2008 Ford Taurus X Limited Review
Crossover vehicles are a hot market segment for automakers these days, as the car-buying public seems to be abandoning full-size SUVs and minivans. The drop in SUV sales is undoubtedly due to high gas prices, while the minivan seems to be suffering mostly from a negative (and undeserved) bad case of PR. My wife and I use a minivan to ferry our three young boys from school to baseball and soccer practice, and the minivan does just fine.
That’s why I was skeptical when a 2008 Ford Taurus X rolled into my driveway earlier this year. Ford has positioned the Taurus X as a replacement for the ill-fated Ford Freestar minivan. How could a crossover vehicle fill the gaping, minivan-sized hole left in Ford’s vehicle lineup? I was about to find out.
The Loaded Limited
Our test vehicle was a loaded Limited edition, complete with Ford’s new voice-activated Sync digital entertainment and communications system. It also arrived with a 3.5L 250hp Duratec V6, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive (AWD). Interior amenities included heated and leather-trimmed seats (including second row bucket seats), a power lift gate, Sirius satellite radio, and Ford’s new Sync voice-activation system. The Taurus X also came packed with safety features, including side curtain airbags, stability control, a reverse sensing system, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The Taurus X has also garnered top marks in safety tests by the NHTSA and the IIHS.
Over the course of a week we ran the Taurus X through its paces, ferrying kids, groceries and gardening equipment throughout Northern Colorado. The 3.5L V6 provided respectable (if not overwhelming) power for merging and passing, and the first and second row seats were easy to get into and out of, even for adults over six feet. The foldable third row seats were a bit cramped, and the cargo space available when the third row seats were in use was a bit tight. Fit and finish was generally excellent, despite a loose stitch on the steering wheel and a very minor alignment issue or two with cabin interior materials.
The Amazing Ford Sync
The Ford Sync system included in our test vehicle was a marvel, allowing me to sync up my Palm Treo mobile phone to easily make hands-free phone calls while driving. (Read more about Ford Sync in this Windows IT Pro article here.) The pairing process between the Sync and your mobile phone only takes a few minutes, and the voice recognition really does work: Switching radio stations is as easy as calling out a few simple voice commands. Considering that Sync offers more features and functionality that cars costing two and three times as much, that’s quite a feat.
My wife loves the practicality of her minivan, but the Taurus X won her over. It may lack the extra storage volume that a minivan can offer — particularly behind the third row seats –- but the AWD and Ford Sync system are standout features that minivans can’t offer: Only the Toyota Sienna minivan offers an AWD option, and the equivalent of Ford Sync can’t be found on any minivan. Despite the relatively ho-hum styling and cramped third-row seating, the Taurus X emerges a compelling alternative to a dowdy minivan or a fuel-sucking, full-size SUV.
Note: I tested the 2008 Taurus X model; the 2009 Taurus X is essentially unchanged, with the exception of a new post-crash alert system that flashes vehicle lights and honks the horn repeatedly after an accident.
Bottom Line: The Ford Taurus X is a capable, well-rounded vehicle that competes well with minivans and full-size SUVs. The new Ford Flex competes for the same customers, so look for the Taurus X to bow out after the 2009 model year.
- Windows IT Pro: Ford Sync Makes Mobile Phones More Mobile
- Visit the Driveline Blog Forum to discuss the 2008 Ford Taurus X
Vehicle: 2008 Ford Taurus X Limited
Manufacturer website: 2008 Ford Taurus X
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Base Price: $32,185
Price as tested/options: $38,545; limited convenience package ($255), limited ultimate package ($825), AUX climate control ($650), navigation system ($1995), Sirius radio ($195), 18″ chrome wheels ($695), DVD entertainment system ($995)
Engine: 3.5 liter Duratec V6 (263 hp @ 6,250rpm, 249 lb.-ft @ 45,00rpm)
Drivetrain: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Type / Fuel Economy (EPA): Unleaded 87; 15 / 22