The Taurus (nee 500) is a full-size four-door that acts as the range-topper for Ford's sedan lineup. For the latest model year, Ford updated the Taurus and the high-performance Taurus SHO with a host of changes highlighted by revised exterior styling, new luxury features and an optional EcoBoost four-cylinder engine.
Up front, the Taurus gains a more aggressive front fascia and grille design that's flanked a more muscular hood design. At all four corners the Taurus now enjoys larger wheels and tires that are intended to better fill the wheel wells and provide a planted feel and sporty look. Ford also tweaked the rear quarter panels and fitted fully LED taillamps to complete the updated look.
Though the dual-cowl layout of the dashboard carries over from the old car, Ford did update the cabin with by reducing the number of hard surfaces and upgrading the materials across the instrument panel and center console. The company also wrapped the A-, B- and C-pillars in cloth and flock-lined the glovebox and center console storage bin. Sound levels are reduced thanks to new A-pillar and cowl baffles, as well as sound absorbing liners for the wheel-wells.
The interior also benefits from a combination of eco-minded materials and advanced technology. Recycled materials are used in the cloth surfaces and headliner and also for sound dampening materials found under carpets and attached to panels. The Taurus' seats also use soy-based foam in place of petroleum-derived materials, which helps reduce dependence on oil and leaves a more eco-friendly byproduct when the seats reach the end of their service lives.
The Taurus features Ford's latest telematics system, MyFord Touch, and also retains the entry-level Sync system as an option as well. For the Taurus, Sync MyFord Touch uses an eight-inch display screen that is touch sensitive to allow occupants to control many functions of the vehicle ranging from stereo controls to seat warmers.
The base engine for the Taurus continues to be a 3.5-liter V6, albeit with a 25 horsepower bump to 288 thanks to the addition of twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). Torque also increases to 254 lb-ft. Mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission, the V6 returns 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
The big news on the engine front is the addition of Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged inline-four as an optional engine. Despite its small displacement, the motor bests the torque of the V6 with 270 lb-ft, while horsepower is rated at 240 ponies. Fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
The Taurus also benefits from a number of minor efficiency improvements, including a low-tension front end accessory drive belt, a smart battery management system, more aggressive fuel shutoff during deceleration, variable-displacement air conditioning compressor and reduced friction lubricants throughout the powertrain. While individually these changes may only contribute a fraction of a percent of improvement, Ford says the overall effect can equate to measurable improvements.
To complement the new engines, the Taurus now features a larger brake master cylinder with improved booster tuning that results in a shorter pedal ratio and improved braking feel. The braking materials themselves are also upgraded for reduced fade and improved stopping power.
Let's Talk Tech
Also new for the entire Taurus lineup is the addition of EPAS, or Electric Power Assist Steering for those not quite hip on the acronyms used by the Blue Oval engineers these days. EPAS helps provide additional tune-ability for steering feel for each model, and also reduces parasitic loss on the engine.
Continuing the story of improved driving dynamics begun with the addition of EPAS, the suspension features revised springs and dampers to improve handling and ride quality. The Taurus also benefits from electronic torque vectoring, which was recently introduced in the Ford Focus. This technology is intended to replicate the effects of a true limited-slip differential without the added components thanks to computer-aided selective braking applied to inside wheels while navigating turns.
Borrowing from the utility side of Ford's lineup, Taurus also gains curve control, another Ford-developed braking system that helps drivers who enter turns with too much speed to safely navigate the turn by properly slowing wheels individually in a way no driver could ever replicate on their own. The net result is a reduced turning radius, and hopefully, keeping the vehicle on the pavement in a moment of misjudgment.
New Luxury Features
Available luxury features on the latest Taurus now include a heated steering wheel to complement the heated and cooled leather-trimmed seats, Multicontour seats with Active Motion - a class-exclusive feature - that uses built-massagers to help keep the driver and front passenger alert and comfortable on long drives, Intelligent Access with push-button start and automatic high beams that sense oncoming traffic and automatically turn high-beams on and off.
Every Taurus model comes standard with dual front and side airbags along with dual front and rear head airbags. Other safety features include traction and stability control systems and electronic brakeforce distribution.
The Taurus faces strong competition from a rejuvinately field of full-size sedans, including the stylish, rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300, the luxurious Buick LaCrosse and the value-laden Hyundai Azera.