I agree with my colleague Joe Lorio, who has written both within the pages of Automobile Magazine and on this Web site of his surprise that the 2008 Ford Taurus X (which used to be known as the Freestyle) does not sell better than it does. This vehicle should be on the shopping lists of people who cannot abide the thought of a minivan but who do not need the bulk, weight, and thirst of a large SUV.
This is especially true now that the 2008 Ford Taurus X is equipped with a decent engine, Ford's new, 263-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, which is mated to a modern, six-speed automatic transmission. When the Freestyle debuted back in 1994, it and its sibling, the Five Hundred sedan (which is now known as the Taurus), were saddled with a 200-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This powertrain simply was not up to the task of propelling a fully loaded people mover, although Ford bragged at the time that it offered good fuel economy. (Back then, no one really cared.)
I think the 2008 Ford Taurus X is a handsome vehicle, with a quite nice, if imperfect, interior. The faux wood trim is a bit too shiny, but the plastics and the trim in general are pleasing enough, and the interior panel fits are good. Our loaded Limited AWD model, naturally, had a power-operated liftgate and a ceiling-mounted DVD player. Both items, in my book, are required in any modern, three-row family hauler.
The Ford Taurus X's trip computer said that, over the space of several hundred miles, our test vehicle averaged about 18 mpg. That isn't great, but with official EPA ratings of 15 city, 22 highway, I would bet that a careful driver could eke out at least 20 mpg on a freeway trip, not bad for a vehicle that can carry six or seven people. (Our test car had optional bucket seats in the second row rather than the standard bench.)
Our Ford Taurus X Limited AWD's price was on the high side, however. The base price is $32,185, and our test vehicle totaled $39,700 with options, including $1995 for a navigation system, $695 for chrome wheels (an option I would certainly skip, as I find them slightly gaudy), and $995 for the aforementioned DVD entertainment system. A power moonroof is $960. Of course, the base Taurus X SEL with front-wheel drive starts at a much lower price point, $27,830.
The good news is, I'd be willing to bet that there are lots of deals to be had on the slow-selling Ford Taurus X, especially now that the Flex is going on sale soon.
-Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor