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Expert Reviews 1 of 4
By George Moore
August 2, 1998
The Taurus-like stock market and the Taurus by the Ford Motor Co. have had a common trait these past few months.This astrological sign of the bull has been running wild in both categories, with the market ascending to spectacular heights and the
automotive representative going right up the sales charts.Possibly, the Taurus stock market is beginning to run on tiring legs, but Ford's 1998 Taurus sedan is snorting along, stronger than ever, as a sales leader for the Ford Division.As the '98
model year winds down, the Taurus can look back on features such as a redesigned front end and functional improvements as prime contributors to its marketing success. The car appeals to a broad spectrum of age groups and income levels.Ford has
realigned its mainstream sedans into two straightforward series, the LX and the SE. It also continues to offer the limited edition SHO high-performance model.The "high" in performance just about matches the high in price for this 3.4-liter 32-valve
V-8 powered four-door. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $29,000, considerably more than the $18,345 for the LX or $19,445 for an SE.However, the SHO is a special set of wheels, with an aluminum block, four-cam 60-degree V-8. This is the
first V-8 offered in a Taurus, with a power rating of 235-horsepower and 230 foot-pounds of torque.That's good for some speedy motoring of 0-60 mph in about 7.4 seconds. This is more than a full second quicker than the standard Taurus 3.0-liter
V-6.Ford raised its standard equipment levels for '98, and offers more free-standing options.A new Sport Group features an optional 200-horsepower double overhead cam Duratec V-6. Also featured by the Sport Group is a rear deck spoiler, chrome
bolt-on wheel covers, five-passenger seating with floor console and shifter quadrant, SecuriLock anti-theft system, and front fenders that get a "24V" (valves) badging.The torque of the Duratec V-6 matches the horsepower at 200 foot-pounds. The engine
has been upgraded for improved throttle response and quick passing ability.In addition, a blend of technology and durability allows the motor to go without a tune-up for 100,000 miles. A switch to a new organic-acid technology engine coolant also
means no cooling system service is necessary for 100,000 miles beyond the regular belt and fluid level checks.Both the LX and SE benefit from a more assertive front fascia for '98. The appearance is distinctively Ford, with the Ford oval insignia
blending into a chrome bar over a subdued black grille.New fluted park-turn lamps lend a jewel-like touch to the front of the car. At the rear, the overall appearance is refined with a consistent monochrome treatment for the taillights and rear
applique.The Taurus always could lay claim to a jazzy-looking interior. The instrumentation panel, control panel, and shifter quadrant have that oval shape that is reminiscent of the Ford oval-shaped theme. The oval badge shape is a tradition
that dates back to Henry Ford.Six-passenger seating is standard, but also offered are front bucket seats with a low profile center console and steering column shift. This is a no-cost option on the SE.For those who prefer a full console, there is
this third choice with the 3.0-liter Vulcan V-6 in the SE.Structurally, the '98 Taurus has retained the basic overall dimensions of the automobile that first appeared on the market as a l996 model.Overall length is 197.5 inches, and the wheelbase
is 108.5 inches.There is a Taurus wagon at 199.6 inches of length that adopts the sedan's fundamental elliptical shape. Available only in SE form, it is mounted on the same wheelbase as the sedan, and from the rear windows forward, is basically the
same contour.In traditional wagon versatility, when an optional rear-facing third seat is added, it can hold up to eight.The '98 Taurus retains, of course, its front-drive four-speed automatic transaxle, four-wheel independent suspensio
n, and unitized body/chassis construction for maximum rigidity.On balance, it carries the Ford flag forward in a highly competitive marketplace, and establishes the parameters needed for the 21st century.