No kidding: New Ford Taurus is really good

The rebirth of the Taurus name was greeted by laughs but, it turns out, Ford has made a good car out of what was the Five Hundred.

New old name
The new Ford Taurus is a redone and improved version of the Ford Five Hundred.
New old name
Base prices: $23,000 to $28,000
Seating: Four comfortably, five maximum
Fuel mileage: 22 mpg overall, according to new EPA testing method
Power: 3.5-liter V6, 6-speed transmission

Pity the new Ford Taurus. It's a restyled and slightly re-engineered version of the Ford Five Hundred, a dull car that simply got no respect.

To try and turn things around, Ford also changed the name to Taurus, a name originally associated with a great automotive success story. The original Taurus had once been the most popular car in America, but it had long since been eclipsed by the Camry when it finally slipped out of production last year.

When the revamped Five Hundred's name change was announced at this year's Chicago Auto Show, most journalists saw it as nothing more than a laughable attempt to relive a moment of long ago glory.

That's too bad, because it just happens to be a really good car. In fact, the Five Hundred was never a really bad car. It was just dull.

Except for that, the Five Hundred provided in spades: It had good fuel economy, enormous amounts of interior room and a trunk you could float a barge in.

For the new Taurus, engineers put in a more powerful engine and upgraded the suspension. Ford designers worked, both outside and inside, to relieve the painful blandness that marked the Five Hundred.

This car has chrome - maybe even too much chrome - and it has more-than-adequate power. All without changing any of the stuff that made the Five Hundred such a practical, decent vehicle.

Does all this mean the car formerly known as the Five Hundred will finally get some respect? It should.

New old name

Big small shape

Improved drive

Top safety

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