2003 Ford Taurus Review
Refinements improve a solid sedan.
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.
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.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2003 Ford Taurus, click here: 2003 Ford Taurus.