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First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

The "ultimate sleeper performance car."

by on Jun.23, 2009

Is the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO "the ultimate performance sleeper sedan?"

Is the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO "the ultimate performance sleeper sedan?"

Maybe it’s a sign of age, but when I was first burning rubber down the Jersey Shore, the guys with the really hot-looking cars were as likely as not poseurs.  The folks you didn’t want to race – not if you wanted to hang on to your cash – were the ones with the “beaters,” often dented, occasionally rusted out, but always looking like they couldn’t get out of their own way until you lined up at the stoplight.

That’s much the idea Ford Motor Co. had in mind when it introduced the first Taurus SHO, back in 1989.  No, you couldn’t order the dents, but you could get what seemed like a plain Jane family sedan that packed an awesome Yamaha 220-horsepower six-banger under the hood.  Add a track-ready suspension and you were sitting behind the wheel of a SHO, a fearsome beast that could take down most of the muscle cars of the era.

Sadly, Ford seemed to lose interest in this wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing concept.  The last run was just plain boring and few even noticed when the SHO slinked off the streets, back in 1999.  But, with the launch of an all-new Taurus aimed at recreating the excitement of the original sedan, it seemed just so, well, absolutely right to bring back the SHO, as well.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comThink of the 2010 Ford Taurus as the “ultimate sleeper performance sedan,” suggests product program chief Frank Davis, with a fair bit of hyperbole, but it’s nonetheless a boast the new car can live up to.

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First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus

Attempting a rebirth of a once-grand but now faded brand.

by on Jun.22, 2009

Can the 2010 Ford Taurus live up to the legend of the 1986 sedan?

Can the 2010 Ford Taurus live up to the legend created by the original 1986 sedan?

When you consider the countless number of cars that come to market, each year, only a handful ever really make all that much of a difference – a handful for any individual automaker.  For Ford, the list would include the Model T, of course, and the Mustang.  And most recently, the Taurus — the original 1986 version, that is.

But by the time Ford pulled the plug on the Taurus brand, a few years back, what was once significant had grown merely simpering, a product that only the rental car fleets could love. Overall, since 2004, Ford has lost more than 5 percentage points market share, as record-making  losses ensued.

Now, the Taurus name is back, and for 2010, Ford has attached it to another product that the automaker hopes will stand out in a crowded automotive market.  We’ve finally had the chance to test the 2010 Ford Taurus, and its sibling sedan, the 2010 Taurus SHO.  We’ll take a look at the base car, then follow, tomorrow, with an in-depth report on the reborn performance sedan.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comWhile the 2010 Taurus doesn’t quite have the visual stopping power of the original, it is nonetheless a product likely to garner significant attention for Ford, which is notably the only Detroit maker to reject the idea of a federal bailout because it had already borrowed more than $20 billion from the credit markets before they collapsed.  That, alone, is winning Ford friends.  But while some import-oriented shoppers may be once again looking at the line-up in Ford showrooms, it’s only a truly significant product that will win them back.  And the ’10 Taurus may be precisely what Ford needs.

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Can Taurus Turn Things Around for Ford – Again?

Automaker is betting on product, not a bailout, as marketshare continues to decline.

by on Jun.16, 2009

2010 Ford Taurus

The sedan is a critical piece in the turnaround effort, but it's not clear the Taurus name is now worth anything after years of neglect.

It’s not often that a single product can determine the fate of a company, but that’s precisely the role the original Taurus sedan played for Ford, back in 1986.  Now, an all-new version of the sedan is about to come to market, and while it’s not quite the make-it-or-break it product of the original, there’s little doubt that the sedan is a critical piece in the turnaround effort of a company that’s decided to forego the multi-billion-dollar bailouts propping up its cross-town rivals, General Motors and Chrysler Group.

The ’86 Taurus proved a surprise hit, showing that American automakers could take on their Asian rivals in one of the market’s toughest segments.  But within a matter of years, Ford almost seemed to tire of that success, allowing the sedan to slip on the sales charts until Taurus was little more than an after-thought, with the vast bulk of production earmarked for daily rental fleets, and then abandoned all together.

The nameplate was revived by Ford’s new CEO, Alan Mulally, who sought to recapture the success of the original Taurus badge. With Ford the only one of the Big Three Detroit makers opting out of a federal bailout, analysts say the sedan will be critical in reversing Ford’s string of record financial losses when it hits market, this Summer.

“This is the most significant entry we have,” among the various models being launched for the 2010 model-year,” said Frank Davis, Ford’s executive director of product development.  “It is our flagship.”

When Ford abandoned the Taurus nameplate, earlier in the decade, the automaker tried introducing a new badge to replace it, the Five Hundred.  But in today’s crowded market, it can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to catch the attention of potential buyers.  After Five Hundred’s lackluster success, Ford decided to revive the Taurus, counting on the fact that it was one of the country’s best-known brands. (more…)