Ford Taurus is on track to meet sales goal -- without hefty spiffs

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
Four months ago, I wrote that the Ford Taurus is well on its way to be a sales success for the automaker.

Here's an update: Through the end of September, Ford has sold 53,512 units. The sales goal is about 70,000 units, I understand. The car is right on track to hit that target.

As I previously wrote, the current-generation Taurus was never intended to be a high-volume model, unlike in the old days. In fact, Taurus shares its Chicago-area assembly plant with the Lincoln MKS and the upcoming redesigned Ford Explorer. There will be production limitations.

A lofty goal during development was simply that the new Taurus -- essentially a reinvention of the model and the brand -- would pull and maintain considerably higher margins than the previous-generation car. Ford invested heavily in ride, handling, reducing NVH and powertrains. This Taurus is a more substantial car than the previous model, and buyers noticed.

What's noteworthy is that Ford pushed the Taurus upmarket when the car was given its new look, that killer styling that debuted for the 2010 model year. Taurus' sticker ranges from about $26,000 to north of $45,000 for the high-performance SHO model. We're not talking about a cheap sedan.

How can we measure success? The current-generation Taurus is beginning its second model year, and the public remains enamored with the car.

How do we know? Only token incentives are sitting on hood.