Ford's most popular car receives major safety, styling and interior changes for 2000, giving the Taurus a more conventional appearance than the 1996 through 1999 models. The Mercury Sable, which is built from the same design, gets similar changes. The front-wheel drive Taurus and Sable are available as four-door sedans and as station wagons.
The new styling replaces the controversial rounded, elliptical shape that debuted for the 1996 model year and made the Taurus appear smaller despite a 5-inch increase in overall length.
Wheelbase and overall length are unchanged on the 2000 model, but all exterior panels except the doors are new. The styling is decidedly more conservative, with straight lines instead of a series of curves, a wider grille, rectangular rear window and a higher trunk.
The oval shapes that dominated the dashboard are gone, replaced by a rectangular central panel for climate and audio controls. Ford says the new styling provides more headroom for the front and rear seats and adds 1.2 cubic feet of trunk space to the sedan (now 17 cubic feet). All four doors have map pockets, a feature missing since 1995.
The sedan offers a choice of seats for six, with a folding center storage console in front, or seats for five with front buckets. Power-adjustable accelerator and pedals with a 3-inch range are a new $85 option.
Under the Hood
Engine choices include two 3.0-liter V-6s, a 155-horsepower version (10 more than the 1999 model) with overhead valves and a 200-horsepower version (an increase of 15) with dual-overhead camshafts. Both team with a four-speed automatic transmission.
Taurus has new front airbags that deploy at one of two inflation levels based on crash severity, whether the seatbelts are buckled and the driver's seat position. When crash sensors detect that airbags are needed, they inflate at a higher rate in severe crashes and at a slower rate in moderate collisions.
Also new are front seatbelt pretensioners and retractors that remove slack in crashes. A warning system activates a red light and intermittently sounds a chime if either the driver and front passenger are unbelted. Side-impact airbags that protect the heads and chests of front occupants are a new option. Anti-lock brakes with a new all-speed traction control system also are optional.
A child-friendly emergency trunk release that glows in the dark is a new standard feature on all 2000 Ford cars.
Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States before the 1996 ahead-of-its-time redesign, which turned off more prospective buyers than it attracted. Conservative styling does not seem to hurt the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, the two cars that have leapfrogged ahead of Taurus in the sales race.