For the Ford Taurus, 2008 means a beefed-up engine, but it only brings performance up to adequate in the eyes of most reviewers.
In the 2008 Taurus, Ford offers its 3.5-liter Duratec V-6 powerplant, which delivers 265 hp. According to Edmunds, the extra 60 horses are a definite improvement over "the slow-as-snails Five Hundred." And they add, "No one will ever call the Taurus quick, but it now has the gusto needed to get up highway on-ramps and pass pokey fellow motorists without breaking a significant sweat." MyRide concurs, saying that compared to the "pokey and breathless" older models, the new Taurus "feels more muscular. It's far from a muscle sedan, but you can finally blow past parade floats with ease."
MSN likes the 2008 Ford Taurus's transmission, saying it "smoothly works through the gears with nary a shift point for drivers to notice." ConsumerGuide agrees about the smoothness of shifting, but says it "can be reluctant to downshift for passing." They also find that the transmission "tends to 'hunt' between gears in give-and-take traffic" and criticize "the continued lack of a manual shift control."
Edmunds, which also knocks the slow downshifting, says that it is "a result of being tuned for maximum fuel economy"; MSN comments further on this aspect, noting that "this transmission--a joint venture product with General Motors Corp.--has two overdrive gears to get the maximum out of every gallon of fuel."
Unfortunately, the fuel economy is not as good as comparable cars reviewed by TheCarConnection.com. With 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive version and 17/24 mpg in all-wheel-drive versions, MyRide calls the 2008 Taurus's mileage "good if not stellar." MSN, which says that the "Taurus rebirth also assumes that fuel efficiency isn't a high priority for buyers," points out that while fuel economy in the Taurus "is about the same as a front-wheel-drive Camry with a 268-horsepower V-6, it's lower than the 21/30-mpg rating for a 158-horsepower, four-cylinder Camry with automatic." (Ford does not offer a four-cylinder engine with the Taurus.)
MyRide does point out that with the 2008 Taurus, Ford "surpass[es] the emissions requirements of California and other 'green' states."
One area where reviewers are slightly more positive is in the ride and handling. ConsumerGuide says the 2008 Ford "feels stronger and more relaxed overall than Five Hundred." According to Edmunds, "Ford softened the suspension to create a suppler ride"; however, they still think "the Five Hundred handled a tad better." Automobile describes the ride as "comfortable without being floaty, but the steering and handling still do nothing to set an enthusiast's heart afire." Motor Trend concurs, saying, "While the handling remains nondescript, the road sizzle you used to feel throughout the car is nearly extinguished, and moderate bumps are swallowed whole."