a great car to consider.




what's new

New for 2003, the SEL trim level offers a unique instrument cluster with a satin-finish background, as well as Imola leather trimmed seats and dark wood trim. You can now get a real wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel, and you'll want to note that power windows and locks, as well as tilt steering and floor mats, are standard on all models.

vehicle overview

Introduction: 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 and rental sales numbers to prop up the figures, it hasn't won a match since the mid-1990s.

It does have advantages, however. It's roomy, dependable and loaded with safety features. It is also frequently discounted through rebates and dealer incentives. The downsides include poor expected resale value, ubiquitous nature at rental lots and less solid fit and finish than Japanese competition. Stalwarts like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat usually seem to edge out the Taurus in our comparison tests. However, Ford's family sedan is still an excellent value, and we wouldn't hesitate recommending one to a shopper in this class.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: Available as either a sedan or a wagon, the 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 items on the Taurus LX include air conditioning, a rear defogger, power windows and locks, an antitheft system and tilt steering wheel. The SE trim adds aluminum wheels, a power driver seat, cruise control, a CD player and remote keyless entry. With SES, buyers get illuminated visor mirrors, a split-folding rear seat and antilock brakes. Order the SES Deluxe package and enjoy a more-powerful V6 engine, five-passenger seating, a rear spoiler and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Step up to the SEL, and you'll set yourself apart with machined aluminum wheels, a six-disc in-dash CD changer and automatic climate control. Six-passenger seating comes standard with all models except for the SEL sedan. Powertrains and Performance: There are two V6 engines offered: a 3.0-liter "Vulcan" and 3.0-liter "Duratec." 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 and 200 pound-feet of torque. The base engine makes do with 155 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic.

Safety: The Taurus benefits from a major emphasis on safety. Included as standard equipment are dual-stage airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. Side airbags are available, as are antilock brakes, traction control and power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals. The Taurus earns a perfect five-star rating for NHTSA frontal crash tests and four stars for side impact tests. For IIHS frontal offset tests, the Taurus has earned a "good" rating. Interior Design and Special Features: A neat, stacked rhomboid arrangement allows for easy manipulation of the climate and stereo controls, which are simple enough for a three-year-old to use. Optional adjustable pedals make it easy to find that perfect driving position. All models carry six passengers except for the SEL sedan, and its 17-cubic-foot trunk for the sedan is generous for the class. The wagon has a stowable rear-facing third-row seat that can be used to carry two additional small passengers. When it's not in use, you'll have access to 38.8 cubic feet of space. Driving Impressions: 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 for spirited canyon driving, yet without the harshness that can render a cross-country drive unpleasant.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.