2011 Ford Taurus Limited

Don't let the pretty face, slender daylight openings, and the Taurus nameplate (previously tacked onto Ford's mid-size model) fool you. Today's Taurus is one large barge. I was deceived until it came time to maneuver it into my garage. At 202.9 inches long-16.2 inches longer than the Lincoln MKX I recently drove, and just 10 inches shy of the outgoing Crown Victoria -- I barely had enough room to close the garage door and slip past the nose into my apartment.

Kudos to Ford's styling team for hiding that heft so well, but the engineers did a better job of disguising the Taurus's portly size out on the road. The Taurus will never be mistaken for a sport sedan, but it does drive like a somewhat smaller vehicle. The 3.5-liter V-6 is normally aspirated in non-SHO models but still provides adequate power, and is more than happy to rev when pushed.

Rear-seat passengers may be treated to acres of legroom and a generally comfortable bench seat, but I wish the front seats were a little more hospitable. The tall seating position (a hallmark of the previous Ford Five Hundred) is a little ungainly, and despite both a telescoping steering column and power-adjustable pedals, I had difficulty dialing in a position I found comfortable for long stretches of interstate driving.
- Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

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

The Ford Taurus Limited offers nice straight-line performance, but torque steer is readily apparent. Clearly it's a good thing that the more-powerful Taurus SHO is all-wheel drive. The base Taurus is no slouch when the road turns twisty, though, which was a pleasant surprise. I'm not saying it's a sport sedan, but it can still put a smile on your face.

I disagree with Evan in one regard: when I sat in the driver's seat, I thought the Taurus felt every bit as big as it is-and bigger than its rivals. This is off-putting both in sedate and spirited driving. On the plus side, however, there's a ton of room in the back seats, and they're heated, too.
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

This particular Ford Taurus has all the bells and whistles -- automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, etc. -- but all those goodies also mean that it is quite expensive, coming in at just under $40,000. Remember, this is a nameplate that, just a few years ago, Ford was willing to relegate to the trash heap, having replaced it with the Five Hundred. It may take awhile before the car-buying public is willing to part with 40k for what was until recently a rather mundane family sedan. (You can still get an entry-level Taurus for about $25,000, however.)

Having said all that, the Taurus is now a pretty decent car. The 263-hp V-6 isn't the most refined engine on the market, but its power, delivered through a six-speed automatic, is certainly enough to hustle this rather large sedan along. There are a lot of nice touches on the interior, such as the ambient lighting, heated front and rear seats, and the uplevel sound system. Still, I can't help but compare it with the Toyota Camry XLE we had in the fleet at the same time, which had many similar amenities and came in at about $3000 cheaper.
- Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Base price (with destination): $32,595
Price as tested: $39,235

Standard Equipment:
3.5-liter V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Advancetrac with electronic stability control
19-inch chrome wheels
10-way power driver and front passenger seats
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Premium sound system
Sirius satellite radio
Sync system
Tire pressure monitoring system
Reverse sensing and backup camera

Options on this vehicle:
Rapid Spec 303A -- $3000
Limited-branded floor mats
Heated/cooled front seats
Rear window sunshade
Heated rear seats
Adjustable pedals
Rain-sensing wipers
Blind-spot monitoring system
Push-button start
Sony audio system with 12 speakers
Voice-activated navigation -- $1850
Adaptive cruise control/collision warning -- $1195
Multi-contoured seats -- $595

Key options not on vehicle:
Power moonroof - $895

Fuel economy: 18/27/21 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Size: 3.5L DOHC V-6
Horsepower: 263 hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 249 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Drive: Front-wheel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Wheels/tires: 19-inch chrome wheels, Goodyear Eagle RS-A 255/45R19 all-season tires

Competitors: Buick LaCrosse, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima

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