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Old 01-24-2007, 07:36 AM   #1
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2006 Ford 500 SEL

Since Ford is in quite a bit of trouble as of this review, I figured it would be a good idea to maybe describe what they have in their lineup as the next set of reviews. The most fuel efficient Ford that I?ve driven is the Focus, which is a spry little runabout. On this particular period, I had the "500" SEL.

+ Roomy
+ Exterior Design
+ Safety

- "Asleep at the wheel" interior design
- Low-tech, small engine without a better FE rating as a sacrifice (you would have to HyperMile it to get 29 highway)
- Big when small is in

Vehicle: Ford 500
Trim: SEL
Engine: DOHC, 24-Valve, 3.0L V-6, rated at 203 HP and 207 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with lockup TC
EPA Class: Large Car
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
Weight: 3643 lb.
EPA: 21/29/24

Raw Data:
Speed/AVG = 23 mph
Time Driven = 3.2 Hours
Miles: 76.7
Outside Temp = 60-85F
Location: Indianapolis

Driving Style: Average

FE Impression: For being a big car, the fuel economy was pretty accurate to the EPA estimate of 21 mpg city.

Driving Impression
: After the 2006 Model Year, the beloved Taurus will be no more. The rental lot "King" and Company Car Cruiser will be only a memory. In 1986, Ford took a huge risk with what people called the "Jellybean" - a new front-drive sedan for the masses. Ford was in trouble then, and we all know the Taurus was immediately a huge hit and saved the automaker. Now, the name is gone, only to be replaced by 2 cars: the larger 500 (to be positioned between Taurus and Crown Victoria) and the smaller Fusion. I can only describe the car as "mundane". It was average in just about everything -- kind of like Granny's '72 Ford LTD. Having been the top-line SEL, the usual gadgets were standard for an almost-luxury car: butt warmers, fog lamps, power seat. But under the hood, I think ford rushed the car to production without the right engine. They took the DOHC, 24-Valve, upgrade engine out of the Taurus and plopped it into this massive conveyance, and that's the only engine available. The result is average, underwhelming acceleration and swash-buckling through the torque converter around town. Thankfully it had a 6-speed transmission to manage the narrow power band. The engine happily revved up to the high redline with an encouraging sound, but you look down at the speedometer and realized that you're not going much faster. Around town, I could picture this as the new taxi/fleet vehicle; on the highway it basically floated along and didn't complain. The radio is the same as you would find any other Ford. The dash and gauge cluster looked identical to that of the F-150 -- In fact, it just seemed like a huge Focus.

I honestly was excited to try it, but not excited to buy it. If I need a huge passenger car because I'm 80, I might consider it, but that's it -- there's really little of value to report. You do have the option of AWD and/or a CVT, but FE goes nowhere. I expect this car to fade into the sunset, but unlike the Taurus, it won't be missed. They planned on putting a larger engine in it, but in these times, big doesn't sell. Other cars in this category include the Buick Lucerne, Toyota Avalon, and Chevy Impala, all of which can easily hit 30 MPG on the highway. It actually has more interior space then the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis, but those cars have V-8s, rear-wheel drive, and usually are involved in pulling you over for CODFISHing a bit too fast down that hilly speedtrap. The 500 is based on sister company Volvo?s large car chassis. This is where the car shines: safety. The NHTSA has named it a ?Best Pick? in its class.

Conclusion: When I first saw it at the Auto Show, up on the platform before release, it looked promising. But the interior and overall manners rob that the minute you buckle-in and start moving.

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