Taurus is the popular mid-size sedan without the boredom factor. It's a bowl of chocolate-chip mint in a sea of plain vanilla. While most sedans in its class seem designed to blend into the scenery, the Taurus stands out like a wildebeest in plaid pajamas.
Not only does the Taurus look like it came from the future, it drives like it came over from Europe, and with something double its really quite reasonable price tag. Two engines are available, and both deliver a vigorous response. Taurus rides smoothly enough for family duty, but with crisp and sporty handling that would satisfy an aspiring Formula 1 driver.
Not only that, but the cabin is functional and attractive, with controls that are straightforward and easy to use. The materials, switchgear and interior textures have a high-quality look and feel.
Approaching the Taurus at curbside, you'll first notice the muscular, forceful appearance that sets it apart from its blander-looking competitors. The grille is broad, aggressive, and unmistakably Ford-oval, grinning between the large cat's-eye headlamps. Taurus' flanks undulate handsomely with crisp character lines, and its rear end bears a resemblance to the sexy stern of the Jaguar S-Type.
Seating arrangements have been revised for 2002. LX and SE sedans, previously five-seaters, now nominally seat six, thanks to a seating console between their separate front seats. This is the same arrangement used on last year's SES, and that model keeps it for 2002. SES Deluxe and SEL buyers now get the bucket seats and console that used to come with lesser models, but they can have their six-seat capacity back for a $105 credit. Leather bucket seats are a no-charge option in every Taurus sedan except the LX.
All wagons have the seating console, but SEL Deluxe versions also offer leather buckets as a no-cost option.
Primary controls and instrumentation are admirably simple, straightforward and easy to use. Ford's well-publicized adjustable pedals (standard on SEL, and a $120 option on most other Tauri) make a comfortable driving position possible for even very short-legged drivers. The small-diameter, leather-wrapped steering wheel (SES Deluxe on up) has a pleasingly thick grip. Buttons for the cruise control are mounted on the steering wheel and are easy to operate. The highly legible white-on-black gauges include an analog speedometer and tachometer. A single stalk on the left of the steering column operates the washer and wipers and the bright/dim control for the headlights. The power-window automatic-down circuit operates on the driver's-side window only, and there is no automatic-up. On the dashboard just below the tachometer is an on/off switch for the optional traction control, useful when driving with chains and/or in snow.
On the other hand, the central console containing audio and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls is an intimidating sea of similar-looking push-buttons and toggle switches. While elsewhere the Taurus is ergonomically first-rate, operating the controls on this panel requires careful reading of the various closely spaced labels. Among the audio controls, only the volume is a rotary knob. It would be more convenient if the station-tuner were a twist-knob as well.
The removable six-CD changer/cassette is cleverly concealed in the center console at the driver's right elbow. This is far more convenient than the remote 12-CD changers commonly hidden in the trunk of other cars.
The center console is furnished with twin foldaway cupholders, though the swing arm meant to hold your cup in place is not as firm as it might be. Overhead, our SE had a tilt/slide moonroof, with a difference. With only one touch of the button, it opened automatically. Very bright idea. But to close it requires holding the button down, perhaps for safety considerations. Each of the lighted vanity mirrors in the two front sun visors features a rheostat for regulating their brightness, another novel touch.
Our SEL Premium had the five-seat layout, and the excellent front seats provided very good lateral support for a family sedan, without being too tight for the Big Guy driver. The cushions and seatbacks are more firm than soft, but firm is usually best on long drives.
The roomy rear compartment seats three, although the seat forms two semi-buckets and has a pull-down central armrest containing two cupholders. An HVAC duct at the rear of the center console provides climate control for rear passengers. Dual baby-seat anchors are provided on each side of the rear seat. In the SE wagon and SES and SEL sedans, the rear seatback is split 60/40 and folds down, providing an enormous pass-through luggage capability for skis and other long items. The trunk is of generous size and contains the Taurus' mini-spare tire.
The 2002 Ford Taurus is a genuinely satisfying car to drive. Its Duratec V6 is as responsive as a finger snap, delivering crisp acceleration from low revs straight through to the glass-smooth full-throttle shift point. This engine not only provides good thrust, it makes an understated but nicely throaty declaration that it means business. The current SEL model reminds us a bit of the high-performance Taurus SHO.
Automatic transmissions have been improving by leaps and bounds in the past five years, and the Taurus four-speed is no exception. Its shifts are positive, authoritative, and at the same time, almost impossible to feel. The kickdown response is not quite as quick as with some of the best European automatics, but it's still very, very good.
If you ever wonder just how important modern electronics have become, the Taurus with its powerful Duratec engine can quickly demonstrate the benefits of traction control: Simply switch off the traction control, nail the throttle, and the front tires will shriek as they claw for traction. With a powerful modern front-wheel drive package like the SEL's Duratec engine, traction control is almost necessary, reducing wheel spin to help you better control the car.
The Taurus chassis proves an uncommonly successful home for this forceful Duratec drivetrain. Its all-independent suspension provides a smooth, impact-free ride. Unusual in a family sedan, Taurus uses gas-pressurized shock absorbers, so that when it is pushed in the corners, it remains stable, nimble and ready for more. Cornered hard, its body roll is moderate, and the nicely tuned variable-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering delivers a steady stream of road information. And when the turning is done, this steering system provides improved on-center response, guiding you straight down the center of your course once more.
In an emergency lane-change demonstration set up in a parking lot, the Taurus stopped smoothly, with its ABS allowing steering control during hard braking. Braking performance was much smoother than that of a Dodge Intrepid tested at the same time.
With its excellent chassis and Duratec power, Taurus comes very close to being a very good sports sedan for the price of a family mid-size.
The Ford Taurus is more than practical family transportation. It is a genuinely exciting family sedan. It offers little to complain about, combined with many reasons to nod and smile appreciatively. The Taurus offers very good mid-market value with excellent drivetrains, good looks, plenty of creature comforts, and the added bonus of a surprising level of driving pleasure.
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|Build & Price|
2014 Ford Taurus$23,998 | 31,025 mi
2014 Ford Taurus$24,988 | 13,399 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$19,977 | 36,926 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$20,998 | 34,672 mi
2013 Ford Taurus$21,986 | 31,212 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$22,990 | 35,466 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$23,990 | 16,580 mi
2012 Ford Taurus$15,987 | 63,949 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$12,861 | 86,008 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$13,888 | 78,030 mi
2011 FORD TAURUS$13,998 | 77,881 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$15,799 | 37,702 mi
2011 FORD TAURUS$16,987 | 61,716 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$18,987 | 57,400 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$21,763 | 28,997 mi
2010 Ford Taurus$17,997 | 58,143 mi
2010 Ford Taurus$18,790 | 74,151 mi
2010 Ford Taurus$19,900 | 28,603 mi
2010 Ford Taurus$21,963 | 27,972 mi
2009 Ford Taurus$8,500 | 118,343 mi
2008 Ford Taurus X$7,958 | 139,380 mi
2008 Ford Taurus X$12,988 | 86,849 mi
2008 Ford Taurus X$16,999 | 98,471 mi
2007 Ford Taurus$6,900 | 125,782 mi
2007 FORD TAURUS$6,999 | 94,850 mi
2006 Ford Taurus$5,988 | 147,427 mi
2005 Ford Taurus$6,900 | 93,751 mi
2004 Ford Taurus$6,888 | 88,291 mi