The Ford Taurus is more than practical family transportation. It is a genuinely exciting mid-size sedan. The Taurus offers good mid-market value with excellent drivetrains, good looks, plenty of creature comforts, and the added bonus of a surprising level of driving pleasure.
For 2003, the Taurus gets an interior that's updated and much quieter. New seals for the doors, windows and rearview mirrors along with new sound damping in the floor make for a quieter cabin. Illuminated cruise control switches have been added and the controls for the adjustable pedals have been moved to the instrument panel for easier access. New seven-spoke wheels add a fresh look to the 2003 models.
For 2003, more features come standard, including power windows and door locks, a tilt steering column and floor mats. Seat coverings, both leather and cloth, are improved, with lighter colors used to brighten the car's interior. 2003 also brings new dashboard treatments.
The Ford Taurus is a familiar design that has been with us for a few years now. 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. Its flanks undulate handsomely with crisp character lines, and its rear end bears a resemblance to the sexy stern of the Jaguar S-Type.
The sedan's trunk is of generous size and contains the mini-spare tire. The wagon has a flip-up rear window in its tailgate.
The Taurus 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. For 2003, those controls are mounted in a new dashboard and console unit.
The other big interior change is the quiet, thanks to better noise, vibration and harshness controls that include better damping in the floor and measures that reduce air leakage and cabin noise, including the use of expanding foam in the windshield support pillars and various body cavities and the use of new sealing materials in weld access holes.
LX, SE and the non-Sport SES sedans seat six, thanks to a seating console between their separate front seats. SES Sport and SEL buyers get bucket seats and a center console. SEL buyers, however, can order six-seat capacity as a no-price option.
Controls and instrumentation are admirably simple, straightforward and easy to use. Ford's well-publicized adjustable pedals make a comfortable driving position possible for even very short-legged drivers. The small-diameter steering wheel has a pleasingly thick grip. Buttons for the cruise control are mounted on the steering wheel and are easy to operate.
Our SEL Premium had the five-seat layout, and the excellent front seats provided good lateral support for a family sedan, without being too tight for big guys. The cushions and seatbacks are more firm than soft, and firm is usually best on long drives.
The roomy rear compartment seats three, but is set up well for two as the seat forms two semi-buckets and has a pull-down central armrest containing two cupholders. A ventilation 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.
With its 60/40 split rear seats folded down, the roomy Taurus wagon has space for a maximum of 81.3 cubic feet of cargo; with six passengers aboard, there's still 38.8 cu. ft. behind them.
The 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 lamented 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. Powerful front-wheel-drive cars like the Taurus SEL need traction control to reduce wheel spin and provide better control of the car.
The Taurus chassis is a good match for this forceful Duratec drivetrain. The fully independent suspension provides a smooth, impact-free ride. Taurus uses gas-pressurized shock absorbers, unusual in a family sedan; when 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 the course once more.
In an emergency lane-change demonstration set up in a parking lot, the Taurus stopped smoothly, with anti-lock brakes 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, the Ford Taurus comes close to being a sports sedan for the price of a family mid-size sedan.
For several years, the Taurus has been the bowl of chocolate-chip mint in a sea of plain vanilla. While most sedans in the mid-size 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 from Europe. Yet it comes with a price tag that's quite reasonable. Two engines are available, and both deliver a vigorous response, though we recommend the newer Duratec engine. Taurus rides smoothly enough for family duty, but offers crisp, sporty handling.
Build and price your dream Ford Taurus in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2013 Ford Taurus$18,669 | 34,080 mi
2013 Ford Taurus$19,798 | 26,169 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$19,900 | 13,998 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$19,994 | 33,510 mi
2013 Ford Taurus$19,995 | 32,336 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$24,900 | 20,031 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$26,900 | 20,513 mi
2013 FORD TAURUS$32,887 | 26,301 mi
2012 Ford Taurus$15,639 | 55,872 mi
2012 Ford Taurus$15,768 | 88,729 mi
2012 FORD TAURUS$15,995 | 62,130 mi
2012 FORD TAURUS$27,469 | 19,346 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$13,995 | 93,367 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$14,990 | 65,782 mi
2011 Ford Taurus$15,890 | 65,305 mi
2011 FORD TAURUS$16,790 | 40,905 mi
2010 FORD TAURUS$14,995 | 69,935 mi
2010 FORD TAURUS$17,500 | 24,290 mi
2010 FORD TAURUS$17,999 | 63,257 mi
2010 Ford Taurus$19,877 | 35,996 mi
2010 FORD TAURUS$20,995 | 49,884 mi
2009 FORD TAURUS$11,998 | 64,945 mi
2008 Ford Taurus$8,896 | 108,619 mi
2008 Ford Taurus X$9,667 | 85,830 mi
2008 FORD TAURUS X$14,995 | 75,485 mi
2003 Ford Taurus$4,990 | 148,933 mi
2002 Ford Taurus$6,995 | 99,644 mi
2001 Ford Taurus$4,990 | 121,432 mi