Canada’s best-selling mid-sized car, the Ford Taurus has been given a major overhaul for 2000. Significant changes include new exterior styling, a redesigned interior and increased headroom and legroom, a bigger trunk (sedan), added safety features, new power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, and a modest increase in horsepower in both available V6 engines.
New styling, improved safety, more interior room
Freshly redesigned for 2000, the Ford Taurus has abandoned the rounded, and somewhat controversial styling which it received in 1996. Its new bodystyle is more contemporary as well as more practical: the new Taurus has additional front and rear headroom, more rear legroom, and a larger trunk.
As well, the 2000 Taurus has some new safety features, new power adjustable foot pedals, a smoother-shifting automatic transmission, a standard SecuriLock anti-theft system, and a reduction in interior noise.
Though I’m generally a fan of cars with slippery aerodynamic bodywork, I thought the previous Taurus resembled a catfish without whiskers. In addition, its front and rear overhangs were too long; the hood line across the nose divided the bodywork like an unhealed incision; and the large oval rear window looked gimmicky.
Most of these styling features have been revised for 2000: the hood line has been eliminated by a much larger oval grille opening. The headlamps are larger and wrap around to the front fenders; the oval rear window has been replaced by a rectangular one; the rounded tail has been chopped and raised; and the rear taillights are now larger, wrapover lamps.
As a result of its redesigned roof line, the Taurus sedan’s rear headroom has increased by 50 mm (nearly two inches) and front headroom by 25 mm (nearly one inch). The new rectangular rear window is also larger.
In addition, the trunklid is higher and wider at the opening, providing an additional 33 litres (1.2 cubic feet) of trunk space. The Taurus’ trunk (481 litres/17.0 cu. ft.) is one the biggest trunks in the mid-sized class.
The downside to the taller trunk is reduced visibility to the rear when backing up. To make things worse, the third rear brake light sits squarely in the middle of the rear window ledge.
Changes to the Taurus’ redesigned interior have improved overall appearance and operation of controls. The previous Taurus’ prominent black, oval-shaped centre control panel with its confusing arrangement of buttons has been replaced by one that is roughly square in shape and has bigger buttons that are now arranged horizontally for easier recognition and use. Other improvements include larger chromed door handles, and bigger, easier-to-see PRND1 letters on the floor shift console (SE and SEL models).
Base Taurus LX models come with a 3-person front bench seat with a centre fold-down armrest that converts into a console with two cupholders and a storage tray. LX models have a shift lever for the automatic transmission on the steering wheel column.
SE and SEL models have two front bucket seats with a folding armrest/storage bin and a floor shift lever and console. SE and SEL models also include a cupholder with a ratchet mechanism to secure any size cup; coinholders on the lower console; a 12 volt power outlet; cruise control buttons on steering wheel; and large power window buttons. If you order an optional CD changer, it goes in the storage bin between the seats, however it doesn’t leave much storage space.
Rear passengers not only have more headroom and legroom, they have two pull-out cupholders at the rear of the centre console, and extra storage space including map pockets in the rear doors, and storage pockets on the back of the front seats.
The Taurus’ big trunk can be expanded with 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks (not available on base LX sedans). However, the opening behind the folding rear seats is rather narrow.
The Taurus recently received the U.S. government’s highest crash safety rating – five stars – for frontal crash performance. The 2000 Taurus includes new dual-stage airbags that inflate at different rates depending on crash severity.
As well, all Taurus’ have three-point seatbelts at all five seating positions, pre-tensioners and force-limiting retractors on the front seatbelts, adjustable front head restraints, and three rear tether anchors for child seats. However, the Taurus doesn’t offer rear head restraints.
The Taurus also comes standard with Ford’s emergency trunk release, designed to allow a child or adult trapped in the trunk to open it from inside, and antilock brakes on all SE models.
Head and chest side air bags are now available to help reduce injury in a side collision. The side air bags are activated by separate sensors located near the car’s B-pillars.
As well, the Taurus includes energy-absorbing trim around the door frame and arm-rest to absorb impacts.
