2008 Ford Taurus Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

A great choice for older drivers, the 2008 Ford Taurus excels on its size, safety gear, and large instrumentation, but falls behind the Honda Accord in driving excitement.

TheCarConnection.com’s car experts consulted all the respected Web reviews of the 2008 Ford Taurus to bring you this conclusive review of its styling, performance, features, safety and quality. In addition, TheCarConnection.com’s staffers also drove the latest version of the Ford Taurus to provide you with their expert opinion, to bring you even more detailed coverage of the Taurus, and to explain why different reviews from the Web might have strongly different opinions.

When Ford dropped the Taurus from its lineup in 2007, it marked a fast fall for the sedan from the very top of the market. The 1992 Ford Taurus had been a class leader; for years, the Taurus was the best-selling car in America. By 2007, it had become a rental-car special.

Under new leadership at Ford, the company resurrected the Taurus nameplate for the 2008 model year and applied it to the Ford Five Hundred, a large sedan introduced in 2005. That new sedan shared running gear with the Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle, which explains the vast interior spaces inside today's Taurus.

The 2008 Ford Taurus comes in two editions: a base SEL and an up-level Limited. Both share the same 263-horsepower V-6 engine, and a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. All-wheel drive is an option; fundamentally sound handling is standard.

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While the Taurus's engine is powerful enough, it groans and doesn't contribute to the car's otherwise solid quality and execution. The interior's a bit drab, but it's pieced together well, and there's plenty of storage space in the console and door panels. The 2008 Ford Taurus's seats are perched high, giving drivers a commanding view of the road, and the glassy cabin offers great visibility. That, the large switchgear, and a comprehensive package of airbags, stability control, and available all-wheel drive make the Taurus one of the safest cars on the road.

6

2008 Ford Taurus

Styling

The 2008 Ford Taurus has some bold details, but it’s still an anonymous shape.

Long ago, Ford sold the Taurus. In 2006, it dropped the name and brought out the full-size Five Hundred sedan. Now in 2008, Ford’s changed the Five Hundred’s name to—Taurus.
Confused? There’s no need to be, since the new 2008 Ford Taurus represents what the old one did—an exceptional value in big sedans, if not a sporting one.

While reviewers agree that the 2008 Ford Taurus is different from both the original Taurus and the Ford Five Hundred, whether that change is for the better is definitely a matter of taste.

Fans of the new look include the reviewer at MSN, which says the 2008 Ford "looks dressed up on the outside, with eye-catching taillights and headlights and a grille reminiscent of the one on Ford's popular and smaller sedan, the Fusion." Several of the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com mention the similarity to the Fusion as well. Calling the Taurus's front fender chrome side vents "the tailfins of this decade," Car and Driver says the new styling makes the front of the car more "interesting" with "three-bar chrome grille and sexier rectangular headlamps." MSN enthuses about the Taurus Limited's "lots of chrome-colored touches, such as on the door handles."

Perhaps not as fond of all things shiny, MyRide is a somewhat less enthusiastic fan of the new look, but does say that the front-end styling "gives the Taurus a huge dose of character that the Five Hundred lacked." They mention the new taillight lenses and, yes, chrome door handles. Overall, they consider the profile of the 2008 Taurus to be the same as the Five Hundred, which they consider "a good thing since the Audi-inspired shape is clean, smooth and well proportioned."

Firmly ambivalent about the new look is Cars.com. They approve of Ford's new grille as a replacement for "the Five Hundred's forgettable mesh one," and they praise the headlights and fog lights as "crisper and less restrained than before"; however, unlike the folks at MyRide, they're not fans of the decision to keep "the Five Hundred's stodgy profile." They're also less than impressed with the clear lenses of the taillights, saying that change is "something a lot of automakers resort to when they need to spice things up...simpler red taillights seemed more fitting for a large family car."

Among the naysayers is AutoWeek, noting "the Ford electric-razor grille is nice, but the car still looks like an overinflated previous-generation Passat."

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7

2008 Ford Taurus

Performance

The 2008 Ford Taurus is quicker and rides more quietly and smoothly, but still lacks the dynamic magic of a Honda Accord.

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."

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9

2008 Ford Taurus

Comfort & Quality

In space, seating comfort, and a quiet ride, the 2008 Ford Taurus excels.

Reviewers like the 2008 Ford Taurus for the quiet and comfort of the ride, though some quibble about the quality of interior components.

