This 3.5-liter V-6 feels stronger than it did in the 2008 Taurus I drove last year, but for even more thrust, check out the Taurus SHO and its 355-hp EcoBoost V-6. The EPA city rating for this V-6 is only 18 mpg, which seems a little low, but this is a big, heavy sedan.
Everything in the handling department feels pretty much spot-on for a sedan of this size that lacks sporting pretentions. Damping, spring rates, and body roll are all in line with a sedan that skews more toward luxury than sport. There is a bit too much tire and suspension noise over broken pavement, but the cabin is otherwise very quiet and well insulated.
Most of the materials and finish on the interior were quite nice, but I noticed a few flaws. One would hope that production cars will be free of the annoying squeak that emanated from behind the dashboard and that the material quality will be more uniform. The controls for the audio, climate control, and other vital systems are very easy to decipher.
Yes, this is the flagship sedan Ford has been looking for. I don’t know that the Taurus name is the right choice, but Ford’s CEO, Alan Mulally, has spoken, and the Taurus name will probably stick around for a while. Let’s hope Ford can keep this car fresh.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
If your last experience with a Ford Taurus was a tired rental car five years ago, you’ll be shocked when you slide behind the wheel of the all-new, 2010 model. The Taurus’s interior is very modern and luxurious. I definitely like the aesthetics of the instrument panel, and I’m not offended by the fake wood trim, which is perfectly reasonable in a car of this price class. Ford’s designers did a good job with the cascading center console; although it’s a very familiar modern design theme, it’s not something that Ford has done much. Here, it gives the Taurus a definite sporty, cockpit-like feeling. One gripe: the ignition surround is incredibly chintzy; it’s like something from a Chrysler product of a decade ago.
There is nothing particularly noteworthy about the Taurus driving experience, in either the negative or positive senses. It’s a competitive vehicle but doesn’t stand out, particularly. That said, it’s comfortable and pretty quiet, and the front seats are quite comfortable. At about 70 mph, if you goose the accelerator, the V-6 engine sounds a little coarse. Front visibility is decent, but the car is very tall and the A-pillars are very thick, so you certainly don’t feel at one with the road. Most Americans will like that feeling, however, and will appreciate the Taurus’s ride height.
As others have noted, the Taurus’s trunk is very big, but the load lip is also on the tall side and the reach-over length is substantial, as well. Once you load your stuff in there, though, there’s a whopping 20.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split.
I drove the Taurus over a long weekend, and initially I was bothered by the same faint rattling noise from the instrument panel that Phil Floraday noticed. Fortunately, as the weekend wore on, the noise disappeared. Wherever I went, lots of people took notice of the new Taurus. This was the first time I’ve used Ford’s capless fuel-filler, and it’s great.
One more thing: I was speaking on my cell phone with Automobile Magazine’s West Coast Editor, Jason Cammisa, as I got into the Taurus. He could hear the door chime and asked me what car I was in, because he noted that the Taurus chimes sound just like the ones in the MINI Cooper. I laughed, and said, “Well, this Taurus is HUGE and heavy, so that’s the ONLY thing it has in common with the Mini!”
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
I just spent the morning hanging out with a 1950 Ford for a photo shoot. Now that’s a workaday Ford that uses some great, robust materials and has impressive attention to detail. This 2010 Taurus … not quite so much.
The rest of the Taurus is so good, I’m surprised by the hard, poorly fitting gray plastic that flanks the center console, which is inconsistent with some of the other cabin materials, which include plenty of nice, good-fitting, soft-touch items. The layout of the interior is very good, too, both ergonomically and visually, and the trunk is absolutely huge. However, space for back-seat passengers is somewhat disappointing, especially footroom; I doubt that four six-footers would be very comfortable for a long drive in this car. And one more comment about the interior (which is so critical in a car like this): the massaging driver’s seat is a cool feature, particularly in a $31,000 car, but why is it controlled by a vague, seat-side-mounted rocker switch instead of a simple pushbutton?
The new Taurus drives well but not remarkably so, which, as Phil noted, is just about right for a pseudoluxury mid-size car. The Ford’s acceleration is perfectly adequate, but the SHO edition will certainly be a welcome upgrade not only for speed demons but also for patriotic VIPs in a hurry. I really like the exterior styling, but it would take some time to get used to the spoilerlike turn-up on the trunk lid, which makes it seem like other drivers are tailgating you a lot more closely than they actually are.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The new Taurus has shed its old-man skin. The stodginess is gone, inside and out. But there is a price to pay. The new car does retain the high seating position that was supposed to make the old Taurus/Five Hundred a big hit. It didn’t do that, but it’s worth retaining anyway because it makes for more comfortable seating and easier ingress and egress. Rear-seat roominess, though, has taken a hit. The steep tumblehome and racy, sloped rear window have seriously compromised headroom, and footroom is scarce as well. As much as I like the new look outside, a car this big should have an uncompromised rear seat.
Another fallout from the new styling is that rear visibility stinks (as it does in most new cars nowadays). The rear parking aide is a virtual necessity – good thing it’s reasonably priced at only $700 bundled with Sync.
I love the look of the dash; the lowered and angled center section makes the car feel both sporty and spacious. Hopefully, in customer cars the hard plastic sides of the console won’t be ill-fitting and the key surround won’t slop around. The sprayed-on door panel inserts actually look and feel okay, but the grab handles feel cheap.
I was more impressed with the dynamics. The normally aspirated V-6 is plenty adequate here, and torque steer has been so well banished that I thought at first that this car was equipped with all-wheel drive. The suspension effectively masked Michigan’s crumbling pavement and yet the ride is not floaty. As Phil noted, the car is very quiet; wind noise is virtually absent, but there is a bit of tire noise.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
In its role as mainstream sedan, the Taurus will never be the most exciting car in the Ford fleet, but this latest redesign has at least injected it with some sorely needed upgrades. The exterior design has been given a bolder, more modern look with a new grille and headlights, a higher beltline, and more pronounced fenders. The modernization continues inside, with a nice-looking center stack that houses audio and climate controls and, of course, Ford’s Sync multimedia system.
The 263-hp V-6 is perfectly adequate for the purposes to which it will most likely be called on to perform, and the suspension, while not tuned for enthusiasts, does a good job of absorbing the bumps on rough road surfaces without making the driver feel completely isolated from the road.
All in all, a nice upgrade from the previous Taurus/500.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2010 Ford Taurus SEL FWD
Base Price (with destination): $28,995
Price as tested: $30,980
Rapid spec package 201A – $700
-Reverse sensing system
Red candy metallic paint – $295
Multicontoured seats – $595
Heated front seats and leather interior – $1395
18 / 28 / 22 mpg
Size: 3.5L 24-valve DOHC Duratec V-6
Horsepower: 263 hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 249 lb-ft @4500 rpm
6-speed automatic transmission
Weight: 3494 lb
Michelin Pilot 235/55
Look for: new exterior and interior, transmission, sync