Editor’s note: The following is a detailed review submitted by LarryQW who recently purchased a Taurus X. Larry, whose background as an engineer, family man, and avid mountain biker, gives us his impressions of the Taurus X. Larry also wrote a review of the SYNC system and will be published very soon.
- Navigation System
- Family Entertainment System (with rear DVD player)
- Auxiliary Climate Control
- Limited Convenience Group
- good handling and power
- large flexible interior for big family and cargo
- electronics haven
- cheap hard-plastic dash
- low Navigation screen
- only 2000 lb towing
- only 5.1” ground clearance
Styling and Geometry
The Taurus X is much bigger than it looks in pictures. Its large well proportioned wheels make it look like a regular size wagon, when in fact it’s bigger than a Ford Explorer and fairly close to the same size as my wife’s Ford Freestar minivan parked next to it. The Taurus X’s large 18” wheels make my Sable Wagon look like a toy car when parked next to it.
The wagon look is appropriate since the Taurus X is really the “wagon” counterpart to the Taurus sedan. Being a wagon fan, the Taurus X exterior styling appeals to me. But the wagon look may also be why it’s not selling or being marketed by Ford. Drivers today just don’t want to be seen in a wagon any more than a minivan, in spite of their practicality. Although the Taurus X is a superior vehicle, it’s a bad omen for its future that the Taurus X is only selling about 3,000 vehicles per month, compared to 13,500 for the Edge and 18,500 for the Escape with their wagon-less styling. The Taurus X also looks a lot like an Explorer, into which it will morph in a couple years and finally be loved. For now, Ford is remaking the same Volvo D3 car platform into the Ford Flex coming in Summer 2008, which is nearly the same size and equally capable crossover vehicle as the Taurus X, but wrapped in a square box exterior (think maxi Mini Cooper) to look more ‘hip’, or least less like a wagon. Ford is also using the same D3 platform in the Edge and other cars.
The rear windows have dark tinting for privacy and sun shade. The wrap around rear windows and boxy end shape appeal to me. The rear tail lights are actually LEDs, but oddly disguised to look like normal tail lights. Odd since cars today accentuate their flashy LED tails. The front lights are Halogen, and although the low beams are adequate and won’t blind other drivers, the high beams will instantly kill vampires (conjecture here). The fog lights cover the up-close areas thoroughly, but I find a better use for them as pothole and dirt road-rut lights than for fog.
Because of the past demand for SUVs and new demand for crossovers, Ford designed the passenger seats to sit higher and more upright in a “Command Seating” position. This means you can see over the other cars and eye-to-eye with other SUVs. This also means the seats are a little shorter in length, flatter, and up higher, thus less thigh support. Unfortunately, I have very long legs of a 6’3” person that barely fit in the Taurus X with the seat all the way back. I couldn’t get comfortable in the seat of the Freestyle predecessor which is why I never bought it. On the Taurus X I was able to tilt the back down and front up to handle my slightly folded legs comfortably. I also enjoy the feel of the manual lumbar support on my back, although some reviewers say it’s too much support.
For improved visibility the rear passengers sit higher as you go back, like in theater seating, which also causes the roof line to rise in the rear. My kids love the third row most of all, like sitting in the back of a bus, especially with the high view they get there. Getting into the third row is easy. You flip up the second seat recline lever once to lower the seat back, a second time to flip up the rear of the seat to make a very wide easy opening for third row access. However, my kids are like monkeys and often don’t take the extra second to flip up the second row seat and just hop over the seat with the back down. Expecting this, I didn’t order the automatic seat opener that would just slow my kids down even more and perhaps never be used. And with manual or automatic, you need to lower the second row headrest anyway for seat flip up, which could take the most time if the headrest has been raised. I’ve tested the third row comfort and with me at 6’1 and very large, the feel it is quite comfortable for an hour or two. Certainly much better than any airline seat I’ve had, and the best third row seating I’ve seen for larger people.
Even though my kids like the third row the most, the Taurus X second row has the best seating of all the cars I tried. For instance, the Saturn Outlook is a much bigger and heavier car by 800 lbs. (GM Acadia and Buick Enclave are similar cars from GM.) Yet the Outlook’s second row seating had much less leg room than the Taurus X, mostly because the seats were lower to the ground. The third row of the Outlook had about the same legroom as the Taurus X. Also, the hip room of the Taurus X is about the same as the Outlook, which externally is a couple inches wider and thus harder to park. On test drives, I felt the Taurus X was much more car-like and less big-truck-like than the Outlook, which for me was a good thing.
