Model: 2005 to 2007 Ford Five Hundred
Vehicle type: Large sedan
Approximate used price range: $9,000 to $17,000
History/description: Ford launched its ‘Five Hundred’ as a 2005 model that fell into a re-energized American sedan marketplace. A big and comfortable ‘sofa sedan,’ the Five Hundred was Ford’s answer to Chrysler’s stately and handsome 300.
After 2007, Ford dropped the ‘Five Hundred’ nameplate and baffled the media and customers by renaming their large sedan the Taurus.
So, why consider the first-generation Five Hundred as a used ride? Those after a big, comfortable car will find it less expensive than comparable models like the Toyota Avalon, as well as larger than machines like the Chevrolet Impala. If it’s a spacious, easy-to-drive and accommodating ride you’re after, the Five Hundred should prove fairly cost-effective.
Look for standard V6 power, available All Wheel Drive (AWD), power adjustable leather seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power adjustable pedals and backup radar. Wood trim, a CD changer and a sunroof were also available.
In the used market, more basic Five Hundred models were badged as ‘SE,’ while the SEL and Limited trim levels identified mid and top-range models, respectively.
What owners like: Owners of the Five Hundred typically report satisfaction with the outward visibility, generous space at each seat, and a solid, planted and heavy ride. Another positive, say most owners, is a tall, commanding and nearly SUV-like view of the road ahead. Finally, the Five Hundred’s safety ratings impressed many family-minded drivers.
What owners hate: Owner complaints tend to deal with controversial styling, no optional engine upgrade, and acceptable, but unexciting performance in the acceleration department. Many owners also dislike the sound and ‘feel’ of the shift-less CVT transmission. These folks will recommend the 6-speed automatic every time, and so does this writer.
Common issues: The Five Hundred is known for a rear-brake issue, which may create harshness that’s apparent through the pedal as the vehicle stops. Be sure to ‘feel’ the car while applying the brakes at various pressures and speeds, questioning any strange rough or grinding sensations.
Listen to the rear suspension for any metallic clacking or clunking sounds over bumps. This could indicate a worn out suspension component or the need for a revised style of shock absorber.
Remember that at full throttle, the CVT transmission feels like a badly slipping automatic transmission — so don’t confuse the two.
Trouble starting in the cold may require reprogramming of the engine computer, and a buzzing or hissing noise from the speakers can be caused by electrical interference from the fuel pump. This problem is fixed with a simple electronic filter wired into the circuit.
Ensure all interior electronics are working properly, paying special attention to the automatic climate control, motorized seat controls and all windows.
The verdict: The Five Hundred should satisfy most luxury-oriented buyers after plenty of space, even if it’s not the most powerful machine in its class. Look for a good deal on a used model with warranty coverage if possible, and take advantage of the favourable size to price ratio.