- Plenty of zip from the engine
- Spacious, comfortable interior
- Wide range of high-tech, high-convenience features
- Won't be mistaken for an exhilarating driver
- Looks could use some work
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.
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.
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.