Although thoroughly redesigned for 2000, changes to Taurus’ body work are more noticeable on the sedan than the wagon. Improvements include a more conventional centre control panel, added safety features, new power-adjustable peddles and an incease in horsepower and torque in both available engines.
See also: 2000 Ford Taurus Sedan
Safety features and interior improvements highlight changes for 2000
In the quest for objectivity, I must confess a personal bias up front. I like wagons. The utility of a wagon aside, I just think they look better than the sedan they are based on.
To my mind, wagons have a way of making the ordinary interesting and the outrageous appealing.
In most cases, the wagon spices up an otherwise conservative design. Witness Volvo’s new S40 sedan and V40 wagon. Canada’s automotive press have said nice things about the S40, but it is the wagon that has won their admiration. And Hyundai’s compact Elantra sedan doesn’t win buyers on beauty, but on its economy. The wagon, in my admittedly biased opinion, turned a bland sedan into stylish transportation. Unfortunately, that wagon has been discontinued for 2001, principally because most buyers disagreed with my point of view and opted for the sedan.
There are exceptions though. No doubt Ford was taking a chance when the Taurus debuted in the mid-eighties. In no way could one describe the first generation Taurus as conservative. But neither was it objectionable and its acceptance showed the way for redesigns by other manufacturers over the next decade.
When the Taurus went totally oval in 1996, most everyone, including me, thought Ford had gone too far. Designed as if all straight edges had been removed from the design studio, the ’96 Taurus was a love it or hate it design.
I hated the sedan; loved the wagon. While the oval treatment on the sedan looked contrived, it made for an attractive and appealing wagon.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction and so it is with the new 2000 Taurus sedan. Apparently the buying public had their say on the ellipsoid Taurus sedan – both at the dealership and in market research – and the only body panels that remain after the redesign are the doors.
Not so for the wagon, at least to the eye. It takes a good eye to see the changes on the wagon. From the side or the back, the 1999 and 2000 version wagons look much the same. Up front, the grille is much larger, with an oval shape and a honeycomb insert, while the previous generation’s oval headlights have been replaced with new, larger, complex reflector-clear-lens headlamps.
The big changes for the 2000 Taurus wagon are inside. Gone is the oval centre control panel in favour of a more conventional layout. Audio and climate controls are grouped in a new soft-cornered rectilinear shape integrated control panel with square buttons. Buttons are arranged in a linear grid fashion for more intuitive use.
The wagon is available only in SE and SEL trim levels which means five passenger seating with front bucket seats, a floor shift lever and console. The full-length floor console has a large armrest and storage area. An open bin to the front of the console below the instrument panel has a molded compartment that is sized to accommodate a portable cellular phone. The optional CD changer goes in the storage bin between the seats and uses up some of the storage space.
A fold down third seat is available in the cargo area, but it is not suitable for adults and should only be used for children when all other seats are occupied.
The main attraction in a wagon, of course, is cargo carrying capacity. The rear cargo area of a wagon can be more useful than a van because a large floor area is always available without removing seats. And, if properly equipped with a safety screen, will accommodate large pets, small furniture and a lot of camping gear packed to the roof. Cargo capacity in the Taurus wagon with the rear seats up is a respectable 1.1 cubic metres (38.8 cubic feet), slightly greater than 1999. This space more than doubles to 2.3 cubic metres (81.3 cubic feet) when the rear seats are folded forward.
One of the more interesting and useful features, added for the 2000 model year, is power adjustable pedals – standard equipment on the SE and SEL wagons. The pedals, which are adjusted with a button on the side of the driver’s seat, move forward as much as three inches from the standard position. This is great for shorter drivers who still wish to maintain a safe seating position away from the air bag. While testing the SEL wagon, my wife and I found we preferred to move the pedals rather than adjust the seating position.
Safety has been an important consideration in the design of the 2000 Taurus, which received a five star rating in frontal crash tests conducted by the US National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Ford’s Personal Safety System features integrated safety belt pretensioners, energy management retractors, safety belt usage sensors, driver’s seat position sensor, dual-stage inflating air bags and a special crash severity sensor. Head and chest side airbags are also available.
The fully integrated computer-driven system “thinks” about and responds to different accident conditions. A collection of sensors feeds information to the car’s Restraints Control Module – the “brain” of the system. The module takes into account the driver’s seating position, driver and front-seat occupant’s safety belt usage and accident severity before deploying safety devices such as the air bags or seat belt energy management retractors.
