Ford Five Hundred Car Review – MotorPoint
Ford Five Hundred
Ford Five Hundred Road Test
Best Big Ford in Years
Good news and bad news here. The good news is that this is the best large Ford we can remember. The bad news is that this is the finest large Ford we can remember. In other words this is a much improved car but it is not going to be a segment leader. The reason is simple. The engine is just adequate and there are no optional choices and the exterior is too bland. Both of these can readily be solved because the beauty of this value leader is the chassis and room the Five Hundred provides.
Indeed for just over $23000 US you get acres of room a fuel sipping V6 engine and a chassis that is both relaxed and steady. Throw in such standard features as 17-inch wheels a six-way power driver seat full power accessories remote locks air conditioning a CD player and cruise control and you have yourself some talking points when dealing with Camry Avalon and Accord owners.
For whatever reason and we applaud Ford for this they have decided to offer a continuous variable transmission available all-wheel drive on the Five Hundred which resides in a modified Volvo S80 platform. This increases the price slightly but you are talking about an all-wheel drive sedan with room for five adults at a price less than a much smaller and less powerful Subaru Legacy. Indeed what Ford has done here is produce one of the most economically all wheel drive vehicles you can own and certainly a price leader in the large sedan category. So those of you who live in the mountains or where the weather turns cold and white this 500 Hundred could easily replace your gas hoggish SUV all for the low price of $1700 for the all-wheel drive option.
Mom’s view: First I had a very difficult time finding this car in the parking lot. It looks generic and lacks distinction. Secondly the seats are wide and fairly flat. I found it difficult to get comfortable in them. They seem designed for those who are a bit more hefty than me. Thirdly the engine is okay but when this is loaded with four people and their luggage is stored in the vast trunk the 203 horsepower V6 was reluctant to react and you are certainly going to hear the engine when you ask it to produce those 200 plus horsepower. Of course the Five Hundred weighs nearly two tons and so that is to be expected.
Safetywise Ford offers plenty. You get standard depowered front airbags passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation traction control antilock disc brakes auto delay off headlamps child seat anchors emergency interior trunk release rear door child safety locks front seatbelt pretensioners rear center 3-point belt remote anti-theft alarm system dusk sensing headlamps and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Optional and highly recommended are side-impact airbags that protect front and side curtain airbags. Although this model has not been crash tested I would expect superior scores.
The 21 cubic foot trunk is enormous but that also creates the problem of how to reach what’s in the bottom without literally falling into the cave like opening. The liftover was high for me not surprising since the Five Hundred and the new SUVish Ford Free Style use a similar chassis. My biggest complaint was that when you used the remote to open the rear lid it barely moved. This meant getting my hands dirty trying to squeeze my fingers under the lid so I could put my packages inside.
You sit quite high in the Five Hundred with first-class visibility all around. The night lighting is superior even the puddle lights mounted under the outside mirrors were outstanding. When you opened the doors the interior lights flooded the car. Very reassuring and the headlights were also well above average. A word about those doors; they are big and heavy so be warned when parking on hills that they can promote some unkind words. However it is reassuring to have such a solid structure protecting you from side impacts. I believe that if Ford can get drivers to give the Five Hundred a try they could well become customers. It does grow on you.
Parking was another matter. This is a large car and the turning radius was also big. With the available all-wheel drive it creates a 40-foot turning radius. That is about three feet more than what I like. The superior rearview mirrors make backing up more reassuring but our model also had the optional sonar detectors that beep if the car comes close to an object.
Inside the materials look and feel fine as Ford has created a modern appearance. The climate and stereo controls are easy to find and use but the station change switch takes time to master. I did notice that the feel of some of the switchgear was a bit flimsy but this was an early model.
This is obviously a highway cruiser and we did manage about 22 mpg on regular making it possible to go nearly 400 miles before refueling the 19-gallon tank becomes necessary. The high seating position pleasant and fairly quiet ride and high-quality brakes make for a reassuring journey. Make no mistake about it though this car’s chassis surpasses its engine so if you are inclined to challenge a few corners it can abide you but we would go for the optional larger tires and rims if you are so inclined.
Dad’s view: The six cylinder engine produces its horsepower at a high 5700 rpm and this Duratec unit does not do the Five Hundred justice even with an efficient six speed automatic transmission. However I can understand Ford’s reluctance to go with a more performance-oriented engine at this time especially since the supercharged Mercury Marauder was a slow seller. The strength of this engine is cruising and so when traveling in the mountains with a heavy load or accelerating up an onramp you might be surprised by the engine noise but on the open road it is unobtrusive. Zero to 60 mp times are in the ten-second range with braking distances equal to the best in its class thanks to 12.5-inch discs with double-piston calipers on the front wheels and 13.0-inch discs in the rear. As for its handling scores they were among the quickest in the segment.
We had a fairly base model and so we can’t comment about the continuously variable transmission (CVT) or all-wheel drive unit or whether or not it is worth the extra money for the heavily optioned Limited model. But from what I have experienced with the Five Hundred this is a practical sedan that is pleasing if not inspiring to drive and might just be the most likely replacement for the aging Crown Vic and Taurus. If you are remotely shopping for a sedan of any size the Five Hundred might surprise you as it is light on its feet and quite capable of carrying the family.
Young working woman’s view: My first reaction was quite positive. Here is an angular high sitting sedan that has a Scandinavian style interior. Walking around revealed good fit and finish. When I sat inside I found the controls easy to master. The stereo on the other hand was designed to be clever and so there was not the normal tuning dial or easy to find AM/FM button.
The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40-split and if you fold the front-passenger seat down there is enough room for an eight feet ladder. I don’t think that is going to cut into F-150 sales but it is shows you the versatility of the Five Hundred. Ford indicates that the trunk can hold about eight golf bags too. That gives you some idea of the space this Five Hundred offers. There are also an array of small bins and storage areas but I wouldn’t count on using the glove compartment to carry more than well gloves.
Young college male’s view: The Five Hundred is a car that is appreciated by age groups other than mine. It is attractive enough and I liked the interior but the engine just didn’t evoke the sensations I wanted. Also the gas mileage was adequate but not notable. I feel strongly that Ford is going to drop a more exuberant engine under the hood that can better take advantage of an exceptional chassis. And while Ford is at it the front end could be given a little more character too.
Acceleration is mild but the six speed automatic transmissions is notable outside of the mountains where has too many decisions to make as it hunts too for the right gear. A stronger engine would help alleviate this. Braking is first-rate and unlike my Grandfather’s LTD the power steering is not over boosted. The steering also is exceptional for such a large car. It is almost dainty. I would prefer more road feedback but I believe the setting is ideal for the Ford audience. The most notable feature of the 500 is the high seating position. It provides a commanding view and there is satisfactory legroom and terrific visibility. Sometimes you feel like you are riding on this car rather than in it and that is a good thing.
Family conference: If you like large sedans with smooth rides excellent visibility and an available all-wheel drive option the Ford Five Hundred is a fine choice. Outstanding lighting visibility and cargo room for a value priced big car are what Ford has created.
Written by The Car Family
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