- Generous feature content
- Stylish and quiet cabin
- Enormous trunk
- Comfortable and controlled ride
- Available all-wheel drive
- Hard-to-read gauges
- SHO model's high price
It has taken a long and winding road to reach the 2010 Ford Taurus. This complete redesign is the latest chapter in an automotive story packed with ups and downs.
The name Taurus was first attached to a revolutionary car that changed the way automakers and auto buyers thought of family sedans. More recently, the Taurus (formerly the Ford Five Hundred) gave up its midsize credentials to the smaller Fusion. The car was adequate but didn't attract much in the way of critical acclaim or consumer traffic at Ford dealerships.
The 2010 Taurus remains in this large-car category, but its thorough overhaul promises a more refined automobile than its predecessor and a much more engaging driving experience. Its blocky styling is hardly the revolutionary concept that the original Taurus was, but it's nevertheless attractive and more interesting than the previous model. Most noticeable is Ford's departure from its signature three-bar chrome grille -- rather than resembling a Gillette razor, it now looks like a Braun electric shaver. Now that's progress.
Inside, the Taurus gets the same stereo and climate-control treatment as every recently redesigned Ford product. Although button-heavy and slightly cluttered-looking, it's a logically laid out design. While the controls are cookie-cutter, the surrounding design is fresh and stylish. In upper trim guises, the cabin is arguably more posh than Lincoln's MKS.
The biggest news, however, is the reintroduction of the Taurus SHO model. The last time we experienced this cult-favorite nameplate it was attached to the 1990s Oval-era Taurus iteration and was packing a 235-horsepower V8 engine. The new Taurus SHO employs a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. Dubbed "EcoBoost," this engine feeds 365 hp to all four wheels while apparently returning the fuel economy of a less powerful car. Meanwhile, the regular Taurus uses the same naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 that produced perfectly ample acceleration in the outgoing car.
The 2010 Ford Taurus bridges the gap between family sedans and luxury cars. Lower-priced trim levels will be compared to the Honda Accord, Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon. The Limited will compete with entry-level luxury sedans like the Hyundai Genesis, Lincoln's MKS and MKZ, and the Nissan Maxima. The SHO is clearly aimed at Chrysler's 300C. Among this crowd, we think pretty highly of the new Taurus. Other than a couple interior design missteps and pricing on the SHO model that seems a bit high considering what you get, the Taurus is pleasingly vice-free. Roomy and comfortable yet also fresh-looking and full of the latest convenience and safety features, the new Taurus is exactly what a modern full-size American sedan should be.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2010
The Ford Taurus has been completely redesigned for the 2010 model year. Of particular note is the return of the SHO performance edition.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2010 Ford Taurus is a full-size sedan that seats five people. It is available in SE, SEL, Limited and SHO trim levels. Standard equipment on the SE includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry and SecuriCode entry pad, full power accessories, cruise control, a six-way power driver seat, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, steering wheel audio controls and a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio jack. The SEL adds 18-inch wheels, automatic transmission paddle shifters, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded cloth upholstery and satellite radio.
Options on the SEL include 19-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, a power passenger seat, ambient lighting, leather upholstery and the Sync electronics interface system (which includes Bluetooth and an iPod interface). These items are standard on the Taurus Limited, plus 10-way power front seats, driver memory functions and an upgraded stereo with six-CD/MP3 player. The Taurus SHO adds a more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension, xenon headlamps, an auto-dimming exterior driver mirror (optional on Limited), a rear spoiler, keyless ignition/entry (optional on SEL and Limited), upgraded leather trim and faux-suede upholstery inserts.
Other options, depending on the trim level, include a sunroof, remote ignition, power-adjustable pedals, heated front seats, multicontour massaging seats and a 12-speaker Sony-branded premium audio system. For the Limited and SHO, Ford also offers adaptive cruise control with a collision warning system, a blind-spot warning system, automatic high beams, an auto-dimming exterior driver mirror, rain-sensing wipers, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a rear window power sunshade and a navigation system with in-dash single-CD/DVD player, hard drive with 10GB of digital music storage, and Sirius Travel Link (real-time traffic, weather and other information). The Taurus SHO can be further equipped with 20-inch wheels, a rearview camera and an SHO Performance package that includes performance brake pads, recalibrated steering, a different final-drive ratio, stability control defeat, summer tires and 20-inch wheels.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
A stylish Ford Taurus cabin seems almost oxymoronic, but with its twin-cowl dash and waterfall center stack, that's exactly what it is. Although the climate and audio controls are very button-heavy, they are logically laid out and easy to interpret. The Sync electronics interface available on all but the base car is a voice-activated technology that allows you to control your cell phone or iPod using voice commands or the car's physical controls. On other Ford products, we've found Sync to be effective and desirable.
While the interior is cleverly designed and well-built, some of the materials detract from an otherwise successful execution. The graceful waterfall stack is made from hard plastics and lacks padding for inboard knees. We're also not fans of the gauges, as their deeply recessed positioning in the dash makes them hard to read.
The previous Taurus offered one of the largest backseats in the class; the new car's has shrunk some, but it's still quite roomy for adults. The trunk measures 20.2 cubes, giving the Taurus one of the most cavernous cargo areas attached to a traditional sedan (only the Lincoln Town Car and Mercury Grand Marquis are fractionally bigger).
Every 2010 Ford Taurus comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Optional safety features include a blind-spot warning system, pre-collision warning system, a cross-traffic warning system (when reversing), rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2010 Taurus is powered by a standard 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 263 hp and 249 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. On all trims except the SE, the transmission features manual shift control and downshift rev-matching capability. Front-wheel drive is standard on every Taurus trim level and all-wheel drive is available on SEL and Limited trim levels.
The Taurus SHO features a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 making 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic with shift paddles is standard. Every SHO is all-wheel drive. Fuel economy estimates for either Taurus engine were not available at the time of this writing.
Whether on the highway or surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the big city, the 2010 Ford Taurus' cabin remains calm and quiet. Sleek aerodynamics and generous sound insulation help keep wind and road noise down to whisper levels. Bumps and other road imperfections are well absorbed, even with the stiffer SHO's suspension.
The standard V6 engine provides acceptable power to move this large sedan, and opting for the twin-turbo SHO will supply more than enough power for the average driver. In terms of handling, both Taurus models are stable and secure, though the lack of steering feel and a beefy curb weight prevent the car from being particularly involving to drive, even in SHO trim.
A substantial departure from its predecessor, the 2010 Ford Taurus brings modernity to the classic American full-size sedan formula.