Downside: Completely subjective. I just don't like the way it looks, not at all.
Ride, acceleration and handling: As good in all categories as any comparable mid-size sedan, if not better. Do yourself a favor and drive this one before you allow its looks to turn you off.
Head-turning quotient: It turned not a single head, not one. No oohs, no ahhs, no sneers. I felt like the Invisible Man in this car. No thief will pay attention to it. Then, again, who knows? This one is so vanilla, if it is involved in a crime, witnesses will have a hard time describing it.
Layout/body style: The Ford Five Hundred is a front-engine, four-door sedan with a traditional trunk. The front passenger seat folds forward, and so does a portion of the rear seat -- allowing you to carry long items. It is available with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
Engine/transmissions: The Five Hundred is equipped with Ford's Duratec, 3-liter V-6 engine. It develops 203 horsepower at 5,750 revolutions per minute and 207 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm. It can be linked to either a six-speed automatic or a continuously variable automatic transmission, both of which are designed to help reduce fuel consumption.
Capacities: The Five Hundred has seating for five people. At 21 cubic feet, trunk space is the largest in the mid-size sedan class. The fuel tank holds 19 gallons of recommended regular unleaded gasoline.
Mileage: I averaged 25 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving.
Safety: Four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear) with anti-lock protection; variable-deployment-speed front air bags; traction control; side and head bags, the latter with rollover sensor control, are optional.
Price: Base price on the tested all-wheel-drive Five Hundred SE is $26,145. Dealer's invoice price on the base model is $23,900. Price as tested is $28,710, including $1,915 in options and a $650 destination charge. Dealer's invoice price with options and destination charge is $26,256.
Purse-strings note: The Five Hundred is an excellent mid-size car in a plainer-than-the-plainest-Jane body. It is surrounded by competitors -- the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G6, to name a few. You can bargain.