When Ford redesigned the Taurus in 1996, the avant-garde styling missed its marketing target and the car fell precipitously from its perch as the best-selling car in America. For the new millennium, the company is again changing the Taurus. It’s unusual for an automaker to make such drastic changes to a three-year-old design, but such measures were deemed necessary by Ford to protect its bottom line.
The new car looks more like the 1996-98 generation, having lost much of the ovoid appearance. Rear headroom is still a bit short, but entry and exit are much easier. A welcome new feature is the power adjustable brake and throttle pedals, which will improve comfort and safety for shorter drivers.
Most underpinnings change little, although the base engine gets more horsepower, now reaching 153. There is still no larger engine than a 3.0-liter V6. Traction control and side impact airbags are available for the first time in a Taurus.
As the first new Jaguar to be co-developed with new owner Ford, the S-Type shares some underpinnings with the Lincoln LS. However, the Jaguar certainly has the looks in the family, and the power, too, with its 3.0-liter V6 and 4.0-liter V8 pumping out 240 and 281 horsepower, respectively. The idea is a smaller, more affordable sedan that harkens back to Jaguar’s classic 1960s design leadership. The company hopes to aim the S-Type at those who might otherwise consider owning a BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS or Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Although the S-Type may not offer credentials equal to those cars in all areas, it supplies a host of its own. Front-end styling is gorgeous in a classical sense and the interior is filled with wood and chrome. Prices begin at $43,080 for the 3.0-liter and $48,580 for the 4.0-liter, and several thousands dollars more can potentially be spent on options, like a satellite navigation system or a communications package.
The LS represents a number of unique developments at Lincoln. It is the first car jointly developed with Jaguar, with which it shares the basic S-Type platform. This is also the first Lincoln in decades to offer a manual transmission, although very few will actually be equipped this way. With it, Lincoln hopes to take better aim at buyers who tend toward European cars. The smaller LS sacrifices room and comfort for greater agility.
The LS is 14 inches shorter than the next smallest Lincoln sedan. It is equipped with the division’s smallest engine, a 210-horsepower V6 that’s similar to the one found in the Ford Taurus. The V6 can be equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission or an automatic. Those seeking more power can’t have a manual transmission, but can choose a 3.9-liter V8 with 252 horsepower. Prices begin at $31,450 and rise to around $40,000 for a fully loaded model.
The Grand Cherokee stands as one of the most profitable cash cows in DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep division. It received its only redesign last year, and stands pat for 2000. There are two trim levels available: the Laredo and