The first Ford Taurus showed up in 1985 (as a 1986 model) and proved to be an instant success. In one year, Ford sold over 200,000 examples of the car, and by 1989 that number had surpassed one million units. Ford had not seen this kind of success for a car since the Mustang debuted in 1964.
|1. A new base 3.5L V6 engine delivers 25 hp more power for a new total of 288, while fuel economy rises one mpg in the city and two on the highway for total of 19/29.
2. Available luxury goodies include a heated steering wheel, keyless access with a push button ignition, a backup camera, adaptive cruse control and a rear power sunshade.
3. Curve Control and Torque Vectoring systems help improve corner .
4. A 2.0L 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine, available later this year, will deliver 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque with a 31 mpg highway rating.
5. 2013 models start from $26,600 and $39,200 for the SHO.
The Taurus sent a wake-up call to the North American automotive industry, spurring Chevrolet and Chrysler to hit back with answers to the Taurus — although none came close to beating its initial success.
Last year, Ford sold just over 63,000 Taurus models in America. While not a bad sales figure, it’s still far from the car’s early sales.
To recapture customer attention, Ford revamped the Taurus for the 2013 model-year, but will it be enough to shoot up Taurus sales to the level it once enjoyed?
NEW LOOK MORE INSIDE THAN OUT
From a distance, the 2013 Ford Taurus doesn’t look much different from the 2012 model. You’ll be hard pressed to distinguish between last year’s SE, SEL and Limited models and the 2013 versions. The new SHO does, however, stand out from the previous car thanks to its new nose and stunning 20-inch wheels.
Subtle as they many be, there are styling changes; like the wider front grille and a lower fascia. Around the side, you will find folding rear-view mirrors and perhaps even the optional 18-, 19- or 20-inch wheels (the base SE model has 17-inch wheels standard). While at the rear, you’ll find LED tail lights and dual exhaust pipes.
The bulk of Ford’s updates, however, are to the interior. Here you’ll find higher quality materials than the previous Taurus and a completely revised dashboard. Gone are the old twist knobs and raised buttons, replaced by a clean and simple flat panel in the center of the dashboard that has soft touch buttons.
The system is similar to the current Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. It’s not to everyone’s liking and there has to be some worry that the Baby Boomer and older generations won’t warm to the technology as quickly as a Gen Y would. Still, it gives the interior a cleaner, more up-class look.
The (optional) touch screen infotainment system looks good but has the same drawback as any other. It’s feature-packed, but all touch-screen systems show finger smudges and are hard to keep clean.
Otherwise, the interior is a pleasant, particularly because it’s quiet. Ford spent a lot of time and effort to make the Taurus quieter than the competition with thicker glass and more sound insulation. According to Ford, the new Taurus is quieter than the Toyota Avalon and the Nissan Maxima, and after driving the car we’re not arguing.
Interior space is unchanged from 2012, which is fine, especially given the generous 20.1 cubic-foot luggage capacity in the trunk.
SOLID POWER AND MPG IMPROVEMENTS FOR STANDARD V6
Engine options are also updated for 2013 with the addition of a 2.0-liter Ecoboost, which will be available later this year and an improved base V6 ready for launch. The top-of-the-line 3.5-liter twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 in the SHO remains the same with 365 horsepower and 350 ft-lbs of torque. Rather than serving as an entry-level engine, the four-cylinder it will actually cost $1,000 more than the base V6, though it wasn’t available for testing during our test trip.
The base V6 is vastly improved with twin independent-variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). Thanks to its variable cams, this motor now produces 25 horsepower more than last year’s car, to a total of 288-hp. Maximum torque is now 254 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. Peak numbers aside, there’s bags more power in the mid-range rpms which makes highway passing a breeze.
Power is fed to either the front wheels or to an all-wheel drive system through a six-speed automatic gearbox, which might be very smooth, but it seems Ford is behind the curve with much of the competition moving to eight-speed gearboxes.
Ford says, despite lacking a few extra cogs, this new Taurus is still more efficient than most of its competition, averaging 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Not bad for a vehicle that is 16.9-feet long and weighs 4,000 lbs.
Remarkably, the much more powerful Taurus SHO can deliver the same fuel economy, provided you don’t lean too hard on the gas.
When the EcoBoost 4-cylinder arrives it will deliver 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque and an impressive 31 mpg on the highway.
All SHO models come equipped with all-wheel drive, which certainly makes driving feel more secure, especially in slippery road conditions.
HIGH-TECH DRIVING AIDS
To further help drivers navigate through twists and turns, Ford has fitted its latest curve control and torque vectoring devices to the Taurus. Curve control will slow the car down by as much as 10-mph if it feels the car is going too fast for the corner, and torque vectoring applies slight braking force to the inside front wheel when accelerating out of a corner, helping the car take a tighter, more precise line through the corner.
We like driver aids that work behind the scenes, keeping you safe. What we don’t like very much is the electronic power steering system – surprisingly, as its quite good in other Ford products. In the Taurus it lacks feel for what the front wheels are actually doing so more attention is required to figure out how much steering input is actually needed.
Prices for the 2013 Ford Taurus start at $26,600 for the SE model. The better-equipped SEL and Limited models are $28,800 and $33,000 respectively (add $1850 for all-wheel drive with both these models). The fast and surprisingly frugal SHO model is yours from $39,200.
An evolution of a car you’ve been able to buy from your local Ford dealer for the past two years, some of the improvements to the 2013 Taurus are more noticeable than others and buyers might not see all the updates as improvements.
From a technical and performance point of view, this new Taurus is a step in the right direction. Adding improved driving dynamics, fuel economy and power it certainly has a leg up on the aged Maxima and Buick LaCrosse. SHO aside, the styling updates don’t shake the old-man design which will probably push some buyers toward Dodge and Chrysler‘s more youthful styling, or even the new Hyundai Azera.