2009 Ford Taurus X Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 3, 2009

Ford may never call it a wagon for marketing reasons, but the 2009 Ford Taurus X is just that—practical, convenient, safe, and quite possibly one of the best wagons ever produced.

To bring you this comprehensive review of the 2009 Ford Taurus X, the car experts at TheCarConnection.com have read all of the latest expert reviews. Additionally, TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Ford Taurus X to help bring some clarity where the reviews differ.

Last year the Ford Freestyle was renamed the Taurus X and given a very mild restyle, along with a much peppier powertrain—making it, despite the odd name, a much more appealing vehicle.

The Freestyle has a profile that deceptively looks a lot like that of a full-fledged SUV, with some overall design cues inspired by the once-popular Explorer. But the Taurus X isn’t meant to go crawling off-road; passenger duty is its forte, and the Taurus X is actually closer to a tall-roof station wagon. For last year, along with the name change, the chunky SUV cues were softened a bit; more chrome was part of the spruce-up, along with a new taillamp design and an upgraded interior.

Before you condemn the Taurus X for its outward appearance, take a look inside, as the overall design allows for an incredibly spacious, and space-efficient, interior, with three rows of seating. The front two rows work well for adults, while the third row is manageable for short trips thanks to the stadium-style seating that perches the last row a bit higher than the others. Up front, the driving position is a Goldilocks-esque "just right" that falls somewhere between SUV-tall and sedan-short. The extended roofline and wagon profile of the Ford Taurus X offer impressive cargo capacity, especially with the third row folded down, and the loading height is very convenient. In full cargo mode, the 2009 Ford Taurus X can accommodate items up to nine feet in length.

Review continues below

The 2009 Ford Taurus X rides firmly but with an underlying softness, so maneuverability is secure and crisp. However, it seems out of its element on tight, twisty turns. A very good, stable on-center feel makes the Taurus X especially relaxed and ideal for long highway hauls.

The 2009 Ford Taurus X is available in SEL, Eddie Bauer, or Limited trim levels, and each offers either front-wheel drive or an "intelligent" all-wheel-drive system that sends most of the power to the front wheels except when it's needed in back, before wheels slip. The features list for the Ford Taurus X leaves little to be desired, with the base 2009 Ford Taurus X SEL offering air conditioning, keyless entry, and CD sound. The top-end Eddie Bauer edition gets a nice two-tone paint scheme, 18-inch wheels, and new badging, along with a reverse-sensing system, heated seats and mirrors, wood-grain trim, adjustable pedals, an upgraded sound system, and the SYNC hands-free calling and entertainment interface.

An optional power liftgate headlines the available extras on the 2009 Ford Taurus X; other noteworthy options include Sirius Satellite Radio, DVD entertainment, and voice-activated navigation.

For those who value safety features and safety cred, the Taurus has it in spades. Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard on the 2009 Ford Taurus X, along with front side airbags and side curtain airbags that reach outboard occupants in all three rows. When compared to the old Freestyle, the front footwells have been reinforced, and interior door panels have been redesigned for better protection. In addition, 2009 brings a new SOS-Post Crash Alert system, which automatically flashes the turn signal lamps and pulses the vehicle horn immediately following an emergency. The Taurus X (considering its name change) has been a repeat IIHS Top Safety Pick, as it is for 2009, and it gets top "good" scores in crash tests, along with top five-star scores in the federal government's crash tests. It's one of the safest models on the road of any size, from any manufacturer.

7

2009 Ford Taurus X

Styling

A wagon by any other name is still a wagon, and the 2009 Ford Taurus X fits neatly, if not a bit more stylishly, into that category.

For those who have fond childhood memories of their family station wagons, the 2009 Ford Taurus X might help you revisit your past.

