The Ford Taurus is one with an exciting history. It was the basis for the Lincoln Continental's first-ever front-wheel-drive model. In 1998, the Taurus also raced and won one NASCAR and one Busch Series. Ford discontinued the Taurus in 2006 but later reintroduced it at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show.
First Generation (1986-1991)
The first-generation Taurus was developed to replace the slow-selling Ford LTD. People were thrilled about the prospect of owning a front-wheel-drive Ford because at the time most of Ford's cars were rear wheel. It was no surprise then that it went on to bag an award in 1986 as the Motor Trend Car of the Year. Though not a new phenomenon, as other companies like Chrysler and General Motors had been producing front-wheel-drive vehicles, most companies offered them up to midrange models. For this reason, coupled with the aerodynamic shape that made the Taurus more fuel-efficient, it became popular with the US market base. The success of the Taurus saw more automobile companies moving towards the production of aerodynamic cars.
There were two engine choices for the first generation, the inline four-cylinder and the V6 engine. The Taurus came with either a manual (MT-5) or an automatic gearbox. If you happen to have a Taurus MT-5, you’re a lucky chap. It's a rare car because of its 2.5L High Swirl Combustion 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed MTX-III manual transmission.
The V6 engine (initially available as an option but later became the standard offering) is a naturally aspirated 3.0L that outputted 104-116 kW peak power and 217–252 N⋅m peak torque.
The interior of the Taurus was ahead of its time, and its features are still being incorporated in cars today. It was designed to be user-friendly. The controls are recognizable by touch, and within easy reach of the driver, so there's no issue in locating specific knobs and switches. The interior depended on the model, but also customizable per buyer's specs. The entry-level L model came with a front cloth bench seat and an AM radio. The Luxury LX model came with all the features in the L variant and additional cool features.
Second Generation (1992-1995)
The second-generation models received some minor tweaks; Ford made no significant redesign changes. The second-generation Taurus was heavier and longer than previous models. It was now powered exclusively by the V6 engine mated to an automatic transmission, following the discontinuation of the inline-four engine. Another vital addition to the car was the passenger-side airbag (offered as an option at the time). Ford sold over a million second-generation Taurus cars, making it the best-selling vehicle in the US during its time.
Third Generation (1996-1999)
Ford upgraded the chassis in the third generation under its new DN101 platform. The automaker also wanted to make the car stand out in the midsized sedan segment, so they opted to use rounded lines. Some of the unique exterior features you can use to identify the third-generation Taurus include an oval rear and side windows. The interior received a complete redesign, which included the fitting of bucket seats.
A second powertrain became available for models in this production period, the 3.0L DOHC Duratec 30 V6 engine, which Ford offered until the fourth generation.
The five-passenger and six-passenger versions also had some distinguishable features. The oval central console on the dash contained ergonomically-placed instruments including the radio and climate controls. One thing to note, the Ford Taurus sedan was imported in Australia as the Taurus Ghia.
Fourth Generation (2000-2007)
Sharper creases and corners replaced the oval-derived designs of the third generation. This new design was an aspect of the New Edge styling by Ford. The automaker sought to initiate these changes to make the car cheaper and keep it competitive and continue its dominance in the US market. The sedans were equipped with rear drum brakes, doing away with the dual exhaust on higher-tier models and trimming several other features. The car's trunk stood upright, and the roof also sported a more upright stance. There was more room in the boot, and the headroom gained more height.
For the interior, some of the features of the third generation were carried over. It came with a squarer dash with a bigger and more angular control panel as the centrepiece. The same 3.0L engines powered this generation.
Fifth Generation (2008-2009)
Ford started producing the fifth-generation Taurus in 2007, following a brief interruption in 2006. Some of the changes in this model include replacing the Duratec 3.0L V6 motor (151 kW) with the 3.5L Duratec V6 engine (196 kW) paired with Ford-GM’s six-speed automatic transmission. It was the first Ford to come with side airbags as standard for its model ranges.
The fifth generation fared very well in safety ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA.
Sixth Generation (2010-2019)
The sixth-generation models (The Taurus and Taurus SHO) came with an all-wheel-drive capability. Other safety features included collision warning capabilities, cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. However, there were still critics who faulted it for less interior room and reduced sightlines.
The base Taurus SHO (Super High Output) came with a 3.0L twin-turbo, petrol direct injection V6 motor, which produced a maximum power of 272 kW and torque of 470 N⋅m and a 6-speed automatic transmission. However, you could opt for the fully loaded SHO. It came with additional features including Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45ZR20 tires and an electric air pump with fix-a-flat in place of a spare tire and recalibrated electronic power steering, suspension tuning.
In 2013, the models received a facelift. Some of the changes include the updating of the rear fascia with LED tail lamps and upgrading of the steering and braking systems which improved driveability. It also came with updated instrument dials and the addition of MyFord Touch (an improved in-car communication and entertainment system). Plus, there were improvements in the fuel efficiency of the models.
Seventh generation (2016-present)
China's Changan Ford and Ford Australia jointly produced the second generation and is unrelated to the previous six generations. It is the extended wheelbase variant (with a 3.9 inch longer wheelbase) of the Ford Fusion. The collaboration derived it from the Ford CD4 platform. It comes with a standard 2.0L inline-4 Ecoboost engine or a 2.7L Ecoboost V6 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission paired to both powerhouses.
Author: Eric Anyega