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Click on the Taurus for a high-res gallery

At Ford's 2008 model preview at the Dearborn Proving Ground, we had the opportunity drive the newly-reborn Taurus back-to-back with its immediate predecessor, the Five Hundred, and the differences were immediately apparent. Side-by-side, the Taurus is clearly an update of the Five Hundred, retaining the same profile and stance, but the Taurus now has the face it should have had all along.

The three-bar grille gives the Taurus a look that fits in with its stablemates and sets it apart from the competition.A lot of detail work was done on the Taurus and Sable for 2008 to ramp up the refinement levels and bring them to the head of the class. One example is visible on the side mirror housings. The top of the housing has a row of notches that manage the airflow around the mirror. The notches reduce the aerodynamic drag of the mirror and also reduce wind noise dramatically.

Continue reading our driving impressions and see the video after the jump

Driving the 2007 Five Hundred

Chris and I took the Five Hundred and the Taurus out on the straightaway at the Dearborn proving ground. The 3.0L V-6 in the Five Hundred roared and struggled to increase the velocity of the big sedan. Even at constant speed, wind and road noise were clearly audible, with a noticeable whistle around the mirrors. Ford specifically had us drive the Five Hundred and Taurus on the main straightaway because it was smooth, straight and flat, eliminating other variables so we could compare the differences between the cars.

Driving the 2008 Taurus

Climbing into the Taurus and closing the doors immediately seals out the outside world. When we pulled out, the drivetrain improvements were immediately apparent. The extra sixty horsepower that comes with the new 3.5L Duratec now motivates the Taurus in a manner more befitting its position at the top of Ford's sedan lineup (ignoring the geriatric Crown Vic). Stepping on the gas now brings a prompt but much quieter response from the engine room. Shifts were smooth and seamless and downshifts were only a squeeze of the gas pedal away.

How much of the improved refinement comes from extra insulation or the engine itself is unknown, but either way this is by far the most sophisticated car ever to wear the Taurus nameplate. The dash is largely unchanged although the plastic wood does look a little more like it came from a tree rather than a refinery. Those fancy notched mirror housings definitely accomplished their task of reducing the whistling as air flowed over them.

Between the vastly better engine and the all the other tricks, this may be one of the quietest cars Ford has ever built. This new Taurus is now definitely a worthy competitor in the large sedan class. Stay tuned for a longer review of the new Taurus soon.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Everyone is comparing it for one obvious reason: The size. It's a full size car. Not a midsize like the Camry and Accord. The old Taurus was a midsize.

      And it's not that nobody liked the Five Hundred, it's that no one knew about it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I always thought the Five Hundred looked like an XL-sized Taurus when it debuted. The name fits it well.

      The Jeep Liberty is getting a styling makeover for 2008 returning to boxiness. Chrysler should pull a Ford and rename it the Cherokee.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well, the Jeep Liberty is called the Cherokee in the rest of the world.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I really like the new Taurus.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually I did...but I like the new Taurus much better.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I really love that new grill. It's similar to a concept Ford had recently, can't remember the name off the top of my head. But that car was beautiful looking and I'm glad they're incorporating some components into the new cars.
      • 7 Years Ago

      The Five Hundred was used by Ford in the 60's- Galaxie 500. I suppose they were hoping to generate some sort of connection between the full size Galaxie 500 and the new Five Hundred. What they didn't take into consideration was that very few people under age 50 would remember the name. You can't expect people who were raised in the back seat of mommy's Toyotas to have much of a knowledge of Ford Motor Company history.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Futura was the original name for the Fusion. The Five Hundred was always the Five Hundred.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah, I know about the Galaxie 500. And I am under 50 (22 to be exact). I grew up around old cars. And that's kind of why I said it was a dumb name for the Five Hundred. Why ruin a name like that? The Galaxie was amazing. It's as bad as Mercury using the Monterey name on a freakin POS minivan. I also had a beef with Lincoln for using the Zephyr name.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Uh, guys? Do none of you remember that this car was going to be called the "Futura"? Pep Boys successfully sued to block the name, since their that's the name of their in-house tire brand.

        Not that it was any better of an homage to the old Ford Futura than to the old Ford Five Hundred, but still . . .

      • 7 Years Ago
      A facelift by any other name is still a facelift. BFD.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The minute I hear Taurus I think, "what's wrong with it?" despite recognizing a few virtues. That name will kill the car.
      More genius from the engineers and finance people doing marketing in that trend-setting, thought-leading capital of the world - Dearborn.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I LOVE the new Ford Passat! It looks incredible. Must be Ford's revenge since VW stole the Focus Engineers to make the new Golf! Oops, Sorry Rabbit. Even VW is using the Old names from the 80's. What a coincidence? Do the Germans copy Americans now since the Japanese copy the Germans? It is all coming full circle!:)

      The Taurus name died and came back. Stupid idea at first but killing the old Taurus was brilliant, continuing on the vast improvements with Ford products is Makes me think why did they not just introduce this "Third Generation" Taurus like they introduced the Fifth Generation Mustang. Such vast improvements!

      Engine, transmission, rear, facia, hood, lights, grille, lamps, mirrors, door handles, interior, wheels and everything looks amazing. But for $41,000 CDN plus duties and taxes. OMG WOW! Never going to happen!

      How do I explain this right. Charge $10,000 less and force the Japanese out of the market and the Germans to re-price their products. Cause at that price I won't see many in Quebec. What a pitty! When is the Lincoln MKS version hitting the market? It’s gonna be the shiz-bomb!
        • 7 Years Ago
        And Ford stole VW/Audis designer (J. Mays). Ever wonder why Ford has a lot of Audi styling cues?

        And if you want to get technical, the Taurus name never died. There was a 2007....even though it was sold only to fleets. But I blame Nasser and Bill Ford for the whole Taurus debacle. Nasser should have overseen a FULL redesign of the Taurus (in 1999). And Bill Ford should have kept it alive by doing something daring with the name plate. Personally, either the Fusion or Five Hundred should have been named Taurus since Day One.

        But I dont blame Mullaly for picking up Bill Ford's mess. No one recognized the Five Hundred name. Why? Well, it was a dumb name for the car to begin with. Second, it was never marketed. Third, not a lot of people recognized the name or the car. I actually had people point to one and ask me what it was and who built it. And it has been proven many times that the Taurus name is more recognizable. Now if Mullaly is smart, he will market the hell out of this thing.

        I dont know about there but this things starts about $5k less than a Maxima and $3k less than an Avalon and $2k less than a base model Chrysler 300. Not too shabby if you ask me.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Is anybody else really over Ford? My dad had a Taurus and I've ridden in several. They're boring, ugly, poorly designed, and have dumpy-looking interiors. Not to mention, all Fords seem to generate a very unique stench when they sit in the sun for a while.
      Thanks Ford, but no thanks. Your cars have scarred me for life, and I'm just not willing to consider them anymore. I'm not convinced that your company has changed that much.
      Note, this is coming from someone who just got an '06 Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai's quality wasn't much better, but at least I can tell they've improved enough to the point where I could consider them.
      • 7 Years Ago
      When you get down to brass tacks, it's probably one of the best Taurus' ever. Now shoehorn in the Mustang GT's v8 and make a SHO of it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I am looking forward to seeing a direct comparison against some of the imports. With sophitcated styling, excellent packaging, upgraded powertrain and compelling pricing the Taurus may not have elevated itself to top dog yet, it now to strong to look past.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why is everybody comparing this to the avalon? I thought the old taurus competed with the camry, accord, etc.
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