Ford Taurus (fourth generation)

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For a complete overview of all Taurus models, see Ford Taurus.
Ford Taurus (fourth generation)
05-07 Ford Taurus SE sedan.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1999–October 27, 2006
Model years 2000-2007 (2007: fleet sales only)
Assembly Atlanta Assembly, Hapeville, Georgia, United States
Chicago Assembly, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Designer Moray Callum (1996)[1]
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size
Body style 4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
Layout FF layout
Platform Ford D186 platform
Related Mercury Sable
Lincoln Continental
Powertrain
Engine
Transmission 4-speed AX4N automatic
4-speed AX4S automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108.5 in (2,756 mm)
Length Sedan: 197.6 in (5,019 mm)
Station wagon: 197.7 in (5,022 mm)
Width 73.0 in (1,854 mm)
Height Sedan: 56.1 in (1,425 mm)
Station wagon: 57.8 in (1,468 mm)
Curb weight 3,316 lb (1,504 kg)
Chronology
Predecessor Ford Taurus (third generation)
Successor Ford Taurus (fifth generation)
Ford Fusion
Ford Five Hundred
Ford Freestyle/Taurus X (station wagon)

The fourth-generation Ford Taurus is an automobile produced by the Ford Motor Company for the 2000 to 2007 model years. While mechanically similar to its 1996-1999 predecessor, major revisions to the bodyshell of the sedan were done to alter its controversial styling as well as add interior room; it was available in four-door sedan and five-door station wagon models.

The fourth-generation Taurus would be the final derived from the original 1986 model line. In 2004 and 2005, as part of its effort to increase the use of globally sourced platforms, Ford introduced the Volvo-developed Five Hundred and Mazda-developed Fusion to fill the slot of the Taurus in the Ford line (for non-fleet buyers, the Five Hundred also served as a replacement for the Crown Victoria).

The Taurus nameplate returned in 2008, as Ford renamed the Five Hundred to increase its sales.

Overview[edit]

Exterior[edit]

2000–2003 Ford Taurus SES sedan

When the third generation Taurus debuted, it was hurt by criticism of its design, which was formed from oval derived design elements. The design was very controversial, and it strongly limited the appeal of the car. As a result, for the fourth generation Taurus, Ford designed it with a more subdued, angular design, as part of Ford's New Edge styling, in hopes of increasing the car's appeal. Instead of sloping back, this car's trunk stood upright in a more traditional shape, which greatly increased trunk space.[2][3] The roof was also raised into a more upright stance to increase headroom, which can be seen by the thicker C-pillar and larger area between the tops of the doors and the top of the roof.

The front and rear clips were also redesigned on the Taurus and Sable sedans; all body panels were brand-new except the doors. Station wagons received the new front clips but from the firewall back they were essentially the same as the 1996-1999 wagons. The Taurus now had the turn signals integrated into the headlamps, similar to that of the previous generation Sable. The front bumper was also redesigned to include a larger front grille which, like the previous generation, contained a chrome bar running through the middle containing the Ford logo. The rear clip was redesigned with a larger trunk and trunklid, as mentioned above, as well as giving the Taurus two large taillights as opposed to the rear lightbar used in the previous generation cars. Mounted on the trunklid was a large chrome bar containing the Ford logo, like in the front. In 2003 for the 2004 model year, the front clip was slightly redesigned, and the Taurus got a new front bumper and lights. The grille was made smaller, with the chrome bar removed, replaced by just a large Ford logo in the center. The taillights were slightly redesigned, originally to include amber turn signals, but this was cancelled at the eleventh hour. Instead the rear was given larger reverse lights, and the chrome bar above the license plate bracket was deleted.

Interior[edit]

As with the exterior, the interior was completely redesigned with a more conservative style, although some features from the previous cars were carried over. The dashboard had a more linear appearance, instead of curving around the driver. The "Integrated Control Panel" was carried over but enlarged, reshaped, and placed in the center of the dash instead of being tilted toward the driver. The Flip-Fold center console was also carried over but it was revamped as well. When folded out, it now rested against the floor instead of the dashboard, and had different cupholders and storage areas.[3] Unlike previous Tauruses, this one offered rear cupholders that either slid or folded out of the front console, depending on which console the car was equipped with.[3]

