|Body and chassis|
Mid-size car (1986–2007)|
Full-size car (2008–present)
Ford LTD (1985)|
Ford Crown Victoria
The Ford Taurus is an automobile manufactured by Ford in the United States. Now in its sixth generation, it was originally introduced in the 1986 model year, and has remained in near-continuous production for more than three decades. It has had a Mercury-branded twin, 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 (1988–2002). It was a front-wheel drive mid-size car until 2007, and has been a "global" full-size car (built on the Ford D3 platform) since 2008, and available in front- or all-wheel drive since 2008.
The original Taurus was a milestone for Ford and the entire American automotive industry, bearing an influential design 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. However, 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. All generations of the Taurus have been built at the Chicago Assembly.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, sales of the 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 Taurus with the fullsize Five Hundred and midsize Fusion sedans, as well as replacing the Taurus wagon with the Freestyle crossover SUV. However, Ford revived the 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 Taurus X", respectively. A new model of fullsize Taurus was then released for the 2010 model year, and the 2013 mid-generational refresh (minor model update) was unveiled at the New York Auto Show with minor exterior changes and interior technology options.
First generation (1986–1991)
The first-generation Taurus was launched in 1985 as a 1986 model to strong fanfare and sales, replacing the slow-selling mid-size 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 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 European sedan, the Ford Sierra, an updated appearance of a styling approach used in the late 1940s to early 1960s called "ponton" styling. Instead of a grille, the Taurus mainstreamed the smooth grille-less 'bottom breather' nose. The aerodynamic design of the 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 Taurus's success. It also benefitted from sharing a similar appearance to the limited production Ford Mustang SVO introduced two years earlier in 1984.
The first generation was available with either a V6 or an inline four-cylinder engine and came with either a manual (MT-5) 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 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 has all of the controls in the central area within reach of the driver. The left side of the dash curves slightly around the driver to make controls easily accessible, as well as creating a "cockpit" feel.
The interior of the Taurus was customizable to fit buyers' needs, with a large number of options and three different configurations. This means that the interior of the Taurus can be spartan or luxurious, depending on the buyer's choice of options. On models with an automatic transmission, the Taurus's interior was available in three different seating configurations. The interior equipment depends 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 Taurus was well received by both the public and the press. It won many awards, most notably being named to the 1986 Car and Driver Ten Best List and becoming the 1986 Motor Trend Car of the Year Over 200,000 of the Taurus were sold during the 1986 model year and the millionth Taurus was sold during the 1989 model year. When production ended in 1991, more than 2,000,000 first-generation Tauruses had been sold.
Second generation (1992–1995)
The Ford Taurus received its first redesign in mid-1991 for the 1992 model year. Still based on the same chassis, every exterior body panel (with the exception of the doors) was restyled. In spite of the extensive changes, few modifications were made to the successful styling; in the marketplace, the redesign was largely released as a mid-cycle facelift. In terms of size, the 1992 Taurus gained several inches in length and over 200 pounds in curb weight. Following market demand, the new Taurus was available solely with V6 engines and an automatic transmissions. The Taurus SHO made its return, with an automatic transmission option joining the manual transmission.
The interior was also completely redesigned for 1992. As part of the redesign, the Ford Taurus gained a passenger-side airbag as an option, which became standard in 1994, becoming the first mid-size sedan sold in the United States with standard dual airbags.
The second generation sold just as well as the first, becoming the best-selling 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)
For the 1996 model year, Ford debuted the third generation of the Ford Taurus. Although not completely new, the chassis was heavily upgraded, becoming the DN101 generation. Alongside the Mercury Sable, the Ford Taurus shared its underpinnings with the redesigned Lincoln Continental and all-new Ford Windstar.
In a break from the familiar styling of the previous two generations (that chief designer Jack Telnack had likened to a "pair of slippers"), Ford had sought to again make the Taurus stand out for buyers of mid-size sedans, giving the vehicle a much more extensive restyling than its 1992 predecessor. Moving away from straight lines, the 1996 Taurus sought to include rounded lines, moving past the cab-forward design of the Chrysler LH sedans. Alongside the Ford Blue Oval emblem itself, the Taurus repeated the shape several places in its exterior; in a controversial design element, the rear window of the Taurus was oval, as were the side windows of the Mercury Sable. To allow better differentiation between models, the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable were given separate rooflines; Taurus/Sable station wagons were fitted with the doors of Sable sedans.
The interior saw a complete redesign. To simplify production, all versions of the Taurus were fitted with bucket seats; six-passenger versions were fitted with a flip-forward center seat cushion also meant for use as a center console; five-passenger versions were fitted with a floor shifter and center console. To improve ergonomics, radio and climate controls were centralized on an oval-shaped console on the dashboard.
Reaction to the third-generation Ford Taurus was mixed; Ford found that customers disliked the oval-shaped exterior. For 1996, the Ford Taurus stayed the best-selling car in the United States. At the time, 51% of all Taurus sales for 1996 went to rental fleets, in contrast to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, of which most sales were directly to private customers through retail outlets. In 1997, the Ford Taurus lost its best-selling status to the Toyota Camry.
