Last post on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Buick Lucerne, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Pontiac G8, Car Comparisons, Sedan
#6350 of 6854 Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long)
May 30, 2008 (9:43 pm)
Iíve always been the kind of guy who wants to get $1.13 of content for his dollar (sometimes pathologically so). Iíve concluded that in this class, the only entrant that can reasonably give the Azera a run for its money in this department is the new Taurus, or if you prefer, the old 500. So off I went to my local Ford dealer.
It should be noted that this is an exceptionally good Ford store: lounge for service customers, slime-free salespeople, everything quite impressive. I enjoyed my salesman, who interestingly had worked the service counter less than a year before at a crooked Hyundai dealership, and was delightfully low-key with me.
I drove a front-drive SEL with tan cloth, then a black-leather Limited AWD. Their similarities vastly exceeded their differences, so I may as well report on them in tandem.
First, the walkaround. I discount the potshots at the Taurusís exterior styling. To my eye, itís clean and purposeful. (Youíd maybe rather look at the molten ovoid that was the 2000 Taurus?) The trunk was Mafia-huge, just as advertised. Equally impressive, the huge space was unimpeded by hinges as Ford sprang (pun intended) for the costlier gas struts. The back seat was voluminous as well, the subjective equal in space of the Avalonís, though toe space was lacking.
You apparently canít get a telescoping steering wheel on any Taurus, and it needs one. The wheel is too far away, and to make matters worse, you canít lower the tilt mechanism far enough. The adjustable pedals on the Limited helped somewhat to compensate. The power driverís seats have all the adjustments, yet are so shapeless and unsupportive that you always feel youíre sitting on rather than in them.
The Taurusís feature content is impressive. In this class, only Taurus offers the exterior-pushbuttons form of keyless entry. While some call this obsolete, I view it as the best on the market, because itís the only system thatís truly keyless -- no key OR fob needed. To put this in practical terms, itís the only car that lets you use it as a locker for its own key at the beach.
Taurus also has a temporary class exclusive on the Sync system. I loathe Microsoft, but even I have to admit this system is impressive. Stash your iPod safely out of sight in the console (thereís even a mini USB jack in there), then run it from the radio head unit or with speech commands -- ditto for your Bluetooth phone and Sirius radio. Nice. And under the skin, Taurus has superb crashworthiness, plus the AWD option the two Asians lack.
The maddening thing that confronts you over and over with the Taurus is that all the content, and even the quality, is there, but the visible cheapness of the interior is simply relentless in undermining the quality impression. The gauges look far cheesier than the newly downgraded units in the í08 Accord, and canít touch the neon-white showpieces in the Azera or Avalon. The console (which, like the Avalonís, is inexplicably too damn close to my right knee) flexes embarrassingly under the slightest pressure. While the Azeraís curvy dash and doors surprise and delight, the Nebraska-flat plains throughout the Taurus cabin dismay and depress. Mind you, most of the surfaces are soft-touch, and the abundant fake wood is frankly a far more handsome and attractively reflective material than the Azeraís miserable maroon plastic. Yet there is an utter and inexplicable lack of contouring to virtually any interior element, right down to the seat cushions. Itís hard to tell whether this was a misguided style decision to highlight the vast spaciousness of the interior, or just a full-on cheapout, but thereís no question at all about the resultóin this distinguished company, itís a disaster. Iíve voiced that the Avalon interior contains several peculiar style decisions, but this interior just hasnít got it.
Again, moreís the pity, because the Taurus is more than competitive over the road. The new powertrain certainly canít be called rough or crude. Thereís no idle shake or harsh noises, and it never really puts a foot wrong. The idle is clearly more audible than its two Asian rivals, but this seems to be more a soundproofing issue than a powertrain flaw, and seems to fade away at speed.
The best aspect of the Taurus is the suspension. The ride-handling compromise is better than either Avalon or Azeraís. It rides as comfortably as either, yet controls vertical motion better than Azera and body roll better than Avalon. Steering feel is decent, maybe even a tick better than the others. Hyundai in particular would improve its product by ripping off this road behavior.
With its vast room, comfy ride, and low highway RPM from its 6-speed (thank God, no longer the old CVT) slushbox, I could see this as a really livable highway car. Problem is, the others are too, and they have better seats to boot.
Which about sums up the dilemma that faces this car: What spoiled car buyers we are today! This car is blatantly the best popular-priced huge sedan ever to roll out of Dearborn. Depending on how you feel about the 300, maybe the best ever from Detroit. Five years ago, this car would have rocked the world. But Fordís tarnished reputation, combined with the sheer unnatural excellence of the Avalon and Azera, makes it virtually impossible now for this virtuous but strangely sexless Taurus to stand out in the crowd.
When Ford sinks to the point where they start to sell off the furniture, those who score a Taurus for thousands less than itís worth will be serious winners. This isnít some Chrysler thatís crap at any price. In the end, itís like a Camry: the one youíd recommend to your friends, but somehow never quite choose for yourself. Thatís not a compliment in a woman, nor in a car. For all its legitimate merits, somethingís missing from the Taurusóand whatever it is, itís probably fatal.
#6351 of 6854 Re: Taurus vs Azera observations [brucelinc]
May 31, 2008 (1:59 am)
Brucelinc... I whole heartedly agree..I traded a caddy in on my avy, but I seem to remember that the numbers on tha old Northstar were 17/21 city / highway. I consistently got 25 mpg running that car around 75 mph with the air on.
