2008 Ford Taurus X

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$2,760–$11,020 Inventory Prices

Key Specs

of the 2008 Ford Taurus X base trim shown

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Cargo versatility
  • Bolder styling
  • Seating position
  • Performance relative to Freestyle

The Bad

  • Third-row room
  • Some cheap materials
  • Rear visibility
  • Forgettable name
2008 Ford Taurus X exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2008 Ford Taurus X

  • Renamed Ford Freestyle
  • Seats up to seven
  • Standard electronic stability system
  • More-powerful engine
  • Wagon body style

2008 Ford Taurus X Road Test

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/64x64/47/1303758976-1425053042647.jpg
Joe Wiesenfelder
The Taurus X crossover vehicle isn't a new model; it was sold as the Freestyle from 2005 to 2007. (Ford made some upgrades and renamed it after concluding that people didn't know what it was). You might say the Taurus X is the ex-Freestyle. Some exterior remodeling, a larger engine and a conventional automatic transmission have improved the Taurus X, whose main selling points are a Top Safety Pick designation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a very roomy standard third-row seat. Its greatest liabilities are that it has little appeal for the image-conscious and that it's aesthetically flawed inside.

Where its sister sedan model, the 2008 Taurus (formerly the Ford Five Hundred), is a unique, high-riding, remarkably roomy sedan, the Taurus X — with a choice of six or seven seats — distinguishes itself much less in the sea of wagon/crossover/SUV models that offer all-wheel drive. Its closest competitor in size and style is the Chrysler Pacifica, but any light SUV or wagon with three rows of seats compares.

Exterior & Styling
With its rename came a nose job that replaced the Freestyle's dated look with new stylized headlights and the bolder chrome grille I've come to like on most of Ford's recent models. The hood, front fenders and taillights also have been changed, and the roof rack was butched-up, according to Ford. To me — someone who was ferried to day camp in a Ford Country Squire station wagon — it still ...

The Taurus X crossover vehicle isn't a new model; it was sold as the Freestyle from 2005 to 2007. (Ford made some upgrades and renamed it after concluding that people didn't know what it was). You might say the Taurus X is the ex-Freestyle. Some exterior remodeling, a larger engine and a conventional automatic transmission have improved the Taurus X, whose main selling points are a Top Safety Pick designation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a very roomy standard third-row seat. Its greatest liabilities are that it has little appeal for the image-conscious and that it's aesthetically flawed inside.

Where its sister sedan model, the 2008 Taurus (formerly the Ford Five Hundred), is a unique, high-riding, remarkably roomy sedan, the Taurus X — with a choice of six or seven seats — distinguishes itself much less in the sea of wagon/crossover/SUV models that offer all-wheel drive. Its closest competitor in size and style is the Chrysler Pacifica, but any light SUV or wagon with three rows of seats compares.

Exterior & Styling
With its rename came a nose job that replaced the Freestyle's dated look with new stylized headlights and the bolder chrome grille I've come to like on most of Ford's recent models. The hood, front fenders and taillights also have been changed, and the roof rack was butched-up, according to Ford. To me — someone who was ferried to day camp in a Ford Country Squire station wagon — it still looks like an overgrown wagon. I don't consider that a bad thing, but many people do — which explains the SUV craze and the stigma associated with minivans. The X is only as tall as it needs to be for ease of entry and exit and to traverse snow, and I respect that.

There are three Taurus X trim levels: the SEL, Eddie Bauer and Limited, each of which comes with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The lower two have accent-colored wheel arches and lower cladding. The Limited is completely monochromatic. The SEL has 17-inch aluminum wheels; the higher two have 18-inchers and are eligible for chrome versions.

Ride & Handling
In most of its recent cars, Ford seems to have figured out how to improve ride quality, and the Taurus X is no exception. It's comfortable without being floaty, and the handling is up for whatever the driver is likely to throw it into. There's little body roll or feeling of tipsiness, but the tires give up grip pretty easily in aggressive cornering. The Taurus X isn't a sport wagon, but it isn't a lumbering minivan either. The 2008 now includes an electronic stability system as standard equipment.

Going & Stopping
One of the main complaints about the Freestyle and Five Hundred models was that they were underpowered. It was an overstatement in the sedan's case, but the Freestyle was borderline; fill it with people or cargo and take to the hills, and you'd find acceleration wanting. The continuously variable automatic transmission also was poorly received. The Taurus X addresses both by changing from a 3.0-liter V-6 engine to a 3.5-liter V-6 and a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.

