2004 Taurus New Car Test Drive
The Ford Taurus just keeps on ticking. The Taurus was last redesigned and re-engineered for 2000, but Ford has been continuously improving this solid sedan. The Taurus offers excellent drivetrains, good looks, plenty of creature comforts, and the added bonus of a surprising level of driving pleasure.
The styling has been revised for 2004. A new grille and fascia freshen the front, while new taillamps and fascia dress up the rear. The 2004 Taurus interior is further improved with an updated steering wheel and instrument cluster and an updated multi-function switch for the wipers, turn signals and flash-to-pass. The 2004 Taurus engine and transmission offer improved efficiency and shift quality.
The interior was updated for 2003, resulting in a quieter cabin. Cabin noise was reduced through better sealing and sound damping measures. Seat fabrics, both leather and cloth, were improved, with lighter colors used to brighten the car's interior, the dashboard was revised, and controls for the adjustable pedals were moved to the instrument panel for easier access.
Ford has been offering big incentives on the Taurus, so buyers should watch for cash rebates and cut-rate financing.
Ford Taurus is available as a four-door sedan or a station wagon. The sedan comes in LX, SE, SES, and SEL models. The wagon is available in SE and SEL versions.
Two different V6 engines are available, the old overhead-valve Vulcan V6 and the modern dual overhead-cam all-aluminum Duratec V6. Both are 3.0-liter engines, but the Duratec is more sophisticated and much more powerful. All models come with four-speed automatic transmissions.
LX and SE are powered by Ford's Vulcan V6. LX ($19,660) comes with air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, AM/FM stereo, six-passenger seating, tilt steering, and intermittent wipers. SE ($20,195) adds cruise control, a cassette player, remote keyless entry with perimeter lighting, and aluminum wheels.
SES ($21,380) is equipped with front bucket seats with six-way power and a manual lumbar adjustment on the driver's side, and an in-dash single CD player in place of the cassette. SES comes standard with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and the Vulcan V6. The Duratec V6 ($695) is optional.
SEL ($23,305) comes standard with the Duratec V6 and adds seven-spoke machined aluminum wheels, AM/FM/cassette with a six-CD changer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dark paledo wood-trimmed interior, automatic electronic temperature control, and keyless keypad entry. Power adjustable pedals and side-impact airbags are optional.
Wagons are better equipped than their sedan counterparts. They are equipped with four-wheel disc brakes (an improvement over the rear drum brakes of the SE sedan). Wagons come standard with ABS and a rear anti-roll bar for better handling. The SE wagon ($21,630) features a six-way power driver's seat, a cleverly adjustable luggage rack, and a unique bumper shape with step pads at the rear. The SEL wagon ($23,455) has seven-spoke machined aluminum wheels, a six-CD changer, keypad entry and automatic climate controls. The Duratec V6 ($1,200) is optional.
Side-impact airbags ($390) are available as an option on the Taurus SEL and we highly recommend them. Taurus continues to earn a double five-star rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the highest crash rating NHTSA awards for frontal crash tests. In addition, Taurus is rated a 'Best Pick' by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its offset frontal crash test.