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The Ford Taurus ("bull") is a mid-size sedan and station wagon produced by Ford Motor Company (FoMoCo). Billed as the car that saved Ford from its apparent impending demise in the eighties, it has seen more success in sales than perhaps any other American car*. It was also sold as the Mercury Sable.

There are four generations of Taurus; 1986-1991, 1992-1995, 1996-1999, and 2000-2006. (Ford has announced that Taurus production will end sometime in Q1 1996 and stopped selling the Taurus to the public in 2005.2) There are two body styles per generation (sedan and wagon) and two to four engines per generation. The most interesting engine available in a Taurus was that found in SHO models from 1989 to 1995; There are two forms of 24 valve Yamaha-made V6 engines that made the Taurus the most powerful front wheel drive production vehicle ever (at the time.2) The SHO could keep up with muscle cars in the eighties, since most of them were heavily detuned for emissions control.

GENERATIONS

The first generation of Taurus is the most significant. Released in 1985 as a 1986 model, its jellybean styling brought it impressively low wind resistance with only a 0.29 Cd (coefficient of drag.) For comparison, the Honda Insight Hybrid has a Cd of 0.24, and the 1989-1993 Nissan 240SX is 0.26. This car marked a turning point for Ford, defining the styling for an entire generation of vehicles. Unfortunately, its relatively heavy 3200 lb (1451 kg) kept it from enjoying much in the handling department.

Aside from engine changes (the four cylinder was dropped) the primary differences in the second generation (1992-1995) Taurus is one of styling; the car became even sleeker. A 3.2 liter Yamaha SHO powerplant was introduced to go into the new automatic transmission-equipped version of the Taurus SHO to make up for transmission inefficiency.

Ford completely redesigned the Taurus for the third generation (1996–1999) and also dropped the 5 speed manual transmission on the SHO model, moving to a 3 liter V8 which turned out to have extraordinary problems with reliability. The car became much sleeker, with a new oval-shaped grille (with the famous Ford Blue Oval logo in the center) and a considerably lower stance.

Finally, in the fourth generation (2000-2006) the headroom was increased, and styling changed again. The SHO model was eliminated, keeping only the two pure-Ford 3.0 liter V6 engines.

ENGINES

1986–1991

  • 100 hp 2.5l I-4
  • 140 hp 3.0l Vulcan V6
  • 140 hp 3.8l Essex V6
  • 220 hp 3.0l Yamaha DOHC V6 (1989+) (Manual Trans Only)

1992–1995

  • 3.0 L Vulcan V6
  • 3.8 L Essex V6
  • 3.0 L SHO V6 (Manual Trans Only)
  • 3.2 L SHO V6 (Auto Trans only)

1996–1999

  • 2.5l I4
  • 3.0l Duratec V6
  • 3.8l Essex V6
  • 3.0l Yamaha SHO V8 (Auto Trans only)

2000–2006

  • 3.0l Vulcan V6
  • 3.0l Duratec V6

Unfortunately, all versions of Taurus except for the four cylinder have incredibly, horribly cramped engine bays. Air conditioning tubing runs around the top of the engine bay and there are hoses and electrical conduits and cables both above and below it. The Taurus is one of the absolute worst cars to work on, period, even as compared to offerings from Japan, Korea, and Italy.

The Taurus has been superseded by the 2006 Ford Fusion, a mid-size sedan based on the Mazda 6.

* Note: car. This doesn't count trucks and SUVs.

References:

  1. DiPietro, John. Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable Generations. Inside Line, April 18, 2003. (http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Features/articleId=46007)
  2. Ford Taurus. Wikipedia, January 12, 2006. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Taurus)

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