NEW FOR 2008:

– All-new model

Although it replaces the Ford Five Hundred, the all-new Taurus is not just a new badge on an existing vehicle; although it rides on the same wheelbase, it’s longer, wider and taller, it carries a larger and more powerful engine, and it comes with numerous improvements, including standard stability control. Also new is its Taurus X crossover sibling, which replaces the Freestyle.

The Taurus is offered in SEL and Limited trim lines; both use a 3.5-litre V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that’s also used in the Ford Edge with a horsepower increase over the old model to 263 hp from 203, along with an additional 42 lb-ft of torque. Both trim lines can be optioned with all-wheel drive.

Features on the SEL include 17-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way driver and two-way passenger power seats, front passenger fold-flat seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, floor mats, automatic headlamps with wiper activation, power mirrors, fog lamps, anti-theft alarm, tire pressure monitoring system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack and SIRIUS satellite radio, leather-wrapped wheel, and keyless entry with driver’s door keypad.

The Limited adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, heated leather seats with eight-way driver and four-way passenger power adjustment, heated mirrors with memory, puddle lamps, reverse sensing system, power-adjustable pedals, and garage door opener.

Available options include rear-seat DVD system, retractable rear sunshade, navigation system, wood trim package, and Ford SYNC, a new voice-activated communications and entertainment system, developed in conjunction with Microsoft.

Although it was a roomy and comfortable car, the Five Hundred didn’t sell as well as expected; the Taurus should get more attention with its flashier styling and large number of features, and a price that rises only $500 above the 2007 Taurus’ MSRP for FWD models, and $600 for AWD.

Like its predecessor, the Taurus offers a smooth ride, wide doors, tall roofline, plenty of legroom for all passengers, and a huge trunk; the larger engine provides an even better driving experience, and with virtually the same fuel economy as the model it replaces.

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