I can trade passenger space in various degrees for Taurus X cargo space. First, with people in all three rows I have 16 cubic feet of cargo space with a deep well behind the third row. By giving up the third row, one seat or half at a time as needed, I can get 47 cubic feet of space. Then by giving up the second row, one seat or half at a time as needed, I can get 85 cubic feet of space. This is enough space to easily toss my extra large size mountain bike inside without taking off the wheels. And for yet more room, one can let down the front row passenger set for those 10 foot long objects. Or one can just lower the right side for long objects and still get passengers in on the left. And so on. The third row seats flip down with a one-two pull tab action. The second row requires just a tug on the seat back lever by the door.
The manual rear lift gate opens with a strong lifting spring at the touch of a button. As such, I didn’t feel I needed a power lift gate. It’s just a matter of which button I push, the key or the handle button. Rather, the manual lift gate instead takes a small force to close. I either need to pull down fast with momentum, or put a hand on the outside to send it home. In all, I’m tall and can operate the gate quickly so I prefer manual operation over the power gate so many rave about.
The Taurus X floor is raised higher than a minivan, potentially giving it more ground clearance, but not as much as an SUV. Unfortunately, Ford says the ground clearance is only 5.1”. Annoyed and in disbelief, I took a ruler around under the car. Most of the car has over 8” of ground clearance. But the exhaust system brings it down to around 7” along the center of the car under the rear drive tunnel for AWD. Worse, the larger 3.5 Liter engine exhaust manifold dips to a little over 6”. I suppose fully loaded and with some bouncing, it could drop to 5” at that point just under the engine. I was annoyed that they couldn’t fix that. But then I’ve had no problems getting over rough bumps and deep ruts on dirt roads at mountain biking parks with my Sable Wagon. So I suspect the Taurus X will be much better and even less of an issue for my typical driving on dirt roads.
The higher frame height is certainly a plus for installing a hitch and rack for my mountain bikes. The top of the receiver opening goes from 11.5” on my Sable Wagon to 15.5” on my Taurus X. This extra height is greatly appreciated for preventing an extended rear hitch rack from scraping on the road, especially when entering or exiting steep driveways or roads. I have found a 2” receiver from Hidden Hitch at eTrailer.com that was easy to install. It will allow me to carry four bikes with Yakima’s new light HoldUp hitch rack that holds the bike by the wheels. The tongue has a weight limit of only 200 lbs, which goes with the weak 2000 lb towing capacity. As such, I need a light hitch rack and careful with bike weight. But I should still be able to carry four mountain bikes in the 30-35 lb range with this limitation.
The Taurus X roof rack does not come with cross bars. I suppose Ford didn’t want to include it standard or it would affect gas mileage and noise in the ratings. Worse, Ford doesn’t have the crossbars available as an option until later in 2008. And the rear 2/3 of the roof rack is flush to the roof, making several clamp style towers usable only in the first 24” of the 68” long rack. Fortunately, Yakima, one of the better name rack companies, has now qualified two types of rack mount towers for the 2008 Taurus X. (See their “Fit My Car” guide.) One is their Low Rider clamp that only works in the front elevated part of the rack. More useful to me in carrying cargo boxes and bikes on the roof is Yakima’s Control Tower and Landing Pad 4 that works with the rack’s T slot anywhere along the entire length. The Taurus X roof rack looks very sturdy and well supported underneath on the frame, but yet has only specified a 125 lb load limit. That should still be plenty for three or four bikes, or a 47 lb 16 cubic foot cargo box that can hold up to 75 lbs of load.
Overall, the Taurus X can hold 1150 lbs of payload in passengers, cargo, hitch, and roof combined. The 200 lbs on the hitch and 125 lbs on the roof subtract from the interior weight, if used. Using spreadsheets in various scenarios, within this load limit I can carry
- Six people with light cargo. But there’s only 16 cubic feet left behind the third row anyway.
- Five or six mountain bikers with their ride gear and six bikes, depending on the size of the bikers.
- Four or five people with significant luggage including bikes on long trips.
As such, the weight limit and size limitations seem to fit well together within the various scenarios.