The improvement is evident immediately in the Taurus X, thanks to a 60-horsepower increase, to 263 hp. It's felt most under high-rev acceleration and middle- and high-speed passing. Still no rocket, the X is now at least powerful enough — some would say more than enough. My Taurus X SEL was equipped with all-wheel drive, the heavier of the two drivelines, so it's reasonable to expect the front-wheel-drive model to be as quick or quicker.

Though I support the concept behind CVTs, their performance differs greatly from one to the next, not just when compared to conventional automatic transmissions. The Freestyle's wasn't the best executed. It was slow to react, and it seemed to bring out the worst in the 3.0-liter V-6 by causing it to rev too readily into high and noisy engine speeds. The new, stronger engine doesn't need to work as hard to begin with, and the six-speed ensures the engine sound comes only when you expect it. It's possible that eliminating the CVT sacrificed some fuel efficiency, but the engine is thirstier, too, and that certainly plays a large role in the lower gas mileage.

EPA-Estimated Gas Mileage
(city/highway, mpg)
2008 Ford Taurus X2007 Ford Freestyle*
Front-wheel drive16/2418/25
All-wheel drive15/2217/22
*Calculated with more accurate 2008 formula for parity.

The Taurus X has standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. They performed well in normal driving.

The Inside
The cabin's positives include roomy seats in all three rows and very easy-to-use folding seats. On the downside are so-so materials and some shoddy build quality. The Taurus X is just the right height for ease of entry and exit. By the numbers, the front seat isn't especially roomy, but at 6 feet tall I found it more than workable. The steering wheel tilts but doesn't telescope, a shortcoming. Though the car's platform comes from Ford's Swedish brand, Volvo, they didn't carry over this usual Volvo feature. Power-adjustable pedals are available on all trim levels, but they're connected to the seat-position memory only as an additional option on the Limited, in which memory is standard.

To me the driver's seat feels overstuffed; it makes me wish Ford had also borrowed seats from Volvo. I stress that everyone is different in this regard, but to me it felt like the two ends of the manual lumbar adjustment's range could be labeled Too Much and Even More. The driver has a good view of the road without being needlessly high. The view to the rear isn't bad, but the optional flip-down video screen for the backseat made my rearview mirror almost useless. Some interference is common, but this is probably the worst I've seen. The sonar Reverse Sensing System, a stand-alone option, is helpful for parking.

When the Freestyle came out, I liked its color pallet, and the materials quality seemed pretty good, but the industry has sped toward higher and higher interior quality in just the past few years, and now the Taurus X's surfaces seem hard and a bit shiny. The optional leather on my car's seats was average at best, and I found the perforations in the center panels peculiarly large.

More disappointing is the interior craftsmanship — especially because it hasn't been improved since 2005, despite complaints. To set the stage, I'm someone who cares more about the finish part of "fit and finish." I think industry people and car reviewers are more obsessed with panel gaps (the space between separate panels and pieces in or on a car) than are the public at large. But some flaws are impossible to miss, like when the gap along the passenger-side airbag cover grows from tight to wide, and the colors of adjacent panels are slightly mismatched. The same appears elsewhere, like along the dashtop storage bin lid. The shiny metal latch bar is clearly visible through a gap along the top of the glove box door, and there's a trim piece at the base of each A-pillar that looks like it was slapped on as an afterthought. If it was, no one has bothered to go back and redo it since it first appeared in 2005. The restyle and rename were a chance for Ford to fix some of this stuff. That they didn't now suggests that they never will.

Row Two
Two captain's chairs are the standard second row, but a 60/40-split three-seat bench is a no-cost option. I was comfortable in these chairs, thanks mostly to exceptional legroom. In addition to the backrests, the whole chair adjusts forward and back, allowing you to share legroom with the third row. However, with very few exceptions, everyone I put in the second row noticed and griped about the lack of inboard armrests on the captain's chairs. That comes only in the form of a center armrest/storage console that's standard on the Limited and optional on the lower two trim levels.

Row Three
Getting into the third row isn't all that difficult, and I give Ford credit for an extremely well-designed second-row folding system. The head restraints collapse tight against the backrest, and a single lever flips the spring-tensioned backrest down and then tumbles the seat forward and out of the way. Perhaps most impressive, it's as simple to lower and latch back in place. Many spring-loaded seats require no strength to raise, and some require no effort to lower, but you seldom get both. The optional power-folding mechanism for these seats seems superfluous.

