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- Comfortable ride
- Luxurious cabin
- Excellent safety ratings
- Convenience and technology
- Rear seat short on headroom
- Feels big and heavy underway
- large wheels degrade ride
- Taurus SHO is not engaging
The 2016 Ford Taurus is the biggest sedan in its lineup, but it's short on rear-seat room, and it's beginning to feel its age.
The Ford Taurus is the brand's flagship sedan, offering comfort and technology in a full-size sedan. When it was new, it was the car that saved Ford from ruin in the 1980s—and back then, the Taurus was rather lean, and radical in design.
It's useful to keep in mind that current model isn't that at all. It's a bigger full-size sedan that's not as efficient or sharp as newer efforts. It's struggled to keep pace with competitors like the exceptional new Chevy Impala, even the very good Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera.
The current-generation Taurus was launched as a 2010 model and was updated for 2013. Those updates included new styling for the front and rear of the car, along with a host of changes that improved driving dynamics and boosted fuel efficiency. There have been only minor changes since then.
Ford Taurus performance
Three engines are available, all with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The most fuel-efficient engine is the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower. The more common engine, however, is the 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional with the V-6 on Taurus SEL and Limited trim levels. The inline-4 is a bit lean on power if you're carrying more than one or two passengers; the V-6 isn't as refined as it could be, but its acceleration is more than ample.
The Taurus still comports itself well, for a vehicle that essentially dates back to the mid-2000s. Recent ride and handling improvements make the suspension more progressive and reduce harshness over bumps. The electric power steering is precise, and provides more direct feedback than systems from many other automakers. Its brakes have a reassuring bite. Where the Taurus falls down is in its feel: it's a heavy car, and its road manners reflect the extra weight it's carrying, versus cars like Ford's own Fusion.
The Taurus SHO is powered by the highest-output engine, a 365-hp, 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6, and it comes with all-wheel drive. The SHO is not a car that engages as viscerally with the driver as a true sports sedan, but it is capable in corners with its tauter suspension and feels calm even when pushed.
Inside, the Taurus comes across as a near-luxury car. The finishes and quality of materials, from soft-touch plastics to chrome and faux wood, suggest an upscale vehicle. It isn't as roomy as expected, however. The instrument panel wraps around the cockpit, and both the dashboard and the low, wide console clearly define areas for the driver and the front passenger, and the console takes up a lot of space, making the cabin feel smaller.
Three adults will fit in the rear, but the low roofline restricts headroom and there's less legroom than expected. The Taurus does have a vast trunk, though—a legacy of its distant-cousin relationship with the last Volvo XC90.
Ford Taurus safety and features
Safety scores have been good in the past, but the Taurus hasn't been substantially updated since the IIHS introduced a tough new small-overlap front-impact test. There's no data for the Taurus in that test, though it still scores a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA.
As the flagship Ford for luxury and technology, the Taurus comes with an impressive list of features and options, including multi-contour seats with active motion, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, rear-view camera, heated steering wheel. The Taurus even offers an automatic Park Assist feature that works better than the system Lexus offers in its top luxury models. The 2016 Taurus has been updated with SYNC 3, Ford's latest in-car connectivity technology. Also, all 2016 Ford Taurus models come standard with a rearview camera.
The Ford Taurus SE starts at $27,985 MSRP, including destination. The Taurus SEL retails for $30,415, Taurus Limited $35,335, the Taurus SHO $41,150. The more fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbo four is a $995 option.
The best fuel economy in the 2016 Ford Taurus lineup comes from the 2.0-liter turbo-4. It's rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined. Equipped with the more prevalent 3.5-liter V-6, the Taurus gets an EPA-rated 18/27/21 mpg, with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive drops it to 17/24/19 mpg.