First, the bad: While Autoblog says that the "strong platform and rigid construction goes a long way in making the Taurus feel like a high quality car from behind the wheel," others find fault with what Ford has placed around the driver. MSN's reviewer finds the Taurus's 2008 dashboard uninspiring: "Drawn from the Ford Five Hundred, this dashboard seems a bit old-style, although controls are nicely arranged." Autoweek is harsher in its criticism, saying, "Too many bits and pieces make up the dash, and while the wood trim avoids the trap of warping it into shapes only a sculptor could love, it looks tacked on rather than integrated."

Similarly, ConsumerGuide says, "audio and climate controls comprise many look-alike buttons and sometimes hard-to-read electronic displays, all set too low for easiest use. The navigation system suffers from a slightly undersized dashboard screen and could be more intuitive." In addition, some reviewers report that "stalks for wipers, turn signals are still too far from the steering wheel." Cars.com doesn't like the center armrest, which they call "hard enough to dribble a basketball on" and knock Ford for the "overhead grab handles [that] still slam against the ceiling when you let go -- something most automakers addressed years ago with soft-shut handles."

The folks at Edmunds are easier to please, saying the 2008 Taurus has "a handsome and functional cabin with solid materials quality, plenty of storage areas and eight cupholders"--perhaps coffee proximity makes up for other design flaws.

But once they get past the cockpit and grab handles, reviewers are much more positive. All sources checked by TheCarConnection.com agree that in the 2008 Taurus, Ford offers a much quieter ride than before. Motor Trend credits "foam pellets expanded into the A-pillars and new sound-absorptive material, called Sonosorb, swathed throughout the cabin" for some of the noise reduction. MyRide says these changes "pay perceptible dividends compared to the Five Hundred, and the overall experience is one of refinement and quality." They're not sure with Ford's claim of "Lexus levels of quiet...but for a $30,000 sedan this is pretty darn good."

MSN notes that it is "even quieter than the 2007 Five Hundred," in part because "revised outside mirrors that produce less wind noise." They also credit the new engine mounts that mean "Engine vibration is isolated...and doesn't transmit readily to the passenger compartment," although they do warn that "the Taurus Limited's 18-inch tires" can cause a bit of noise "on rough pavement." Overall, however, reviewers are impressed with the quiet ride, and as Edmunds comments, "those who equate silence with quality should be pleased" with the 2008 Ford Taurus.

Another aspect most reviewers like is the raised seating in front. Automobile reports that it "provide[s] that commanding view of the road that SUV owners were always going on about." Autoblog positively gushes, saying, "the bottom cushion is so far from the ground that entering the vehicle is a matter of opening the door and sliding your butt to the right. Ford calls it Command Seating, and we dig it." In a fit of hyperbole, they claim, "the ceiling is so high you half expect to look up and see Michelangelo lying on his back doing a paint by numbers."

Perhaps Autoblog's reviewers are somewhat shorter than those at Edmunds, which likes the Command Seating in the 2008 Taurus but warns that it "puts taller drivers very close to the ceiling"--though MSN points out that with "nearly an inch more headroom in the front and back seats than a new Camry, this Taurus is welcoming for even tall passengers." Cars.com admires how the seating "affords a high driving position and makes getting in and out of the Taurus a breeze" and says the "eight-way power seat ... offered plenty of adjustment range for short or tall drivers."

As for the seats themselves, Cars.com deems them "well-padded, if a bit narrow," which contrasts Autoblog's assessment that "the seats themselves are closer in feel to those found in larger vehicles" and MyRide's comment that the "seats are big and comfy, perfectly suited to big American butts."

Leaving aside the inevitable question of whether the 2008 Taurus makes one's butt look big, TheCarConnection.com finds that the car gets kudos all around for interior space. Autoblog labels it "absolutely ginormous from the driver's seat...with headroom, legroom and width to spare for even the largest of hominids...there's space to spare in between the front seats." Automobile praises Ford for having "eliminated the cramped sedan feeling" of previous models and calls the 2008 Taurus "exceedingly spacious, with more interior room than a Chrysler 300 or a Toyota Avalon." Motor Trend finds the interior "cavernous," and Edmunds likes the fact that "Legroom is plentiful in both the front and rear."

For carrying groceries, luggage, or, as Motor Trend suggests, sporting equipment, there's "a whopping 21.2 cubic feet (think six golf bags) in the trunk proper, and a whole lot more if the split rear and front passenger seats are collapsed." MSN says of the Taurus, Ford’s trunk "makes the Camry's 15-cubic-foot trunk seem stingy"; perhaps more impressive, Edmunds points that the trunk is "bigger than the Crown Victoria" and that with the "60/40-split rear bench and front passenger seat fold[ed] flat...items up to 9 feet in length" can fit inside the 2008 Taurus. ConsumerGuide likes that the trunk "has a flat floor, usefully cubic shape, a large opening, and non invasive strut-type lid hinges...Small-item storage, however, is unexceptional."