The two-seat third row's headroom and legroom put other models to shame. Though my knees were raised somewhat, I was as comfortable as I've been in almost any third row in a vehicle of any size. (The Ford Expedition is a notable exception.) Even the head restraints raise high enough. If you were to force me to take an interstate trip in the wayback of a midsize crossover vehicle, I'd want it to be this one.

Safety
If you want a good reason to overlook the Taurus X's aesthetic problems, this is it: It's an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, which means it scored Good (the highest possible) in frontal-, side- and even rear-impact crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the car a 14 percent chance of rollover for the FWD and 13 percent with AWD. That's equal to the Pacifica and better than most crossovers and SUVs.

Safety features include standard antilock brakes, front- and side-impact airbags for the front seats, and side curtain airbags that protect occupants in all three rows in a side impact or rollover. An electronic stability system is standard.

Cargo & Towing
My test car had a remote-controlled power liftgate, kindly offered as a stand-alone option. It too looks like an afterthought, with a substantial exposed strut spanning from the gate to a bulky, space-robbing pod on the left side of the cargo area. On the plus side, the button that lets you close it without the keyfob is on that pod, where shorter people can access it. The liftgate itself is the most common location and not always within reach.

There's a well in the floor behind the 50/50-split folding third-row seat that contributes to the Taurus X's 15.8 cubic feet of cargo volume. The Pacifica has less.

Interior Volume Comparison
(cubic feet)
Behind Row 3Behind Row 2Behind Row 1Total passenger volume
2008 Chrysler Pacifica w/optional third-row seat13.043.679.5143.9
2008 Ford Taurus X15.847.085.5146.2
2008 Hyundai Santa Fe w/optional third-row seat10.034.278.2142.3
2008 Toyota Highlander w/optional third-row seat10.342.395.4145.7
Source: Manufacturers

The third row is standard, but the folding feature, oddly, is not. My X had the option, and its numbered straps made it simple to lower and raise, though not as simple as the second row. The standard front passenger seat also folds, granting a long, continuous cargo area. Even the optional second-row center console/armrest is exactly the right height to keep the area flat once you open the lid 180 degrees. From the closed liftgate, I measured 9.5 feet to the dashboard and more than 11 feet to the base of the windshield. Wow.

Light trucks based on front-wheel-drive car platforms typically have lower towing capacity than truck-based models. Even among its kind, though, the Taurus X's limit is modest: 2,000 pounds is its maximum trailer weight.

Taurus X in the Market
The front-wheel-drive Taurus X starts out at $26,615 reasonably equipped, though the lack of a standard folding third row is puzzling. On the upside, it and many other options are served a la carte, not locked into packages with other features you might not want. The most expensive choice, an all-wheel-drive Limited loaded with every option you can add, comes to $40,235.

Now that Ford has attempted to fix the Freestyle's main problems, the Taurus X is definitely a more viable product. Unfortunately, it may have missed its window of opportunity. It would have been hot back when people cared less about image and didn't think twice about buying minivans, or even when there were few car-based models with three rows of seats. Since the Freestyle's intro, though, the market has become bloated with them. It might have skated by a few years ago, before the interior-quality wars broke out, but now every new model gets pounded if it doesn't have the richness and craftsmanship of Toyota's and GM's (yes, GM's) best.

The Taurus X is built just a few miles from Cars.com's Chicago headquarters at one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in North America, and I wish I could rave about it. I just can't. I prefer to see form follow function, but that doesn't mean form doesn't matter at all. The Taurus X needs more.

Send Joe an email 



2008 Taurus X Video

Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes you through the 2008 Ford Taurus X.

Latest 2008 Taurus X Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.4)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

Latest Reviews

(2.0)

Was only made two years for a reason

by Bluejay32 on May 9, 2018

Had issues overheating or staying cool for years. The engine was designed very poorly and as such simpler repairs like a water pump are expensive and time consuming. Only got 18 miles to the gallon. Read full review

(5.0)

A Hidden Treasure for Station Wagon Lovers

by TeddyJames from Wheaton, IL on November 25, 2017

Call it a Crossover, call it a SUV, call it a station wagon, it is a very versatile vehicle. The 3.5L V6 is a big improvement over the 3.0L from its predecessor, the similar Freestyle. Comfortable ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2008 Ford Taurus X currently has 1 recall

NHTSA Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2008 Ford Taurus X SEL

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall Rollover Rating
4 Star
Driver's
5 Star
Passenger's
5 Star
Front Seat
5 Star
Rear Seat
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Change Year or Vehicle

All Model Years for the Ford Taurus X

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Taurus X received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker