Ford Taurus

October 15, 2013
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Ford Taurus is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in the United States.

Originally introduced in the 1986 model year, it has remained in near-continuous production for more than two decades, making it the fourth oldest nameplate that is currently sold in the North American Ford lineup.

Ford Taurus
2010 Ford Taurus Limited 2 -- 10-31-2009.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1985–present
Model years 1986–present
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size (1986–2007)Full-size (2008–present)
Chronology
Predecessor Ford LTD (1985)

It has had a more upscale Mercury branded version entitled the Sable (1986–2005; 2008–2009), as well as a performance variant, the Ford Taurus SHO(1989–1999 and 2010–); in addition, it served as the basis for the first-ever front-wheel drive Lincoln Continental (1988–1994).

It was a front-wheel drive mid-size car until 1999, and has been a full-size car since 2000, and available in front- or all-wheel drive since 2008. It has been built on the D3 platform since 2008.

The original Ford Taurus was a milestone design for Ford and the entire American automotive industry, as well as a very influential vehicle that brought many new features and innovations to the marketplace. Since its launch in 1986, Ford had built 7,519,919 Tauruses through the 2007 model year, making it the fifth best selling North American nameplate in Ford’s history; only the F-150, Escort, Model T, and Mustang have sold more units. Between 1992 and 1996, the Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States, eventually losing the title to the Toyota Camry in 1997. The 1986–1995 Taurus was built on the DN-5 platform, and the 1996-1999 Taurus was built on the DN101 platform. The 2000-2007 Tauruses were built on the D186 which was a modified DN 101 platform.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, sales of the Ford Taurus declined as it lost market share to Japanese midsize sedans and as Ford shifted resources towards developing SUVs. It was discontinued in 2006, with production initially ending on October 27, 2006, and 2007 being the last model year. Ford had decided to replace the Ford Taurus with the fullsize Five Hundred and midsize Fusion sedans, as well as replacing the Ford Taurus wagon with the Freestyle crossover SUV. However, Ford revived the Ford Taurus name during the 2007 Chicago Auto Show a few months later by renaming two new models that had been intended to be updated versions of the Five Hundred and the Freestyle, the “2008 Taurus” and “2008 Ford Taurus X”, respectively.  A new model of Ford Taurus was then released for the 2010 model year. This generation is currently in production. The 2015 model was unveiled at the New York Auto Show and received minor exterior changes, and interior technology options.

First generation (1986–1991)

1991 Ford Taurus GL sedan

1991 Ford Taurus GL sedan

The first-generation Ford Taurus was launched in 1985 as a 1986 model to strong fanfare and sales, replacing the slow-selling mid-size Ford Granada-based Ford LTD. (The full-size Ford LTD Crown Victoria remained as part of the Ford line up.) The release of the Ford Taurus was one of the most anticipated ever, mostly because it was a first in-car design and also the start of new quality standards for Ford. At the time of the Taurus’s debut, Ford had been producing mainly rear-wheel drive cars, and Chrysler and General Motors were offering more front-wheel drive vehicles up to midrange including the Chrysler K platform and A-body Chevrolet Celebrity. With the introduction of the Escort and Tempo, Ford was making a transition to front-wheel drive. The Ford Taurus displayed a rounder shape than its contemporaries, often likened to a ‘jelly bean’ or ‘flying potato’, inspired by the design of the Audi 5000 and Ford’s own Tempo. Instead of a grille, the Ford Taurus mainstreamed the smooth grille-less ‘bottom breather’ nose. The aerodynamic design of the Ford Taurus made the car more fuel efficient, allowing Ford to meet more stringent corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard applied by the United States government. The Taurus’s success ultimately led to an American automobile design revolution; Chrysler and General Motors developed aerodynamic cars in order to capitalize on the Ford Taurus’ success.