The interior of the Taurus X is better than the economy look of its predecessor, the Freestyle, which turned me off completely. But the décor is not really up to the luxury interior you’d find in a Mercedes or Lexus. The hard plastic dash turned me off the most. On the Taurus X makeover, Ford added chrome accents to knobs and vents. This to me was like putting lipstick on a pig. However, I’ve now become accustomed to it, and no longer see it as an issue. The chrome on the radio knobs actually looks quite nice in how it’s done. And after all, hard plastic is used on door frames and other places to improve durability. On the places I touch – the center and door armrest, the door panels, seats, and so on, soft materials are indeed used. A nice looking wood laminate is on the door rest and center console. All this and the leather/chrome shifter make for a nice look.
The arm rest cup holders are also plain hard plastic, but very functional and easy to clean, important for a cup holder in a family car. Ford puts a nice touch with rubber pads in all the storage areas, including the center dash stash, which helps give a nice feel and reduce jingle noise. The center arm rest has two-level storage, and there’s even a dedicated slot to put my pens beside the cup holders.
There’s plenty of storage, with side cubbies in all the doors, along with oversize bottle holders. I have a six passenger version with dual captain chairs in the second row. As such, we have a second row center console to store DVDs and wireless headphones, remote, and kid stuff. This center console doesn’t take that much room as a center tunnel for the AWD goes through the center of the car, even if you only have Front Wheel Drive. One glitch, it’s tricky to open the console until you learn to press backward, not pull up, on a square button/lever an inch or so underneath the lid.
I was worried about how to put in a child seat, but my 5 year old girl loves the booster seat in the third row anyway. Consumer Reports says a rear facing baby seat in the third row may not fit, but I wouldn’t want to put a small baby that far out of reach and view anyway. I’d place the little one in the second row passenger side so I could turn around to take care of the critter’s needs. If I had two little ones needing baby seats, I could still put both in the second row. But if I still needed more passenger room, I’d then think about the 7 passenger version for all the little critters. Consumer Reports says the seat belts are hard to use with baby seats, but the LATCH system is included in the second row seats and the passenger side third row. Make sure your baby seat has LATCH.
Four power plug receptacles are provided: two for the driver (one external, one in the armrest), one for the rear seat, and one in the cargo area. All are right where you need them.
Driving and Handling
The Taurus X has plenty of power with 263 HP of its 3.5 Liter Duratec engine, which replaced the 3.0 Liter 200 HP engine in the Freestyle to give better acceleration. The six-speed transmission smoothes out the power with good fuel economy, and sounds better to drivers than the high whine CVT of the Freestyle. The transmission overdrive can be disabled with a shifter button, which also then provides for intelligent engine braking assistance down steep hills.
The Taurus X is not going to win races, but will keep ahead of most any real need. Car and Driver puts 0-60 MPH acceleration at a swift 7.7 seconds. Some speed demons call this underpowered, but I’m old enough to remember years ago when anything under 10 seconds was considered fast. And this is a large family car, not a sports car. This engine already has more power than economy in today’s gas-hungry world.
The cornering ability is controlled and well behaved with minor lean. Some may feel the steering is vague because the power steering is so strong, giving the steering a very light touch with proportionally weaker road feedback. Consumer Reports says “Drivers felt confident in at-the-limit handling maneuvers with the Ford Taurus X, and it posted one of the highest speeds in our avoidance maneuver among all three-row SUVs we’ve tested. Electronic stability control completely cured the old Freestyle’s tendency to slide its tail in emergency.“ Car and Driver says the Taurus X has a “ride quality that irons out lumps but maintains a hint of Euro firmness. Excellent all-around dynamics.”
The braking feels very good to me – better than my Sable Wagon. However, Consumer Reports gives the Taurus X a slightly longer dry braking distance than competitors from 60 to 0 MPH – 147’ versus 139’ to 142’ for Tribeca, Enclave, and Highlander. But on wet braking, the Taurus X braking distance of 152’ is one of the best. Car and Driver gives the braking distance from 70 to 0 MPH as 200’, which they also consider to be a bit too long.
The turning radius of the T-X is 40’, similar to other cars of this class. Yet I find the Taurus X quite maneuverable. Perhaps this is because of the power steering boost, the high seating, and the narrow width of the T-X.