For 1996, Ford Australia imported the Ford Taurus sedan as the "Taurus Ghia" alongside its locally produced Ford Falcon EL, but imports ceased after only one year due to poor sales. Ford New Zealand imported both Ford Taurus sedans and station wagons from 1996 to 1998 with success alongside the RWD Australian Ford Falcon/Fairmont/Fairlane.
The third-generation Taurus had a presence in NASCAR, replacing the Thunderbird for the 1998 season. The Taurus became the first four-door sedan to be approved for competition. The first Taurus driver to win the Winston Cup (the NASCAR sponsor of the time) championship was Dale Jarrett, who drove #88 Ford Quality Care/Ford Credit-sponsored cars owned by Robert Yates. The first Taurus driver to win the Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) championship was Greg Biffle, who drove #60 Grainger Industrial Supply-sponsored cars owned by Jack Roush.
In total, the Ford Taurus has won three Winston Cup championships and two Busch Series championships.
Fourth generation (2000–2007)
The Taurus received another redesign for 2000, which replaced many of the oval-derived design elements of the previous model with sharper creases and corners, an aspect of Ford's New Edge styling language. 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
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Taurus sales had slumped significantly in the years prior to its short-lived demise with model year 2007, 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.
Ford had decided to replace the Taurus with the full-size Five Hundred (a revival of the "500" nameplate suffix dating back to the 1950s), and midsize Fusion sedans and the Taurus wagon with the Freestyle crossover SUV.
Discontinuation of the Taurus was controversial. While many believed that the Taurus had been dropped 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' discontinuation "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 and SUVs. 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".
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".
But Alan Mulally, Ford's new CEO named in late 2006, wanted to revive the 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. The Mercury division's twin also dropped the Sable name in favor of reviving the historic Montego nameplate, used in the 1960s and 1970s, but the Sable name returned in 2008.
Fifth generation (2008–2009)
The fifth generation (5G) Taurus entered production in 2007 as a 2008 model and was developed directly from the Ford Five Hundred, chiefly with a mild exterior facelift and revised engine and transmission. Ford designated the model as the Taurus, after the demise of the concurrently marketed fourth generation (4G) Taurus and to take advantage of its customer recognition and dealer demand.
Changes to the 5G Taurus from the Five Hundred included 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-Batavia CVT, 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 Ford six-speed.
The 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.
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 Taurus had an immediately strong brand equity, and that it would take years for consumers to have a similar recognition of the Five Hundred.
The 2008 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable were awarded the Top Safety Pick ratings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and five-star ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The five-star rating given to the Taurus and the Sable is the highest safety rating being given by the government agency.
Sixth generation (2010–2019)
The 2010 Ford Taurus was revealed at the Detroit International Auto Show in 2009 at Cobo Hall. The press preview of the Taurus and Taurus SHO was held in Asheville, North Carolina, from June 15 to 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 included 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 mid-size 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 was $25,995, mid grade SEL $27,995, and top level Limited $31,995. Ford hoped to sell 10% to 15% high-performance SHO models.
The SHO (Super High Output), released in August 2009, Was powered by twin-turbocharged, gasoline direct injection EcoBoost 3.5L V6 engine. It had 365 horsepower (272 kW) and 350 lb⋅ft (470 N⋅m) of torque. Mileage was 17/25 mpg in AWD. The SHO base price was $37,995, which included the EcoBoost V6, all wheel drive, upgraded 6-speed automatic transmission and numerous exterior and interior trim upgrades. A fully loaded SHO could reach $45,395. There was also an available performance package which included 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 re-calibrated AdvanceTrac system (Ford's combined traction control system and electronic stability control) with sport mode and "true off", summer compound Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45ZR20 tire, and an electric air pump with fix-a-flat in lieu of a spare tire. Most options for the SHO remain available, with the Performance Package including options such as Power Moonroof, Heated/Cooled Seats, Multi-Contour Seats, Auto-Sensing Lights and Wipers, Automatic High-Beams, Adjustable Pedals, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), and Satellite Navigation. Options from the Driver Assist option group, however, are unavailable simultaneously with the Performance Package. Those options include Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning System, Lane Keep Assist, and Active Park Assist.
The base 365 horsepower (272 kW) produced by the SHO from the factory may be considered mild only a few years after its initial release, given the subsequent existence of 707 horsepower (527 kW) sedans like the Dodge Charger Hellcat. However, enthusiasts of the SHO have found the vehicle to be extremely compliant to power enhancing modifications; in many cases, with nothing more than a tune. The highest power 4th generation SHO (6th gen Taurus) currently stands at 617 horsepower (460 kW) at the wheels, as produced by Livernois Motorsports for one of their customers. With the potential for truly competitive levels of power on an AWD platform, the largely unassuming looks of the SHO compared to the base Taurus make the SHO a cost effective sleeper.
