The best car purchase that I have ever made in my life!
Let me start off this review by saying that I am a repeat buyer. The Taurus that I am currently driving is my second Taurus. When this particlar generation came out, I just had to have it, and I think it was worth my while to buy my Taurus. Very few things have gone wrong with my 2001 Ford Taurus SES Four Door Sedan with the upgraded, DOHC 24V engine (Double Over Head Cam 24 Valve). This was the middle engine of three- the lesser quality DOHC with 12 valves, or the engine actually in my Taurus with the FFV (flexible fuel valve). I have had three major repairs in 122,000 miles:
1) MINOR ISSUES - Upon delivery, I had to have two interior door handles tightened, and I had to have one of the seat belt buckles fixed. I also had to have a filter (?) replaced under a recall, and a my rear drums (sedan) froze up at 119K. After seven years, the front passenger seat belt will sometimes retract when being pulled to strap yourself in, and the carpet panel on the front right door fell out. I glued it back on my door.
2) MAJOR REPAIR NUMBER ONE: I had a radiator hose go out prematurely at 65K. The car was at the dealer for five days because the hose was on back order. I got a stripped 2005 Taurus SE.
3) MAJOR REPAIR NUMBER TWO: At my 84K service, I had to replace a trunk spring. The rear wheel always looked as if it was an inch away from the wheel well, and the back end sat very low to the wheel, even with nothing in the trunk. The car was at the dealer overnight because my dealer said that if I drive it anymore, it wouldn't be safe. Once again, I got the basic 2005 Ford Taurus SE (between that or an Explorer).
4) MAJOR REPAIR NUMBER THREE: At 99K, I had to replace a transaxle seal. I stayed at the dealer on my day off for two hours.
I feel that the dealers use inferior parts, because my trunk spring had to be replaced again at 108K, and my trans axle seal had to be replaced at 116K. Other than the above repairs, my Taurus SES has been a joy to own because it only takes regular, BASIC maintenance. I am on my third battery (I drove 5000 miles the week I got it, so it died at 31K, and I replaced it with one from Pep Boys, which died at 52K, so now I will buy batteries only from Ford), and this battery is approaching its 70,000th mile. I am on my third set of tires (I think, but the Costco tires were duds), the original transmission, and, on top of that, the vast majority of the engine is the Taurus' original (battery and radiator hose are quite probably the only exceptions I can think of), maybe the second set of wipers, an oil change every 3000 miles, gas, and the occasional brake job.
Choosing the Taurus.
I looked at virtually every single compact and midsize sedan and wagon on the market at the time of purchase, brand new, in late 2000. My only true criteria were an automatic transmission and air conditioning. I have bad legs and need the automatic transmission, because I will get pains and cramps from popping the clutch otherwise on a manual or standard transmission. I suppose I could get by with it, but this time around, I was willing to pony up the extra money for an automatic transmission, because, I figured, if I keep the car for ten years, I would regret the manual and standard.
In addition, I feel that my car is an economy car if it does not have air conditioning, as if it was purposely designed to be on the rental fleet at my local Hertz dealer. It felt that way in the Hyundai Accent I tested. The Suzuki Forenza wasn't much better.
The controls were too far away from me, the driver, in the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire sedan twins I found and tested.
The Buick Century was sluggish and lacked lateral support.
The LeSabre and the Park Avenue drove like trucks.
The Honda Accord was overpriced, and the Camry of that generation almost killed my sister-in-law when the airbags did not deploy after hitting a guard rail after driving over black ice at five miles per hour, so I passed on the Toyota.
The Hyundai Elantra I looked at was 0-60 in 35 seconds, and, merging on to the interstate, I was practically praying that it would get up to enough speed that I could set the cruise at 60 or 65 and not have to worry about getting run over by a tractor-trailer or a Mack dump truck.
In the Chevrolet Impala I looked at, it had six seats which was nice, but with the shifter on the steering column, I felt as if I was guiding the shifter through a maze.
The Chevrolet Malibu was too basic. It had air conditioning, but not even power seats or windows.
I did not want a Daewoo Laganza or Lanos It had no brand awareness, and I had heard one too many horror stories.
The Mitsubishi Lancer was too small, but I liked the Mitsubishi Galant. However, there is no dealer within 50 miles of my house or my work, which are 100 miles apart, one way.
The lack of a dealer network turned me away from the KIA Spectra, Optima, and Rio I looked at; pity, because I liked the KIA Spectra and KIA Optima. The KIA Rio was way too small on the inside of the cabin for my taste.
I liked the Ford Focus, but for my needs, it was too small.
The Ford Crown Victoria was too large and expensive, but I loved it.
I steered far, far away from the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan and Wagon because of the known mechanical failures with the power equipment, power hardware, and engines.
A friend of mine had both the Pontiac Grand Prix and Pontiac Grand Am, but she said the Grand Prix got 15 miles to the gallon, that is if she was extremely lucky, and even then, she was a ‘hypermiler’. The Grand Am was too small on the inside.