In the rework of the Freestyle to become the Taurus X, the front suspension was tuned for better handling with a softer ride while adding a couple inches to suspension travel. Ford also decoupled the engine with a new hydraulic mount for a quieter interior.
The interior is very quiet, enough to carry a regular conversation with all passengers at freeway speeds. Most of the residual noise is from the road. The background noise sounds quite different depending on the condition and type of road surface I’m driving over. The audio system also allows you to automatically increase the volume at higher speeds with an adjustable proportion versus speed.
The steering wheel controls are exactly right. Although the SYNC manual gives a different set of buttons, what I have on the right side of the steering wheel is:
- Volume – changes the volume of the current activity: music, phone, voice feedback, …
- Seek – Goes to the next programmed channel or track on AM/FM/SR/USB/CD/DVD
- Media – Cycles different audio system inputs: AM/FM1/FM2/SR1/SR2/SR3/ CD/USB/DVD
- Voice – Brings up the voice main menu to choose between Phone/Audio System/Navigation/User Device/Display/Tutorial/Help. Each of these enters a sub-menu
These system controls are exactly what I want in typical use driving a car. These right side buttons get used much more often than the brake on my car. The left hand side of the steering wheel has the usual cruise control buttons.
The speedometer is a little small for my taste, but easily readable. The overall dash has a more modern look, certainly much better than its predecessor, the Freestyle.
The message center in the lower center dash functions as an odometer. But it includes trip meters, distance to empty, trip time, time to oil change, and especially nice is the average MPG reading. It’s good to have this message display separate from the Navigation and climate controls so you can use all of them at the same time. You can also use this message center to set many vehicle settings, such as how long your lights stay on after you’ve parked at night. It also has a compass direction indicator (such as “S” or “NW”) and tells you which doors are still open. This message center will also tell you if a tire is low, but not the actual pressure even though it measures this. I find this a disappointment as it means I need to get down on the asphalt and get my hands grimy once a month for no reason. Maybe the new SYNC update will fix this (see below).
The headlight control has an “automatic” setting that turns the headlights on automatically at night, or when the windshield wipers are running. This second feature is now the law in California, but it makes sense to be better seen while in conditions when the wipers are needed. Whenever the headlights are turned on, the dashboard panel lights dim. But the navigation display can be overridden (also with a voice command) to go to Day mode.
The interior rear view mirror has an automatic dimming mode when a car with bright lights appears behind you at night. This feature, along with the microphones for SYNC, requires a couple thick wiring harnesses connecting to the rear view mirror from the roof.
The backup sonar sensors are good for safety as well as parking. The Taurus X has much better rear visibility than other CUVs such as the Outlook. But it’s still possible to miss an active child. The sonar can even detect a curb as I’m backing up. The variable rate beep gives a distance gauge that’s especially useful when parking. The sound volume is automatically lowered as needed to allow the beeps to be heard. I much prefer the sonar sensor over a video screen, as with the sonar sensor system my head’s up looking around at all the other traffic flying around from all directions, and any objects in back are warned by ear while I look everywhere else by eye.
With the new Integrated Key Controllers (IKT), the key and remote are now the same. Now only one programming is needed on a new key. On my T-X Limited, I can also set the driver seat, pedal and mirror position for two drivers, and then program a key to automatically set for one of the positions. The seat also can be set to pull back all the way automatically with the key out for easier entry/exit. My family also makes extensive use of the keyless entry button pad on the driver’s side to open and lock the car at will to retrieve whatever. Hitting #1 after the code opens all doors, and hitting the lower two buttons any time locks all doors so you don’t have to fumble in your pocket for the key to lock up. And if I lock the key inside, I don’t need to spend the time calling someone and act like a dork like with GM’s On-Star.
Like most cars, all doors automatically lock once you’re under way for safety. On exit, all the car doors unlock automatically when the driver turns the engine off and opens his door. This automatic unlock works fine if the driver is speedy. Otherwise the second row passengers start searching around behind them for the door lock knob. As driver I’ve learned to be a fast door opener or hit the unlock button.
When I enter or exit the car at night, the headlights and interior lights come on. Nicest is the puddle lights under the side view mirrors lighting up the ground around the doors to help avoid that inevitable old milkshake goo someone always tosses by your car. On entry, multiple colors light up on the dashboard making the car inviting like a beautiful Christmas party.
