The original Taurus was looking pretty dated by the mid-1990s, and Ford decided to get a bit wild with the redesign for the 1996 model year. Ovals, ovals, and more ovals! Just like that, the Taurus lost the best-seller crown.
By that time, Toyota and Honda had shown that conservative styling worked just fine for your bread-and-butter midsized sedans, but Ford wanted a car with styling that grabbed everyone by the lapels and demanded attention, just like they'd had with the '86 Taurus. At the time, I thought the '96 looked great, and I was pleased that Ford was willing to take a big chance with their biggest seller... but car shoppers felt otherwise, and the Taurus never regained its sales numbers.
What do you think of the '96 Taurus? Should Ford have played the Camry's game and gone for boring lines, as they did a few years later when they de-oval-ized the car? Will future car geeks regard the '96-99 Taurus as one of the better-looking cars of the 90s?