The dream of the 1840s is alive in Portland, Oregon, this week. That’s because ride-share service Lyft is offering covered wagon rides downtown to commemorate 175 years of the Oregon Trail from Tuesday to Thursday.
Lyft admits that the service isn’t as much about efficient transportation as it is about celebrating history. Riders who use the promo code OREGONTRAIL175 via the Lyft app get a free ride with pioneer-era experts as docents. They’ll be treated to a view of some of Portland’s oldest buildings and they’ll receive what Lyft said in a statement is a “commemorative memento.”
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Lyft said the rides are free but asked participants to bring a canned food item to donate to the Sunshine Division food bank. The rides start at the Oregon Historical Society in downtown Portland.
The Lyft rides have more in common with the popular educational video game that debuted in the 1970s than what as many as 400,000 fur trappers and early settlers experienced 175 years ago as they sought to tame the frontier. The original Oregon Trail was a wagon route from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon, first laid by trappers and later used by settlers fulfilling the “manifest destiny” ethos popular at the time.
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Use of the Oregon Trail declined rapidly after the Pacific Railroad’s final spike was driven into the ground near Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869. Today, Interstates 80 and 84 follow much of the same route Ruts from wagons used in the trail are visible in some areas today, most notably near Guernsey, Wyoming.
While actual Oregon Trail veterans dealt with disease, food shortages, and hostile territory, those waiting for the Lyft rides can play the Oregon Trail video game on iPads to pass the time.
The 2019 Ford Taurus provides as close to a throwback to Detroit boulevardiers as we’re likely to see for a while. We like the Taurus SHO well enough, but our score here is based on the more popular non-performance models. They have a ride that’s soft, if not especially controlled, and handling that doesn’t mask its heft as well as its rivals.
We take back a point for the way the Taurus flops around on a curvy road, putting us at a 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Most Taurus models use a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 288 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque that pairs to 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. The V-6 is smooth and refined and a low first gear helps it feel brisk enough around town. At highway speeds, the V-6 simply can’t overcome the Taurus’ curb weight.
The same is true for the way the Taurus handles. Its steering is direct, but this big sedan never feels nimble. Our compliments to the police officers who deftly hustle the Taurus around city streets. Instead, we’ve found that the Taurus is at its best when it settles into a comfortable cruise at highway speeds.
The Taurus SHO uses a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard equipment, and it does a good job of putting that power to the ground. Though the Taurus SHO is outmuscled by the Dodge Charger R/T, its smooth, broad torque curve makes highway passing a cinch. The SHO features a firmer suspension that we think does a better job of taking in most road surfaces.
An optional Performance Package for the SHO adds stronger brakes, revised steering tuning, different suspension settings, and summer tires. So-equipped, the Taurus SHO handles surprisingly well, although snow-belters will need to plan for a set of winter tires.
Review continues below
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