First revealed at the 2011 New York Auto Show, the Taurus received a refresh for the 2013 model year. The body featured a new front fascia and slightly updated rear fascia with LED tail lamps, as well as all-new wheel options. The SHO model featured revised styling elements. Refinements were made to the 3.5 EcoBoost V6. Power in the 3.5L V6, standard in non-SHO models, was up to 288 hp and got 19/29 MPG in FWD models, while getting 18/26MPG in AWD models. There was a new engine option for non-SHO models, a 2.0L EcoBoost Inline 4 developing 240 hp and 270 lb-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, including standard Torque Vectoring and curve control improving tracking at higher speeds. Updates to the Instrument dials were added, which were fully digital, clearer, and more colorful. MyFord Touch was added as part of Taurus's Sync system.
Seventh generation (Chinese Market, 2016–present)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4 door sedan|
|Platform||Ford CD4 platform|
2.0 L EcoBoost I4|
2.7 L EcoBoost V6
|Transmission||6 speed automatic|
|Wheelbase||116.1 in (2,949 mm)|
|Length||196.7 in (4,996 mm)|
|Width||73.9 in (1,878 mm)|
|Height||59.2 in (1,503 mm)|
A seventh-generation Ford Taurus unique to the Mainland Chinese market was unveiled at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015. It bears a closer resemblance to the current Ford Fusion/Mondeo but with an extended wheelbase. Designed in conjunction with Ford Australia and currently manufactured by Changan Ford Automobile Co., Ltd. in Hangzhou, it comes with either a 2.0T EcoBoost or twin-turbo 2.7T V6 EcoBoost engine. This model is available in China only. Production commenced in November 2015.
Discontinuation (North America)
On April 25, 2018, Ford announced plans to discontinue the Taurus (along with the Fiesta, Focus, and Fusion), in order to focus more on its line of trucks and SUVs. The announcement was part of a plan by Ford Motor Company to cut costs and increase profits. This was in response to a shift in perceived consumer demand towards SUVs and pickup trucks, and away from sedans.
References and footnotes
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- "Production Figures". Taurus/Sable Encyclopedia. Taurus Car Club of America. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
- O'Neil, Mike. "Ford's F-series sets industry sales truck records". Ford Trucks.com. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
- "Farewell, Ford Escort". Media.Ford.com. July 21, 2000. Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
- O'Neill, Mike (May 5, 2004). "Ford Nameplates join Five Million Club". Media.Ford.com. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
- DiPetro, John (April 18, 2003). "Inside Line: Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable". Edmunds. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved May 29, 2006.
- Mayne, Eric (April 19, 2005). "End of Ford Taurus closes era". Detroit News. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2006.
- The Ford Taurus Celebrates 30 Years; Born & Raised in Chicago - Charles W. Johnson, Chicago Now, October 29, 2015
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- "2008 Ford Taurus features more power, style, and more standard safety features". Media. Ford.com. February 7, 2007. Archived from the original on March 6, 2007. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
- "Ford strengthens crossover leadership with introduction of new 2008 Taurus X". Media. Ford.com. February 7, 2007. Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
- Schneiderman, R.M. (October 27, 2006). "Ford Taurus, R.I.P." Forbes. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- KUCINSKI, LEONARD (October 4, 1986). "Taurus Mt-5 - Room, Performance And Superior Value Road Test". The Morning Call.
- "Taurus MT5". Ford Encyclopedia. Taurus Car Club of America, Inc. January 11, 2007.
- The interior could be ordered with a traditional column-mounted shifter and front bench seat, with bucket seats and a center console with a floor-mounted shifter, or with bucket seats and a console with a column-mounted shifter. (These options were also extended to the Sable and, beginning in 1988, the Lincoln Continental as well.) However, models available with a manual transmission were only available in one configuration: bucket seats with a center console and floor-mounted shifter.
- Hanson, John. "Car of the Year 1986: It is Going To Be a Bull Market For The Ford Taurus". Motor Trend (February 1986): 23–36.
- "1986–1997 Ford Taurus production numbers". Taurus Car Club of America. Retrieved September 12, 2008.
- "Taurus/Sable Spotter's Guide: Second Generation (1992–1995)". Taurus Car Club of America. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- Sedgwick, David. "Taurus for '96 will dare to stand out in competitive sedan market". The Detroit News: 1C–2C.
- Walton, Mary (May 1997). Car: A Drama of The American Workplace. W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04080-1.
- "Taurus/Sable Spotter's Guide Generation 3". Taurus/Sable Encyclopedia. Taurus Car Club of America. October 30, 2006. Retrieved February 25, 2007.
- Pierson, John. "How Ford Added a Dash of Design To Its New Taurus". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Encyclopedia of American Cars. Publications International. 2006. ISBN 1-4127-1354-4.
|last1=in Authors list (help)
- "Ford Taurus 1996–1998". Archived from the original on March 25, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
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- "Livernois Builds World's Highest HP EcoBoost Taurus SHO". Power Automedia. August 21, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
- "This is what a 550-hp Taurus looks like". Road & Track Magazine. April 10, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
- Steven J. Ewing RSS feed. "New York 2011: 2013 Ford Taurus and Taurus SHO bow in the Big Apple". Autoblog.com. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
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