Back when Granadas, LTDs and Fairmonts were Ford's mainstay sedans, the 1986 Ford Taurus was a breakthrough car. In its day, nothing else looked or performed like it.
With a few notable exceptions (such as the excellent Taurus SHO editions), it's been downhill for the Taurus ever since. Unforgivably, Ford management worked the bull hard until it nearly died. Short-term profits were more important than car's best-of-breed style or performance. Inevitably, the Taurus became an also-ran car.
While not a lousy car in its current form, the 2008-2009 Taurus didn't revive sales. For 2010, Ford decided to do something drastically different. The all-new full-size 2010 Taurus is it. With the exception of on the auto show circuit, expect to see it in dealers this summer at a price that matches the outgoing car, $25,995.
The larger, all-new design is decidedly upscale. Thankfully the design team eschewed the outgoing Taurus's giant VW Passat roofline. There's not a hint of the dowdy old style to be found. Ford's marketing people hope that the new Taurus will become the flagship for the brand. This is a tall order given the car's current reputation as a rental fleet pariah and/or a retiree's final vehicular purchase.
It looks like the new Taurus is up to the task with its sculpted hood and sleeker lines. The front fenders are pronounced and the roof is lowered, giving the sedan a sportier stance. Our only quibble is with the grille. The 2010 Fusion and 2009 F-150 both feature prominent three-bar grilles, but the new Taurus's seems to be confused. With a broad upper chrome bar and three dissimilar painted bars below, the 2010 Taurus grille and wrap-around headlights look good, but they simply don't match the other cars in the Ford line. Standard wheels are 17-inch, and 20-inch rims are optional. The new designs fill the sculpted wheel wells and work well with the raised shoulder line of the rear fenders.
Inside, a forward-leaning center stack clearly makes the 2010 Ford Taurus a five-seater. There will be no front bench seats or column shifters available for this car (we hope fleet car purchasing agents aren't crying too hard). New production techniques have yielded better looking and richer feeling dash and door coverings. As evidenced in recently introduced models, Ford knows how to craft high-quality and visually pleasing interiors. Panel gaps and materials appear on par with luxury cars.
Even though the Taurus is a full-size car, the amount of passenger room is still surprising. The adjective "huge" comes to mind. The trunk, thanks to the high profile of the rear fenders and the tall deck, is likewise enormous. Back in the days of drive-in movies, it would have been easy to fit three stow-aways back there with room for beer and chips.
The 2010 Ford Taurus should have the moves to match its trimmer more athletic looks. The mechanicals are based on the Lincoln MKS, a car we've driven and liked. The standard engine is the proven Duratec 3.5-liter V-6, generating an estimated 263 horsepower and 249 foot-pounds of torque. Along with earning ULEV-II emissions certification front-wheel-drive Taurus (all-wheel drive is optional) is expected to deliver unsurpassed highway fuel economy in the class, but Ford hasn't yet released mpg estimates. Plan also calls for the availability of Ford’s turbocharged and direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 to become available after the car goes on sale. In the MKS, the boosted engine produces 340 horsepower. Perhaps this foreshadows the return of the SHO (Super High Output)?