2006 Ford Taurus: Swan Song

The 2006 model year will end the heralded Taurus name and for this writer it is a bittersweet time as Ford retires what once the best selling car in all of America.

When Ford introduced the Taurus along with its cousin the Mercury Sable in the mid 1980s the car represented a radical departure from the standard American car of the day. Fairly large, front wheel drive, and very aerodynamic, the Taurus quickly rose to the pinnacle of the American car sales charts and was the best selling car for several years in a row. A much delayed “reskinning” did not occur until 1996, some ten years after the Taurus and Sable were first released. The new style, perceived by some to be ugly, quickly cost Ford sales as newer and more modern Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords out gained the line. Slight changes in style incorporated with the 2000 model year took some of the edge off, but by then the Taurus was considered to be too old and outmatched by the competition.

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I purchased an all new 1994 Taurus and kept the car for seven years, racking up 117,000 miles before deciding it was time to trade in the car for something newer. I found the ride to be comfortable, the interior room to be expansive, and I enjoyed the overall style of the car. I was also one of the first people to purchase a Taurus in the then new Hunter Green color, an attractive deep green that was admired by many.

When 2001 rolled around, I elected to lease a Saturn L series instead of going with the Taurus. I needed something similar in size with the Taurus and at that time Saturn had a lease deal that could not be beat. In addition, I still wasn’t impressed with the Taurus which I felt had been out-engineered by other cars in its class. So, I took home the Saturn and donated my Taurus to the Kidney Foundation.

The 2005 model year represented the final year that Ford would offer the Taurus through dealers; for 2006 the Taurus is only available as a fleet car and it is unchanged from the previous year’s model. The slow selling Sable was mercifully put to rest one year earlier.

For Ford, concentrating on trucks and SUVs meant neglecting much of their car line up, including the Taurus. Bigger and stronger SUVs, including the Expedition and Excursion, were introduced as America’s tastes continued to shift from passenger cars to SUVs. In addition, the ever popular F Series pick up trucks went through regular style and engineering changes every four years or so as did the Explorer, Ford’s midsized SUV.

Higher gas prices and changing tastes are once again impacting Fords’ line up. The beefy Excursion is gone and new cars including the Five Hundred and Fusion are now part of the line up. These two new models represent a fresh change for Ford and a promise that the attention once given to the Taurus would be given to the new models. For that, I am glad.

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