2013 Ford Taurus- Not Such Bullish Aspirations

DSCI0235In Greek mythology, Theseus was considered to be the founding hero of Athens and the reformer of religion and social order.  Under his rule came the political unification of Attica under Athens and a stronger, more resilient city.  Despite his efforts, he lost popularity in later years and was thrown off a cliff by Skyros.  The Ford Taurus has had a similar rise and fall.  Introduced in 1986 as an all-cards-on-the-table gamble for ailing Ford, the Taurus was nothing short of revolutionary.  Being bruised and battered from financial woes and questionable quality, Ford’s future was dependant on the success of the Taurus .  The smooth, aero “jellybean” styling, thoughtful interior touches, and Euro-inspired performance proved that Detroit could indeed build a world-class product that was worth buying.  Personally, I consider it to be one of the most influential automobiles of all time; applying new features and technology we take for granted today.  The risk paid off, and not only did the Taurus receive numerous awards from journalists and was copied by competitors, but it catapulted its way to being America’s best-selling car throughout the late 80’s and 90’s.  However an equally daring, but less enticing, redesign for 1996 caused the car to lose its sales crown, and new-found profits in SUV’s during the early 2000’s resulted in Ford neglecting the Taurus completely.  The car that had saved and served Ford so well stagnated for years before finally being killed off in 2006.  Unlike poor ol’ Theseus, the Taurus was able to come back from the dead and a quick rebadge of the little-known Five Hundred brought the revered and famous name back to the Ford stable.  Finally, in 2010, Ford acknowledged that they can’t live without the name badge and introduced a brand new generation of the bullish car that was designed to be a Taurus from the ground up.  

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2013 Toyota Camry- The American Idol

IMG_20130420_081220Riddle me this: what is the Japanese word for “crown” and if you look outside your window towards the street at this very moment, you’re likely to see at least one?  Take a good look out there.  Give up?  It’s the Toyota Camry.  With the exception of 2001, the Camry has been the best-selling car in America every year since 1997.  It’s a title that every automaker wants to claim but only one can.  The popularity of this car is astonishing and as sure as the sun rises in the east, it has comfortably outsold its rivals from Honda, GM, and Ford annually.  Since its introduction in 1982, there have been over nine million sold in the US and 308,000 found homes in 2011 alone.  To put that in perspective;  that’s more sales in the same year than the entire lineups from Audi, Volvo, and Mini combined.  Interestingly enough, even though the Camry sells like hotcakes in the US and Australia, it’s not a volume seller in its home market of Japan and was even discontinued in Europe almost a decade ago.  Fellow auto journalists love to belittle the Camry, accusing it of being soulless and bland, and having no excitement to offer.  So what gives? How has a car that is condemned by enthusiasts and consumers in other markets found the elusive recipe to success in America?  It was time to find out.

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