- Long list of standard features and cutting-edge options
- Handsome and quiet cabin
- Humongous trunk
- Comfortable ride
- Available fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine
- Available all-wheel drive
- Cabin can feel confining
- Drives like the big, heavy sedan it is
- MyFord Touch interface can be frustrating to use
- SHO model's steep price tag
Ford is churning out a whole line of appealing vehicles these days, including the 2013 Ford Taurus. It wasn't always this way. Though the darling of American sedan buyers during the 1980s, the Taurus of the 2000s was unceremoniously kicked to the curb (and rightly so) for its uninspiring design, lack of competitive features and mediocre performance. But that was then and this is now.
For 2013, the entire Chicago-built Taurus line gets a welcome face-lift, including a new grille, front fascia, wheels, front and rear lighting, rear fenders and deck lid (with available spoiler). To accompany the sportier design, Ford has retuned the suspension, switched over to electrically driven steering assist (now with a quicker ratio) and added a new mild torque-vectoring system to improve handling. Ford has also updated the brakes to improve brake pedal feel and shorten stopping distances.
Inside the cabin, the 2013 Taurus follows Ford's trend of incorporating the latest version(s) of the Microsoft-powered Sync and MyFord Touch systems, enhancing infotainment and connectivity. Ford has also added higher-quality materials and acoustic insulation to enhance interior comfort and refinement.
Finally, the standard V6 gains both power and efficiency, while the six-speed transmission gains true manual-shifting capability. All-wheel drive is still available for those of us who are weather-challenged. The optional high-output turbocharged V6 for the SHO model remains unchanged, but on the opposite side of the spectrum is a newly available turbocharged four-cylinder. With an estimated 26 mpg in combined city/highway driving, it should be a smart choice for buyers who want a big sedan with a small appetite for fuel.
Of course, the 2013 Ford Taurus isn't the only full-size sedan vying for your attention. The Chrysler 300 is also worth serious consideration given its style, performance and features. Checking out the new Hyundai Azera and Hyundai Genesis is also a good idea. But the dramatically improved 2013 Taurus is a solid choice, particularly if technology and efficiency are high on your list.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013
The 2013 Ford Taurus receives a freshened exterior and added convenience features across all trims. While the standard 3.5-liter V6 is both more efficient and powerful compared to last year, the big news is the addition of an available turbocharged four-cylinder engine promising enhanced fuel economy. The high-performance Taurus SHO model is now available with a new Performance package that includes a firmer suspension, upgraded brakes and stickier tires. Ford has also updated the MyFord Touch electronics interface.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2013 Ford Taurus is a full-size five-passenger sedan offered in SE, SEL, Limited and SHO trim levels.
Standard equipment on the entry-level SE includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, integrated blind spot mirrors, LED taillights, an exterior access keypad, cruise control, air-conditioning, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The SEL adds 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors, remote ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, satellite radio and the Sync system, which allows you to control Bluetooth phones, iPods and other media players through voice commands and the car's controls.
Options on the SEL are extensive: Group 201A includes rear parking sensors, an additional center speaker, MyFord Touch (includes a large center touchscreen plus two additional displays in the gauge cluster), two USB ports and expanded Sync functionality. Group 202A further adds 19-inch wheels, a rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry, ambient interior lighting and power-adjustable pedals. Free-standing SEL options include leather upholstery (packaged with heated front seats and a six-way power passenger seat), a power sunroof, a rear spoiler and a voice-activated navigation system.
Most of the features in the SEL's optional packages are standard on the Taurus Limited, along with perforated leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with power lumbar, driver-seat memory functions and a wood-trimmed steering wheel. The Limited's optional 301A package adds an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, a blind-spot warning system with cross traffic alert, HD radio, heated/ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a 12-speaker Sony sound system. The top-tier 302A package further adds an automated parking system, automatic high beams, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a rear sunshade. Additional stand-alone options for the Limited are 20-inch wheels, the sunroof, adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, the navigation system and multicontour front seats with active bolsters and a massage feature.
The Taurus SHO includes all of the Limited major equipment and supplements it with a more powerful V6 engine, all-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters on the steering wheel, uniquely tuned steering, xenon headlamps and unique leather upholstery with faux-suede inserts. The optional SHO Performance package adds performance brake pads, recalibrated steering and suspension, a different final-drive ratio, stability control defeat, 20-inch wheels, summer tires and a faux-suede steering wheel.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2013 Ford Taurus offers a classy-looking passenger cabin, particularly with the MyFord Touch system installed. The seating is quite comfortable, especially with the optional high-tech "multicontour" front seats with built-in massage. The backseat offers generous head- and legroom even for good-sized adults. At 20.1 cubic feet, the trunk is one of the largest you'll find on any sedan. Fold down the rear seats and the Taurus offers up even more space.
On the downside, the car's rising beltline, thick roof pillars and tall center console can make the interior feel confining despite its voluminous scale. To Ford's credit, some of the previous-year's Taurus drawbacks have been addressed. Some of the hard plastics that gave the cabin a decidedly low-rent appearance and feel have been replaced by soft-touch materials, and the latest-generation MyFord Touch system is a definite improvement.
The standard MyFord Touch interface consists of three display screens and the ability to input commands for various audio, phone and navigation functions via voice, touch controls or buttons on the steering wheel. It's a smart idea in theory, and it does provide some nice customization possibilities. Unfortunately, there's a learning curve involved, and even with this year's update, we've found the system can be slow to respond and the touchscreen's icons are difficult to locate and press on the move.
Every 2013 Ford Taurus comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and integrated blind spot mirrors. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are standard on Limited and SHO models and optional on the SEL. Optional on the Limited and SHO are a pre-collision warning system (included with adaptive cruise control) and a blind-spot warning system bundled with a cross-traffic warning system, which warns you of approaching cars or pedestrians when backing up.
In government crash tests, the Taurus earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection. The Taurus also received the best rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2013 Taurus is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission (now with a manual shift button on the console shifter) and front-wheel drive are standard, while all-wheel drive is available as an option on SEL and Limited models. EPA fuel economy stands at 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with front-drive. Opting for AWD drops those numbers to 18/26/21.
New for 2013 is an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Rated at 240 hp and a stout 270 lb-ft of torque, this engine is the fuel economy leader of the line. The highway estimate stands at 32 mpg while the more telling combined figure rates an impressive 26 mpg.
The Taurus SHO gets a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic with shift paddles are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the Taurus SHO went from zero to 60 mph in a quick 5.8 seconds. Fuel economy for the SHO is 17/25/20.
On the road, the 2013 Ford Taurus offers a comfortable ride. All Taurus models now use a version of electric-assist power steering to further aid in fuel economy. The SHO's is the sportiest with its unique tuning, but all are reasonably weighted and allow for easy maneuverability in parking situations. The firmer sport-tuned suspension underpinning the SHO model sharpens up the handling noticeably.
That said, there's no hiding the Taurus' hefty weight and grand dimensions. Where other large sedans drive and feel like smaller cars, the Taurus still exhibits some lumbering characteristics around corners. Not helping matters is the car's challenging rear visibility.
The SHO's twin-turbo V6 offers acceleration that falls just short of its V8-powered competitors from Chrysler and Dodge, but it returns fuel economy that puts them to shame. Even so, we think most folks will be just as happy with the standard V6, while pocketing the substantial price difference. Meanwhile, those looking for maximum fuel efficiency needn't settle for lackluster performance, as the available turbocharged four smoothly provides more than sufficient all-around thrust while earning high fuel economy numbers.
With its comfortable interior and large trunk, the 2013 Ford Taurus is an appealing rendition of the classic full-size American sedan.