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

Manufacturer’s web site

Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Ford Taurus

Does Ford finally have a better idea?

That cryptic Blue Oval advertising reference to the days of the LTD seems increasingly apropos with the arrival of the Taurus X; while the majority of the Clark Inner Circle kept asking what I thought of the Ford Freestyle I was testing, I couldn’t help wonder if there was a method to all this re-badging madness. The Taurus wagon was to the Wedding Singer generation what the Country Squire meant to my short pants years.

Steering wheel audio and cruise buttons are larger than in other Ford vehicles
Six-speed automatic shifter has an overdrive cancel switch, but no manual gate
The Taurus X's interior gets a clean layout
Steering wheel audio and cruise buttons are larger than in other Ford vehicles (top); Six-speed automatic shifter has an overdrive cancel switch, but no manual gate (middle); The Taurus X’s interior gets a clean layout. Click image to enlarge

This was the evolution of the station wagon, not to be confused with the shrinkage of vans. Today, the concept is commonly referred to as the crossover. And yet, the stance of the X seems more intent on utility and access ease, instead of ground clearance and running boards. This week, Inside Story probes into the innards of the Taurus X Limited AWD, with an MSRP of $47,914. (Pricing shown does not reflect regional or promotional rebates.)

The Cockpit

Enough with the Fusion already!!! The desperate search for Ford cockpit individuality continues, with a driver’s pod that seems to be melding with last week’s Focus. Note to manufacturers; there’s a name for adopting a common design direction: it’s called ‘Lazy’. The steering wheel tabs for cruise control, audio, and Sync voice prompts are larger than other Blue Oval offerings. Navigating the Ford driver’s information screen within the instrument pod has usually required a centre stack fumble, below the line of sight. These tabs have been placed ahead of the steering wheel audio/voice tabs. The wheel receives manual tilt, with no telescoping action.

Power-adjustable pedals do their best to remedy the condition of driver’s position, with the rocker switch located next to the Auto headlamp dial. Speaking of Auto, the driver’s side window gets a quick one-touch ascent or descent. There are two driver’s seat memory positions, which also sync with exterior mirror and power pedal placement. The heated exterior mirrors also boast approach lighting. The corporate multi-stalk controls turn signal, high beam, and wiper functions fore and aft. Automatic floor shift gets an overdrive cancel switch, and no manu-gate to berate.

The Centre Stack

The X gets a clean layout, with the standard-issue Navi head unit. HVAC gets dual zone for the front, as well as a separate adjustment for the rear overhead ductwork. Simple tabs control for traction assist, rear back-up alert, and power tailgate open/close. The first of four 12-volt powerpoints appears.

Cubbies

The cubbies are plentiful in X country, even if they are somewhat confusing at times. The locking glovebox is rather unremarkable, especially when you return the owner’s manual to the cavity. The dashmount cubby gets a removable liner, to diminish the rattle factor. Part one of the front centre console involves a sensible depth flock-lined tray, while the inner void boasts a coin-holder, removable floor pads, 12-volt powerpoint, and the audio ports for the Sync system.

The rear console houses four cupholders - but you can only access two at a time
Overhead DVD system
The Taurus X's roof rails are robust

Front power seats with two-step heat

The rear console houses four cupholders – but you can only access two at a time (top); Overhead DVD system; The Taurus X’s roof rails are robust; Front power seats with two-step heat (bottom. Click image to enlarge

Front seatbacks get soft pockets, while the rear of the front console houses yet another 12-volt powerpoint. There are bottle holder provisions in both front and rear side door pockets, though it should be noted that not one of the Freestyle’s eight cupholders employs a cinch system. Actually, it’s more like eight total cupholders, and six you can actually use. This brings us to the rear centre console. There are already two cupholders and an ample cavity beneath the padded armrest. The underside of the armrest reveals a hinge system, which flips the top of the armrest forward, covering the two existing cupholders with two more cupholders. The only theory I can muster is improved beverage grab while enjoying the overhead DVD system.

The Overhead

There’s a lot of feeling in this ceiling. It starts with an ample sunglasses holder, auto-dimmimg rearview mirror, and Homelink transmitter on the driver’s side visor. Both visors are extendable, and are equipped with backlit vanity mirrors. The power sliding sunroof works well, with a proper deflector. The kidlets will be throwing hugs-a-plenty, with the overhead DVD system, which is supposed to include wireless headphones. The system can also allow headphone plug-in, and playback from a portable camcorder. Music can also be accessed from the front head unit. There is also a manual control for the HVAC blend. The roof rails are robust, though no standard cleats or cross-rails appear.

Seat treat

It’s not too often that Seat Treat starts in the back seat, but I can’t help myself. The lament is over for ingress/egress to the dreaded third row, thanks to a power flip-and-fold system. You’ll have to invest a little manual elbow grease to lock them back in place. While we’re here, the second row cushions receive two-step heat, as do the front power buckets,

Power operated liftgate
Click image to enlarge

which incorporate side levers for the lumbar bladders.

Cargo embargo

The Mondo-Gate of the X gets an open/close assist from the power servo unit, which receives a less-than-subtle mounting on the cargo cabin wall. This could also explain the lack of a cargo area cover, though there is some security with the covered floor space that exists when the third row seating is in position. It’s a relatively simple tumble to achieve a flat cargo floor, with the procedure clearly marked on the bottom of the seats. A cargo net is provided, with a handy wall cavity for storage. Of concern for the long haul is the cargo floor’s propensity to shed its carpeting. I thought someone had been hauling like-coloured cats back there.

Spare care

The 3.5-litre engine allows for easy servicing
2008 Ford Taurus X Limited
The 3.5-litre engine allows for easy servicing (top). Click image to enlarge

The how-to methods for the spare tire stowage/mounting are printed on thin, loose, laminated stock, which will easily become airborne with the right roadside gust. Ford will change that tire for you, and maybe even chase after those leaflets, for the first five years or 100,000 kms.

The mill

(29) The corporate 3.5-litre six allows for easy service access for major components, as well as fluid level checks, especially the transmission fluid fill. The prop rod seems right cheap.

The Verdict

(30) There’s a good chance that the ‘X’ in the Taurus X stands for ‘X-planation’, as in the one that has been sorely needed for the wagon/crossover/SUV market. There’s nothing overdone, no cheesy appliques, or “Why Bother?” features: it just plain works. Five stars.

Next week: 2008 Nissan Rogue

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