The Best Ford Taurus Ever, and that’s No Bull!
by Joe Tralongo
The Taurus brand means a lot of things to a lot of people, at least in the world of family sedans. Some have enough gray hair to remember the original Taurus, a revolutionary design that catapulted Ford, and the American family sedan, to new heights. The second generation was basically a watered down version of the original that saw its European good looks slowly morph into Middle American spread. By end of the third generation, the Taurus had become little more than basic transportation, associated more often with an airport rental than a sleek, ground breaking design of the future. At some point the Taurus name even lost its way, tossed aside in favor of the Five Hundred and then just as quickly was revived, but to no avail. Now Ford brings us the 2010 Taurus, a car unlike any Taurus before it, a car with substance and style, size and power. A Taurus that shares the same strong attribute that made the original a runaway success: the car’s an original.
I met the Ford Taurus on a rainy day in Asheville, North Carolina. A row of shiny red, black and silver Tauri lined the hotel drive, rain bouncing of their sheetmetal skins like a million tiny translucent super balls. This is a big car, bigger than the standard Accord or Camry. Its primary competitors are now the Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon, although Ford points to the Audi A6 and Lexus GS as rivals to the high-end Limited trim. That may seem far fetched, until you look at the incredibly long list of standard and available equipment. Appearance wise, the Taurus looks like nothing on the road. A tall belt line creates armored car-like side doors, offsetting the narrow side windows and tall roof line. It does a bit of visual hocus pocus that makes a rather tall car appear low to the ground. The front end is punctuated by a billet-style grille (shades of the Ford F-Series), and the massive wheels are some of the most original and aggressive stock wheels I’ve seen on a production car in a long, long time. The performance-oriented SHO has returned as well, touting a twin-turbocharged 365-horsepower V6, 19-inch wheels, sport seats and sport-tuned suspension. As I only was able to spend a short time in the SHO and as it was pouring rain, I was unable to getting a feel for what the car can really do. Look for a separate SHO review in the near future.
Unlike many cars I’ve tested, it took only a few hours behind the wheel to get what the Taurus is all about. It’s a sedan for people who are leaving their SUVs, but don’t want to give up much in the way of size, safety or style. Driving on the twisting, narrow roads around Asheville only served to accentuate the Taurus’ wide stance leaving me with the feeling this car is more akin to a big Lincoln than mid-size Ford. The steering is heavily weighted, a welcome attribute at highway speeds but one that requires a bit more muscle then the overly-assisted systems commonly found on family sedans. Uncommon to past Taurus alumni is a modern V6 engine that pumps out a healthy 263 horsepower. This engine is able to move the Taurus with ease, which is impressive considering the car’s considerable heft, especially the all-wheel drive versions. Power is routed through a new six-speed automatic complete with steering wheel paddle shifters. Overall, I have to say that the engine and drivetrain are a first rate pairing, delivering power promptly when requested with no sign of gear hunting or sluggish shifts. Fuel economy figures are expected to be 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
The Taurus’s cabin is as much a surprise as its exterior especially the impressive headroom, which for a tall guy like me is always a concern. The Taurus offers ample space in all directions, and that goes for rear seat passengers as well. The front seats are wide enough to accommodate most folk comfortable, yet still offer a respectable supply of side and lumbar support. At the time of testing, the anti-whiplash front head rest were angled too far forward for my liking, but Ford promises the production cars will see the aggressive angle dialed back to a comfortable setting. The overall feeling inside the Taurus’ cabin is one of inviting textures, top quality materials and an attention to detail usually associated with high-end luxury brands. Because I’m basically an old queen in an angry queen’s body, I tend to fixate on the little things. I was pleased with the elegant sew pattern on the molded door panels, the complex angle of the flowing center console and the thorough use of ambient lighting in the foot wells, door pulls and overhead console. I was none too pleased with the cheap black plastic door lock spindles (complete with left over plastic flash) and the antiquated steering wheel button controls (they are stacked one atop the other, all the same size and are difficult to reach.) I’m bitching, I know, but I have to gripe about something. One last note on the interior, a special green thumbs-up to Ford’s design team for making this car as eco-friendly as possible. The faux suede SHO seat inserts, for example, are made from recycled pop bottles.
And then there’s the option’s list, which is really quite remarkable. No one will mistake a fully loaded 2010 Taurus Limited for the 2005 model of the same name, and here’s why:
• Adaptive Cruise Control – Uses radar to maintain a safe distance between you and the traffic ahead.
• BLIS – Blind Spot Information System alerts the driver to cars traveling in the vehicle’s “bind zone” via a flashing icon located inside the driver or passenger side mirror.
• Active Motion front seats- Great for long trips, these massaging seats feature air bladders that continually inflate and deflate. The idea is to constantly change the seat contours, thus helping to relieve fatigue.
• MyKey – Parents are going to love this, kids will be sending angry hate mail to Alan Mulally right up until they themselves have kids, at which point they’ll be thanking him. The system allows the owner to set limits on radio volume and top speed as well as activate alert chimes for preset speeds at 45, 55 and 65 mph.
• Ford Navigation and SYNC audio- While gathered for dinner one night, a group of my colleagues and I agreed that Ford’s navigation system is hands-down the best factory installed system of any manufacture. From its intuitive screens, simple icon imagery and abundance of useful information, it’s the template for all others to copy. Team it with Microsoft’s SYNC system and you have the ability to access you’re phone’s e-mail, text messaging, song library and call list, all by using voice commands. Even if you don’t elect the Navigation option, you can still receive turn-by-turn direction via the SYNC system, as well as traffic and weather updates.
• Keyless Entry Pad- Still a Ford exclusive, the touch pad key lock (cleverly hidden behind the black door pillar) allows access to the vehicle without the need for a key or key fob.
Because the Taurus offers so many features uncommon to this class, it renders competitors such as the Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon silent, and with a price range starting around $26,000 for the SE and topping out just over $40,000 for a loaded SHO, even many luxury brands can’t match what the Taurus is offering.
Ford is a gay-friendly company.
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