Most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com mention some relation between the 2009 Ford Taurus X and the station wagons that were so prevalent decades ago. Cars.com reviewers report that "[to] someone who was ferried to day camp in a Ford Country Squire station wagon, it still looks like an overgrown wagon," despite Ford's claims that this is not a revised wagon. Autoblog reviewers point out that, compared to the Ford Freestyle, the new Taurus X features a "new chrome face" that has "utterly transformed the character of the Freestyle by actually giving it some." Once again, though, the reviewers refer to the Ford Taurus X as a "big wagon."

Regardless of the label that ultimately sticks, this 2009 Ford's exterior has some visual appeal, which the Washington Post sums up succinctly: "Head-turning quotient: Strong, substantial, proud, Middle America-attractive." Not all reviews are quite so upbeat, however, and Cars.com feels that the 2009 Ford Taurus X offers "little appeal for the image-conscious." Autoblog contends that "the Saturn Outlook still has a more modern and stylish appearance overall, but the Taurus finally wears the face it should have had from day one." MyRide.com reviewers forgive the fact that the Ford Taurus X is "not the hottest ride on the crossover scene" since it offers "convenience and gobs of storage space and cubbies," noting that "in this segment that may be considerably more important."

Moving inside the sheetmetal that adorns the 2009 Ford Taurus X brings you to an interior that offers a mixed bag in terms of styling. Autoblog reviewers mention that "the design is attractive and functional," but even though "the plastic wood trim has been changed to simulate a different style of wood...it's still plastic." On the positive side, MyRide.com loves that the "standard steering wheel-mounted controls are illuminated and easy to use," but ConsumerGuide points out that while the "clear and simple gauges are easy to read...audio and climate controls comprise many look-alike buttons and sometimes hard-to-read electronic displays, all set too low for easiest use."

7

2009 Ford Taurus X

Performance

The 2009 Ford Taurus X has enough power to safely bring you up to highway speeds and confident, controlled handling, but its fuel economy isn’t any better than that of some SUVs.

The Ford Taurus X is a significant improvement over the old Ford Freestyle, but that doesn't mean Ford has addressed all of the complaints regarding performance. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the overall ride, but disparage the lackluster acceleration.

Car and Driver reviewers states that the "improved powertrain" on the 2009 Ford Taurus X includes a "3.5-liter V-6 (263 horsepower) and a six-speed automatic, a combo that propels this tall wagon to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds." Autoblog declares that the "new 3.5L engine [is] a huge improvement over the old 3.0L in both the Taurus sedan and this wagon," noting that "it feels much stronger and never seems to strain itself." However, Jalopnik cautions that despite the acceleration times achieved by Car and Driver, "in the real world, it's not that quick." Cars.com describes the Ford Taurus X as "no rocket," but the "X is now at least powerful enough" for daily driving duty.

As mentioned above, the 2009 Ford Taurus X comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission that replaces the CVT from the Freestyle, a CVT that Cars.com says "was poorly received." The new automatic isn't exactly poorly received, but praise isn't quick in coming either. Automobile calls the automatic a "lackluster, uninspiring powertrain" that "is sluggish, and if you're changing gears under full throttle, the soft shocks and springs send the whole car pitching and heaving." USA Today also remarks that the lack of a "manual-shift mode on the automatic transmission" is a "disappointment." On the positive side, Autoblog claims that "dipping into the throttle brings effortless acceleration and pulling out to pass triggers smooth quick downshifts" from the six-speed.

Despite complaints from some reviewers that the Taurus X lacks power, the editors of TheCarConnection.com find the powertrain quite perky and still satisfying when loaded with six adults.

One thing that TheCarConnection.com’s editors confirm about the Taurus X is disappointing fuel economy. According to the official EPA estimates, the 2009 Ford Taurus X should return 15 mpg city and 22 mpg on the highway, but Jalopnik finds itself "averaging 18 through a mix of highways, rural roads and city driving," which is "pathetic considering it barely has enough acceleration to get out of its own way." Those numbers are better than the marks achieved by TheCarConnection.com, which can't match the city estimate.