This Taurus' interior was available in two configurations; a front bench seat with a column mounted shifter and the Flip-Fold center console, or bucket seats with a traditional console and a floor mounted shifter. The configuration for a steering column mounted shifter and a center console, which made a brief return for 1999, had been dropped. The interior also contained many new safety features; side airbags, tether straps, and a glow in the dark trunk release mounted inside of the trunk.[3] This interior also contained a new system which Ford called the "Personal Safety System". This system, at the time of a collision, would detect the driver and passenger's positions, and would inflate the airbags to match, possibly preventing airbag-related injuries.[4] For 2004, the interior got a minor revision, with a new steering wheel with a center airbag pad that shaped like an upside-down taco; new gauges; a color-keyed instrument panel cluster surround replacing the black of the 2000-2003 models, and the addition of a diagnostic center in the gauge cluster, that would tell if there were any problems with the car, as well as average fuel economy. It also was able to perform a "system check" at the driver's request to make sure that the engine was functioning properly.

Models and engines[edit]

2000–2003 Ford Taurus wagon

The two 1999 models were carried over, and two more were added. The most basic model was the LX, with the SE as the mid priced model. A new trim named "SES" was a slight step up, and the SEL was the new top-end model, slotting just under the Mercury Sable LS. The SES and LX models were dropped in 2005, leaving the SE and SEL.

The SEL line received a few upgrades for 2003, to give it a more upscale image. Among the changes were a new instrument cluster, wheels, as well as a slight redesign of the dash, with woodgrain replacing the black trim. It also got woodgrain on the steering wheel rim and around the power window switches on the front doors.[4] Also in 2003, Ford created a Centennial Edition Taurus to celebrate Ford's 100th anniversary. This special Taurus included many extras, such as lighter wood trim, special leather seats, headlights with black accents, special wheels, a special leather case for the owner's manual, a leather jacket that said "Ford: 100 Years", a similar watch, and a letter from William Clay Ford, Jr. Production was limited to 4,000 units.[5]

For 2002, 2003 and 2004, the SES model received a "Sport" package, which consisted of five-spoked rims known as "slicers", and the Duratec engine standard. In addition, the exterior of the vehicle received Sport badging on the front quarter-panels, the chrome bar on the grille was changed to body color, the interior received two-toned cloth seats, a two-toned dash applique, special "Sport" floor mats, and a leather covered steering wheel. This model was only offered in four colors.

The engines were carried over from the previous generation, with the Vulcan being the only available engine on the LX and SE, producing 155 horsepower (116 kW) and 185 ft·lbf (251 N·m) of torque, and as the base engine on the SES. The Duratec engine was optional on the SES and standard on the SEL, producing 200 horsepower (150 kW). For 2005, with the LX and SES models being dropped, the Duratec was only available on the SEL, and in 2006 the Duratec was dropped altogether, with the Vulcan becoming the standard and only engine available on the SEL. All models came with the four speed AX4S automatic transmission, although a few 3.0 liter V6 Vulcan models up until 2003 received the similar AX4N transmission.[6]

Variants[edit]

Mercury Sable[edit]

Main article: Mercury Sable
2000–2003 Mercury Sable

Like that of its Ford Taurus counterpart, a fourth generation Mercury Sable was launched for the 2000 model year. Also like the Taurus, this Sable shared the same basic design as the third generation, although it got a new front fascia, rear fascia, wheels and interior. The rear fascia was similar to that of the third generation models; it had a slight downward slope to it. This Sable shared all mechanical parts with the Taurus, while sporting a different body. Only the doors, door handles, wheels, and interior were shared with the Taurus. This Sable was offered in three models: GS, LS, and LS Premium, which offered a number of extra comfort features over the regular LS. An LS Platinum edition was also briefly offered. As with the planned discontinuation of the Taurus nameplate, the Mercury Sable was discontinued after the 2005 model year,[3] and was replaced by the Mercury Montego and Mercury Milan. The Sable nameplate would later be revived for the 2008–2009 model years.

Initial discontinuation and nameplate revival[edit]

Taurus sales had slumped significantly in the years prior to its demise, losing significant market share to Japanese sedans.[7] The Taurus, which had at one time been the best-selling midsize sedan, had already lost its position when it was surpassed in sales by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and in 2005 fell to #4 behind the Nissan Altima.[8] Due to waning popularity and customer demand, Ford decided to slowly discontinue the Taurus. Production of the Taurus wagon was discontinued on December 8, 2004;[3] sedan retail sales halted after a short 2006 model year, and the Taurus became sold exclusively to fleets in the United States, while still being sold to retail customers in Canada. Production ended on October 27, 2006, as Ford idled the Atlanta plant, as part its The Way Forward restructuring plan.

How can it go away? It's the best selling car in America.

