2008 Ford Taurus
2008 Ford Taurus. Click image to enlarge

Review and videos by Paul Williams; photos courtesy Ford Motor Company

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery: 2008 Ford Taurus

Dearborn, Michigan – You are forgiven if you’re having a little trouble keeping up with Ford (lately). First they retired the Taurus sedan, then they introduced the Five Hundred in 2005, then they gave up on the Five Hundred in 2007 and revived the Taurus nameplate on a revised Five Hundred for 2008.

The end result: starting at $30,899, a 2008 Ford Taurus that’s really a Five Hundred, but thankfully, much better. Oh, and a 2008 Ford Taurus X that’s really a Freestyle, but also, much better.

This is all great if you’re in the market for a huge sedan, which may have been part of the problem in the first place (apparently not enough people were); and I can understand if you, like me, are skeptical about this whole Blue Oval production.

2008 Ford Taurus X
2008 Ford Taurus X. Click image to enlarge

But there may be a happy ending (for Ford and consumers) because the “new” “Taurus” is waaaaaay better than the former Five Hundred. The big difference is the drive-train. Now using the 3.5-litre Duratec V6 engine, horsepower jumps by 60 to 260, and torque is up to 245 pound-feet. The result is that acceleration improves by 44 percent, and the car feels like it can get a move on when requested. And gone, too, is the lackluster CVT (continuously variable transmission) in favour of a new six-speed automatic (jointly developed with General Motors).

The all-wheel drive system (on those vehicles so equipped) is also revised and improved.

These changes alone may have been enough for potential buyers to give the old Five Hundred a look, but Ford has gone further. Exterior changes include headlights, tail lights, grille, hood and rear fascia. The changes aren’t as dramatic as Ford may think, but they are improvements to the look of the car.

2008 Ford Taurus
2008 Ford Taurus. Click image to enlarge

Ford engineers have also been busy developing a quieter ride for occupants. They use a new sound-deadening material called Sonosorb in the doors, headliner and pillars and have stiffened the structure of the car. Even the new climate control system is 50 percent quieter than before – and they’ve bolted the engine to the body of the car (via hydraulic mounts to reduce vibration) rather than to the front subframe. This enables the revised (dampers, springs, front and rear) suspension to better tuned for ride and handling.

Inside, the Taurus features revised graphics on the instrument panel and a fold-flat front seat. Front and rear legroom is more than sufficient, even with the front seat moved back for taller drivers.

Ford’s Sync, developed in collaboration with Microsoft, is available on the 2008 Ford Taurus. It integrates mobile phones and digital media players using voice-activated, hands free commands.

2008 Ford Taurus X
2008 Ford Taurus X. Click image to enlarge

Standard safety equipment includes Ford’s Safety Canopy (side curtain airbags), anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control (AdvanceTrac). This latter feature is not standard on U.S. versions of the Taurus, and Ford of Canada is to be congratulated on making it a standard feature here.

Starting at $33,399, the Taurus X is the CUV (crossover utility vehicle) version of the Taurus. It’s the former Freestyle, with the same improvements to it as applied to the Taurus sedan. The Taurus X is a seven-passenger vehicle with special innovations to give better access to the third row seat (see video 1), and a commendably simple method of raising the third row seat into the floor and stowing it in the floor when not needed. The Taurus X also features anti-pinch technology to prevent the power rear door from causing injury when in operation (see video 2 and video 3).

The Taurus X also features an available back-up camera system with the video image projected into the corner of your rear view mirror. It’s very effective and means you don’t have to have a full navigation system in order to get the benefits of a rear view camera (Ford’s back-up camera obviates the need for the large monitor that’s part of the navigation system). This is not an expensive feature (about $450), and I can’t see why Ford wouldn’t offer it as a stand-alone option on all of its vehicles.

2008 Ford Taurus X
2008 Ford Taurus X. Click image to enlarge

The Taurus and Taurus X are built on a version of the Volvo S80 platform that features Volvo’s Side Impact Protection System (SIPS). This, along with the other safety features of these vehicles, gives them a five-star safety rating for driver front, passenger front, front passenger side and rear passenger side impact, and a four-star rating for rollover, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings.

Finally, fuel economy is improved in comparison with the Five Hundred. The 2008 Ford Taurus returns 11.6/7.0 L/100 km, city/highway (FWD), and 12.7/8.3 L/100 km, city/highway (AWD). The Taurus X returns 12.8/8.4 L/100 km, city/highway (FWD), and 13.4/9.1 L/100 km, city/highway (AWD).

The 2008 Ford Taurus and Taurus X are available this summer.

2008 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices

  • Taurus SEL FWD: $30,899
  • Taurus SEL FWD: $33,399
  • Taurus LTD FWD: $36,699
  • Taurus LTD AWD: $39,199
  • Taurus X SEL FWD: $33,399
  • Taurus X SEL AWD: $35,799
  • Taurus X LTD FWD: $38,899
  • Taurus X LTD AWD: $41,299

Manufacturer’s web site

Connect with Autos.ca