- Available four-cylinder engine returns high fuel economy
- Excellent results in government and IIHS crash tests
- Rides comfortably and quietly on the highway
- Giant trunk is one of the roomiest in the large sedan class
- Available all-wheel drive for enhanced wet-weather traction
- Interior doesn't seem as airy or spacious as it should
- Feels slow and ponderous when driving around turns
- Performance SHO model lacks the punch of big engine rivals
The Ford Taurus enters its seventh year of production in 2016, and the big sedan is showing its age. With newer rivals offering added luxury, more features and better driving dynamics, the 2016 Ford Taurus falls short of class-leading status, though it remains a stylish and competent car overall.
Despite its advanced age, the 2016 Ford Taurus is still a sharp-looking large sedan with a contemporary vibe.
This year does see one significant upgrade with the introduction of Ford's latest Sync 3 infotainment system. Our initial impressions are that Sync 3 is far more responsive and user-friendly than the outgoing and often criticized MyFord Touch system. As ever, the Taurus also benefits from a spacious cabin, a massive trunk, a powerful SHO model and available all-wheel drive.
Among the Taurus' liabilities, however, we count poor outward visibility, interior materials that fall short of today's expectations and ponderous handling. Furthermore, although the SHO's performance is impressive for this segment, it may not live up to its hefty price tag.
With all of this in mind, we suggest shoppers look into alternatives like the Edmunds A-rated Toyota Avalon. Other strong B-rated competitors include the Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Hyundai Azera and the related Kia Cadenza. For those with a penchant for performance, we'd recommend the Chevrolet SS before the Taurus SHO. The 2016 Ford Taurus has its hands full in such capable company, but with rumors of a full redesign afoot, perhaps a renaissance is coming soon.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
The new Sync 3 infotainment system replaces the much-maligned MyFord Touch interface. Otherwise, the 2016 Taurus is largely unchanged.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
Classified as a large five-passenger sedan, the 2016 Ford Taurus is offered in SE, SEL, Limited and SHO trims.
Standard features for the SE include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, integrated blind-spot mirrors, LED taillights, remote keyless entry, an exterior-access keypad, cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, six-way power front seats with manual recline and lumbar, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, Sync voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 4.2-inch display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and two USB ports.
Standard rear climate vents help keep backseat passengers happy. Heated rear seats are a high-end option.
Stepping up to the SEL trim adds body-color heated mirrors with puddle lamps, LED accent lights in the front lower fascia, rear parking sensors, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded cloth upholstery and interior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio (the latter is optional on SE).
The SEL is also eligible for leather upholstery, heated front seats and the Group 201A option package, which adds keyless ignition and entry, power-adjustable pedals, an additional center speaker for the audio system and the Sync 3 infotainment system, which includes an 8-inch touchscreen and twin color displays in the gauge cluster.
The more luxurious Taurus Limited further includes the Group 201A equipment, along with 19-inch wheels, a universal garage door opener, a power-adjustable steering wheel with wood trim, heated and ventilated 10-way power front seats, driver memory settings, leather upholstery and ambient interior lighting.
Both the SEL and Limited trims are eligible for 20-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, a rear spoiler and a navigation system. The Limited can be topped off with the 301A package, which adds an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, automatic wipers and high beams, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade and a 12-speaker Sony audio system with HD radio.
Other Limited-only options include the Driver Assist package (adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking system, a frontal collision warning system and lane-departure warning and prevention) and multicontour front seats with active bolsters and a massage feature.
The sporty SHO starts with most of the Limited's standard equipment and adds exclusive 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights (surprisingly not available on lesser Taurus trims), black exterior trim, all-wheel drive, a more powerful turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler, the auto-dimming driver-side mirror, steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, alloy pedals and unique leather upholstery and interior trim.