Cars.com states that the 2009 Ford Taurus X's ride is "comfortable without being floaty, and the handling is up for whatever the driver is likely to throw it into." Edmunds reviewers agree, finding that the 2009 Ford Taurus X offers a "nice blend of ride and handling." Despite its many criticisms of the Ford Taurus X, Jalopnik does concede that "the big Taurus does drive better than its taller cousins" and "feels safe in any condition." Kelley Blue Book adds that, "thanks to its rigid unit body, the 2008 Ford Taurus X delivers responses that are gratifyingly eager for a tall vehicle weighing over two tons," but points out the "braking performance leaves something to be desired, with long braking distances chief amongst our grievances." Autoblog praises the X's handling: "standard electronic stability control and available all-wheel drive provide confident ride and handling in all weather conditions," though "the steering effort is nicely weighted but pretty devoid of feedback."

TheCarConnection.com's team of editors finds the 2008 Ford Taurus X rides firmly but with an underlying softness. Maneuverability is secure and crisp, but it feels out of its element on tight, twisty turns. A very good, stable on-center feel makes the Taurus X especially relaxed and ideal for long highway hauls.

9

2009 Ford Taurus X

Comfort & Quality

With its combination of comfort, quiet, and utility, the 2009 Ford Taurus X surpasses what’s typically expected in this category.

Like most crossovers, the 2009 Ford Taurus X boasts comfortable front- and second-row seats, but the third row struggles to accommodate adults.

The 2009 Ford Taurus X offers seating capacity for six or seven, depending on configuration. Cars.com discovers that "two captain's chairs are the standard second row, but a 60/40-split three-seat bench is a no-cost option," which accounts for the difference in seating capacity. Reviewers at the Washington Post praise the "comfortable, ergonomically appealing interior," and Cars.com raves about the "roomy seats in all three rows." USA Today reports that "passenger space is listed as 146.2 cubic feet," which leaves plenty of room for comfortable accommodations. ConsumerGuide says that "headroom and legroom are both six-footer ample" up front, while "available fore and aft sliding 2nd-row buckets allow favoring leg space or cargo room." ConsumerGuide also mentions that their "testers are divided on the 3rd-row accommodations," as some say "it's surprisingly spacious," while others "call it adequate at best."

TheCarConnection.com notes few complaints about interior space in this Ford; 2009's Taurus X, the Washington Post reports, has "rear seats [that] easily can be flipped and folded to make room for lots of cargo," with a capacity of "85.5 cubic feet with second- and third-row seats folded" and "15.8 cubic feet with those seats raised." However, Jalopnik is disappointed to discover that the "seats aren't removable...and even while flat, severely impinge on luggage capacity." On the positive side, Autoblog says the Taurus X's "interior offers a number of configuration options that allow drivers to take advantage of the middle name in CUV." ConsumerGuide points out "all rear seats fold flat," providing a "wide load deck [that] stretches to 9.5-ft with the right-front seatback folded down." Cabin storage is a plus as well, with ConsumerGuide noting that the "useful console and dash top bins swallow lots of small stuff" and Autoblog praising the "plenty of storage space throughout the interior, including deep, wide pockets in all four door panels with Ford's now customary cup holders molded in."

One issue that continues to haunt the 2009 Ford Taurus X is material and build quality. Cars.com laments the "so-so materials and some shoddy build quality," while ConsumerGuide says that "materials disappoint," thanks to the "hard plastics [that] dominate the interiors." MyRide.com claims that some of the plastics "had some rough edges that could have used a few minutes more in the finishing department, [and] the interior pillar covers were loose," along with gap problems that "were minor but numerous."

Despite a few complaints regarding assembly quality, the 2009 Ford Taurus X does a respectable job of minimizing road noises. Automotive.com says that the Ford Taurus X "is very quiet inside at freeway speeds" and the "engine is quiet and smooth at idle." The only time noise gets intrusive, according to ConsumerGuide, is "during acceleration," when the "coarse engine note intrudes" into the otherwise hushed cabin.

