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2013 Ford Taurus: Preview

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Bringing Ford's legendary Taurus nameplate back on track has been one of the automaker's many miracles of the past several years. With the return of the Taurus SHO, and a heavy dollop of tech features and luxury refinement, Ford brought a once-great name back from the brink—as an excellent, albeit staid larger sedan.

Based on the still-rather-conservative restyle we've seen in the 2013 Ford Taurus unveiled at the 2011 New York auto show, that part of the Taurus formula won't change anytime soon. But Ford has stepped it up in nearly all other respects—with better fuel economy, improved driving feel and dynamics, and even more safety and tech features that are typically reserved for German luxury flagships.

Four-cylinder returns to the Taurus

The big news is that the Taurus will offer an available turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that will make V-6-caliber horsepower and torque while returning "at least 31 mpg highway." That's 3 mpg better on the highway than the current 3.5-liter V-6 in the front-wheel-drive Taurus, and 2 mpg better than the Toyota Avalon.

In the 2013 Taurus, a 290-horsepower version of that same V-6 will remain standard, but it adds twin independent variable camshaft timing, bringing it up to date with recent upgrades for the 2011 Ford Mustang, 2011 Ford Flex and Lincoln MKX, and 2011 Ford F-150. A 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four will be optional, making 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. In either case, they're hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. And yes, the high-performance 2013 Ford Taurus SHO will return, too.

To help achieve those better fuel economy numbers, all Taurus models will get a more aggressive fuel shutoff, a variable-displacement air conditioning compressor, reduced-friction lubricants, smart battery management, and a low-tension accessory belt, in addition to the electric power steering (EPS) that the company is deploying on all of its models. The suspension has also been retuned. Soy foam seats and noise padding made of recycled materials are other capstones of Ford's green intent.

Better steering and braking? Check.

Engineers have worked to give the 2013 Taurus a better steering feel compared to the current version; that includes a quicker ratio. And one of our chief complaints—a spongy-feeling brake with long travel—has been explicitly resolved in the new version. Ford says it's improved pedal feel, shortened travel, and upgraded the actual brake material.

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