Pros: Good value, roomy interior, smooth ride
Cons: Turning radius, AC switch
On a recent vacation, I got plenty of time to become acquainted with the 2001 Ford Taurus - 7 days and 1200 miles worth. We drove from Las Vegas to LA, San Diego, and Laughlin.
The exterior of the car has a modern look is is a vast improvement from the last generation of Taurus that looked like an egg on wheels. Nothing too fancy and not bland, perfect mix for a family car.
The Taurus has a well laid out interior. All switches were easily within reach and gages were easy to read. The 6 way power driver seat was easy to operate and it did not take long to find a comfortable position. Overall, the interior is very generous with ample headroom and legroom.
The base V6 and automatic transmission setup was good but not great. I didn't have any problems climbing the mountains between California and Nevada and the transmission downshifted at the right times. If I were to purchase a Taurus for myself, I would opt for the 200HP engine.
The suspension provided a smooth "family car" ride, held corners well, and transmitted little road vibration to the cabin. The turning radius was a too little large. As a tourist, I found myself making frequent U-turns (because I was lost quite a bit) and the car seemed to have a larger turning radius than similar cars in its class. I ended up making a few 3 point turnarounds instead of U-turns due to the large turning radius.
I was not able to accurately measure the gas mileage as all the driving we did was highway driving. I averaged about 28-29 MPG over the trip.
One thing I did not like was the operation of the AC compressor with the climate control system. The AC compressor is engaged automatically at the different vent settings leaving no manual AC switch to engage or disengage. I prefer to have the AC switch separate because in mild weather I will turn the AC off to improve upon gas mileage.
My only other complaint was a minor build quality issue. When I opened the trunk, the lining material was pulled away from the sides and would not go back into place.
In closing, this was the first time I enjoyed driving a rental car. Ford offers a good package of options at a competitive price. Next time we are shopping for a family car, the Taurus will be on our list.