I can still remember the day a few years ago when Alan Mulally, recently installed as the Ford CEO, told me his company was changing the name of the Ford 500 to Taurus. Along a few slight styling tweaks, the idea was to bring the Taurus name back and stoke some recognition with buyers who were writing off the blue oval.
That day Mulally tried to tell me the re-born Taurus was a "wonderful car."
It was anything but wonderful.
The old 500/Taurus was a dog. Boring, unimaginative, and the epitome of how Ford lost its way a few years back.
When I told Mulally I thought he was slapping lipstick on a pig, he told me off camera, "Just wait, we'll eventually get Taurus back."
Today, the new Taurus is starting to roll off the assembly lineat the Ford plant on the south side of Chicago. It's no bull calling this Taurus the right car at the right time for Ford. The updated styling, technology, and performance of Taurus Echoboost modelsshould help Ford finally be competitive with the Camry in the mid-size sedan market. Will the Taurus threaten the Camry for best-selling car in the U.S.? No. It will, however, get Ford back in the game and win over people driving Toyota and Honda cars.
The Taurus interior is a huge improvement over the previous model. For years Ford cars (with the exception of the Mustang and some newer models like the Flex) have felt like taxi cabs when you ride in them. As my friend Bob has said when we have been on the road and rent a Ford car, "The inside of this thing is awful." That will not be the reaction when people get in the new Taurus.
With the momentum that's building at Ford, this car should have a strong launch. It hits showrooms in the next week or two with a starting price of $25,995. Top line editions will go for well over 30 grand.
Now Alan, you can go ahead and tell me that you have a winner. This time, It won't be a bunch of bull.
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