The first generation was available with either a V6 or an inline four-cylinder engine and came with either a manual or automatic transmission. (The Taurus’s twin, the Mercury Sable, has never offered a manual transmission in either of its incarnations.) Like its exterior, the Ford Taurus’s interior was ahead of its time, and many features originating from it are still used in most cars today. Its interior was designed to be extremely user-friendly, with all of its controls designed to be recognizable by touch, allowing drivers to operate them without taking their eyes off the road. For example, the switches to the power windows and power locks were designed with one half of the switch raised up, with the other half recessed, in order for its function to be identified by touch. To further enhance this quality, the car’s dashboard had all of the controls in the central area within reach of the driver. The left side of the dash curved slightly around the driver to make controls easily accessible, as well as creating a “cockpit” feel. However, it wasn’t curved enough to prevent the passenger from easily identifying and using the vehicle’s main controls as well.

The interior of the Ford Taurus was highly customizable to fit buyers’ needs, with a large number of options and three different configurations. This meant that the interior of the Ford Taurus could be spartan or luxurious, depending on the buyer’s choice of options. On models with an automatic transmission, the Taurus’ interior was available in three different seating configurations. The interior equipment depended on model. The most basic model, the L (see below), came standard, with just an AM radio and a front cloth bench seat, while the LX, the more luxurious model, came with a greater number of features as standard equipment.

The 1986 Ford Taurus was very well received by both the public and the press. It won many awards, most notably Motor Trend’s car of the year for 1986, as well as being named on Car and Driver’s ten best list for 1986. Over 200,000 Tauruses were sold during the 1986 model year, and in 1989, the millionth Ford Taurus was sold. When production ended in 1991, more than 2,000,000 first-generation Tauruses had been sold.

Second generation (1992–1995)

Ford Taurus wagon

Ford Taurus wagon

The Ford Taurus received its first cosmetic update in 1992. The second generation dropped the manual transmission and the four-cylinder engine, resulting in all second generation vehicles (with the exception of the Taurus SHO) with automatic transmissions and V6 engines. Length was increased by a few inches, and weight was up a couple of hundred pounds over the previous generation. Every body panel, except for the doors, were redesigned. However, many of the redesigned components closely resembled that of the previous generation, leading many to falsely believe that this generation was just a minor face-lift.

The interior was also completely redesigned for 1992. The Ford Taurus received a new dashboard that, like the previous generation, was designed to be user friendly. All of the vehicle’s main controls were located near the left side of the dash to be within easy reach of the driver. As in the previous generation, all of the controls were designed to be recognizable by touch and to be operated by drivers without taking their eyes off the road. The new dash also contained three buttons to the right of the gauge cluster that allowed drivers to operate the radio without taking their eyes off the road. The radio was also redesigned, while the rest of the lower dash was carried over from the previous generation, as was the steering wheel. The new dash was also designed to contain a passenger’s side airbag, the first time that it was offered in a mainstream sedan. It was optional in 1992 and became standard in 1994, making the Ford Taurus the first car of its kind to have standard dual front airbags.

Ford Taurus sedan

Ford Taurus sedan

This generation sold just as well as the first, and became the bestselling car in the United States, a title it would retain for as long as this generation was sold. When production ended in 1995, more than 1,400,000 second generation cars had been sold.

 

Third generation (1996–1999)

1996–1997 Ford Taurus sedan

1996–1997 Ford Taurus sedan

The 1996 model year saw the first complete redesign of the Ford Taurus. It used a controversial new shape that chief designer Jack Telnack claimed was penned to make the Taurus stand out to sedan buyers, and likened the current Taurus to a pair of slippers. This shape was based upon an oval, which was perhaps inspired by Ford’s own logo, and while the previous Taurus used a flat, streamlined shape, this Taurus used a rounded shape similar to that of the Chrysler Concorde. Station wagons also got new sheet metal, although from the firewall back, the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable wagons again shared the same panels, with all station wagon doors being the same as those used on the Sable sedans. As the new-generation Taurus was aimed at a more mature, affluent customer base, its exterior contained many upscale styling touches. For example, the LX offered optional chrome alloy wheels and optional chrome dual exhaust tips. This newer model also displayed a “Taurus” badge on the back written in script, as opposed to the block letters used in previous generations.

