New Ford Taurus goes upscale, in many ways
summit daily auto writer
It’s been an impressive year or so for Ford Motor Company, so I apologize if I have to do a bit of catch-up here. You’ve heard all the details about the new Explorer, which will appear in dealers later this fall, and you’ve probably seen plenty of information about the all-new-for-America Fiesta, advertised through social media and aimed at a younger, more fuel-efficiency-minded set.
Lost in all of that was the re-launch of another of Ford’s venerable nameplates, that being the Taurus, the one-time most popular car in the country. Taurus seemed to have run its course by the mid-00s and despite a short-term solution in the form of a rebadged Ford Five Hundred, the name needed a little extra sparkle in its new form.
Subsequently, the sixth-generation 2010 Ford Taurus (soon to be replaced by a 2011 in showrooms) is indeed a substantially different and classier move when it comes to the four-door sedan world.
With a taller presentation and styling cues that are now more clearly defined across the entire line (you’ll see a little Taurus in the Explorer, for instance), Taurus moved upscale. Those who want a more leathery iteration can opt for the Lincoln MKS; it even its standard form, the new Taurus is a pretty impressive option, and substantial indeed.
You notice that immediately when you walk up behind the car and find that the trunk lid comes up to your chest; big doors, a big hood, a gigantic center console, a gigantic trunk, even a big steering wheel … an automobile suited for regular-sized Americans.
The laundry list of Euro-baiting bits also includes heated and cooled front seats (and heated rear seats), a 12-speaker Sony sound system, a power rear window shade and glossy wood paneling throughout the cabin.
Comfortable to drive and loaded down with plenty of gizmos (Sync, voice-activated navigation, adaptive cruise control and collision warning), some of which will gradually get the Explorer’s even more refined technology, Taurus is indeed all about stylish largesse.
So you set out on the road and you start to feel that bigness in you hands, with handling that’s solid but certainly not svelte. And like the Lincoln MKS, it soon becomes obvious that at our altitude, Taurus would feel a lot more lithesome with the 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost engine (as one finds in the SHO model), bumping the horsepower to 365, versus the 263 horses delivered by the standard Duratec engine.
Taurus has a slight weight problem, and the stock motor sounds like it’s struggling a bit when you put it through those High Country uphill stretches or flatten the pedal to pass people on the freeway. You’ll earn up to 25 mpg in the even heavier all-wheel-drive version if you behave; the SHO’s turbocharged engine gets the same mileage, however.
The packaging is definitely pleasant, with all of those glossy bits mostly working together. The touchscreen for radio, navigation and climate control is a tad too far away to be reached without a stretch, but the voice-activated system (recently out-teched by the new MyFordTouch system) can understand simple directional inputs and get you to where you want to go, without any button poking.
Multi-tone finishings (in my tester, cream-colored leather with stitching, wood grain accents, chrome and dark plastic) also class things up, with optional multi-contoured seating and plenty of foot room.
Ford’s new thumb-and-forefinger, pistol-grip shifters for the six-speed automatic transmission also serve to provide quick inputs when you want to do your own gear changes.
One odd aberration to the largeness: The rear window is tiny, and because of the size of the two rear headrests, it’s difficult to see much behind you.
Happily there’s a full blind spot warning system as a backup and, to the front, the useful but slightly panicky collision warning system, which flashes a bright red light inside the front window when Taurus thinks that you don’t see an object in your path – better safe than sorry, I guess.
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