Most Limited options are also available for the SHO, along with an SHO Performance package that adds summer tires, a stiffer suspension, upgraded brake pads, unique steering tuning, an enhanced stability-control system with a track mode and a fully disabled setting, a revised final-drive ratio for quicker acceleration and simulated suede trim on the steering wheel.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2016 Ford Taurus' cabin is gracefully designed, featuring a twin-cowl dash and a sweeping center stack that joins with the center console. High-tech features abound on models equipped with the Sync 3 infotainment system, highlighted by a sleek center stack with a crisp 8-inch touchscreen and a pair of equally vivid 4.2-inch displays in the gauge cluster. These elements help give the Taurus a more upscale demeanor, though the interior plastics aren't fully up to snuff relative to some other sedans in this segment.
Speaking of Sync 3, it's designed to address one of the biggest complaints about previous Taurus models, namely, the problematic MyFord Touch infotainment system. Our early impressions of Sync 3 have been generally positive, thanks to the greatly simplified layout and quicker response times. Whereas MyFord Touch utilized a quirky quadrant-based interface that could be challenging to operate on the fly, Sync 3's various functions are clearly arrayed as virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen. You can also use pinch-and-swipe gestures like you would on a smartphone or tablet.
The 2016 Taurus offers roomy rear quarters with an elevated bottom cushion that gives passengers a better view out.
Seating in the Taurus is spacious, with plenty of room for adults in both rows, but it may not seem that way at first. Thick roof pillars, a high beltline and a tall dashboard all contribute to reduced outward visibility and a somewhat confined feeling. Cargo capacity is very generous, though, with a massive 20.1 cubic feet of trunk space.
Standard safety features for all 2016 Ford Taurus models include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, integrated blind-spot mirrors, a rearview camera and emergency telematics via paired cell phones. Also included is Ford's MyKey system that monitors the vehicle and allows owners to set certain limitations and alerts for valets and teen drivers. Rear parking sensors are standard from the SEL trim on up.
Optional features for the Limited and SHO trims include a frontal collision warning system that also pre-charges the brakes for maximum responsiveness, a lane-departure warning and prevention system, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and an automated parallel parking system.
In government crash tests, the Taurus earned the top five-star rating overall, including five stars for both frontal and side protection. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Taurus its best rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side and roof-strength crash tests, as well as a "Good" rating for rear impacts (head restraints and seats).
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The standard engine for the 2016 Ford Taurus is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 288 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard and sends power to the front wheels. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 23 mpg combined (19 city/29 highway). All-wheel drive is available on the SEL and Limited models and drops fuel economy to 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway).
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available solely with front-wheel drive and produces 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It is estimated by the EPA to achieve 26 mpg combined (22 city/32 highway).
The higher-performing SHO receives a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that's good for 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, as are shift paddles for manual control. In Edmunds testing, an SHO accelerated to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, which is competitive with the Dodge Charger R/T but about a full second slower than the Chevrolet SS and Charger R/T Scat Pack. Fuel economy for the SHO is EPA-estimated at 20 mpg combined (17 city/25 highway).
In many ways, the 2016 Ford Taurus is a throwback to an era when big sedans ruled the roadways. Its smooth ride quality and quiet cabin make it a pleasure to drive on long trips, while its commanding size gives it an imposing character at speed. On the other hand, the Taurus can feel unwieldy on tight roads, and it's less responsive to driver inputs than some rivals. The Taurus SHO is certainly sharper, but it, too, falls short of the athletic standard set by its price peers.
Power from the base V6 is certainly adequate, while the optional turbocharged four-cylinder doesn't make significant power sacrifices to achieve improved fuel efficiency. The SHO's turbo V6 is the obvious choice for anyone with an appetite for performance, as it generates power on par with the 5.7-liter V8 offered in the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.
Looking for a classic American sedan that has its foot firmly in the future? Then you'll want to take a look at the 2016 Ford Taurus. It not only offers a fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it has Ford's latest technology interface that makes it easier than ever to integrate your smartphone. There's also available all-wheel drive for sure-footed driving in harsh weather and a huge trunk to carry groceries or golf clubs. Want to learn more?