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2003 Ford Taurus Sedan

4dr Sdn SEL Premium

Starting at | Starting at 20 MPG City - 27 MPG Highway

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  • $23,950 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Ford Taurus Sedan

Printable Version

2003 Ford Taurus Sedan

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2003 Ford Taurus

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

The Ford Taurus is more than practical family transportation. It is a genuinely exciting mid-size sedan. The Taurus offers good mid-market value with excellent drivetrains, good looks, plenty of creature comforts, and the added bonus of a surprising level of driving pleasure.

For 2003, the Taurus gets an interior that's updated and much quieter. New seals for the doors, windows and rearview mirrors along with new sound damping in the floor make for a quieter cabin. Illuminated cruise control switches have been added and the controls for the adjustable pedals have been moved to the instrument panel for easier access. New seven-spoke wheels add a fresh look to the 2003 models.

For 2003, more features come standard, including power windows and door locks, a tilt steering column and floor mats. Seat coverings, both leather and cloth, are improved, with lighter colors used to brighten the car's interior. 2003 also brings new dashboard treatments.

Model Lineup

The Taurus is available as a four-door sedan or a station wagon. The sedan comes in four versions: LX ($19,180), SE ($19,695), SES ($21,020) and SEL ($22,920). Optional trim packages include a new Sport package for the SES sedan. The wagon is available in SE ($21,345) and SEL ($23,170) versions. A choice of two 3.0-liter V6 engines is available. All models come with a four-speed automatic transmission.

LX is the base model, but it offers a reasonable list of standard equipment including second-generation, dual-stage airbags; air conditioning; speed-sensitive power steering, remote-controlled mirrors, power locks, protective body-side moldings, a tachometer, AM/FM radio, six-passenger seating, LATCH anchors and tethers for child's seats, two-speed intermittent windshield wipers, 16-inch wheels, even grocery bag hooks in the trunk.

SE adds cruise control, a cassette player, remote keyless entry with perimeter lighting, aluminum wheels.

Ford's Vulcan V6 provides power for the LX and SE. This 3.0-liter 12-valve V6 uses a traditional overhead-valve design. The Vulcan V6 is rated at 155 horsepower and 185 pounds-feet of torque. Our past experience with this engine has been generally positive. Although not particularly quick from a standstill, once rolling it delivers more than adequate performance, along with a nicely rorty exhaust note. A flexible fuel version of the Vulcan engine can run on E-85 ethanol, regular unleaded gasoline or any combination of the two in the same 18-gallon fuel tank.

SES is a popular choice and comes in standard and deluxe variations. SES adds an in-dash single CD player, front bucket seats with six-way power and a manual lumbar adjustment on the driver's side. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard. Also standard is Ford's Duratec V6, a more sophisticated engine with double overhead cams working 24 valves. This engine also displaces 3.0 liters, but revs higher and produces 200 hp and 200 lbs.-ft. of torque. The Vulcan engine is good, but take one drive with the more responsive Duratec and you may never be satisfied with less.

The Sport package ($290 on the SES Deluxe) includes monochromatic body treatment with a body-color spear in the grille and a body-color applique on the rear deck lid. It comes with five-spoke aluminum sport wheels, a rear spoiler, special fender badging, pewter brushed interior trim, two-tone black and gray sport seats and special floor mats.

SEL, available in Deluxe and Premium editions, adds seven-spoke machined aluminum wheels, a six-CD changer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dark paledo wood-trimmed interior, automatic electronic temperature control, adjustable pedals and keyless keypad entry.

Wagons are better equipped than their sedan counterparts. For example, the SE wagon features four-wheel disc brakes (an improvement over the rear drum brakes of the SE sedan) with ABS, a rear anti-roll bar, a six-way power driver's seat, a cleverly adjustable luggage rack, and a unique bumper shape with step pads at the rear. The SEL wagon adds seven-spoke machined aluminum wheels, a six-CD changer, keypad entry and automatic climate controls.

Key options for many models include a MACH audio system ($345), anti-lock brakes ($600), Cellport communications system ($350), a power moonroof ($895), and adjustable pedals ($120).

Walkaround

The Ford Taurus is a familiar design that has been with us for a few years now. Approaching the Taurus at curbside, you'll first notice the muscular, forceful appearance that sets it apart from its blander-looking competitors. The grille is broad, aggressive, and unmistakably Ford-oval, grinning between the large cat's-eye headlamps. Its flanks undulate handsomely with crisp character lines, and its rear end bears a resemblance to the sexy stern of the Jaguar S-Type.

The sedan's trunk is of generous size and contains the mini-spare tire. The wagon has a flip-up rear window in its tailgate.

Interior Features

The Taurus cabin is functional and attractive, with controls that are straightforward and easy to use. The materials, switchgear and interior textures have a high-quality look and feel. For 2003, those controls are mounted in a new dashboard and console unit.

The other big interior change is the quiet, thanks to better noise, vibration and harshness controls that include better damping in the floor and measures that reduce air leakage and cabin noise, including the use of expanding foam in the windshield support pillars and various body cavities and the use of new sealing materials in weld access holes.

LX, SE and the non-Sport SES sedans seat six, thanks to a seating console between their separate front seats. SES Sport and SEL buyers get bucket seats and a center console. SEL buyers, however, can order six-seat capacity as a no-price option.

