The 3.5-liter V-6 is reasonably quiet and has plenty of power, but it's not as refined as Toyota's 3.5-liter V-6. There's an M for manual gate for the shifter if you want to pretend you're in a sport sedan: push either one of the paddles toward the front of the car to downshift; pull back toward you to upshift. The problem is that these plastic paddles feel flimsy; they move around in their mounts. The transmission itself performs beautifully.
Our friends who were visiting from Montana and who owned a second-generation Taurus were shocked by the cascading center stack, which they found claustrophobic. But Ford has deliberately tried to move the Taurus away from just family sedan status to an everyman sport/luxury sedan, and to that end the encroaching center stack is probably appropriate.
The automatic dimming headlights work quite well. They dim themselves at the slightest sign of oncoming light, but they also are sensitive to traffic lights. You're driving down a dark road, all alone, and a third-mile ahead of you is a blinking red light, and they go to low beam, so you end up driving a third-mile on low beam. But of course you can override that.
I was happy to see the folding rear seat, because I had to buy a 6-foot piece of lumber and it was easy to load.
The twelve-speaker Sony stereo is great. The syncing of the iPhone is fabulous, just as easy as in the Lincoln. I prefer the radio interface here to the Lincoln MKX's because the Taurus has actual round knobs for the volume and tuning. The rearview camera and the screen graphics are excellent.
I still find the car to be overly tall, with too much mass, but it's a good-looking car. I don't deny its appeal. I don't care for the nineteen-inch chrome wheels on our test example.
I took the Taurus to Chicago for part of the Thanksgiving weekend. It's a very good freeway car. My two passengers and I enjoyed all of the amenities, especially the radar cruise control, which worked very well, very unobtrusively; it was really impressive. There's also blind spot detection, so it makes for a very safe freeway vehicle. There's a huge trunk and even the rear seats are heated.
We admired the Kona Blue metallic exterior paint, which appears to be flawlessly applied and which really catches the light. You don't notice it at first, so it's a pleasant surprise when you do.
Average fuel economy was only 23 mpg. I would hope to reach the mid-20s in a car like this.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor