Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Ford Five Hundred SEL AWD, Part 2

Exterior Design ***
It s an Audi innit? By riffing on a relatively bland Euro-design, Ford obviously chose to play it safe with its mainstream mainstay. It s a bit of shock not be to be shocked, what with the Taurus in the rear view mirror and the bad-ass Chrysler 300C somewhere in the distance, but I guess no one ever lost money underestimating the tastes of the average American consumer. Oh wait. Ford has. Billions. Anyway, the Fusion s shaving screen grill would ve been a welcome addition to this automotive blancmange.

Acceleration **
Ford s new V6 wasn t ready in time for this application — which makes their engineering efforts like trying to prepare a gourmet sandwich using Wonder Bread. The 500 s 3.0-liter Duratec V6 stables 203 horses and an equal amount of twist. While that s just about enough motorvation to propel the 4000-lbs. four-door to 60 in 8 seconds, the powerplant is a whiny bitch that approaches redline like an eighth grader contemplating a handbook of Latin verbs. It s enough oomph for Pat Boone—savvy consumers, and the mileage payoff is there, but anyone with an ounce of petrol in their veins will be dead. I mean, disappointed.

Braking ****
Car & Driver reports the [non-Mercedes] 500 SEL will stop from 70mph in 177 feet. That s three feet less than a Volkswagen Passat! They re not sleeping easy in Wolfsburg tonight, I ll tell you what.

Ride ****
I don t really remember, so it must be good.

Handling ***
The 500 doesn t handle per se; it just kinda makes its way down the road. There s none of that pesky road feel to trouble helmsmen, nor any sense of transition through the bends. If you whip the wheel back and forth, the Blue Oval barge won t tip over, but nor will it drive with sufficient precision to [intentionally] kill an elk. If you push the boat to its limits in a corner, it will understeer safely, predictably, slowly, steadily, gently, gradually, quietly, zzzzzzz.

Gearbox *
Who asked Ford for a continuously variable transmission? You? I don t recall any really important benefits of this system over a decent autobox — other than de-motivating teenage go-pedal slammage (there s no kickdown) and giving Ford mechanics something to think about. And man, is it noisy. The drivetrain sounds like a golf cart that s had a broom shoved-up its exhausts — if golf carts were powered by asthmatic V6 s and had sodomizeable exhausts.

Audio/Video ****
A rear seat DVD system in a bog standard family four door! The final astral representation is withheld because the stereo sucks and the controls are worse.

Toys *
Are backup sensors a toy?

Trunk *****
Wow! What a trunk! It s huge! Tremendous! Extreme! Cops, taxi drivers, Mafia hitmen and human traffickers rejoice!

Overall ***

[by Robert Farago]

Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Ford Five Hundred SEL AWD, Part 1, Part 3 [internal]