2005 Five Hundred New Car Test Drive
The Five Hundred is Ford's interpretation of the modern American sedan. Some of its styling cues may remind you of the Taurus, which for many years was the best-selling car in the United States. But Ford's new flagship is larger and more substantial and comes with much more standard equipment.
The Five Hundred boasts a body structure and safety technology developed by Volvo and first used on Volvo's S80 luxury sedan and then for its highly acclaimed XC90 sport utility vehicle. Ford acquired the Swedish automaker famous for its passenger-protecting innovations in 1999. When it came time to develop the Five Hundred (and its upscale cousin, the Mercury Montego), Ford imported Volvo's best structural and safety engineers to work on the project. The Five Hundred is available with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the latter giving it more stable handling and better traction, particularly in inclement weather.
Ford developed the Five Hundred as a successor to the Taurus and to compete with cars such as the brand new Chrysler 300, the venerable Toyota Avalon, and the aging Chevrolet Impala. The Five Hundred is larger, more modern and more upscale than the Taurus for just slightly more money.
The Five Hundred's cabin offers the interior space of a full-size car. The driver sits relatively high, and the roomy front seats offer a commanding view of the road. Back-seat passengers will not complain about being cramped, either. The back seats fold down to increase cargo capacity. The Five Hundred's V6 engine delivers sufficient power for most buyers. The six-speed automatic transmission that comes standard helps the engine deliver responsive performance and good fuel economy. All-wheel-drive models come with a continually variable transmission that performs the same feat.
The Ford Five Hundred is available in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Limited.
Each is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 called the Duratec 30, which is tuned to provide 203 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. That power flows through either of two very effective transmissions. While many automakers still use four-speed automatic transmissions and some have updated to five-speed automatics, the Five Hundred is among the few vehicles that comes with a six-speed automatic, which provides smoother performance and better fuel efficiency. The Five Hundred, equipped with front-wheel drive and six-speed automatic, is rated 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway.
The most expensive option available on the Five Hundred is all-wheel drive, but for $1,700 you get sure-footed traction for inclement weather and for mild off-pavement excursions as well as a continuously variable transmission, or CVT, that provides seamless operation and 19 mpg in town and 26 on the open road. Ford used the efficient CVT to help overcome the usual mileage penalty paid by heavier, more complex all-wheel drivetrains.
Even the base Five Hundred SE model ($22,145) comes well-equipped with the V6, automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, 17-inch wheels, a six-way power driver's seat, an adjustable (tilt) steering column, air conditioning, power locks, mirrors and windows, remote key fob unlocking as well as keyless entry (entry via a driver's door-mounted keypad, a popular Ford feature), overhead and front consoles and an audio system with a CD player.
The SEL ($24,145) adds eight-way power for the driver's seat and two-way power for the front passenger's seat, a six-CD changer and MP3 capability, leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in audio control, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat air outlets, wood grain interior trim, an electronic message center with a compass, self-dimming interior mirror, outside temperature display fog lamps, chrome body accents and automatic headlamps.
The top-of-the-line Limited ($26,145) comes with 18-inch wheels, a bright-texture grille, chrome mirror caps, leather seating with heating function, memory seats and mirrors, Audiophile audio with subwoofer, four-way power front passenger's seat, cream-colored instruments and an analog clock in the center of the dashboard.
All options (except all-wheel drive) are priced at less than $1,000 and these include traction control, leather seating (for the SEL model), power-adjustable pedals (for the Limited model), a power moon roof (SEL and Limited), rear obstacle warning system (SEL and Limited). Also available are a safety and security package for the SE with side and canopy airbags, anti-theft perimeter alarm and lights and a safety package for the SEL and Limited with the side and canopy airbags.