10

2009 Ford Taurus X

Safety

You'd be hard-pressed to find a safer vehicle today than the 2009 Ford Taurus X, which is made even more appealing with the addition of the SOS system.

It's rare for a vehicle to earn a perfect 10 in the safety category from TheCarConnection.com, but then again it's also quite unusual to come across a vehicle that features as many appealing safety qualities as the 2009 Ford Taurus X.

The 2009 Ford Taurus X boasts perfect crash-test ratings from both of the major testing authorities. In IIHS tests, the Ford Taurus X earns "good" ratings, the highest possible, in both the frontal offset and side impact tests. The IIHS also sees fit to award the 2009 Ford Taurus X a 2009 Top Safety Pick, citing the Ford Taurus X's "good performance in front, side, and rear tests and standard electronic stability control." The NHTSA also awards the Ford Taurus X perfect scores in every impact category, including five-star ratings in front and side impact tests.

Aside from phenomenal crash-test ratings, the 2009 Ford Taurus X offers a wealth of safety features, including one new addition for 2009. Car and Driver reviewers positively gush about the "first-rate crash ratings" and the fact that the 2009 Ford Taurus X has "enough airbags to cushion a Mars lander." The Washington Post offers a bit more about the airbags, reporting that the side bags are "designed with two chambers—one to deploy faster for better protection of the lower extremities and an upper chamber engineered to design more slowly to cushion the upper body without torso injuries." USA Today reviewers add that the Ford Taurus X features "anti-lock brakes, plus stability-control and anti-rollover systems." The new safety feature for 2009, according to ConsumerGuide, is "Ford's SOS Post-Crash Alert system, which flashes the turn signal lamps and honks the horn to alert first responders to the vehicle's location."

The 2009 Ford Taurus X also offers impressive visibility from the commanding driving position. Cars.com reports that the "driver has a good view of the road without being needlessly high," although the "optional flip-down video screen for the backseat made [the] rearview mirror almost useless." ConsumerGuide adds that the Ford 2009 Taurus X's "visibility is generally good, though the view to the rear corners is hindered by roof pillars." One other criticism comes from USA Today, which mentions that a "backup camera is not available."

9

2009 Ford Taurus X

Features

The 2009 Ford Taurus X offers features galore, and they're well-executed and affordable.

In keeping with Ford's recent ramp-up of new technology features, TheCarConnection.com discovers an abundance of new accessories available for the 2009 Ford Taurus X.

The 2009 Ford Taurus X is offered in SEL, Eddie Bauer, and Limited trims, with a wealth of features in all three. The base Ford Taurus X SEL starts around $27,000, and for that money, you'll get "front air conditioning...cruise control, cloth upholstery," full power accessories, and an "AM/FM/CD player [with] digital-media player connection," ConsumerGuide reports. Edmunds notes that the Eddie Bauer edition adds "gold body cladding, two-tone leather upholstery in the first and second rows, [and] wood-grain interior trim." The Limited trim of the Ford Taurus X brings "heated front seats, memory system (driver seat, mirrors)," and an "upgraded sound system," according to ConsumerGuide. Both the Eddie Bauer and Limited trims get Ford's SYNC wireless cell phone and iPod integration system. MyRide.com says that "the iPod function was a hit thanks to its seamless connectivity, but our editors were split on the phone front—one editor had no issues while two others suffered from phone dysfunction."

The optional features for the 2009 Ford Taurus X win praise from reviewers for both their appeal and their packaging. Cars.com is pleased to report that "options are served a la carte, not locked into packages with other features you might not want." The options list, according to Autoblog, includes "a roof-mounted DVD player with flip down screen and auxiliary inputs," while Cars.com says that a "sonar Reverse Sensing System, a stand-alone option, is helpful for parking" the Ford 2009 Taurus X. ConsumerGuide lists the most notable of the remaining options as a "navigation system" and "power sunroof," along with "satellite radio" and a "power liftgate" that is available for $475.

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8.4
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Expert Rating
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Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 10.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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