You remember the Ford Taurus, right? Not so long ago, it was the bestselling car in America. That was in the early 1990s, when the Taurus resembled an elongated bubble, and the oval as a design attribute was all the rage. (I’ll reserve comment on the attractiveness of those cars.)
But what goes up must come down. Around the turn of the millennium, the Taurus managed to get knocked off its lofty perch by those pesky Japanese automakers. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry became the new kings of the hill, and ever since the Taurus has been on a downward spiral, to the point where the Ford brain trust decided to send the car to the woodshed and effectively end its run in 2006.
Enter Alan Mulally, Ford’s new chief executive, who rightly wondered why the struggling Ford company was trying to develop (unsuccessfully) all-new brands (like the Five Hundred) while familiar old brands (like the Taurus) had sold millions of cars in the past. It was a rather simple solution to redub the 2008 Ford Five Hundred as the 2008 Ford Taurus. Such is the power of a CEO.
So make a notation in your 2008 auto playbooks. The 2008 Five Hundred is now the 2008 Ford Taurus. When it starts showing up in showrooms later this year, it will essentially be the same car Ford recently introduced, with a family-friendly styling, a contemporary grille, and a 3.5-liter V6 generating 260 horsepower.
Ford will also slap the Taurus X badge on its Freestyle crossover vehicle. And the 2008 Mercury Montego will be redubbed the Mercury Sable. Sounds like the good times are back for Ford — er, at least, they hope so.