New Car Review

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SEE ALSO:Ford Buyer's Guide

At first glance the 1994 Ford Taurus closely resembles the original 1986 model. However, since its introduction many evolutionary improvements have been made to this now venerable mid-size family sedan. It started out as a trend setter, and influenced the design of many of today's domestic and foreign models. The most dramatic restyling occurred in 1992 when all of the body panels except for the doors were changed. These changes were more evolutionary than revolutionary. Under the skin, safety, comfort , convenience, performance, and handling improvements have steadily been added to Fords' hallmark car.

Proving that a product does not have to be brand new to be kept in demand, the Taurus has remained near the top of the automotive best-seller list in this country. In fact, in 1992 it enjoyed the highest volume of sales for any passenger car sold in the United States. This sales success has continued into 1993.

The Taurus is available as a four-door sedan or station wagon in two trim levels, GL and LX. Ford wants to keep the Taurus GL in its top sales position, and for 1994 has added new safety and convenience features to enable it to maintain its high profile.

APPEARANCE: The popular GL has only two exterior styling changes in 1994 - the door handles are now body colored, and 15-inch wheels and tires are standard. Otherwise it retains its now-classic rounded aerodynamic design with a low coefficient of drag of .32. Its smooth sides are bisected by a body-colored rub strip. The side windows are trimmed in black and highlighted with a stainless steel strip. The optional alloy wheels and General Ameritech touring tires add a touch of class.

COMFORT: Our GL was outfitted in the six-passenger mode with a split-bench front seat and dual arm rests. A steering column-mounted shifter allows two or three persons to sit in the front seat in relative comfort. The drivers seat is power adjustable, as are the side mirrors, windows and door locks. The basic pushbutton AM/FM/cassette radio is easy to set and tune, and for convenience has remote station and volume control buttons high up on the dashboard. An efficient and quiet heater/air conditioner is easily controlled by rotary switches and for uniform temperature control there are ducts to the rear seats. Cruise controls are conveniently mounted on the tilt steering wheel. A handy coin tray and dual cup holder are located in the center of the dashboard. The large, flat-bottomed trunk offers a handy cargo net plus plenty of luggage space.

ROADABILITY: The Taurus GL delivers the smooth passenger car ride that is desired by many drivers. Its proven independent suspension system features front and rear stabilizer bars to minimize body roll, while parking and maneuvering is aided by power rack-and-pinion steering. For 1994 dual front air bags are standard, and while still optional ($ 565), the combination anti-lock and four-wheel disc brake system is a very reasonably-priced and worthwhile addition for safety as well as peace of mind. While traveling at highway speeds the GL is quiet with minimal engine, wind and road noise.

PERFORMANCE: When equipped with the optional 3.8 liter overhead valve multiport fuel-injected V6, the horsepower is unchanged from that of the base 3.0 liter V6 at 140, but the torque is increased from 160 ft/lbs at 3000 rpm to 215 ft/lbs at 2200 rpm. This provides considerably more power at lower engine speeds for quicker and safer merging and passing, and also pulling power for climbing grades or when towing a light trailer. The electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, crisp shifts up and down its gear range. I found this powertrain combination to be well-suited for highway travelling, as the automatic overdrive provides adequate power at cruising speeds, with a safety reserve for quick maneuvering in potentially troublesome traffic situations.

CONCLUSIONS: The Ford Taurus is the antithesis of styling trends in the American automobile industry a generation or so ago when changes in appearance were made almost yearly. With just minor cosmetic modifications it has remained the very recognizable Taurus for eight model years. But under the skin many changes and improvements have been continuously added to Fords' best seller in order to keep it that way - its best seller!

PRICE AS TESTED: $ 20,650 with 3.8 liter V6, automatic transmission, air-conditioning and more.

BASE PRICE: $ 16,140 with base 3.0 liter V6.


           Base Price              $  16,140
           Price As Tested         $  20,650
           Engine Type             V-6, ohc - pushrod, smpfi
           Engine Size             3.8 liter/232 cid
           Horsepower              140 @ 3800
           Torque (ft/lbs)         215 @ 2200
           Wheelbase/Length        106"/192"
           Transmission            four-speed auto w/od 
           Curb Weight             3270
           Pounds per Horsepower   23
           Fuel Capacity           16
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87  oct)
           Tires                   General Ameritech ST P205/65R 15   
           Brakes                  anti-lock optional   disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine/front drive 
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
             city/highway/observed      19/27/23.6
           0 to 60 mph                  9.8 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                17.6 sec 
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)    .32

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