COAL: 2006 Ford Taurus SEL – One Last Ride

From 2001 to 2017, at least one Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable counted itself as a member of the Snitkoff fleet. Letting go of a car is generally a somewhat emotional affair, but as CC’s resident Taurus expert, this was something different. I owed it to myself to gather some final thoughts on the car by taking it out one last time.

With 176,000 miles on the odometer, the Taurus isn’t a young car by any stretch of the imagination. But that number doesn’t tell the whole story: the vast majority of the accumulated mileage is the result of highway driving. From March 2007 to November 2012, the Ford served as dad’s primary transportation from chateau Snitkoff to the Wonder Bread depot in the Bronx, a distance of about 60 miles. Some quick calculations put total commuter mileage at 138,000, or 78 percent of the overall number.

Although the Taurus traveled far less in the last five years, it was still used regularly. The Ford was pretty close to the ideal used car for the price point: never sat for long periods of time, the majority of the miles were acquired on the highway, and its owner performed all the requisite maintenance when needed. Sure, the car has some rust on the rear wheel well and elsewhere, but its also seen eleven New York winters.

Getting behind the wheel confirmed my suspicion: the Taurus is much younger than its miles suggest. The suspension seemed a bit noisy, but whatever was going on didn’t impact the ride or handling. Probably just a CV joint that will need replacement in the near future.

You’ve pretty much already seen the downsides to the Ford: that dent on the front passenger bumper and this side mirror that lost its body colored cover when dad rubbed it against the garage. Fortunately, that cover did not provide protection for the components inside the power mirror, because its functionality wasn’t impaired after residing outside for three months, which exposed it to rain and snow. The only other issue is a dead speaker inside the drivers door.

The 2013 Honda Civic dad purchased in September was ostensibly the replacement for the Taurus. An upcoming post will detail his feelings towards the car once the honeymoon period ended, but I can’t totally omit all information related to his distaste of the Honda if I’m going to write a compelling review of the Ford.

Year/Make/ModelHorsepowerTorque (Ib ft)Weight (Ib)Power-to-weight ratio
2013 Honda Civic140128283720.26 Ib per horsepower
2006 Ford Taurus155185331621.39 Ib per horsepower

Dad’s major problem with the Civic was its lack of power. At first I thought this was due to the ECO mode that he insisted be kept on, but once he realized its uselessness he turned it off. His complaints about a power deficit relative to the Taurus never stopped though, although my skepticism of his claim remained high. Then I drove the Taurus and realized he was right: the Taurus is noticeably quicker than the Civic. And substituting torque for horsepower when calculating the power-to-weight-ratio reinforces our claim, with the Honda’s figure rising to 22.16 while the Ford drops to 17.92. So the table doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Taurus also likely benefits from a transmission tune that favors performance over fuel economy, as the car was calibrated in an era when that really didn’t matter. Here’s another quasi-bombshell: the shift quality in the Taurus is smoother. Before your head explodes, take note that I didn’t say the transmission is more refined than the Honda, because it isn’t. The Ford will awkwardly shift sometimes, but the driver is more isolated from feeling those shifts when compared to the five speed unit in the Civic.

“Smooth” really is the best word to describe how the Taurus operates. The Vulcan V6 didn’t vibrate much at idle, and when summoned, performed so well that I had trouble modulating the gas pedal for refined takeoffs. I probably looked like a new driver to the motorists who were next to me at stoplights.

On the road the Taurus performed well. Road imperfections didn’t really faze the car, and unlike a Toyota Camry of the similar vintage, the Ford remained composed over bumps and railroad crossings. What the Taurus and Camry have in common is fairly numb steering that doesn’t do a good job at telling the driver what the wheels are doing, although the Ford’s steering provides slightly better feedback.

Interior quality was perfectly adequate for the time and really isn’t much of an issue. The steering wheel and center stack didn’t feel cheap at all. Plastics along the dash definitely lagged behind the Japanese competition but would not have been a deal breaker for me if I had been shopping for a mid size in 2006. Hard touch plastics adorn every inch of the door inserts. That area is where you really feel the difference between the Taurus and its Korean and Japanese counterparts, but how often do you rub your hands over sections of the door pockets and the part of the dash that covers the passenger side airbag for the tactile quality to make a difference?

The aforementioned interior flaws are minor. Really, the only area that truly fails to compete is the seating. The leather in this car can be best described as “cloth alternative.” It kind of feels like a combination of vinyl and whatever material the seats at your local diner are made of. The seats are thickly bolstered though, which is their saving grace. I’d be very surprised if these seats were less comfortable after a three hour drive than the ones in my 2013 Focus, which become uncomfortable after about two hours.

As for durability, the interior held up extremely well. No broken or missing buttons, seat bolstering never caved in or degraded,  and nothing in the cabin was falling apart or threatening to do so.

The same can be said for the rest of the car too. The car ate some batteries and alternators and needed a new catalytic converter at 150,00 miles, but none of those things are abnormal for a car over a ten year period. In other words, the car proved to be very reliable. I’ll conclude this piece with the question I asked dad after spending a day with the Taurus:

“Why in the hell are you selling this car?”

Related Reading:

COAL: 2013 Honda Civic EX Coupe