The navigation display should be positioned a little higher, as it requires looking down away from the road more than I’d like, but it works well and is easy to read quickly while driving. The navigation display also handles the radio, CD, rear controls, and various setup menus. The climate controls are separate from the navigation display and always available, which I like for convenience. The new Flex will unfortunately have the climate controls integrated, requiring swapping screens on the navigation display for control. With the Limited version and Auxiliary Climate system, I can independently control the driver, passenger, and even the rear temperatures and fan speeds to all be different in the three zones.
The Message Center above the steering wheel has a MPG fuel economy indicator. This indicator will average the gas used versus miles driven since the last reset. This is an excellent tool for helping to get better gas mileage. The Taurus X can get up to 28 MPH if you don’t need to stop. So it’s annoying to be at a stop light and watch the average MPG slowly drop. Worse is watching the average MPG drop quickly as you accelerate from a stop. So I now learn to stop my engine at long lights, accelerate slowly, and coast into lights from longer away so I don’t need to stop or accelerate as much. This behavior change brought by the MPG indicator has likely added 2 MPG to my city mileage compared to being blissfully ignorant.
I’ve calibrated the MPG indicator several times and it’s more accurate than my 1% tank refill accuracy (<0.1 gallon on 17 gallon fill). As such, I trust using it for mileage estimates in different driving conditions. I can observe instantaneous mileage of over 99 MPG downhill to 0 MPG at a stop light. So I average the mileage over at least an hour of driving under various conditions. Depending on the type of driving, the mileage can vary quite a bit, as shown in the table below.
|29||Best seen on highway, from San Jose to Palo Alto on flat freeway (Hwy 85, 101)|
|28||Mostly flat highway at 65 MPH (e.g. Hwy 101 from San Jose to SF with no traffic)|
|25||Steep rolling hills at 70 MPH (e.g. Hwy 280 from San Jose to SF with no traffic)|
|19-20||Equal mixture of highway and city, a typical commute|
|16||Bad city traffic with lots of stops and starts and idle time at lights|
|14.5||Short morning trips taking kids to school each day with cold engine, mostly stop time|
Overall the mileage is OK, neither bad nor great. The official gas mileage is 16/24 city/highway, 19 combined. I will likely do better than that.
The distance to empty indicator (DTE) works on an average MPG of your last experience over 500 miles, regardless of the current MPG indication which can be reset any time. So if you’re going on a long trip, the DTE will slowly start to increase on your first tank of gas as you get better highway mileage, and also recover to city driving in a tank or two. To check the DTE, I drove the car until the DTE went to 0. The gas gauge read straight on empty at that point. The Taurus X took 17.25 gallons to fill its 19 gallon tank. I don’t know how much more of the 1.7 gallons of remaining gas I could use, but I’m guessing I might have another 15-20 miles at DTE of zero.
This is one of two areas the Taurus X really shines. The IIHS has chosen the Taurus X as one of the top picks in 2007 and 2008. The Taurus X has received the NHTSA five star rating in all four categories. Crash safety videos and analysis are available on Ford’s multimedia site. Safety features include:
- Good visibility through all windows without significant blind spots
- Back up sonar sensors for obstacles
- Antilock brakes
- Stability Control System – to help prevent rollovers and maintain control on slippery turns
- Safety system sensing and control via a dedicated Restraints Control Module.
- Seat Belt Pretension – pulls the seat belt tight before you start moving in a crash
- Driver air bag
- Passenger air bag –two levels of deployment, or off, depending on seat position and weight
- Front row hip air bags – to help in side impact injuries to the lower body
- Side Air Curtains – extends to protect all three rows of passengers
- SPACE architecture – Passenger cabin stays fully intact under 40 MPH collision front and side
- Energy absorbing structures and beams used throughout the car outside of the cabin
If you look at the safety videos linked above, it’s amazing to see how well the car does in a 40 MPH collision. On frontal impact, the windshield doesn’t crack much, along with other signs indicating excellent cabin integrity. On the offset, the windshield cracks a little, but the front wheel stays inflated at that collision speed as the front completely collapses, sucking up the energy! You can almost imagine a driver getting out and wondering if he hit something. It’s also interesting in a side collision to watch the side air curtain beat the the small intrusion into the cabin.
Integrated Car Electronic Systems
This is the second big area where the Taurus X really shines.