The module determines if air bag deployment is necessary and with how much energy they should be deployed. The dual-stage air bags deploy at two energy levels: a lower, less forceful energy level for more common, moderate-severity impacts and higher levels for the most severe crash events.
If crash forces rise to severe levels, a metal bar tucked in the center of the spool of the safety belt retractor – called an energy management retractor – twists like a wrung-out washcloth. Such action releases small amounts of safety belt webbing in a controlled manner and helps reduce the risk of force-related injuries, especially to the occupant’s chest.
Standard power for the Taurus wagon is provided by Ford’s Vulcan 3.0 litre OHV six cylinder engine with 155 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm – 10 more horsepower than 1999. Torque is also up 15 ft-lbs. to 185 ft-lbs. @ 3,950 rpm. The optional Duratec 3.0 litre DOHC motor now has 200 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm and 200 ft-lbs. of torque @ 4,500 rpm, an increase of 15 horsepower and 15 ft-lbs. of torque over 1999.
My test SEL wagon was equipped with the optional Duratec engine – a true dual personality motor. Quiet and docile in around town traffic, the engine would come to life with a noticeable growl and a rush of acceleration when pushed. In contrast to the 2000 Taurus sedan tested by Autos’s Greg Wilson, who found the accelerator pedal “a trifle too sensitive,” my experience for some reason was quite different. I found a disconcerting lack of responsiveness to input from the driver’s foot – and more power being delivered than expected as a result.
For 2000, the Taurus suspension has been improved to provide a plusher ride. Handling is good due to its fully independent suspension. The rear suspension on the wagon differs from the sedan. Wagons have independent short and long arm suspension with variable rate springs on the lower control arm, while sedans have independent MacPherson strut suspension with strut mounted coil spring. The wagon also uses a narrower stabilizer bar.
Four-wheel disc brakes with vented front and solid rear discs and anti-lock braking system are standard equipment on the Taurus wagon. All-speed traction control is an available option.
Outward visibility is generally good, although the large curved c-pillar can obstruct the view to either side when backing up or changing lanes.
As mentioned earlier, Taurus wagons are available in SE and SEL trim only. Standard equipment on the SE includes: 4-speed automatic transmission, power steering, AM/FM radio and cassette player, air conditioning, power windows with driver’s ‘express-down’ feature, power door locks, power heated mirrors, tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry, cruise control, rear window defroster, two 12 volt power outlets, block heater, power adjustable pedals, luggage roof rack, rear wiper/washer and P215/60R-16 inch all-season tires. The SEL adds Electronic Automatic Temperature Control, automatic headlamps, 5 spoke machined aluminum wheels, perimeter anti-theft system, remote entry keypad, rear-facing third seat and cargo cover.
Optional equipment on my SEL tester included 3.0 litre Duratec motor ($1495), all-speed traction control ($491), power moonroof ($1250), side-impact air bags ($463) and audio group – MACH stereo with 6-disc CD changer ($1050).
In Canada, the wagon accounts for 20 per cent of Ford Taurus sales. With few competitors – Saturn LW ($24,440 – $27,810), Subaru Legacy ($24,295 – $32,495), Volvo V40 ($30,995 – $37,000+), and Volkswagen Passat ($30,275 – $40,325) – it is no wonder the Taurus wagon has been the industry leader in this segment. Though classified as a mid-sized wagon, the Taurus is as big as it gets in wagon country. Only the Saturn LW (introduced in 2000) and the Passat have the interior room to challenge the Taurus.
See also: 2000 Ford Taurus Sedan
|2000 Ford Taurus SEL Wagon|
|Price as tested||$32,544|
|Type||4-door, 7-passenger wagon|
|Layout||transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive|
|Engine||3.0 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves|
|Horsepower||200 @ 5750 rpm|
|Torque||200 @ 4500 rpm|
|Curb weight||1568 kg (3,486 lbs)|
|Wheelbase||2756 mm (108.5 in.)|
|Length||5017 mm (197.5 in.)|
|Width||1854 mm (73.0 in.)|
|Height||1473 mm (58 in.)|
|Cargo space||1.10 cu. metres/38.8 cu. ft (seats up)|
|2.30 cu. metres/81.3 cu. ft. (seats down)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 12.5 L/100 km (23 mpg)|
|Highway: 8.1 L/100 km (35 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km|