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2007 Ford Five Hundred Limited Review

Living Large

In short: A spacious, well-built sedan in need of a few horses.

If it wasn’t for law enforcement's affection for rear-wheel drive, the Ford Five Hundred would probably be the replacement for the decades-old Crown Victoria. Consider that the Five Hundred (don’t dare spell it with numerals) has more trunk space and more interior room than the automotive fossil also known as the Cop Vic or Taxitoria, while actually being a foot shorter in length and less cumbersome to drive. It’s also better made, has steering that doesn’t feel attached to a rudder and looks like a modern car inside and out.

Yet, perhaps thankfully, the Five Hundred hasn’t become ubiquitous inside the law enforcement community for two reasons: it’s front-wheel drive and its V6 engine is anemic. The former is good news for those looking for solid bad weather traction (all-wheel drive is also offered) or for those who couldn’t care less about the handling advantages enjoyed by rear-wheel-drive large sedans like the Chrysler 300. The Five Hundred nevertheless handles decently for a big sedan, with a well-weighted steering feel that somewhat makes up for the large car’s fair share of body roll.

The second part of the equation, the 203-horsepower six-cylinder engine, isn’t just a problem for the fuzz. It makes less horsepower than the smaller and lighter Ford Fusion, not to mention lower-powered versions of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Chevrolet Impala. The Five Hundred’s 0 to 60 mph time is somehow registered at 7.9 seconds, but it seems a lot slower, especially when its ample passenger and trunk space are fully utilized. Merging onto busy freeways is an adventure and there is no manumatic feature for the six-speed automatic transmission to coax the underpowered engine along.

Our Limited test car came fully loaded with $8,000 worth of options to move the Five Hundred into entry-level luxury territory it probably shouldn’t be playing in. The extra space simply doesn’t make it better than similarly maxed out Honda Accords, Nissan Maximas or Hyundai Azeras that all offer more power. Still, the build quality is pretty good, while the black leather and dark wood combination exude a classy ambiance accented by white faced gauges and analog clock. Ford’s decent touchscreen navigation system doubles as the radio controls and looks a heck of a lot better than the cheapo radio faceplate found in lesser Five Hundreds and practically every other Ford.

There is plenty of space inside to comfortably seat five, with enough rear seat leg room for a couple of basketball players to lounge about. As mentioned before, the trunk is enormous and could probably swallow a few more basketball players in a pinch. The front seats have been mounted high for an almost SUV line-of-sight which is nice, although taller drivers will subsequently find their heads strangely close to the roof for such an otherwise spacious car. Their legs will be nicely supported, though.

The Ford Five Hundred is ultimately a vehicle for those who want a comfy large car that’s made well for a decent price. Limited versions with our tester’s hefty sticker probably aren’t the best choice, and buyers have to be OK with their car having as much pick up as Nicole Richie at a deadlift competition. Having said that, the Five Hundred would make a pretty good replacement for ol’ girl Crown Vic in the livery industry, as it can be either cheap enough or luxurious enough to be used as a taxi or limousine respectively. That’s probably not the verdict Ford wants to hear, but at least there’s a potential constant market for them considering the Taxitoria is still going strong despite going relatively unchanged since 1992. Now, if only the cops would ditch rear-wheel drive…

Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty; 3-year/36,000 powertrain warranty.

Base Price: $22,980 /As tested: $30,940

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 3.0-liter V6
Horsepower: 203 bhp @ 5750 rpm
Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Curb weight: 3,643 lbs
Wheelbase: 112.9 in
200.7/74.5/60.1 in
Turning circle: 40 feet

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS
Suspension: independent front and rear

Safety: front air bags, front side air bags, side curtain air bags

0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds
Top Speed: 112 mph (governed)

EPA City: 21 mpg
EPA Highway: 29 mpg

Likes: Huge interior and trunk; good build quality; nice steering feel

Dislikes: Slow; anonymous looks; Limited model too pricey

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(Updated: 12/15/11 NW)

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