2008 Ford Taurus X Limited FWDPosted on January 2nd, 2008
By Nina Russin
The Ford Taurus X, nee Freestyle, is a full-size crossover that combines many feature normally found on minivans with a more spacious interior and sport-utility styling. In addition to changing its name, Ford replaced the 3-liter V6 on the Freestyle with a 3.5-liter engine, and swapped the continuously variable transmission for a six-speed automatic.
While I wasn’t a big fan of the Freestyle, the Taurus X is a well-balanced package with enhanced power and performance. Although its two thousand pound towing capacity falls below our ALV minimum standards, the Taurus X has a spacious interior with enough cargo space to transport large gear, and a standard roof rack to hold anything that won’t fit inside.
Standard features on the Limited grade (tested) include heated front seats, an upgraded audio system, Sync voice activated controls, reverse backup warning system, and eighteen-inch wheels. Option packages add adjustable pedals, a power lift gate, navigation system, satellite radio, heated second-row bucket seats, and a rear seat entertainment system.
Families with multiple drivers will appreciate the keypad keyless entry system: drivers can use a numeric code to unlock the car in lieu of a key. My husband and I are always debating as to who carries the keys when we leave the car for a trail run. This feature solves the problem.
The new engine and transmission give the Taurus X ample power, especially noticeable when accelerating onto highway traffic. Engineers used an aluminum engine block and composite intake manifold to minimize overall vehicle weight. A forged steel crankshaft and cast iron exhaust manifold contribute to long-term durability. The six-speed automatic transmission is seamless: I noticed very little shift shock, although there was the occasional chuggle when I decelerated to a stop.
Steering response is excellent at all speeds. A fully independent front and rear suspension gives the Taurus X a supple ride. Power rack-and-pinion steering makes the crossover feel like a much smaller vehicle: a forty-one foot turning radius is adequate for doing the occasional U-turn.
Visibility to the rear is quite good: there are no obvious blind spots. The headlamps illuminate as the vehicle approaches a fixed barrier such as a garage wall.
Four-channel antilock brakes keep the vehicle tracking straight on wet or uneven roads. The eighteen-inch wheels on the test car are an upgrade from seventeen-inch rims on the base model. The larger wheels dress up the exterior, but I can’t say that they make a big difference in the car’s performance.
Buyers interested in maximizing gas mileage should choose the front-wheel drive model, with average combined fuel economy of 20 mpg city/highway. An all-wheel drive option improves traction on dirt roads, snow and ice, but reduces fuel economy to about 18 mpg.
While a lot of sport-utility vehicles seat six passengers, few meet our best value criteria of a $30,000 price tag. Base price on the test car is about $31,000, but the package includes enough standard safety, comfort and convenience features to satisfy most buyers. Options on the test car add about $4000. Of those, I would opt for three: the second-row bucket seats with power lift gate ($650), Sirius satellite radio ($195), and rear seat DVD system ($995): a must for families with kids.
With all of the good aftermarket GPS products on the market, I would skip the $1995 navigation system. Chrome wheels add another $695. The adjustable pedals are nice for drivers who have a hard time reaching the standard ones, but that’s a small group. The power adjustable seats should be adequate for most smaller drivers.
On the whole, the interior is well configured. The second-row seats are exceptionally comfortable, with separate air vents, seat heaters and a center console with a storage bin. There is a 12-volt power point, located on the back of the front-row center console. Access to the third-row seats is about as good as I’ve seen on any six-passenger crossover vehicle. While the third-row seats have limited legroom, they should be fine for kids, or bigger passengers on short rides.
All four doors have map pockets with molded in bottle holders. The cupholders for first and second-row passengers are large enough to hold water bottles as well. All of the controls in the center stack are easy to reach from both front seating positions. In addition, the driver can use redundant steering wheel controls to change audio settings or set the cruise control.
I found the temperature and audio controls on the center stack easy to figure out. The glove box is big enough to hold more than the average documents. I’m not sure what the purpose of the grab bar over the glove box is. I can see stuff like that on sports cars as a nostalgic touch, but not on a front-wheel drive crossover that cannot go off road. There are plenty of storage bins and cubbies for holding small electronic devices, and a 12-volt power point in the center stack.
The optional power liftgate is well worth the investment for anyone who loads a lot of cargo in back. The third row seats fold flat and tumble forward to extend the cargo floor. I found it difficult to engage the straps that release the seat bottoms. With the third-row seats in place, there’s enough room for groceries or smaller luggage, but they need to be folded flat to load in larger items such as bicycles.
Five star safety rating
The Taurus X received NHTSA’s highest safety rating for both frontal and side impact collisions. Standard safety features on the test car include electronic stability control, front, side and side curtain airbags, child-proof rear door locks, a tire pressure warning system and reverse sensing system. The safety canopy protects passengers during a rollover by using tethers to hold the side curtain airbags in place longer, and keep the airbags positioned between the passengers, doors and side glass.
The Taurus X is produced at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant, and is currently available for test drives at dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A spacious, versatile crossover vehicle with seating for six, and a high level of standard safety and convenience features. The new V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission provide ample power while maintaining good fuel economy. A fully independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering make the Taurus X handle like a much smaller vehicle.
Dislikes: The straps that release the third-row seat bottoms to tumble the seats forward are hard to reach.
Model: Taurus X Limited FWD
Base price: $30,335
As tested: $35,945*
Horsepower: 263 Hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 249 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
Bicycle Friendly: Yes
Antilock Brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Fuel economy: 16/24 mpg city/highway
Comments: *Pricing does not include a $750 destination and delivery charge.
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