The Taurus X Limited has eight speakers and a subwoofer in the premium Audiophile sound system. I never turn the sound up past 25% or my ears start to hurt. But I don’t hear any clipping or rattle even at half power, as CNET had reported at higher volumes. When the speakers are used with the Dolby 5.1 from the DVD, the sound is even better than in my home theater. It’s really good.
The FM radio receives the RDS (Radio Data System) tags, which most all stations provide in the San Jose area. This means I can see text describing the station, song, and artist on most local FM radio stations. Furthermore, most all radio stations have a PTY or program type. This means you can select a program type like “Rock” and only those stations will be found in a Seek. You can temporarily set all the presets automatically to strongest FM stations of that PTY type in a new region, and then return later to your own presets. No HD radio or Digital Radio is yet available in the Ford systems, but coming available in the next year. But for now with all the high quality AM/FM/Satellite/6-CD/USB/Bluetooth phone and streaming options, I really don’t need any more audio sources.
The 6-CD changer works as expected, loading them in one at a time above the navigation display. The USB interface is within the driver’s center arm rest, along with an analog input, and a power plug if needed. You can also input sound via Bluetooth. This is good for streaming music from your phone’s SD card memory. My daughter uses this a lot when she’s in the car. The sound is excellent. It’s also possible to use a phone to stream sound from your phone’s internet connection to the car via Bluetooth, but I haven’t tried this yet.
There’s only one visible antenna on the car for all the radio, satellite, and navigation reception. That’s a short flexible tail whip on the back of the roof. It’s far enough back to not interfere with cargo boxes on the top and can be left on in a car wash. It can also be unscrewed and replaced quickly if needed.
One may wonder why the Navigation system is so expensive at $2,000 when you can get a nice portable car GPS for under $1000. (I got my Ford Navigation discounted to $1750) It’s important to note the Navigation System is way more than a GPS.
First, it can track position using internal sensors when the satellite is not receiving. For example, when I get into a city with tall buildings or in a tunnel with a turn, the navigation system will still position and guide me properly even though the “No-GPS” symbol is displayed.
Second, the Navigation System provides a large 6.5” LCD panel that’s very extremely useful for many menus and controls in the car. Even for maps, it’s much easier to read than the smaller 4.5” displays on the largest portable car GPS units.
Third, the SYNC system can only control the Audio System such as AM/FM/CD/SR (Satellite Radio) when the Navigation is installed. Otherwise, SYNC can’t control the radio as a lot of the voice control software and hardware is embedded within the Navigation system.
The Taurus X will soon receive the next generation Navigation System that allows copying and storing songs on a hard disk, and integrate and display traffic and weather information received from Sirius Satellite. I have the older Navigation system without these features.
The Ford Navigation system works very different from the portable automotive GPS I have from Garmin. There’s way less way points -1000 on the Garmin Quest versus only 25 stored addresses on the Ford. You can’t integrate the Ford navigation with a home computer for editing like the portable GPS. The Garmin GPS provides much more data and information like altitude, and can flip to Topo maps at any time.
On the other hand, the Ford navigation makes finding addresses and places much easier than Garmin with a full screen keyboard and blacking out keys that don’t spell anything. Once a Point of Interest is found, you can automatically dial the phone number using SYNC. Ford’s routing is much quicker. Ford’s feedback voice is much nicer, and automatically lowers any other sound playing slightly so you can hear the guidance. The Ford Navigation turns on as fast as the car, whereas the Garmin may need one or two minutes to locate satellites. You have the Navigation screen always available so you can instantly flip to it to see where you are, versus pulling out the portable, setting it up, and waiting for it to acquire satellites. And Ford’s built in unit is a much cleaner installation than with power cords running over the dash to a suction cup on the windshield.
Satellite Radio (SR)
The satellite radio is from Sirius, which will soon merge with XM radio. The price is around $12/month and worth it for the tremendous variety and commercial free radio (except for news like CNN). You can also use your subscription to listen to Sirius on the web. We alternatively listen to rock, oldies, sports, news, comedy, PBS, talk shows, kid’s stuff, or traffic among the 200 channels. We can get reception anywhere we travel, so we don’t have to find a new station every hour like with FM. The songs and artists are listed immediately on each channel as we scan. We only have two bands of five presets for FM, but three bands of five presets for SR. The ten presets are overkill for FM but we want more than 15 for SR now. The built-in SR integrates very nicely with the SYNC, Navigation, and FES system.
