Goodbye to the Ford Taurus, the Chariot of my Childhood
The venerable, family, four-door Ford Taurus is joining a list of sedans that Ford plans to phase out.
On Wednesday, the automaker said it would discontinue most its sedans in North America over the next two years.
“Fiesta and Taurus could be eliminated from Ford’s offerings as early as next year, but the Fusion could remain in the company’s lineup for several more years,” according to The Washington Post.
The Ford Taurus, introduced in 1986, was the best-selling car in the United States from 1992 to 1996. In 1997, after five years at the top, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord bumped the Taurus down to third, according to the New York Times.
My father and I counted at least five Ford Taurus (including several Taurus station wagons) as having cycled through our family while I was growing up—overlapping some of the car’s peak years—including my first car. “They were workhorse cars,” my dad said, noting their large trunks and decent mileage. He gave up sports cars after having kids, and described the Taurus as “reliable” and “child-proof.”
I grew up in the back seat of a Taurus, eventually shifting to the driver’s seat. As a child, I loved the Taurus station wagon, affectionately called the “dragon wagon.” My driving experience with my mom’s hand-me-down white Taurus is, of course, inseparable from the exhilaration of having my own set of wheels. The car reliably got me to wherever my teenage whims took me (mostly school and ballet class).
The Taurus has had multiple generations of design—including the third version in 1996 that was ridiculed for its oval shape. And in 2006, the Taurus was briefly discontinued, but then revived as a Ford Five Hundred. The Taurus name returned shortly after.
But now the car has come to the end of the road.
CEO Jim Hackett is following some of the playbook of Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who killed off some Dodge and Chrysler sedans.
“We’re going to feed the healthy part of our business and deal decisively with areas that destroy value,” Hackett said during a Wednesday earnings call with analysts, according to Bloomberg.
“[B]y 2020, almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles,” Ford said in a statement on Wednesday. “Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America.”
Ford said it would refocus its car making efforts on “the best-selling Mustang and the all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year,” the company said. It will also continue to produce sport utility vehicles and trucks.
Ford sold 33,000 Taurus in the U.S. in 2017, excluding a version of the Taurus sold as a Ford Police Interceptor Sedan (with both models combined, it sold 41,000). In 1999, Ford sold 115,000 of the model, although it’s unclear whether those numbers are combined with Police Interceptor sales.
By comparison, in 2017, Ford sold 238,000 Ford Explorers.
My family still drives Ford cars—my mom a Fusion, my sister a C-Max. Though I understand the market forces pushing Ford away from sedans, it’s a shame to see the reliable car of my childhood come to an end.