Ford Taurus provides tweaks and more engine power for 2013
By Tom Crosby
Ford’s flagship vehicle, Taurus, is a five-seater sedan that’s morphed into one of the more technologically embedded cars on the road today, requiring voice commands for many functions while underway.
The sporty FR-S boasts a sporty interior and exterior, handles well, and is priced to attract younger drivers. Scion USA photo
The Taurus dashboard below the navigation screen is flat, requiring using the voice activation for many features. It is pleasingly responsive, except when it doesn’t understand the speaker, and the lack of hand controls as a fallback option can be frustrating. When the car is parked, the navigation screen can be manipulated by touch. The latest version of MyFord Touch allows personalization of the screen using voice commands, and the car prompts are clear and helpful.
Our Taurus test drive was the all-wheel-drive Limited, one of four Taurus models, including the SE, SEL, and high-performance SHO. The Limited model uses an amped-up 3.5-liter V6 engine. A 2.0-liter Eco-boost engine also is available, and all models use the same six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with a sport mode.
Options for our ride were Equipment Group 302A ($3,500), which added 14 features like heated rear seats, active park assist, blind spot monitoring, and remote start. Adaptive cruise/control ($1,195) is a real safety boon on long interstate trips, and finally, that voice activation system ($795).
For 2013, drivers now benefit from Torque Vectoring and Curve Control, which adjusts tire spin and suspension relative to speed in tight curves. An automatic closing of grille openings at higher speeds helps improve aerodynamics.
Inside the vehicle, seating is comfortable in all positions with ample leg and headroom that is among the best for large sedans. The ride on standard 19-inch wheels was smooth, complemented by excellent handling, undoubtedly improved with the new vector/curve function. Expandable cargo space remains generous, with fold flat rear seats and the passenger seat.
Gas mileage is acceptable for a large sedan and the 3.5-liter engine now uses twin independent variable camshaft timing that adds two more combined miles per gallon, 24 more horses, and six more ft-lbs. of torque. Taurus can use E85, but expect a 5 mpg drop. Acceleration is good and interior noise is well muted.
Ford has marketed the Taurus as the “safest large car in America” due to its previous top crash test scores in all four National Highway Traffic Safety Administration categories and a past “Top Safety Pick” by the independent Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The Taurus for 2013 is expected to achieve the same top safety results.
Likes: Space, power, handling, quiet, ride, controls
Dislikes: Flat dashboard
Bottom Line: Bigger, better, tech-savvy, spacious, reliable sedan
Tom Crosby is vice president of communications for AAA Carolinas. He is based in Charlotte, N.C.