1995 FORD TAURUS SHO
Used Car - 1995 Ford Taurus SHO in Englewood, Co
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1995 Ford Taurus ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Still America's best-seller, still a great buy.
There are those who suggest the Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable have been too conservative. But it's hard to support that position when the Taurus is the best-selling car in America.
From the consumer's perspective, the advantages of Ford's network of dealers, the domestic nameplate, the unquestioned value of the car, and the attractive leases and incentives Ford has provided have all added up to a solid deal.
Because 1995 is the last year for the current Taurus and Sable (all-new, more radically styled cars are due for '96), changes are minor but well-done: more equipment made standard and additional suspension and engine refinements. A new low-priced Sport Edition, or SE, has been added to the lineup to attract younger buyers who would love to own the high-powered Taurus SHO but lack the bank accounts to do so.
The midsize sedan is the heart of the car business. Big enough for today's smaller families, yet fuel efficient and unpretentious, midsize 4-doors suit today's tastes.
In this class, the big three are Ford Taurus, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, with the new Chevrolet Lumina bidding for a higher place.
All four have a suitably conservative demeanor, appropriate for cars of broad appeal. The Taurus is a little longer and a little heavier than its Japanese competitors, and to our eye, its design is aging. Radical in 1985, today the Taurus looks too familiar. (The handsome wagon versions, however, have held their own in the appearance category.)
But buyers in this class seek utility and value, not radical styling. The Taurus offers both.
In some car lines, the base model is an underpowered cheap-looking loss leader. Not so for the Taurus. The base GL is a solid package, while the LX, which we tested, offers additional creature comforts. And for stealthy power, there's the SHO.
The SE model borrows its sporty looks from the SHO (front bucket seats and the optional rear deck spoiler) and partners them with the economic 3.0-liter V6 for about the same price as a GL.
Dual airbags are standard on all Tauruses, and the seat-belt anchors have been lowered for 1995. That's better for shorter people, but not quite as versatile as fully height-adjustable seat belts. Families using child safety seats should note that you must use locking clips in a Taurus.
Although the Taurus looks very much as it did in the beginning, the interior has had a number of revisions over the years, and the updates have kept the car current. Important controls are easily reached, and the analog instrument panel is in plain view. The large, simple dash-mounted light switch is more convenient than the stalk-mounted switches typical of Japanese cars, and power-window switches are easy to distinguish by touch.
Many conveniences have been made standard on the Taurus this year, including air conditioning, rear-window defroster, low-fuel warning light and solar-tinted glass to cut glare and heat. A nice touch in the optional center console is a removable rubber mat in the single cupholder, making it easy to clean sticky soda pop residue.
The Taurus is roomy inside and easy to enter and exit, with plenty of legroom up front and adequate room in the rear. The optional power moonroof in our LX test car cut headroom noticeably - a consideration for taller occupants - but otherwise the car is spacious for its size.
The Taurus has a relatively high cowl, with a dashboard that always hovers in your line of vision. This is unlike an Accord or Camry, for example, where the view is more glassy vista. Some find the high cowl claustrophobic; others find it gives them a sense of security.
The optional 6-way power seats make it easy to get comfortable. However, we found the seats a bit soft for long trips, and a little lower back support would have been nice.
Functional as it is, the interior does have some appearance problems. There are too many pieces in the dashboard and door panels, creating a number of bad fits and poor color matches and a generally cluttered, untidy appearance. And some optional items seem to be thrown into place. The controls for the power moonroof, for example, were housed in a tacky, oversize plastic box slapped between the sun visors.
The optional high-line JBL audio system in our test vehicle still had the old-style Ford faceplate with its multitude of tiny buttons. It's housed low in the console and is difficult to operate while driving. Fortunately, Ford has placed additional buttons high on the dashboard, allowing you to change the volume and station without taking your eyes off the road.
When you turn the key and take off, you realize the Taurus' strongest point: It is an easy-to-drive, well-behaved, nicely balanced sedan. Like the Chevy Lumina, its base engine is a V6.
The standard Taurus 3.0-liter V6 gets several improvements for '95: thicker walls in the cylinder blocks and a re-designed crankshaft to reduce vibration, and improved seals, water pump and thermostat for better performance. The engine coolant change interval has been bumped from 30,000 miles to 50,000 miles.