Alan Mulally, 2006[9]

The last Ford Taurus rolled off the assembly line around 7:00am,[10] destined for delivery to S. Truett Cathy, owner of Chick-fil-A.[11] Mr. Cathy's original restaurant was located across from the Ford Atlanta plant. There was no official event or function of any kind to mark the end of production.[12] Rather than investing in an older nameplate, Ford had decided to replace the Taurus with the full-size Five Hundred and midsize Fusion sedans, as well as replacing the Taurus wagon with the Freestyle crossover SUV.

The last Taurus sedan was an SEL model like this one.

The discontinuation of the Taurus was controversial. While many believed that the Taurus was discontinued because it could no longer compete in the growing sedan market,[13] others believed that if Ford wanted to save the car, they could have easily done so.[14] Autoblog went as far as calling the Taurus the biggest fall from grace in history, and even blamed Ford's current financial problems on their failure to keep the Taurus competitive, as well as how they focused nearly all of their development resources and marketing on trucks and SUVs.[15] The Truth About Cars published a review/editorial also showing their disappointment at how Ford neglected the Taurus to the point where it became a "rental car".[16]

MSNBC interviewed many Ford workers who felt that Ford unjustly abandoned the car that had done so much to revitalize Ford and the US industry. In an October 25, 2006 USA Today editorial, "How Ford starved its Taurus" it was noted that the Japanese stick with their winners and make them better (such as the Toyota Corolla, which has been in continuous production since the 1960s),[17] while Detroit automakers retires cars or entire division nameplates in search of "the next big thing".[18]

The 2008 Ford Five Hundred prototype, which was renamed "Taurus" upon Alan Mulally's request.

However, after Alan Mulally took position as Ford's CEO, rumors were rampant that he was interested in reviving the Taurus. These were fueled by the fact that he said in an interview with the Associated Press that he was baffled to find out that the Taurus had been discontinued when taking position as CEO at Ford, as well as stating that he believed that discontinuing the Taurus was a mistake, and that the Five Hundred should have been named "Taurus" from the beginning.[9] The rumors of a possible Taurus revival were confirmed in mid-2007, when the revamped versions of the Five Hundred and Freestyle were unveiled as "Taurus" and "Taurus X" at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, a decision that was influenced strongly by Mulally.[9] In a later interview, Mulally explained that the fact that the Taurus was well known and had a positive brand equity associated with it strongly influenced his decision to revive the name.[19]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/10/automobiles/autoreviews/04AUTO.html?ex=1150171200&en=89edb99ce99ce4fc&ei=5087%0A&_r=0
  2. ^ "2000-2006 Ford Taurus overview". Consumer Guide. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Taurus/Sable spotter's guide (Generation 4 2000-2005)". Taurus Car Club of America. Retrieved 2008-04-06. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b DiPetro, John (2003-04-18). "Inside Line: Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable". Edmunds. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  5. ^ "Centennial Taurus". Taurus Car Club of America. 2007-01-21. Retrieved 2007-02-13. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Taurus/Sable Encyclopedia: Transaxles (AX4N)". Taurus Car Club of America. 2. Retrieved 2008-04-05.  Check date values in: |date= (help)[dead link]
  7. ^ Mayne, Eric (2005-04-19). "End of Ford Taurus closes era". Detroit News. Retrieved 2006-05-16. [dead link]
  8. ^ http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/top-10/top-10-best-selling-vehicles-for-2005.html
  9. ^ a b c "CEO insisted in bringing "Taurus" back". MSNBC. 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  10. ^ "Last Ford Taurus built today". Left Lane News. 2006-10-27. 
  11. ^ McGhee, Bernard (2006-10-27). "Last Ford Taurus rolls off Atlanta Assembly line". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  12. ^ Krisher, Tom (2006-10-20). "Ford Taurus out of gas". seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  13. ^ "Storied Ford Taurus reaches end of line". Detroit News. 2006-10-23. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  14. ^ Final Ford Taurus interview. ABC News. 2007-07-26. 
  15. ^ "So long, friend. Ford producing last Taurus next week". Autoblog. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  16. ^ "Ford Taurus: Oedipus Wrecks". The Truth About Cars. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  17. ^ "Toyota Corolla history". Edmunds.com. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  18. ^ "How Ford starved its Taurus". USA Today. 2006-10-25. Retrieved 2006-10-25. 
  19. ^ Ford CEO Alan Mulally on the new Ford Taurus. Autoinsider news. 2007-07-26. 

External links[edit]