 

 Interior

1996–1998 Ford Taurus Ghia sedan (export)

1996–1998 Ford Taurus Ghia sedan (export)

The interior was also completely redesigned for the 1996 model year. Like that of the previous two generations, the interior was designed to be user-friendly. The dashboard wrapped slightly around the driver; all of the main controls were placed within easy reach and were designed to be recognizable by touch. The controls for the radio and climate control were combined into an oval shaped “Integrated Control Panel” mounted in the center of the dash, which was created in response to many complaints from Taurus owners that they couldn’t easily operate the main controls of the radios and climate control systems without taking their eyes off the road. Another new innovation was the “Flip-Fold” center console, in which on bench seat-equipped cars, the middle section could be transformed into a console; the seat cushion folded out into a console with a lockable storage bin and cup holders, while the seat back folded down to become an armrest. A traditional center console with a floor-mounted shifter was installed on cars equipped with bucket seats.

Reaction to this new generation of Ford Taurus was mixed. Ford found that customers were turned off by the car’s oval shape, and although it managed to retain its title as the bestselling car in the United States, this was only because of heavy sales torental fleets; 51% of all Ford Taurus sales for 1996 went to rental fleets, in contrast to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, of which most sales were to private customers through retail outlets. In 1997, the Ford Taurus would lose its bestselling status to the Camry. This Ford Taurus (sedan only) was sold in Australia as a “Ford Taurus Ghia” alongside the locally produced Ford Falcon, but imports ceased in 1998 due to poor sales. Both the sedan and station wagon Ford Taurus were sold in New Zealand and both were quite popular, considering the fact that most New Zealand’s Fords were also the imported Australian Falcons.

NASCAR

The Third-generation Ford Taurus had a presence in NASCAR, replacing the Thunderbird after the 1997 season. The Ford Taurus became the first sedan to be approved for competition. The first Ford Taurus driver to win the Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup)championship was Dale Jarrett, who drove #88 Ford Quality Care/Ford Credit-sponsored cars owned by Robert Yates. The first Ford Taurus driver to win the Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) championship was Greg Biffle, who drove #60 Grainger Industrial Supply-sponsored cars owned by Jack Roush. In total, Tauruses have won three Winston Cup championships and two Busch Series championships.

Fourth generation (2000–2007)

2000–2003 Ford Taurus SES sedan

2000–2003 Ford Taurus SES sedan

The Ford Taurus received another redesign for 2000, which replaced many of the oval-derived design elements of the previous model with squarer ones. To reduce the car’s price and keep it competitive, Ford reduced costs on the car in 1999, such as giving the Taurus sedan rear drum brakes on ABS equipped vehicles (previously, upgrading to ABS included the addition of rear disc brakes), eliminating the dual exhaust on the higher end models, and trimming many other small features.

Ford designed the fourth generation with much more conservative styling in hopes of increasing the car’s appeal. Instead of sloping back, the car’s trunk stood upright in a more traditional shape, increasing trunk space by another two cubic feet. The roof was also given a more upright stance to increase headroom, which can be evidenced by the thicker C-pillar and larger area between the tops of the doors and the top of the roof.

The interior was also completely redesigned with a more conventional shape, although some features from the previous Taurus generations were carried over. The dashboard was given a squarer design instead of curving around the driver as in the previous generation. The “integrated control panel” concept was carried over but redesigned, with a bigger, squarer shape, and it was placed in the center of the dash instead of being angled toward the driver. The flip-fold center console was also carried over from the previous generation, although it was revamped as well. When folded out, it now rested against the floor instead of the dashboard, and had reworked cup holders and storage areas. In another change from previous versions, the fourth generation offered rear cup holders that either slid or folded out of the front console, depending on which console the car was equipped with.

Initial discontinuation and revival

A 2004 SES model.

