Ford Taurus

Ford Taurus
Manufacturer:Ford Motor Company
Class:mid-size sedan
Predecessor:Ford LTD
Successor:Ford Fusion
Ford Five Hundred
First Generation
1986 Ford Taurus
Body Styles:4-door sedan
4-door wagon
Engines:2.5 L I4
3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.8 L Essex V6
3.0 L SHO V6
Similar:Lincoln Continental
Mercury Sable
Second Generation
Missing image
1992 Ford Taurus

Body Styles:4-door sedan
4-door wagon
Engines:3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.8 L Essex V6
3.0 L SHO V6
3.2 L SHO V6
Similar:Lincoln Continental
Mercury Sable
Third Generation
Missing image
1996 Ford Taurus SHO

Body Styles:4-door sedan
4-door wagon
Engines:3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.0 L Duratec V6
3.4 L SHO V8
Similar:Lincoln Continental
Mercury Sable
Fourth Generation
Missing image
2000 Ford Taurus

Body Styles:4-door sedan
4-door wagon
Engines:3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.0 L Duratec V6
Fifth Generation
Missing image
2004 Ford Taurus

Body Styles:4-door sedan
Engines:3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.0 L Duratec V6
Similar:Lincoln Continental
Mercury Sable
This article is part of the Ford automobile series.
Not to be confused with the Ford Taunus

The Ford Taurus is a car sold by the Ford Motor Company in North America as a sedan and station wagon. Production of the Taurus will end in 2006 and will be replaced by two sedans and a wagon; the Five Hundred, Fusion and Freestyle. Introduced in December 1985 as a 1986 model, Ford sold nearly 7 million Tauruses in its 20 years of production. The Taurus also had a Mercury sibling called the Sable.

The car had a minor update in 1992 and a major redesign in 1996, followed by two minor updates in 2000 and 2004. Between 1992 and 1996, the Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States but lost the title in 1997. Note that the best selling vehicle remained the Ford F-150 during this period, and that a number of other vehicles also ranked higher then it, because the vehicle category defined as a 'car' is not the best selling type.


1986 - 1991

The 1986 Ford Taurus was a very important and successful midsize sedan that introduced a radical new design philosophy. Replacing the Ford LTD, the front-wheel-drive Taurus introduced North America to a much rounder and organic design. Often described as "jelly bean" shaped, the design proved successful and helped to launch Ford into a new era of prosperity. The Taurus ultimately lead to a design revolution that saw the the end of the 'boxy' cars of the 70s and 80s.

For 1986, the engines ranged from a 100 hp (75 kW) 2.5 L 4-cylinder found in the MT-5 and L models, to either a 140 hp (104 kW) 3.0 L Vulcan V6 or 3.8 L 140 hp (104 kW) Essex V6, found in the L, GL, and LX models, to a 220 hp (164 kW) 3.0 L DOHC V6 produced by Yamaha in the SHO model (debuting in 1989, with a 5-speed only). The 4-cylinder engine was eventually dropped from the lineup - cars carrying such engines were found to be underpowered.

In 1990, the interior was facelifted, incorporating a new steering wheel design in order to fit an airbag, a new column shifter and floor shifter and a new dashboard with new instrument panel.


The SHO model, which debuted in 1989 with a sticker price of around USD $20,000, changed the dull reputation of the Taurus.

Powered by a special 4-valve per cylinder derivative of the Vulcan (developed in conjunction with Yamaha), it improved performance. With mid-6 second 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) times, and a top speed around 145 mph (233 km/h), it could keep up with such performance cars as Ford's own Mustang GT, Camaro Z28s, and the Diamond Star Motors cars (Mitsubishi Eclipse, Plymouth Laser, and Eagle Talon) in turbocharged form. It was said to be the most powerful and quickest front wheel drive car ever made when it was introduced.

The SHO, however, wasn't the sales success that Ford had hoped. It had little exterior differentiation from lesser Taurus models, only understated ground effects. The interior was very different, giving way to some very comfortable and supportive sports seats, and an 8000 rpm tachometer.

The SHO became the only taurus to feature Manual transmission since the MT5 was discontinued in that year.

1992 - 1995

The Taurus received its first cosmetic update in 1992 which modernized the interior and front & rear fascias.


The lack of an automatic transmission in the SHO hurt sales, a situation Ford recognized in 1993. A 3.2 L version of the Ford SHO V6 engine was introduced for automatic-equipped SHOs, which still had 220 hp (164 kW), but 15 ft·lbf (20 Nm) more torque, up from 200 ft·lbf (271 Nm).

1996 - 1999

The 1996 model was the first and last all-new Taurus. Ford hoped the radical design would lead to the same success Ford had with the 1986 Taurus. The controversial oval-theme was not well received by the press or the public and is ultimately blamed for the reason it lost the bestseller status to the Toyota Camry in 1997. Another factor that is largely to blame for the sales decline of the Taurus was the substantial price increase from the previous model. The MSRP for the 1996 model increased $2,500 over the 1995 Taurus. The 1996 Taurus attempted to move upscale and the result was a much better product with more standard and optional features. The 1996 model also saw the introduction of the 200 hp (149 kW) 3.0 L DOHC Ford Duratec engine.

This model was also exported outside North America to Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, in right hand drive, but this proved unsuccessful. In these right hand drive markets, the Taurus possessed an unusual Mercury Sable grille but a Taurus rear. Australians and New Zealanders tended to stay away from the cars due to their price: a well equipped, larger-engined rear-wheel-drive Ford Fairmont cost around the same. While Japan got the station wagon, Australian buyers could only opt for a high-spec sedan with the Taurus Ghia badge.


A 235 hp (175 kW) 3.4 L DOHC V8 was specified for the SHO model, but the 5-speed was gone. The V8 in the SHO model (produced from 1996 to 1999), was very impressive, but lacked the all-out acceleration and top end charge of the previous DOHC 3.0 L V6 5-speed SHO.

2000 - 2006

The Taurus received a minor redesign in 2000 which minimized some of the oval design elements from the 1996 model. The redesign also featured a taller roof over the rear-passenger space to increase passenger headroom sacrificed by the tapered 1996 design. The taller and roomier trunk also served to make the vehicle more functional. The interior was also completely swapped out for a much more conservative design. Certain elements of the interior were retained from the 1996 model, such as the integrated control console which combined the sound system and climate controls into one panel. The suspension was also softened to appeal to a broader, non-sporting audience. To reduce the price and increase profitability, the Ford Taurus was also stripped of many standard and optional features such as 4-wheel disc brakes. The cost-cutting ultimately led to a vehicle with poor quality materials and fewer features. But it also featured more reliable transmissions. The Taurus SHO did not return for 2000.

For 2004, the Taurus received minor cosmetic changes to the front and rear fascias, as well as a new instrument cluster and steering wheel.

The Ford Taurus is suceeded by the 2005 Ford Five Hundred and the 2006 Ford Fusion. Production of the Taurus wagon was discontinued in January 2005. Most of the Taurus's sales account for the fleet market, but the car is still available for retail.


The Taurus LX was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1986. It was also on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list seven times, from 1986 through 1992.

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