The Mercury Sable's price tag was too heavy. Note: It is a mechanical twin of the Taurus, but with more equipment.
The Saturn SL2 and SW2 were not available as an automatic, as the dealer said. Had they been available with automatic transmissions, they would have gone head-to-head with the Taurus.
The Dodge Intrepid made me feel like I was looking over acres of dashboard, and the Chrysler Concorde (which I believe is the same mechanically as the Dodge Intrepid), had a huge blind spot in the back.
I could not see out the back of the Dodge Neon.
Oldsmobile's Alero had a very uncomfortable interior that sat too close to the ground.
I did not want a Volkswagen Passat, because I thought it looked too much like the block of cheese I would never drive.
I sampled the Subaru Legacy sedan, which was uncomfortable, the Outback, which was worse (both taking premium fuel to go), and the Forester, which was very thirsty and lacked power.
I tried the Mazda Protégé, which felt like sitting in my bath tub in my house, the Mazda 626, which was too pricey, and the Mazda3 and Mazda6, (the latter two I liked).
It was ultimately down to the Mazdas and the Taurus (which I own today). Again, had the Saturns been available with automatic transmissions, I would have also considered them in a higher regard. I chose the Taurus, obviously, because of the incentives of being a repeat buyer (1970 Ford Country Squire until 250K, 1980 Pontiac Le Mans, 1987 Pontiac Le Mans, 1993 Ford Escort until 305K, and 1999 Ford Taurus until 168K), and the fact that all of my Fords had held up well.
I have a few gripes and suggestions about to Ford for improving the car:
1) The little windows behind the back door should open- this would help for ventilation and would make the car look cool if they vented outward. I once saw that on a 1990’s Volvo sedan.
2) The car lacks an auto up window control for the driver, and the passenger needs, in my opinion, an auto down for the passenger side window. I understand this is not a luxury car, but, seriously, its not a bad idea.
3) I think that the rear passenger windows should go all the way down for the rear passengers, not just halfway. I understand that this is a safety device so kids cannot escape, but come on Ford, give us ¾ to work with instead of ½ to work with.
4) When I set the car in Overdrive, the transmission shifts in a clunky way. I drive in Overdrive about 95% of the time; the only times I am in first are in heavy snow (large amount on road), exiting the interstate, and descending down a steep hill.
5) The trunk hinges are insanely huge, and when the trunk is maxed out, I can't shut it. I do know this was fixed on the Fusion and Five Hundred (Taurus). The hinges were the same on my father's 1997 Ford Thunderbird.
6) Sometimes, when I ‘pop’ (open) the trunk with the button on the left side of the dash (people with wagons, this is where your rear wiper control is), the trunk will refuse to open.
7) The trunk will not shut on occasion, even if the trunk is completely empty. The dealer says that the issue with shutting the trunk is normal. I agree as it was on 4 other Taurus I rented over the years.
8) My headlight has been fogged for three years and will not clear out. The same headlight has yellowed over, and will not shine enough to pass a Ford inspection (I took it to Monro Muffler at that point).
9) The headlight illumination is quite poor. Drive a Volkswagen Passat and a Ford Taurus back to back; the Volkswagen headlights are good, but the Taurus’ are just a blob of light. I will credit Ford, however, for aiming them correctly, unlike all of the General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, and Suzuki, all of which have completely failed to do. In the Buick Century I drove, the right headlight was aimed up and left, and not at all for viewing the line on the right side of the road.
10) The radio could have 4-6 more volume settings. When your favorite song comes on, you want to blast it, and its not too easy to do so in my Ford Taurus.
11) The Taurus has a rather weak defrost system. The front is useable, but the back is way below par.
12) WHY ARE THERE NINE WINDSHIELD WIPER SETTINGS?
13) WHO NEEDS 12 FM STATIONS PROGRAMED?
14) There really need to be separate tail and turn signal lights. On the 2003 Taurus, they fixed this by making a white/amber light across the bottom. I was driving one day, and a person had his signal on, and when he changed lanes, he kept braking and both lights were flashing equally, as if the hazard lights were on. When he went, his signal was still on and I was left very confused.
15) The Taurus Sedan really is in need of rear disc brakes versus rear drums. The wagon has rear discs; why not the sedan? The drums have frozen before, and they have squealed since new in 2000.
16) The front seats need two to three more inches on the track.
17) All of the seats should come up off the ground 4 more inches. It is a pain to get in because, while not as bad as some of the other cars I tested, after two hours behind the wheel, I feel as if I am sitting in a tub.
18) I love the ingenious folding rear seat! My wife and I took our son to IKEA for a new bed. We put a box through the trunk and seat 60% folded. He sat in the 40% up, and we put the other box standing up toward the back window.
19) Acceleration is generally very good. I think it is excellent how the air conditioning will cut out to give more power to the engine. It seems really smart. The groan of the engine when you 'floor it' is SWEET!
20) I love engine groan, because it sounds just like a race car!
I would buy this Taurus again if I had to do it over knowing what I know now.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 17th March, 2008