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