Family Entertainment System (DVD)
My first thought was that Ford is just marketing by calling their simple DVD player a “Family Entertainment System”. But once you look more into the details, you indeed realize that the DVD player is just a small part of its total capability. Its way more than the simple DVD aftermarket players you can find, making worth while at the $870 discounted price I paid. The flip down screen doesn’t block rear vision like I feared it would. It only blocks the middle third of the rear window, about one third down, or one ninth of the rear window view that’s mostly sky anyway. The back of my kid’s booster seat and people’s heads block more rear window area than the DVD screen.
First of all, the FES is an excellent auxiliary Audio/Video system, not just a DVD player. In addition to playing CDs on the front panel 6-CD player, kids can put their own CDs into the back, as well as MP3 and other digital disks. It also has Audio/Video inputs for gaming or reviewing home videos from a camera. And it can play DVDs too.
Second, the FES integrates tightly with the front audio system. The controls for all functions can be operated from the front panel, rear panel, or provided remote control (when my kids sit in the third row). The sound from a DVD can be channeled to the whole car for true Dolby 5.1 surround sound that’s awesome. Or a CD or MP3 data disk can be played to others in the car from someone in the back seat.
Third, it provides independent listening to various passengers. You can have two channels of sound sent to any number of wireless headphones. Each headphone can individually select to hear from Channel A or B, as well as adjust volume. On Channel A, you can select the rear CD/DVD or A/V input, or any of the front panel audio (AM/FM/SR/6-CD/USB/Bluetooth). On Channel B, you can only select the rear CD/DVD or A/V input. When the wireless headphones are activated, the car automatically silences the rear speakers and only plays sound on the front speakers. And even the front speakers will continue to automatically lower or silence with phone or navigation commands, as appropriate. Even better, if the front speakers are listening to say FM, the rear can listen to Satellite Radio (SR) instead and the rear listener can independently control the stations on the SR while the front listens on the FM.
Fourth, the rear passengers can control functions on the front system with the remote control for the wireless headphones or the whole car. The remote allows changing channels, media source, volume or whatever. The front can set levels of control permission from Full, Rear Only (rear CD/DVD), or None (lockout). My kids love to control everything from back in the third row. And the nice remote has a separate button to light up all the buttons at night.
For example, we were driving along with my 5 year old girl watching cartoons on the DVD via wireless headphone Channel B, my teen listening to the songs on her phone’s SD card by Bluetooth streaming to the main system and back to Channel A on her headphones, and I was listening to Satellite Radio stations, FM or whatever on the front two speakers, all simultaneously. The setup is easy with speakers switching automatic, and can be set up either by front LCD control, or rear DVD control panel, or the remote control, or by SYNC voice commands.
The Taurus X is an excellent people mover with perfection of the most modern features, handling, passenger comfort, capacity, flexibility entertainment and safety. But you must be able to cope with Taurus X’s dammed wagon stigma to take advantage of its plethora of offerings. If you have that passion, you’ll be rewarded with the great deal you’d only expect from taking in an unloved off cast.
Build?? Don’t compute. It’s built great. No defects found – amazing considering the complexity.
Styling loses 1.0 point for average quality of interior finish, Navigation screen too low. For me wagon looks are a big plus and raise it back up 0.5. That’s just me. This score doesn’t apply to others.
Performance loses 0.3 points for slightly long brake length.
Handling loses 0.3 because it’s not perfect like my Merkur Scorpio. It’s just right for hauling families.
Value is extremely good ( a 6.0!) if you take advantage of Ford Dealers tired of having them occupy their asphalt way too long and disposing of them in the recycling bin out their back door late at night.
I’d give it an overall value of 5.0, but then people would just think I’m being biased.
Taurus X Reviews
Left Lane News (Great pictures used by many other sources)
Cars.com (Seven expert reviews and several user reveiws)
Edmunds (Many user reviews)
Yahoo Autos (Many user reviews)
Car and Driver (Good review and handling was good)
Consumer Reports (Rated one of the few Recommended Buys)
The Truth about Cars (4 out of 5 stars – “The best crossover you’ve never heard of.”)
Jalopnik (Didn’t like it. However they also couldn’t figure out how to lower the rear seats to be flush. ??)
US News (has a number of references and links to various reviews)
Taurus X Forums
Ford Sync Forum (New forum not supported by Ford or Microsoft)
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