First Drive Review: 2010 Ford Taurus
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2013.
By Shaun Bailey of Road & Track
Detroit, Michigan — I feel sorry for the Ford dealers who still have a 2009 Taurus on the lot. For the price of the dreary Taurus that still reminds us of the ill-fated Five Hundred, you can have a 2010 model, a car whose styling alone makes the wait worthwhile.
The base SE model starts at just under $26,000, and it doesn't afford much in the way of optional upgrades. The SEL, the likely volume leader, costs an extra $2000, but it has paddle shifters for the standard 6-speed automatic, 1-in.-larger 18-in. wheels, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control and a variety of other upgrades that make it a realistic choice for even the price conscious.
With a few options, an SEL such as the one I drove costs nearly $30,000. And the improvement over its predecessor is huge; this new Taurus is far more modern and dynamic, some say almost European in design. I'll say it just looks good, and this has been achieved without sacrificing size or practicality. The interior is very spacious, and the trunk is cavernous.
On the highway, the Taurus has a quiet ride and a light steering effort. Steering wheel-mounted shift paddles can be pushed or pulled for simple one-handed shifting. Sporty rev-match downshifts and smooth upshifts characterize the gearbox, and the 3.5-liter V-6 (with 263 bhp and 249 lb.-ft. of torque) provides ample acceleration and easy cruising for this 2-ton sedan. Although the Taurus is large, it doesn't feel especially so, at least until you try to park it. But on the road, its size is never an issue.
On the damp back roads of Michigan it's easy to find the front-wheel-drive sedan's limits, but it's clear that the front MacPherson struts and multilink rear suspension have been tuned to make a European customer happy.
Soft springs and heavy dampers absorb Michigan's ever-present potholes nicely, yet allow for crisp corner entry. Roll control is good, but if you push too hard there's a benign transition into moderate understeer that is wholly predictable. With higher cornering speeds come a proportional amount of body roll, but thankfully not as much as might be expected. The improvement is related to revised rear suspension that moves the shocks farther outboard for a better motion ratio that's now 1:1 as opposed to the previous car's 0.6:1.
We've regularly faulted American manufacturers for their use of hard plastics in interiors. The 2010 Taurus, like the new Mustang, has gone a long way in addressing that criticism. The twin-hump dash derived from the Mustang is spongy, as are the upper door panels. Nearly every surface is pliable.
Gripes are minor. The shift paddles feel plasticky, as if they were supplied by Mattel. And the standard wheels of the top-of-the-line Limited model are not alloys; they are steel wheels with plastic chrome cladding.
For the Limited, tack another $4000 on to the price of the SEL. That extra cash will get you lots of chrome, wood-grain appliqués, SYNC hands-free infotainment, power seats, leather trim and other upgrades. But what is unusual are the individual upgrades available for the Taurus. These include all-wheel drive, Sony premium audio, multi-contour front seats and remote start. The Limited can be further upgraded with a navigation system (with a high-resolution screen), a power rear-window sunshade, heated rear seats, cooled front seats and active cruise control.
The Lincoln MKS — which shares its underpinnings with the Taurus and doesn't offer much more by way of comparison — costs a lot more than this new Ford.
Perhaps I should start to feel sorry for the Lincoln dealers...