Bully about the return of Taurus

Consumer Reports News: August 24, 2007 08:47 PM

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What’s in a name? Apparently a lot if that name is Taurus. Ford saw fit to rename their updated Five Hundred to Taurus after just three model years. But the name Taurus means a lot of different things.

To some, it harkens back to the aerodynamic 1986 sedan that was a revelation, eclipsing the domestic (and most foreign) family sedan competition. However, to others it conjures up an outdated car that went ten years without a major redesign, selling mostly to rental fleets. Either way you look at it, Alan Mulally, the recently hired CEO of Ford, reasons that Ford spent hundreds of millions of dollars advertising the Taurus name over the last 20 years. That level of recognition – good or bad – simply couldn’t be matched by "Five Hundred."

The Five Hundred, and now the Taurus, is the answer to the decades-old question, WWWCD? (What would Ward Cleaver drive?) The Taurus now has decent power from its new 3.5-liter engine, crash test results are excellent (it’s a IIHS Top Safety Pick), you can finally get stability control (but c’mon Ford, it should be standard), and there is plenty of room for Wally and the Beav to bring Eddie Haskell along. It’s a very practical car with big doors and a high seating position, emphasizing ease-of-use over flash. Even though it now has more chrome bits outside, the Taurus still remains a very conservative sedan, one that blends in. (Even though Ward drove a Plymouth Fury on the show, there’s no way he’d be driving a Chrysler 300C or Dodge Charger today. Maybe that flashy convertible-driving Mike Brady, but not steady Ward….)

Ward also knew his way with a dollar, and the Taurus would fit his sensibilities there, too. Our Taurus Limited, well-equipped with power heated leather seats and an optional sunroof and ESC, tallied a sticker price of $28,985 before a $1000 rebate, and it wasn’t hard getting more money off from that.

We’ll be testing the Taurus next to some other recently introduced family sedans, including the new Honda Accord, early in our 2008 test program. (Ford Motor Company images shown.)

--Tom Mutchler

By coincidence, The Detroit News published a related report on 8/24 ("Mulally challenges Ford marketing, vehicle branding") with a quote that relates to Tom's point and the reader comments:

  • Ford has changed model names too frequently for no good reason, Mulally said during a dinner with reporters Wednesday.

    "I can remember saying to my team, 'How do you pick these names? It seems to me you just put out another product every year, you kill the last year's one, you look in the dictionary and find another word that starts with E or F and you slap it on it,' " he said.

--Jeff Bartlett, added 8/28/07

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