For 2008, Ford has dumped several of its slow-selling monikers, hoping fresh faces and new (old) names will revive sales. The Five Hundred sedan and its Mercury Montego twin become the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, respectively, while the Freestyle wagon becomes the Taurus X. Although the names recall famous, and top-selling, Fords of yesteryear, all three are essentially freshened versions of their predecessors.
Changes between the Freestyle and the Taurus X include a new grille that resembles those on Ford's Fusion sedan and restyled 2008 Focus, as well as an updated interior and a more powerful V-6. Like the Explorer SUV, the Taurus X also offers an upscale Eddie Bauer edition.
In an attempt to draw closer similarities to the Edge SUV, the Taurus X includes scalloped headlights and Ford's newly adopted three-blade grille. The bumper integrates a broad air dam and fog lamps with metallic surroundings. In back, the Taurus X's clear taillights mimic those on the Fusion.
The Eddie Bauer edition adds two-tone paint, 18-inch chrome wheels and headlights that activate whenever the windshield wipers are on — a pairing that is the law in several states.
A variety of seating configurations can accommodate up to seven. The optional second-row captain's chairs recline and adjust fore and aft; they flip forward with a single lever to provide access to the third row, which is tight at best. A power tailgate is optional.
Other optional equipment includes tri-zone climate control, a voice-activated navigation system and a drop-down DVD player that Ford says offers a clearer display than before. Ford's Sync system, which integrates phone and entertainment functions into a single voice-activated interface, is optional.
Under the Hood
In the Taurus X, a 3.5-liter V-6 replaces the 3.0-liter engine in the Freestyle. Horsepower jumps from 203 to an estimated 260, and Ford says acceleration is 44 percent faster. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are standard. So are side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for all three rows. The side curtain airbags include Ford's Safety Canopy system, which can maintain the airbags' inflation for several seconds during a rollover.
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