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10

2008 Ford Taurus

Safety

For a safe family car, the 2008 Ford Taurus is hard to beat, especially when the optional electronic stability control feature is added.

Reviewers across the board give the 2008 Ford Taurus high marks for safety, though some would like to see the optional stability control feature made standard.

According to Edmunds, standard safety features include anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, and front side- and full-length side curtain airbags. Perfect five-star ratings in crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make "the 2008 Ford Taurus one of the safest cars on the road." It certainly ranks high in its class compared to other cars reviewed by TheCarConnection.com.

MyRide notes that Taurus received a Top Safety Pick ranking from the IIHS and that it "apparently brushes off impacts with crash barriers, earning five stars in front driver, passenger, side and rear impacts." They credit the "multiple airbags -- two in front, side impact and curtain airbags that deploy in a rollover -- and one of the strongest structures in the industry, courtesy of Volvo." The Auto Channel also mentions the frame, "which incorporates many engineering designs from the Ford owned Volvo...S80 model." They say the "energy absorbing front-end crash structure...will collapse in stages--think of an accordion folding" and that it also includes "side impact engineering designs for added impact absorption."

MSN points out, however, that unlike "some family car competitors that include standard electronic stability control, the Taurus lists that safety feature, which can help avert a skid and loss of car control, as an option."

ConsumerGuide says that the 2008 Ford feels "steady in sweeping turns, especially with AWD" but reports "moderate body lean" in "tight low-speed corners" because of its height and weight. They praise the brakes for having "fine overall stopping control" and like the AWD option for driving on "wet and snowy roads." Like other reviewers, they believe that with the Taurus, Ford's antiskid system "should be standard rather than optional."

Cars.com reports that all but one of the five seats has head restraints. Buyers with infants and small children will like that "the Latch child-seat anchors for the outboard seats are spaced a few inches inward of the door," which means that when installed properly, the seats will be "farther away from potential side-impacts, and the inboard anchors are close enough to easily secure a seat in the center position -- the safest spot for kids."

According to Edmunds, "power-adjustable pedals and rear parking sensors" are additional safety options offered with the 2008 Ford Taurus.

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10

2008 Ford Taurus

Features

Starting with a nicely equipped base model, the 2008 Ford Taurus offers additional features for those who want to upgrade to fancier toys and more luxurious comfort.

From high-tech gadgets to creature comforts, Ford Taurus offers features that impressed TheCarConnection.com and other reviewers.

The 2008 Ford Taurus is available in either front- or all-wheel drive, with two trim levels: base SEL and up-level Limited. Edmunds calls the SEL "well-equipped" with "17-inch wheels, full power accessories (including a power driver seat), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood grain interior trim, air-conditioning, a CD player and MP3 jack, cruise control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror." MyRide concurs, saying, "if you're thinking that like the old Taurus, this one's a stripped fleet leader, think again," pointing out that standard equipment "is extensive, including a full complement of airbags, a tire-pressure monitoring system...traction control, and keyless entry." They also mention the fog lamps and anti-lock brakes, concluding that "Rental customers should be so lucky."

For the Limited trim of the 2008 Taurus, Ford has 18-inch wheels as standard (Cars.com notes that these are optional on the SEL). Edmunds lists "leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, front seat heaters, a memory system for the driver seat/mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded audio system with a six-disc CD changer, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, and an analog clock" as standard on the Limited, with "moonroof, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, satellite radio and the Ford Sync system" optional.

The 2008 Ford Taurus offers a wealth of features, like a standard auxiliary audio input jack, and options such as a voice-activated navigation system, a DVD entertainment system, and Sirius Satellite Radio. Ford’s SYNC in-car entertainment controller is also available.

ZDNet is impressed with the "very advanced navigation system and voice command, a feature we haven't seen on a Ford until now." They weren't as happy with the stereo, which they deem "over-amplified," saying that at "half volume it was almost painful, and above that the speakers started rattling. This isn't a finely balanced system, but it does produce satisfying bass. The overall audio quality is also good, although it lacks crispness in the high range." This criticism of the audio system was virtually the only negative TheCarConnection.com found in reviews of Taurus features.

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For 2008 Ford Taurus

Great car Taurus X crossover

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I have driven 230k. I still enjoy the ride and the often take advantage of the space loading up for long trips. Only regular maintenance. Great car. Like the style sorry they are not in production for when I... + More »
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