When Ford introduced the first mid-size Taurus sedan and wagon in 1986, it was hailed as a bold and innovative family car design, and Taurus soon became the top seller in its class. But when Ford tried to repeat history with an even bolder Taurus in 1996, press and public reaction was noticeably cooler. So for 2000 Ford has prepared a redesigned Taurus that’s both less extreme to see, and a lot more user friendly to drive. Will this be the Taurus that brings the buyers back?
It certainly could if they’re family buyers to whom safety is vitally important. Because safety was Ford’s primary goal when redesigning the Taurus for the 2000 model year.
Though the fact that Ford designers gave Taurus sedan and wagon a less radical, now sleekly attractive new exterior, will surely bring back many more buyers put off by the previous overly ovoid shape. This bull’s styling now is conservative, to be sure. But it fosters the impression of a safe, solid place to spend your driving time. A theme both the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have used to surpass Taurus in sales.
To back up that reassuring look, Ford designers equipped the now-larger Taurus interior with a host of major, and minor, safety features. Which, for the first time in its class, are all tied together in a fully integrated system.
First among them are dual stage front airbags. A computer matches inflation speed to the impact severity. Seat mounted front side airbags are also an option. Plus, the front shoulder belts boast phyrotectnic pretensioners to hold you in place at the beginning of an accident, and energy management retractors to then release the belt tension in a controlled manner, thereby reducing the chance of serious chest injury. While optional power adjustable gas and brake pedals, an exclusive to Ford Motor Company, help keep shorter drivers a safe distance from the airbag. The pedals move in a 3-inch range by way of a seat mounted control.
The all-new instrument panel is not only made of new energy-absorbing materials, but has a more eye-pleasing, Lexus-like shape. Ford’s Integrated Control Panel also lost its oval shape, yet climate and audio controls remain clean and convenient.
Order the bucket seats and Comfort Package, and you get a center armrest large enough for a CD-changer. An improved front bench seat with flip-fold console is still available.
The big news in the rear seat is a big increase in head room. Thanks to a taller roof, it’s up nearly two inches, while trunk space grows by 1.2 cubic-feet, for an easier-to-access 17 cubic-foot total. Note the glow-in-the-dark interior trunk release to prevent inquisitive children from becoming trapped.
The most familiar parts of the 2000 Taurus are its upgraded 3.0-liter V6 engines. The pushrod Vulcan is quieter and gains 10 horsepower for a total of 155, while torque is up 15 to 185 pound-feet, while the 24-valve, twin-cam Duratec is more responsive with 200 horses and 200 pound-feet of torque.
A 4-speed automatic is standard, rotating now standard 16-inch wheels. Which when spun-up by the Duratec V-6, sprint to 60 in 8.1 seconds and through the 1/4 mile in 16.1 seconds at a fine 87 miles-per-hour. Except for a slight dip in the midrange, power comes on strong and smooth. Shifts are sharp and precise, without the harshness of last year’s gearbox.
Handling hardware is upgraded for 2000, too, with new struts and springs, and revalved power steering. Front-wheel drive plow is still quite noticeable. But this bull is quicker and more precise in corners than last year. Though a lack of steering feel, and lots of body roll, made us feel detached from the road during an emergency lane change.
As for braking, stops from 60 average 128 feet. Our car’s front discs and rear drums, coupled to an optional anti-lock system, delivered excellent feel and stability. Though we wish the Taurus sedan got the wagon’s 4-wheel discs.
Available with ABS is an all-speed traction control. New to Taurus, it uses both brake and engine control to reduce wheel slippage during acceleration and cornering on slick roads.
As a daily driver, the 2000 Taurus feels as safe, solid and dependable as it looks. No family car has more standard and available safety equipment. Plus, it now rivals both the Camry and Accord in passenger comfort and mechanical refinement.
And, the Taurus easily holds its own against competitors in price. The LX sedan starts at $18,245, with the high volume SE carrying a base price of $19,295. Taurus Wagon, in SE trim only, starts at $20,450.
With its integrated approach to safety, more dignified styling, and refined powertrains and chassis, the 2000 Ford Taurus is once again a serious contender for top sales honors, and the mid-size family sedan that, we think, will bring buyers charging back to Ford showrooms. And that’s no bull!
Engine: 3.0-Liter Duratec Dohc 24-valve V6
Torque: 200 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.1 Seconds @ 87 MPH
60-0 MPH: 128 Feet