Magazine article Insight on the News

Taurus Goes Upscale; Will Buyers Follow?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Taurus Goes Upscale; Will Buyers Follow?

Article excerpt

The completely revamped 1996 version of Ford's best-seller may be too much for its market.

Imagine interviewing prospective employees for a middle-management job. A fellow shows up with three academic degrees and 20 years' experience running a business. This is the situation with Ford and its 1996 Taurus - it may be too much car for its own good.

Since its introduction in 1984, the Taurus has appealed to buyers mainly because it represents a lot of car for the money. Roomy, reliable and well-appointed, the Taurus - and sister model Mercury Sable - quickly became exemplars of what the American family car should be, toppling the vaunted Honda Accord from its perch as the best-selling car in its class. A Taurus GL with air-conditioning, genuinely useful power options and a decent sound system listed for under $18,000. With rebates, sales and a bit of haggling, car buyers could purchase one for about $15,000.

Now Ford has revamped the Taurus completely - and tacitly embraced a new philosophy that seems to reject the "bread-and-butter" ethos that characterized the model line. The 1996 Taurus GL has a base price of nearly $20,000. (The better-equipped LX begins at nearly $21,000.) Add a few options (such as a compact-disc player) and the price easily reaches $25,000.

Certainly the 1996 model has a panoply of standard features, including a revised 3.0 liter V-6 engine. It has a swooping new interior with lots of finely polished technology and a voluptuous, computer-designed body shell. …

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