#6352 of 6854 Re: Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long) [tonycd]
May 31, 2008 (3:34 am)
For all its legitimate merits, somethingís missing from the Taurusóand whatever it is, itís probably fatal.
Hopefully with the redesign in 2010 they correct many of the shortcomings of the current car and can seriously compete. Like you noted though, for the money this car is a great deal. FE is great for a car of its size and I don't think any others in the class offer more trunk or interior space.
In this class, only Taurus offers the exterior-pushbuttons form of keyless entry
That feature alone makes me want to buy another Ford. I had it on two previous vehicles and cannot understand why other manufacturers won't install it on their cars. There are so many instances where I would just leave my keys in the car. I think the only other make ever to have it was Nissan on the late 80s Maximas.
#6353 of 6854 Re: Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long) [tjc78]
May 31, 2008 (7:17 am)
Pro's and Con's on the push button issue............
When it's raining I think the fob is hands down a better idea :=)
#6354 of 6854 Re: Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long) [hjc1]
May 31, 2008 (7:26 am)
The Fords have a FOB in addition to the push buttons.
#6355 of 6854 Re: Taurus vs Azera observations [thegraduate]
May 31, 2008 (8:54 am)
A little research you say?
Well let's see. Currently we have a 2007 Azera SE Limited.
Also a 2000 Ford Focus Kona model with a 5-speed. It is just barely broken in with
less than 40K miles so I guess you might conclude that I haven't driven it
far enough yet to know what mileages it might be capable of?
On most of the 60 or more vehicles that I have owned over the last 60 years, I have
"logged" what the expenses have been, especially concerning fuel economy.
So I guess you might give me the benefit of the doubt when
I say I do know a thing or two about fuel economy.
Most reading this are not old enough to remember Socony-Vacuum and the Mobilgas
Economy runs done annually. I am, and back then I was very interested
as to what the various vehicles would do fuel economy wise.
Now while I will agree that it is indeed possible to beat the EPA estimates, having
done so myself, I will not allow as it is possible for anyone to better
those figures to the extent that some insist on posting.
There is one fellow over on another forum that "claims" he gets 35 mpg highway and 24
mpg city with his Azera. The ratings on his car are 18 highway and 26 city.
This fellow resides in the hot Azizona desert, so you know he is running his A/C, right?
Do you see what I mean?
Now I happen to have an Azera also and while I can get mileages
in the low 30s, that is driving it at exactly 60 mph with no A/C.
City mileage . . forget it! There are too many varibles to consider.
Is your city strictly stop and go, never going out on the expressway or interstates or just
driving in town where there are only a couple of stop signs and only one traffic light?
For someone to try and tell me that they can drive their 2008 3.5L V6 Taurus
and get well over 30 mpg at 75-80 mph just does not fly with me.
Hell, I cannot do that with my 2.0L Kona Focus with a manual 5-speed and
I have it tuned electronically myself. At those speed, I get below 30 mpg.
Carry on and believe everything you read and all claims no matter what the subject.
#6356 of 6854 Re: Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long) [hjc1]
Jun 01, 2008 (6:26 am)
I think its useless security wise. After few years of using it, it becomes visible so anyone will be able to figure your code.
#6357 of 6854 Re: Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long) [alexstore]
Jun 01, 2008 (7:26 am)
After few years of using it, it becomes visible so anyone will be able to figure your code
Thats why you NEVER use the factory code and change your personal code every couple of months. It takes all of 20 seconds to change it right from the keypad.
#6358 of 6854 Re: Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long) [tonycd]
Jun 01, 2008 (10:43 am)
Tony - I agree with most of your points, but totally disagree with your opinion on the interior - as you might expect on something that is such a matter of personal taste. I find nothing particularly appealing in curves vs straight edges, and given the straight up choice of the Taurus interior or the Azera, I MUCH preferred the Taurus. The fake wood is actually pretty nice - it has the 3D effect of the sun reflecting out of the "grain". Will it hold up? I'll find out. As for the seats, I agree it's a different feeling, and I'm expecting them to loosen up a little - they are a little stiff right now. I just took a trip down to the very end of I35 in Laredo from Austin, which is a straight shot of freeway, 3.5hrs in each direction, and the seat proved to be great - no fatigue problems at all.
All in all the car is proving to be a great road tripper. My kid in back was able to pull the seat down to reach the cooler in the trunk, the stereo with Sirius was terrific, and the ride was great. It's still brand new, so I'm hoping fuel economy will improve - only 24mpg with the cruise at 83mph, but much better at 27.5mpg with the cruise at 76mph. It was hot as hell (100+ degrees), so the a/c was blasting, but South Texas could be described as flat.
#6359 of 6854 Re: Avalon-Azera Throwdown, Chapter 3: Taurus Test Drive (long) [jontyrees]
Jun 01, 2008 (9:17 pm)
Jontyrees, I agree with a lot of what you say. There's a reflective quality to the Taurus's polyester timber that's way more appealing than the Azera's shameless plastic or the Azera's obviously printed-on grain lines. And no doubt, my comments about interior aesthetics are 100% subjective. I'll just ask you to excuse my subjectivity with this question: Doesn't it drive you nuts when the car magazines and websites obviously pull the punch on what they really think?
All that said, you've bought well. Happy motoring!