Almost Driven: 2010 Ford Taurus

June 13, 2009

The 2010 Ford Taurus is arguably Ford Motor Company's (F) most important new vehicle for 2010. The full-size sedan will be on sale later this summer in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive versions that include the high-performance SHO edition.

We're driving the car Monday and Tuesday (June 15-16), and we'll post photos and comments directly from the event. Unfortunately, there will be a delay in our full report, because of what's known in the public relations industry as a news embargo. What's embargoed is driving impressions. The reasoning is to give all the press time to drive the vehicle, compile their opinions, write the reviews, and then program their web sites to release the data at precisely the same time. This gives the marketers at Ford enough control to combine advertising and other promotions to coincide with the free PR. (Just thought you'd like to know a bit about how our side of the business works...)

So write down these dates on a Post It and put them on the frame of your computer monitor: Monday, June 22 for standard Taurus driving impressions and Tuesday, June 23 for Taurus SHO driving impressions.

However, editors from have already driven a SHO Taurus at a safety-related technology event. To be perfectly honest, we didn't have an opportunity do learn much about how it drove in our brief time behind the wheel. We were there to experience the big Ford's collision warning technology. It works well.

A more helpful experience as has as we rode around Ford's Dearborn test track with one of Ford's lead chassis engineers. We rode shotgun in the SHO as Miss Rodriguez blasted the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO around a road course at fantastic velocities. Rodriguez helped lead the development of the new Taurus's chassis, and from what we recently experienced from the passenger seat, we have good things to look forward to.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Chassis Engineer, Christina Rodriguez

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Chassis Engineer, Christina Rodriguez

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Pulling out onto the test track, Rodriguez explained, "In this job, your body has to become a precisely calibrated instrument that can understand what the car's mechanicals are doing. It takes a while to tune your body, but I've been working on this particular chassis for eight years, so I really know what it's capable of and how to make it respond." While the 2010 Taurus is an all-new vehicle, it is related to other Ford products (the Lincoln MKS, Ford Flex, and the outgoing Ford Five Hundred/Taurus). Rodriguez also contributed to the ride and handling on those vehicles, a task that began with the Ford Five Hundred back in 2001.The 2010 Taurus has four distinct suspension calibrations; one each for the front-wheel-drive Taurus, the all-wheel-drive Taurus, the all-wheel-drive high-performance SHO, and the ultimate SHO fitted with the Performance Package. Rodriguez noted that each model has unique suspension calibrations that are based on the specific model's equipment and personality. We were riding shotgun in the SHO with the Performance Package.

The step up from the SHO to the SHO with the Performance Pack tightens everything including 20-percent more on the dampers (those would be struts and shock absorbers to non-engineers), then 9-percent stiffer rear springs, and a thicker rear anti-roll bar. These changes make the most performance-oriented SHO a more neutral handling car that drivers should find exceptionally agile and immediately responsive. It certainly felt that way from the passenger seat.

The faster Rodriguez drove on the test track, the smaller the Taurus seemed to get, easily carving lines between and through the corners. The roll of the body felt well controlled, and it never wallowed. Watching Rodriguez dial in the steering, the car seemed to respond quickly and directly. Compared to an all-wheel-drive Taurus, the SHO's unit gets unique tuning with a greater power bias to the rear wheels for a more balanced feel, and the car seemed to rotate around the corners effortlessly.

Like most engines these days, all you can really see of the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 is...a plastic cover.

Like most engines these days, all you can really see of the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 is...a plastic cover.

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Our SHO was an early, pre-production model that has been used hard for development work. It's twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5-liter engine V-6 accelerated the big bull with no apparent turbo lag, and the heavy-duty six-speed automatic shifted smoothly.

Our opinion on how the EcoBoost delivers its power is clearly conveyed in our posts after driving the 2010 Lincoln MKS and 2010 Lincoln MKT. The motor really delivers the power, and it's power is bumped up a bit in the SHO installation compared to the Lincoln tuning.

Stay tuned for new posts and our complete driving impressions.

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