Silver 2004 Ford Taurus SES

Taurus sales had slumped significantly in the years prior to its short-lived demise in 2006, losing significant market share to Japanese sedans. Due to waning popularity and customer demand, Ford decided to gradually discontinue the Taurus. The last Chicago, Illinois Ford Taurus Sedan rolled off the assembly line on June 25, 2004. Production of the Taurus wagon was discontinued on December 8, 2004; sedan retail sales halted after a short 2006 model year, and the Taurus became sold exclusively to fleets in the United States, while still being sold to retail customers in Canada. Production ended on October 27, 2006, as Ford idled the Atlanta plant, as part of its The Way Forward restructuring plan.

The last mid-size Ford Taurus rolled off the assembly line around 7:00am, destined for delivery to S. Truett Cathy, owner of Chick-fil-A. Mr. Cathy’s original restaurant was located across from the Ford Atlanta plant; Cathy credits the patronage he received from Atlanta assembly plant workers with making his restaurant successful enough to turn into a franchise. No ceremony marked the end of production. Ford had decided to replace the Ford Taurus with the fullsize Five Hundred and midsize Fusion sedans and the Ford Taurus wagon with the Freestyle crossover SUV.

Discontinuation of the Ford Taurus was controversial. While many believed that the Taurus had been discontinued because it could no longer compete in the growing sedan market, others claimed Ford could have easily have saved the nameplate had it wished to. Autoblog went so far as to call the Taurus “the biggest fall from grace in automotive history” and even blamed Ford’s current financial problems on its failure to keep the Taurus competitive, focusing too unilaterally on trucks andSUVs. The Truth About Cars published a review/editorial also showing their disappointment at how Ford neglected the Taurus to the point where it became a “rental car”.

The 2008 Ford Five Hundred prototype, which was renamed "Taurus" upon Alan Mulally's direction.

The 2008 Ford Five Hundred prototype, which was renamed “Taurus” upon Alan Mulally’s direction.

Workers thought Ford had abandoned a car that had done so much to revitalize Ford and the US industry. An October 25, 2006, USA Today editorial, “How Ford starved its Taurus”, noted that the Japanese stuck with their winners and make them better (such as the Toyota Corolla, which has been in continuous production since the 1960s), while Detroit automakers retire cars and even entire division nameplates in search of “the next big thing”.

The last mid-size Taurus sedan was an SEL model like this one.

The last mid-size Taurus sedan was an SEL model like this one.

But Alan Mulally, Ford’s new CEO named in late 2006, wanted to revive the Ford Taurus, saying in an interview with the Associated Press that he was baffled by the Taurus’s discontinuation and believed it a mistake, adding that the Five Hundred should have been named “Taurus” from the beginning. Rumors of a possible Taurus revival were confirmed in early 2007, when the revamped Five Hundred and Freestyles were unveiled as “Taurus” and “Taurus X” at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, a decision influenced strongly by Mulally. Later, Mulally explained that the fact that the Taurus’s name recognition and positive brand equity strongly influenced his decision to revive the nameplate.

Fifth generation (2008–2009)

2008 Ford Taurus SEL

2008 Ford Taurus SEL

The fifth generation was developed from the Ford Five Hundred, which was scheduled for a significant styling facelift and power upgrade for the 2008 model year. Ford decided to designate that model as the Taurus to take advantage of its customer recognition and dealer demand. The 2008 Ford Taurus went into production in 2007 as a 2008 model. It was determined that Ford’s strategy to redesignate new cars in the lineup with new names beginning with the letter F, as in Ford Focus, Ford Fusion, and Ford Freestyle, was not a good marketing move, as some of the renamed cars had highly recognizable iconic names. Car buyers in the U.S. did not associate the new F names with Ford, and were confused by the name changes. Mulally believed that the Ford Taurus had an immediately strong brand equity, and that it would take years for consumers to have a similar recognition of the Five Hundred.

