Posts Tagged ‘ford taurus’

Last Car Driving

10 July 2009

Dear J-

Get up early enough and it’s easy to convince yourself that some kind of apocalypse happened overnight or — more happily — that you’ve managed to sleep through to Saturday and the world stretches out before you as on a platter.  Some mornings I don’t see evidence of another human until I get to the Park’n’Ride lot, yet the streams of traffic passing on the freeway might as well be piloted by robots for all the humanity they evince: just metal beetles hurrying away from the light, rubber wheels scrambling madly.

Speaking of which, Ford’s new Taurus is rolling out; I understand that we should be suitably celebratory that in this, Ford’s flagship sedan, we have a car that can sit up against its fellow large sedans — see Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, etc. — with its head held high.  Much has been made of the style, which is in keeping with the Ford Interceptor concept from 2007, and adheres to the latest Ford design language, but the sharp contrast with 1985 and the first-generation Taurus for me is that the Taurus is now a trend follower (it looks like a Fusion, slightly inflated in all dimensions) rather than a trend setter.  The other worrying statistic is the weight — more than two tons in SHO trim; granted, the SHO packs Ford’s new EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 and 365 horsepower, but where did all the weight come from (if you want to compare, Taurus SHO has gained 25% in weight over ten years — 1999:  3329 lbs; 2010:  4368 lbs.)?  Granted, it’s similar in weight to the big LX-platform Mopars (two tons, give or take), but gearheads like to brag that there’s no replacement for displacement for engine size; we’re standing that on its head:  for fuel economy standards, mass is gonna cost you gas.

The clever engineers should be able to balance safety (systems, structure) and weight without resorting to specifying that everyone shall drive tanks — the United States M-1 Abrams, for instance, uses a gas turbine engine for 1000 horsepower, an honest 60 MPH on the road, and fuel economy better measured in gallons per mile.  Despite lacking airbags, I would venture that it would survive a crash pretty well.  I understand the need to hail an American car champion, but the Taurus isn’t going to be it — it’s a cosmetic re-skinning of the old Volvo platform underneath the Five Hundred.  For Ford, think Focus or Fiesta instead:  not the traditional big American sedan, but CAFE heroes with reasonable space and style; we associate size with value, but it’s time to break that habit, whether with food or cars.