- Excellent results in 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
For buyers who are convinced they "don't make 'em like they used to," allow us to direct your attention to the 2017 Ford Taurus.
The 2017 Ford Taurus has many qualities that you might hope to get from a large American sedan, such as a smooth ride, a spacious interior and a cavernous trunk. In an era in which small, fuel-efficient cars are considered to be the wave of the future, the Taurus has an old-school vibe that some shoppers might find appealing.
But the current generation Taurus is beginning to show its age in its eighth year of production. We're still put off by the car's limited outward visibility, so-so interior materials and ponderous handling. The SHO variant is certainly more fun to drive, but its steep price tag can make this variant hard to justify. And a host of newer rivals offer greater luxury, more up-to-date amenities and a more engaging driving experience.
Taking all this into account, we suggest Taurus shoppers compare it to the top-rated Buick LaCrosse or Toyota Avalon sedan. Other smart choices include the Chevrolet Impala and Chrysler 300, plus the Hyundai Azera and redesigned Kia Cadenza. If it's performance you seek, we'd recommend the Chevrolet SS or Dodge Charger over the Taurus SHO.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The 2017 Ford Taurus is unchanged.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
Classified as a large five-passenger sedan, the 2017 Ford Taurus is offered in SE, SEL, Limited and SHO trim levels.
Standard features on the SE include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, integrated blind-spot mirrors, LED taillights, an exterior keyless-access keypad, air-conditioning, six-way power-adjustable front seats with manual recline and lumbar adjustment, 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 input jack and two USB ports.
Stepping up to the SEL trim adds LED accent lights in the front lower fascia, body-color heated mirrors, 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 the SE).
The SEL can also be had with the Equipment Group 201A option package, which adds keyless entry and ignition, power-adjustable pedals, an additional center speaker for the audio system and the Sync 3 infotainment system, which includes an 8-inch touchscreen.
The more luxurious Taurus Limited gets you all the Equipment Group 201A items, plus 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic high beams, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats, driver-seat memory settings, heated second-row seats, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a premium Sony audio system.
Limited models can also be had with the Driver Assist option package, which includes adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel parking system, a forward collision warning system, and lane departure warning and intervention. Stand-alone options for both SEL and Limited include 20-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, a rear spoiler, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a navigation system.
The sporty SHO starts with most of the Limited's standard equipment and adds all-wheel drive, a more powerful turbocharged engine and a sport-tuned suspension, plus exclusive 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, black exterior trim, a rear spoiler, unique leather upholstery and interior trim, and steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.
Most Limited options are also available for the SHO, along with a 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 2017 Ford Taurus' interior features an attractive dual-cowl design that flows seamlessly down into the center stack and console below. The materials quality feels dated compared to that of newer competitors, but the available Sync 3 system offsets that impression by virtue of its large 8-inch central touchscreen and the pair of smaller displays in the instrument cluster. The Sync 3 system is easy to use and incorporates the latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration systems.
Both front and rear seats are spacious, with adult-sized head- and leg-room even in the backseat. That said, the combination of a prominent dash, thick roof pillars and relatively small windows conspires to limit visibility and make the interior feel more cramped than it really is. Out back, the Taurus sports a huge trunk with a very practical 20.1 cubic feet of room. The 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks allow you to expand that spacious cargo hold if the need should arise.
The list of standard safety features for the 2017 Ford Taurus includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and emergency telematics via paired cellphones. 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 forward collision warning system that also pre-charges the brakes for maximum responsiveness, a lane departure warning and intervention system, blind-spot monitoring 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 front- and side-impact protection. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Taurus its best rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 Ford Taurus comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 288 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. EPA fuel economy estimates for 2017 weren't available at publishing time, but last year's Taurus V6 posted 21 mpg combined (18 city/27 highway). All-wheel drive is available on the SEL and Limited models and drops fuel economy numbers to 19 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway).
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque is offered as an option on front-wheel-drive models only. This powertrain earns an EPA rating of 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway).
The high-performance SHO is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard. In Edmunds testing, a Taurus 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. EPA fuel economy numbers are 19 mpg combined (16 city/24 highway).
On the road, the 2017 Ford Taurus fits the role of a large American sedan nicely. It is positively in its element on long road trips, where its smooth ride quality and hushed cabin make it an ideal place to roll away the miles.
The singular exception, of course, is when that road winds itself up into a series of tight curves, whereupon the car's bulk can make it feel like a handful. The SHO model is a little more nimble than the standard Taurus, but its handling is still not on par with that of some comparably priced competitors.
As far as what's under the hood goes, the standard V6 provides entirely acceptable performance for everyday driving. The available turbocharged four-cylinder engine's acceleration isn't that far off from the base V6's, and it offers slightly better fuel economy. Overall, though, we prefer the V6's more relaxed character. The SHO model's turbocharged V6 provides abundant, V8-like acceleration.
The 2017 Ford Taurus has some appealing qualities. You'll like its big trunk, for instance, and its safety scores are top-notch. But some rival large sedans offer newer and fresher designs that you might find more appealing overall.