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2000 Ford Taurus wagon

Freshened inside and out for 2000, the Ford Taurus station wagon is proof that sporty performance is compatible with a hefty dose of utility.

Published June 17, 2000
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Freshened inside and out for 2000, the Ford Taurus station wagon is proof that sporty performance is compatible with a hefty dose of utility.<br /><br /> Up front, this mid-size segment leader offers an optional (for $1,495) 3.0 L 24-valve Duratec V6 with double-overhead camshafts.<br /><br /> Its frisky 200 horses guarantee that you won't be caught short in passing situations, even with a full load of people and stuff.<br /><br /> Low-speed responsiveness is impressive.<br /><br /> The base powerplant the 3.0 L Vulcan V6 is on the lowtech side, with pushrods and two valves per cylinder. It's rated at 153 hp.<br /><br /> A column-operated four-speed automatic is the only wagon transmission. Ford claims shifting has been "dramatically" improved.<br /><br /> Outback, the Taurus wagon has a generous, well-finished cargo hold that can accommodate 1,087 L. That's with the rear seatbacks up; flip then down and capacity jumps to 2,301 L.<br /><br /> The cargo area can be equipped with a rear-facing, third-row bench. That means this wagon can actually hold up to eight people, although how comfortably is open to debate.<br /><br /> Trick front seats have a clever flip-and-fold centre console standard on the wagon that somersaults forward to provide cupholders and storage. Closed, it looks like part of the seat.<br /><br /> The Taurus wagon comes in SE and high-posh SEL trims. I drove an SEL done in a luscious Harvest Gold clear-coat metallic with a beige cloth interior.<br /><br /> Standard SEL gear includes the usual power amenities, anti-lock brakes, leather-wrapped steering wheel and that third-row bench.<br /><br /> Among the tester's options: power moonroof ($1,250), a sizzling stereo with trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer ($1,050), traction control ($491) and side airbags ($463).<br /><br /> Exterior changes for 2000 include a redesigned nose featuring bigger, brighter headlights. But the designers have resisted the urge to tamper with the pleasing melange of curves and contours that has made the wagon a looker from Day 1.<br /><br /> (It's a different story with the 2000 Taurus sedan, of course. It traded the Starship Enterprise rear end for a conservative treatment that's finding favour with family sedan buyers.)<br /><br /> Inside, both Tauruses have lost the oval-shaped integrated control panel that had an amazing ability to arouse emotion usually negative among auto writers. One U.S. reviewer declared the panel, which I liked, "the biggest interior gaffe in recent memory."<br /><br /> It's history now, replaced by a more conventional, squarish layout. The arrangement looks good, but comes up short in user friendliness.<br /><br /> Temperature and fan settings, for instance, are run by thin bars with plus and minus markings. I found them labour intensive.<br /><br /> Other details underscore the aging design's occasional favouring of form over function. The rear arc of the side glass restricts outward vision, and the window only goes halfway down.<br /><br /> As well, the swoopy rear-roof styling results in a smallish back window. Your view of what's happening behind you isn't great. And in rain, the back wiper ignores the area on the driver's side.<br /><br /> Front forehead room is tight with the moonroof.<br /><br /> Several front-seat passengers carped about the lack of an overhead grab handle. I dismissed them as whiners, but then I had the steering wheel to use as an assist.<br /><br /> On the bright side, Taurus has impressive safety credentials. It holds the U.S. government's highest rating — five stars — for frontal crash performance.<br /><br /> And its dual-stage airbags can inflate at two different rates, depending on crash severity.<br /><br /> Two buttons on the left side of the driver's seat let you move the gas and brake pedals forward or back, even as you drive. This standard innovation is a boon for shorter drivers.<br /><br /> The Ford's rolling locks are more of a mixed blessing. Many times, I stepped out of the car and tried to open a rear door to fetch something on the back seat. The door, of course, was always locked.<br /><br /> Long story short: this feature is bad news for slow learners.<br /><br /> Standard power rack-and-pinion steering with variable assist doesn't disappoint when the going gets curvy.<br /><br /> The tailgate swings up and out of the way for easy cargo loading.<br /><br /> The glass window can be popped opened separately always a useful ability.<br /><br /> The zesty front-driver, built in Chicago, carried a bottom line price of $33,414, plus taxes.<br /><br /> That's fairly seemly by today's inflated standards.<br /><br /> Taurus shows why, despite the onslaught of minivans and sport-utilities, the station wagon remains a favourite of practical people with a taste for sporty motoring.<br /><br /> Why settle for car-like when you can have a car?<br /><br /> The 2000 Ford Taurus holds Consumer Reports' coveted Recommended rating.<br /><br /> Base prices/residuals*<br /><br /> * SE: $26,495/44<br /><br /> * SEL: $27,695/45<br /><br /> * Freight: $870<br /><br /> * Air tax: $100<br /><br /> *Residual percentage for a 36-month lease, as supplied by the current ALG Canadian Percentage Guide.