Controls and instrumentation are admirably simple, straightforward and easy to use. Ford's well-publicized adjustable pedals make a comfortable driving position possible for even very short-legged drivers. The small-diameter steering wheel has a pleasingly thick grip. Buttons for the cruise control are mounted on the steering wheel and are easy to operate.

Our SEL Premium had the five-seat layout, and the excellent front seats provided good lateral support for a family sedan, without being too tight for big guys. The cushions and seatbacks are more firm than soft, and firm is usually best on long drives.

The roomy rear compartment seats three, but is set up well for two as the seat forms two semi-buckets and has a pull-down central armrest containing two cupholders. A ventilation duct at the rear of the center console provides climate control for rear passengers. Dual baby-seat anchors are provided on each side of the rear seat. In the SE wagon and SES and SEL sedans, the rear seatback is split 60/40 and folds down, providing an enormous pass-through luggage capability for skis and other long items.

With its 60/40 split rear seats folded down, the roomy Taurus wagon has space for a maximum of 81.3 cubic feet of cargo; with six passengers aboard, there's still 38.8 cu. ft. behind them.

Driving Impressions

The Ford Taurus is a genuinely satisfying car to drive. Its Duratec V6 is as responsive as a finger snap, delivering crisp acceleration from low revs straight through to the glass-smooth full-throttle shift point. This engine not only provides good thrust, it makes an understated but nicely throaty declaration that it means business. The current SEL model reminds us a bit of the lamented high-performance Taurus SHO.

Automatic transmissions have been improving by leaps and bounds in the past five years, and the Taurus four-speed is no exception. Its shifts are positive, authoritative, and at the same time, almost impossible to feel. The kickdown response is not quite as quick as with some of the best European automatics, but it's still very, very good.

If you ever wonder just how important modern electronics have become, the Taurus with its powerful Duratec engine can quickly demonstrate the benefits of traction control: Simply switch off the traction control, nail the throttle, and the front tires will shriek as they claw for traction. Powerful front-wheel-drive cars like the Taurus SEL need traction control to reduce wheel spin and provide better control of the car.

The Taurus chassis is a good match for this forceful Duratec drivetrain. The fully independent suspension provides a smooth, impact-free ride. Taurus uses gas-pressurized shock absorbers, unusual in a family sedan; when pushed in the corners, it remains stable, nimble and ready for more. Cornered hard, its body roll is moderate, and the nicely tuned variable-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering delivers a steady stream of road information. And when the turning is done, this steering system provides improved on-center response, guiding you straight down the center of the course once more.

In an emergency lane-change demonstration set up in a parking lot, the Taurus stopped smoothly, with anti-lock brakes allowing steering control during hard braking. Braking performance was much smoother than that of a Dodge Intrepid tested at the same time.

With its excellent chassis and Duratec power, the Ford Taurus comes close to being a sports sedan for the price of a family mid-size sedan.

Summary

For several years, the Taurus has been the bowl of chocolate-chip mint in a sea of plain vanilla. While most sedans in the mid-size class seem designed to blend into the scenery, the Taurus stands out like a wildebeest in plaid pajamas.

Not only does the Taurus look like it came from the future, it drives like it came from Europe. Yet it comes with a price tag that's quite reasonable. Two engines are available, and both deliver a vigorous response, though we recommend the newer Duratec engine. Taurus rides smoothly enough for family duty, but offers crisp, sporty handling.

 


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: Sedan: LX ($19,180); SE ($19,695); SES ($21,020); SEL ($22,920) Wagon: SE ($21,345), SEL ($23,170)
Engines: 3.0-liter ohv 12-valve V6; 3.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): front dual-stage airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, dual rear child-seat anchors, emergency inside-trunk release
Safety equipment (optional): ABS; side-impact airbags on SEL Premium
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Chicago; Atlanta

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): SEL Premium Sedan ($23,490)
Standard equipment: Duratec 24-valve V6, ABS, power driver''s seat, console with floor shifter, power mirrors, doors and locks, keyless remote, electronic climate control, AM/FM/Cassette stereo with 6-disc CD changer, automatic headlamps, five-spoke machined alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 60/40 split folding rear seat, tilt steering, tinted glass, anti-theft, traction control, adjustable pedals, side-impact air bags
Options as tested (MSRP): power moonroof ($895); power passenger seat ($350); leather seating surfaces (NC); Mach premium audio ($345)
Destination charge: ($650)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $25,730
Layout: front-wheel drive
Engine: Duratec 3.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 200 @ 5650
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 200 @ 4400
Transmission: four-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 20/28 mpg
Wheelbase: 108.5 in.
Length/width/height: 197.6/73.0/56.1 in.
Track, f/r: 61.6/62.1 in.
Turning circle: 39.7 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 40.0/54.4/42.2 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 38.1/55.7/38.9 in.
Trunk volume: 17.0 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 1750 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent
Suspension, r: independent
Ground clearance: 5.5 in.
Curb weight: 3322 lbs.
Tires: P215/60R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 18.0 gal.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of September 01, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-392-3673 - www.fordvehicles.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.


 

Printable Version

2003 Ford Taurus Sedan

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2003 Ford Taurus Sedan

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Miles

Months

Ford Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Manufacturer's 7 years / 100,000 miles Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Limited Warranty. See dealer for details.. See dealer for details. Rental Reimbursement $30/day.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 model years or newer / less than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection 172
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $100

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Ford Taurus Sedan

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