Review of 2013 Ford Taurus
Freshened for 2013, the Taurus is reminiscent of Ford’s top-of-the-line family sedans of yesteryear, cars such as the Galaxie 500, the LTD: big, comfortable, and quiet, with relaxed dynamics and respectable power. Plus interior appointments that border on luxury. But even though Taurus pricing can soar well above the $40,000 threshold, Ford refrains from portraying it as a luxury sedan. As with its premium family-sedan forebears, luxury is the province of Lincoln.
Nevertheless, there’s lots of luxury here. Check the amenities in our $35,240 all-wheel-drive SEL test car: leather seats with power adjustability and heat up front, dual-zone auto climate control, auto-up-and-down power windows, remote starting, AM/FM/CD audio with an auxiliary jack and satellite radio, power-adjustable pedals, ambient lighting, a rearview camera, updated MyFord Touch secondary controls with voice-activated Sync connectivity, a tilting-and-telescoping steering column, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert. (In addition, Taurus models offer a new self-parking feature, although this wasn’t a part of our test car’s equipment.)
Some of the foregoing is optional equipment. But it all adds up to a car that coddles its occupants with a rich and serene driving environment that makes ordinary commuting and cross-country driving very pleasant indeed.
But let’s not confuse pleasant with stimulating.
Ford characterizes the updated Taurus as “aesthetically refined,” which is plausible, and “athletically refined,” which isn’t, unless you’re talking about the SHO. The mainstream members of the family, including this SEL, are tuned for creamy ride quality, which they certainly deliver. They do so at the expense of considerable body roll, as well as a fair amount of up-and-down motion on bumpy roads. All of this isolates occupants from the unpleasant realities of nasty pavement but makes cornering a matter of patience, transient responses deliberate, and understeer the defining dynamic trait.
New electric-assisted power steering adds to the car’s conservative dynamics. It’s quick, at 2.8 turns lock-to-lock, but numb and lifeless. Braking performance, too, is no better than so-so. Equipped with optional 19-inch wheels and low-profile Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-season tires (255/45), our test vehicle put up a respectable skidpad number—0.84 g—but its stopping distance of 182 feet from 70 to 0 mph is lamentable in a family sedan.
Unlike some of its premium-sedan competition—the Hyundai Azera, the Nissan Maxima, the Toyota Avalon—the Taurus offers several engines: an optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost four, which is new to this car for 2013; a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, exclusive to the high-performance SHO; and a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6, the standard Taurus powerplant, upgraded for 2013 with variable timing on all four overhead cams. Output for the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter six tested here rises to 288 hp and 254 lb-ft, gains of 25 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque. The standard V-6 also scores a 2-mpg increase in its EPA highway fuel-economy rating, which climbs to 26 mpg (the city number remains at 18). We logged 21 mpg in our testing.
Every Taurus is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission that offers a manual operating mode. All-wheel drive is a $1850 option for SEL and Limited trim levels with the base 3.5-liter, and our test car was so equipped.
The Taurus is a full-size car, and the addition of four-wheel drive makes for a pretty portly sedan—4187 pounds, in this case. As you’d expect, carrying around two-plus tons isn’t a 0-to-60 asset. Our test car did the sprint in seven seconds flat and rolled through the quarter-mile in 15.4 seconds at 93 mph. For contrast, a Buick LaCrosse did the 0-to-60 dash in 6.5 and the quarter-mile in 15.2 at 94. We don’t know what the redesigned 2013 Avalon will do at the test track—it’s due in October—but anticipate similar performance.
The Taurus’s acceleration won’t provoke facial distortion, but it’s certainly adequate. And although no one is likely to apply the “sports sedan” label to it, the Taurus SEL does have many redeeming virtues as an upscale—premium, if you will—family four-door.
Ford has added new dynamic safety features—torque vectoring and curve control—for 2013. Operating on information from system sensors, torque vectoring uses subtle brake applications to enhance cornering. Curve control uses the braking system to control the car through a turn when various sensors decide the driver’s entry speed is too high for a given situation.
This is an exceptionally quiet car. The 2012 Taurus was no snare drum, but the 2013 edition has the ambient noise levels of a library at midnight. Sound-damping measures include upgraded hood and dash insulation, acoustical sealing, and wheel-well liners.
Comfort is yet another strong suit. In addition to its supple ride, the Taurus boasts cushy relaxed-fit seats, upgraded interior materials with lots of soft-touch surfaces (although there’s still some hard plastic), and optional hedonistic goodies such as massaging front seats. The interior is roomy, although rear-seat legroom is still a problem and will be until Ford abandons this ancient Volvo platform—it’s big on the outside but has compromised interior space due to its thick sills. On the other hand, the center rear seat is actually habitable for more than a few blocks, and trunk space is vast.
A particularly welcome update in the comfort column: head restraints with four-way adjustability. They replace nonadjustable restraints that pushed front-seat occupants’ heads forward at an awkward angle, making them suitable tools for severe interrogations.
The previous Taurus had an upscale appearance, and styling tweaks for 2013 build on its appeal. Exterior updates include a new hood design, a wider grille, a new lower fascia, projector-beam headlamps, redesigned LED taillamps, and wider wheel-and-tire packages that lend a bit more muscle to the car’s appearance. A set of 19-inch aluminum wheels served this function on our test car, part of a $2300 option package that included upgraded audio, the voice-activated Sync system, ambient lighting, adjustable pedals, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. The only other option was a $1495 seating package that brought supple leather upholstery and heated front seats. Taurus pricing starts at $27,395 for the base SE. Front-wheel-drive SEL models open at $29,595, fancier (more premium) Limiteds at $33,795, and the SHO at $39,995.
So if it’s not luxury, then what? Maybe it’s time to revive a term from the good old days: deluxe. Sound about right?
Remember to get other Ford Taurus Accessories such as Ford Taurus Billet Grilles from Automax Styling.