Ford Five Hundred

    American-sized Passat, anyone?

    The Ford Five Hundred goes on sale in 2004 as a larger brother to the Taurus, and as a tacit acknowledgment that the family-sedan category has left the Taurus in the dust. State-of-the-art mid-size sedans have become larger, more luxurious, and more stately with each successive generation. Ford's response, though shown only as an illustration, looks awfully indebted to the Volkswagen Passat. Ford counters by saying that the Five Hundred is a tall sedan, based on the "high package" design philosophy employed so successfully with the Ford Focus. And while it's about time an American manufacturer struck out to reclaim this very American category, we just wish it wasn't so . . . derivative. The Five Hundred will employ a 3.0-liter V-6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic or continuously variable transmission.