There were more than 500 changes to the new Ford Taurus from the existing Five Hundred, including a new front end and the 263 hp 3.5 L Duratec 35 V6, which replaces the 203 hp (151 kW) Duratec 30 3.0 L V6. The Five Hundred/Freestyle’s ZF-BataviaCVT, which had a maximum torque rating of 221 lb·ft (300 N·m), was also replaced with a Ford-GM joint venture six-speed automatic with additional torque of the Duratec 35. The Aisin AW six-speed automatic which was used on FWD Five Hundred and Montegos was also replaced by the new six-speed. The Ford Taurus sedan twin, the Mercury Sable nameplate, was revived from the Mercury Montego. For the 2009 model year, Ford revived the “SE” trimline for the Taurus. The SE sold for $24,125 according to Ford’s website and served as the base model for the vehicle.

This generation of the Taurus was sold in the Middle East as the Ford Five Hundred from 2008.

Sixth generation (2010–present)

Ford Taurus SE

Ford Taurus SE

The 2010 Ford Taurus was revealed at the Detroit International Auto Show in 2009 at Cobo Hall. The press preview of the Ford Taurus and Taurus SHO was held in Asheville, North Carolina, from June 15 to June 19, 2009.

The Ford scored well in test drives and the media was pleased with some of the new features available in the 2010 Ford Taurus. Some of these features include all wheel drive, cross traffic alert, collision warning, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. However, others criticized the lack of interior room and reduced sight lines despite its full-sized exterior, and Edmunds noted that the eighth-generation Honda Accord (which competes in the midsize category) had superior driving dynamics and a more efficient design and offered almost as much interior space as the Taurus despite considerably smaller external dimensions.

The base price of the base SE model is $25,995. The mid grade SEL is priced at $27,995, and the top level Limited, at $31,995. Ford hopes to achieve a mix of 10% to 15% with its high-performance SHO model.

The Ford Taurus SHO (which stands for Super High Output), released in August, 2009, is the high-performance version of the Ford Taurus. The SHO is powered by Ford’s new EcoBoost 3.5L V6 engine. The twin-turbocharged, gasoline direct injection power plant has 365 horsepower (272 kW) and 350 lb·ft (470 N·m) of torque. The EcoBoost V6 achieves 17/25 miles per gallon in AWD. The Ford Taurus SHO base price is $37,995 which includes the EcoBoost V6, all wheel drive, upgraded 6-speed automatic transmission and numerous exterior and interior trim upgrades. A fully loaded SHO will be $45,000. There is also an available performance package on the new SHO, which deletes non-essential options such as Power Sunroof, Heated/Cooled Seats, Multi-Contour Seats, Auto-Sensing Lights and Wipers, Adaptive Cruise Control, Adjustable Pedals, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), and Satellite Navigation. and includes upgraded brake pads, a 3.16:1 final drive ratio (compared to the standard 2.77:1), recalibrated electronic power steering, further suspension tuning, a recalibrated ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with sport mode and summer compound Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45ZR20 tires.

Facelift (2015–present)

2015 Ford Taurus SEL

2015 Ford Taurus SEL

First revealed at the 2011 New York Auto Show, the Ford Taurus received a refresh for the 2015 model year. The body sports a new front fascia and slightly updated rear fascia with LED tail lamps, as well as all-new wheel options. The SHO model looks different from its stablemates, but power is unchanged from its EcoBoost V6, however, refinements have been made to the 3.5 EcoBoost V6. Power in the 3.5L V6, standard in non-SHO models, is up to 288 hp and is gets 19/29 MPG in FWD models, while getting 18/26MPG in AWD models. There is a new engine option for non-SHO models, a 2.0L EcoBoost Inline 4 developing 240 hp and 270lb-ft of torque while delivering a best-in-class 22/32 miles per gallon. All models received upgrades to the steering and braking systems to improve driveability. For example, Torque Vectoring and curve control has been added as standard, and controls the cars ability to glide round corners at higher speeds. Updates to the Instrument dials have been added, they are now fully digital and clearer and more colourful. MyFord Touch will also be part of Ford Taurus‘s Sync system.

 

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