1992 Ford Taurus
Ford's redone 1992 Taurus arrived with the undoing of a drought and an undeniable demonstration of Southern California's wackier ways: Five years of rain and snow delivered in three days. The upside was an opportunity to play with automotive equipment that under California's climatic norms are so infrequently used that they usually rot before breaking. During the storms of Capricorn, Taurus seals stayed sturdy and trunk and passenger compartments tight against all drips and dribbles. Windshield wipers batted everything aside, even downpours during which the rain appeared to spout from four-inch fire hoses. A highly effective heating system kept windows free from the steamy stare of a dockside cafe. The rear window defroster worked better than dragon's breath. Automatic headlights came on as the days darkened and remembered to turn off a few minutes after parking. So much for some really convenient incidentals. Gone is the four-cylinder engine of last year's starter car. A three-liter V6 is standard on the 1992 entry-level Taurus L with a 3.8-liter V6 optional on meatier models. The 3.8 engine in the Taurus LX under review developed 140 horsepower with more than enough torque to set the front wheels spinning and chirping on wet or dry pavement. It makes the car a middling-to-better threat against other mid-size sedans when pulling away from stop lights. It accelerates rapidly in the mid-ranges for that quick uphill pass or when mixing it up with thoughtless churls cluttering the fast lanes. So much for competent mechanicals and admirable performance. The Taurus has been restyled over most of its body, which is everything but the doors. The aero look that Taurus pioneered in 1986 has been deepened with rounder corners and the lower, stretched lines of a car that actually is 3.8 inches longer. It sits higher in the rear than the Taurus of yore. Headlights are corner light strips instead of the rectangular clusters of 1991. Front and rear overhangs have been extended. So much for an appearance that ranges from bland to timid. And that's an unhappy New Year's note for a car that was first with the concept of merging family function with nifty performance in a four-door sedan. This is the vehicle that rescued Ford from the crumbly edge of insolvency in the mid-'80s. Taurus resulted from a $3-billion drive to create a bestseller in the tire tracks of Mustang and Thunderbird. It became just that. Plus Motor Trend's Car of the Year in 1986. Taurus also had experts and buyers staring at the stars with thankful prayers for a domestic car with handling and quality ahead of mid-size imports. With time, as is the penalty for all automobiles, Taurus lost its edge to Toyota (Camry), Honda (Accord) and others clearly cashing in on Ford's better idea. Then the imports improved a notch. Ford countered with the 220-horsepower Taurus SHO powered by a 24-valve Yamaha that was part pit bull and all racehorse. This year, the second generation Taurus should have upped the ante among mainstream, intermediate cars and given Japan a higher standard to pursue. Instead, the new Taurus surrounds an aging engine. An exterior that Ford touts as "a major redesign" is in reality a mild make-over. A new interior billed as a major portion of "the car's greatest change since introduction" is more of a shuffle than a transformation. Yet hear this before pillories are raised on the assumption that we are building another empty case of Detroit bashing: The Taurus remains a strong, reliable, high-value car that is fast-footed and well mannered. The Taurus could be your animal if you want an anti-lock brake system, two air bags and cast alloy wheels on a car costing less than $20,000. It is attractive enough. It is roomy enough for five within an interior that is quite u to snuff. But it remains undistinctive. And that sadness deepens by realizing the moment was ripe for excitement and a Taurus making a definite change of direction while marching a half-mile ahead of the herd. The interior does have some refreshing touches. Buttons for power windows and door locks are set forward in the horizontal surface of the armrest and are back-lighted for easy night operations. The instrument cluster is an ellipse that also encircles the heater controls. The radio is set low in the dash and its buttons follow today's norm--which makes them undersized and risky to operate unless parked. In compensation, there is a secondary set of three basic controls (volume, seek, memory) on the dash, just a fingertip away from the steering wheel. They are adequate for everything except AM-FM band changes. Comfortable seats--with the option of bench or buckets--offer a flexible range of power position changes. If wood accents be your preference, then check across the street with the Mercury dealer who sells the Taurus as the up-market and more expensive Sable. The interior of the LX test car came with an odd combination of irritations: * The luxury of a keyless entry system and power locks, but no central key locking. * A tray with spring-loaded slots for turnpike, parking meter and bubble gum change was mounted in the dash. There was another in the central console. Anyone with that much spare change could afford a Crown Victoria. * A second dash tray contains two cup holders. With the bucket seat option, there are holes for two more cups beneath the center armrest. If serving that much coffee, better to stop at Mel's Diner. It's also high time a car with this much social standing make adjustable seat-belt mountings available. The undeniable progress this year, however, rests in the chassis, suspension and engine compartment. The chassis has been strengthened and stiffened. New shock absorbers allow a softer ride without any traces of waddle. Deadeners attached to engine, exhaust system and drive train have reduced vibrations and noise. A four-speed automatic transmission is smooth and refined, although many drivers might like to find heftier engine braking when manually downshifting to third. Despite 140 horses on tap and feeding directly to the front wheels, there is no trace of torque steer from the front wheels. Ford's future includes a third generation Taurus for 1995. May its quantum leap be broad, the styling noticeably ahead of its years and the original individuality of Taurus restored.
Closest Dealers Listing this Car
Featured Services for the Ford Taurus
- Sell your current car quickly and easily on Cars.com.
*Invoice prices are made available by Cars.com and are not dealer advertising. All prices are subject to regional variations. Prices last updated 9/23/10. Click here for more information.