Our test LX was equipped with the optional 3.8-liter V6. With the same horsepower as the 3.0-liter but more torque lower down (215 lb.-ft. at 2200 rpm rather than 165 lb.-ft. at 3250 rpm), the optional engine has much better acceleration.
However, unlike some base engines, the 3.0-liter V6 does a perfectly acceptable job. The 3.8-liter V6 provides extra oomph for passing and keeping pace in the stoplight races, and it's the engine we'd choose. But we also recommend that you try both engines, to see if you need to spend the extra money.
The Taurus handles quite competently. The suspension system modifications have produced a much improved ride - firm and secure - and the car stays flat and controlled during cornering and acceleration. Steering is a little vague, lacking the light, immediate responsiveness of the Accord, in particular, but it's comfortable and easy to adjust to.
The Taurus' standard 4-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and has no tendency to hunt between gears in long uphill climbs.
As we noted earlier, it's hard to argue with best-seller status.
Neither the Taurus nor the Sable stands out in the traffic stream the way they once did, but the styling is still attractive, and the basic virtues are still there: They're well-made midsize sedans, easy to drive, pleasant to live with.
The as-tested price of $24,328 for our test vehicle seems high, but that's the manufacturer's suggested retail price, and we think you'll find some leeway. Ford and its dealers are working hard to keep buyers from defecting until the new Taurus and Sable debut, so you may be able to negotiate an attractive deal.
One final consideration: The Taurus is one of the big sellers in this class and automatically goes on people's shopping lists, but there are numerous competitor models that also merit a look.
A domestic alternative is the newly redesigned Lumina, bland but a little bigger and a little cheaper. Equipped with a sport suspension, the Pontiac Grand Prix is also comparable.
Half a class down in size are the Nissan Altima and Chrysler Cirrus. Half a class up in size is the Dodge Intrepid - a full-size front-drive sedan of comparable price, with much more room inside.
This isn't to suggest that any of these vehicles are superior to the Taurus. But extensive cross-shopping invariably broadens your perspective - and increases your bargaining leverage.All's well with America's best-selling wagon.
If your family needs run extra large, as in extra large loads and extra large trips, you may have to look beyond sedans. Perhaps, though, you're just not into high-riding, box-shaped transport wagons on a par with today's minivans. They don't perform, you say, and they're not pretty. If that's your problem, let us tell you about the Ford Taurus LX Wagon, the minivan that looks like a car.
Station wagons are a dying breed, there's no doubt about it. The imports make only a few small wagons. Chrysler is completely out of the wagon business.
Some automakers, however, are still in the game. General Motors makes the huge rear-drive Chevrolet Caprice and Buick Roadmaster, and also the Oldsmobile Ciera, Buick Century and Saturn wagon. And the company that first popularized the station wagon - Ford - is carrying on a tradition with the Taurus family of wagons, as well as with the small Escort and Tracer wagons.
A Taurus, or even a Mercury Sable wagon for that matter, could be the perfect answer for a young family that needs space and style. The loaded Taurus LX has plenty of both.
Ford's best-selling Taurus front-drive intermediate family of vehicles includes the country's best-selling station wagon. The Ford midsize wagon shape has changed little since 1985, when the current body shell was introduced. After 10 years, it still looks great, a testament to its then-radical design.
There's a GL version for starters, with no lower body cladding and a more basic interior, offering a standard 140 hp 3.0-liter V6 and a 4-speed electronic automatic overdrive transaxle.
The LX package includes color-keyed lower body cladding, cast aluminum wheels, console and floor shifter, the light group, a cargo area net, cloth seats, and cloth and vinyl trim.
All Tauruses come with dual airbags, air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, electric rear defroster and tilt wheel as standard, but the LX is a considerable upgrade for the money. Both wagons come with standard roof racks, and both are available with extra-cost anti-lock brakes (ABS).
Little has changed on the 1995 Taurus LX Wagon from last year's offering. The 3.0-liter base V6 engine gets a number of durability upgrades, and Ford claims that the suspension has been retuned end-to-end for a smoother ride.