Power Adjustable Pedals
The Taurus is the first car to offer power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals. A button on the side of the driver’s seat moves the pedals forward and back until the ideal position is located. This not only allows the driver to find a comfortable driving position, but helps shorter drivers maintain a recommended 25 cm distance from the airbag in the steering wheel.
These are optional on the LX model, and standard on the SE and SEL models.
Taurus V6 powertrains are the same as before but have a little more power and improved mid-range torque, in addition to a reduction in noise and vibrations. The standard Vulcan 3.0 litre OHV V6 engine (standard in LX, SE, and SEL models) now has 153 horsepower, an increase of 8 horsepower over last year. Torque has increased to 182 ft. lbs., an increase of 12 ft. lbs.
The Duratec DOHC 24 valve V6 (optional on SE and SEL models) now has 200 horsepower, an increase of 15 horsepower. Torque is now 200 ft. lbs., up by 15 foot pounds.
The standard 4-speed automatic transmission has been give some minor upgrades to improve shifting performance.
My test car was a Taurus SEL sedan with the optional 200 horsepower Duratec 3.0 litre DOHC V6 engine. Though this engine develops its maximum torque at a relatively high 4500 rpm, it has plenty of power at low engine revs, most likely due to transmission gearing. In fact, I found the accelerator pedal a trifle too sensitive when accelerating from a standing start. The engine is generally very quiet and smooth and emits a muffled, sporty roar under hard acceleration. Its high-revving nature and plentiful horsepower make for easy passing at highway speeds, while highway cruising is quiet and comfortable with the engine revving at just 2300 rpm at a steady 100 km/h.
The Taurus has always offered better-than-average handling due in part to its fully independent suspension, tight chassis, and suspension tuning. Larger standard 16 inch tires have improved this slightly for 2000, while minor revisions to the suspension have produced a smoother, more plush ride.
I found the variable-assist power rack and pinion steering a little stiff at slower speeds, but it offers better on-centre feel. In addition, the Taurus’ high-speed directional stability has improved slightly.
Front disc/rear drum brakes are standard on all Tauruses, and anti-lock brakes are optional on LX and standard on SE and SEL models.
Taurus SE and SEL models offer optional all-speed traction control to help prevent wheelspin when accelerating on slippery surfaces. While some of its competitor’s systems work only at lower speeds, Ford’s system works at any speed.
Outward visibility in the Taurus is very good to the front and sides – the extra third side window helps when making lane changes. However, as I mentioned, the view to the rear is hampered by a high rear deck and a bulge where the third rear brake light is located.
Models and prices
The 2000 Taurus sedan comes in three trim levels: LX, SE and SEL while the Taurus Wagon comes in SE and SEL trim levels only.
Taurus LX sedans start at $24,495. For this price, you get standard six passenger seating (with a front split bench seat and column shifter), 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, and P215/60R-16 inch all-season tires.
The next trim level up, Taurus SE, is priced $25,795. SE models have two front bucket seats and a centre console with a floor shifter instead of a front bench seat. To the list of equipment mentioned above, the SE adds power adjustable pedals, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks, 6-way power driver’s seat, 5-spoke painted alloy wheels, and anti-lock brakes.
Taurus SEL sedans, for $26,795, add 5-spoke machined alloy wheels, automatic climate control, a keypad on the driver’s door for remote entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel, perimeter anti-theft system, and illuminated sun visors.
Taurus SE Wagons, which start at $26,695, have the same features as the SE sedan, as well as a luggage roof rack and rear wiper/washer. SEL Wagons, for $27,995, add a third, rear-facing folding seat that brings seating capacity to seven, and a standard cargo cover.
My test car, an SEL sedan included the optional twin cam 3.0 litre V6 engine ($1,495), power moonroof ($1,250), premium stereo and 6-disc CD changer ($1,050), all-speed traction control ($491), and side airbags ($463). With these options the price came to $31,644, plus $870 for freight, bringing the grand total to $32,514 (before taxes).