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