Solar-tint glass in the front and rear has been made standard in all models. And for the first time, taillamp assemblies are made of recyclable plastic.
The 3.0-liter base engine and the 3.8-liter optional V6, with a balance shaft for smoother running, are both rated, oddly enough, at 140 hp, but the 3.8 is rated at 3800 rpm and the 3.0 at 4800 rpm. The 3.0 makes 165 pound-feet of torque at 3250, but the 3.8 makes a much heftier 215 lb.-ft. at only 2200 rpm, and is the clear choice for heavy hauling.
When these cars were revamped inside and out in 1992, they weren't given enough credit for change - and the most change took place on the inside.
Our LX Wagon had a rich and interesting environment, with lots of nice detailing around a very well-done basic set of analog instruments, triple rotary controls for climate and the annoying small-button Ford radios. An AM/FM stereo is standard, and it even comes with handy remote controls for volume and station on the dash.
The new-in-'92 instrument panel received dual airbags as standard last year, along with CFC-free air conditioning. The panel is very easy to use and see, with more attention to graining and texture than most intermediate cars' instrument panels.
The Taurus' seats are somewhat spare but proved to be long-term comfortable, and the flip-up tailgate with separate flip-up glass is a model of good design. There were cupholders and storage nooks all over our LX Wagon - in the doors, the console and in the rear.
All of the interior materials of our tester seemed first-rate, and components were well-made and installed with a minimum of visible mechanical stuff or bare metal.
The Taurus Wagon is flexible, too. You can get seating for five, six, seven or eight people, and the third seat can face either forward or rearward, depending on the seating options you choose.
Ford designers didn't forget they were creating a station wagon. We enjoyed adequate hip- and legroom with six adults, and we had a generous amount of cargo area behind the rear seat, to boot.
The Taurus LX Wagon with the optional 3.8-liter V6 engine has a chassis/powerplant combination that's been under continuous development for more than 10 years now, and it is just about thoroughly sorted out.
The 3.0-liter engine is perfectly adequate for the needs of most small families in this wagon, but we would recommend the 3.8 anyway because it tends to operate under less strain than the 3.0. The extra power and torque and the smoothness added by the balance shaft are worth the minimal investment, and the gas mileage is about the same anyway. This is the same engine you can buy in a Lincoln Continental.
The Taurus Wagon is no rocket, but it certainly isn't a slouch. Acceleration and passing power are very good. We found the transaxle to be quiet and smooth in operation, and it kicked down quickly when needed.
We would classify the ride quality of the Taurus Wagon as just this side of stiff. The wagon rides flat, but a fair amount of harshness comes through, especially high-impact harshness. All the same, the small stuff gets soaked up very well.
The Taurus steering system has always had a pleasant heft to it, and that trait continues into 1995, making the wagon a deft handler that doesn't wander about on the highway.
The thick steering-wheel section and the nicely assisted steering give a feeling of command and control behind the wheel.
A wagon is, by its very nature, louder in operation than a sedan. There's not much structure between a wagon's rear tires and its occupants' ears, but the Taurus does a good job of keeping that roar down to a bare minimum.
We never got into an ABS-on situation, so we can't describe that part of the braking system's efficiency. But we were pleased with the positive, progressive pedal feel and stopping power in normal situations.
As for its wagon qualities, well, the Taurus holds a little less than 40 cu. ft. with the seat up and just over 80 cu. ft. with the seat stowed. Those numbers qualify it as a serious and useful station wagon, but most definitely not a minivan.
The tailgate goes up and away for big-load packing, and the window glass can be popped open for small-item storage out back.
Yes, there are other midsize wagons that hold a third more stuff, but they have roofs with square corners, and the Taurus Wagon doesn't. You have to eat some space to get the sexy body shell.
The Ford Taurus Wagon (and its twin, the Mercury Sable) offers a great combination of space, style and solid functional performance that the other wagons can't match. But if serious hauling is your need, a larger-capacity wagon or small minivan might suit you better.
All of the things that have impressed us about the perennially popular Taurus were present on the '95 LX Wagon.
If you want some style in your wagon, the Taurus and the double-the-price Audi wagons are the only ones to get.