The Ford Taurus arrived in 1996 from the United States, ostensibly to replace the Telstar Ghia, which had simultaneously ceased production. Rumour has it, however, that the Taurus is in fact destined to replace the hugely popular Falcon as the favourite family car for the Australian population. It was the first to be manufactured in the US in both left-hand and right-hand drive versions specifically for export to Asia, New Zealand, and Australia.
The styling of the first-generation Taurus, which was in fact the third-generation model in the US, was a departure from the familiar Ford lines, featuring an exotic body with sensual curves, luxury kit, plenty of space, and performance to match. In its time, it was positively futuristic, and the first-generation cars are still popular on the dealer forecourts today, despite being superseded by a fully loaded revamped model in 2010.
The 1996 Taurus came in a single sedan model with space enough to seat five adults comfortably, offering plenty of legroom to front and back and sufficient headroom for the average-size passenger to the rear. The ride up front is particularly comfortable, and the Taurus is quieter and smoother on the road than many other cars in its class.
More recent Taurus models feature some changes to the interior layout and exterior styling, even more kit as standard and a whole raft of safety features to enhance the already impressive spec of its forerunner. The Taurus was withdrawn from manufacture in 2007 in an effort to update the Ford model range, only to be reinstated within less than a year, since which time it has continued to sell new to market.
The early Taurus was launched as a single model option with a range of luxury optional extras, with all models the same under the bonnet. The 3.0L V6 engine and 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission give this front-wheel drive sedan enough poke to get a car full of full-size passengers from A to B faster than a family car has any right to. Claimed maximum power for a 1996 Taurus DN Ghia is 149kW at 5750rpm and max torque 272Nm at 4500rpm.
Fuel consumption is fairly heavy for a car of its size and class, delivering around 13 to 14L/100km, while fuel tank capacity is 68L. Acceleration in testing has achieved 0 to 100km/h in 9.8 seconds and 60 to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds.
The fact that the Taurus came to market as a high-spec family car has largely helped it to retain its position on the used car market, attracting buyers who are in search of a tried and tested reliable sedan with the same level of kit as many of its later-manufactured counterparts but at a lower overall cost.
Buyers looking at a first-generation Taurus will find a choice between the basic Ghia Automatic and the higher-spec version with luxury pack. All models come with plenty of power items, including external mirrors, antenna, windows, and driver's seat along with climate control air-conditioning and a fresh air system with pollen filter.
Central locking with remote entry, alarm, immobiliser, coded ignition key, and panic alarm all serve to make the Taurus a popular choice for the security conscious, and as you would expect, safety was also high on the agenda for the first-generation Taurus, with front air bags, ABS brakes, anti-submarining front seats and belts, and innovative crumple zones for added passenger and pedestrian safety.
The later-generation Taurus really ups the ante on the spec, including new 20-inch wheels and various impact-protection features. Inside the driver benefits from a blind-spot information system, adaptive cruise control, and cross-traffic alert, plus a whole raft of voice-activated smart systems. These include satnav with 8-inch screen, and a Sony audio system with AM/FM and satellite radio, CD player, audio DVD, and 10GB hard drive.
Competition for the early Ford Taurus comes from the later models of the Telstar Ghia, which it replaced on its launch in 1996 and from the hugely popular Ford Falcon. The Ford Fairmont also gives it a run for its money, with a larger engine, similar body size, and generally smaller price tag. Other manufacturers and models to consider alongside the Taurus are the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.