Ford Motor Co.’s July sales decline of 0.8% was due largely to unfavorable comparisons to 2009’s “Cash-for-Clunkers”-induced results, but a 116.4% increase in sales of the Taurus indicates the new fullsize sedan is resonating with customers.

Launched last summer, the redesigned ’10 Taurus added 5,046 units to Ford’s 167,932 July tally (27 selling days vs. 26 in like-2009).

Although Taurus deliveries were eclipsed by perennial best sellers such as the Ford Fusion midsize sedan (15,820 units) and Focus C-car (15,417), the Taurus has been a solid hit for the Blue Oval.

“Ever since the new Taurus was introduced, retail sales are about 1.5% better than the old vehicle,” George Pipas, Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst, tells Ward’s in a recent interview. “Taurus is a big revenue contributor, even at volumes it’s selling at.”

Year-over-year comparisons are skewed somewhat, given that in July 2009 most of the Tauruses sold were the old model, basically a rebadged version of the ill-fated Ford Five Hundred.

Even so, the Taurus has performed impressively in the Ward’s Large Car segment. Through the second-quarter, the Taurus was the second-best seller in the category with 36,367 deliveries. The Dodge Charger took the top spot, with 45,785 sold.

Taurus’ recent sales success may indicate a turnaround for the venerable nameplate, which had fallen on hard times.

In 2007, the previous-model Taurus racked up only 33,032 sales, far from its heyday in 1992, when the model held the distinction of being the top-selling passenger car in the U.S. with 492,751 units.

Consumers also are opting for highly contented Tauruses, which adds to Ford’s bottom line. The Taurus SHO performance car, which demands a premium of more than $10,000 over the base model, has a 15% take rate.

“That was basically where we thought it would settle out,” Pipas says of the SHO penetration. “In the first months (it was on sale), the (take rate) was close to 20%.”

The success of the new model comes as no surprise to some dealers.

“We sell more of the new Taurus because it’s way better looking (than the previous model),” Larry Stovesand, owner of Paducah Ford Inc. in Paducah, KY, tells Ward’s. “The old one looked like a turtle.”

Besides Taurus, July was an especially strong month for other large Ford products, including the F-Series pickup, which posted a 36.2% increase vs. like-2009 on 48,173 units. Most large vehicles were not strong sellers during the Clunkers program, making year-over-year comparisons more favorable.

When heavier versions of the F-Series are included, such as the F-350, the sales tally eclipses 50,000 units, says Ken Czubay, Ford vice president-sales and marketing.

“It’s the first time since March 2008 we accomplished that,” Czubay says today during a conference call with analysts and reporters.

Noteworthy performers in July include the Mustang, up 17.4%; Escape (22.1%) and Explorer, (33.5%).

Despite deliveries being hampered by a hurricane in Mexico, Ford’s new Fiesta B-car posted 3,349 in sales in July.

“We’re pleased with early deliveries,” Czubay says. “There’s a greater percentage of buyers 35 and under (than expected). We’re doing really well and getting better demographics than many competitors.”

Ford’s fleet mix for the month was 25%, down from 26% last July and 36% in the first six months of this year.

Of fleet deliveries, only 4% were to daily-rental customers, a segment considered less lucrative than government and commercial sales.

This week marked the long-anticipated sale of Ford’s Volvo subsidiary to China-based Zhejiang Geely.

Volvo sales will continue to be included in Ford’s sales through August, a spokesman says.

It is unlikely Volvo’s exodus will have much of an impact on Ford sales. In July, Volvo deliveries were down 35.4% to 4,319 units. Without Volvo, Ford’s sales would have been up 0.6% in July, Ward’s data indicates.

Ford ended last month with a 349,000-unit inventory, consisting of 123,000 cars and 226,000 trucks.

bpope@wardsauto.com