The 2010 Ford Taurus sports a newly revamped 3.5-liter V-6 with 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque.
All three trim levels (SE, SEL, Limited) share the same basic 3.5-liter V-6, six-speed automatic, and front-wheel-drive system, reports Automobile Magazine: “The top two editions have a paddle-shifted automatic capable of holding gears to the 6700-rpm fuel cutoff as standard equipment and on-demand all-wheel drive as an $1850 option.” Edmunds says acceleration of the new Taurus “feels a little weaker than last year, presumably because the 2010 Taurus weighs some 280 pounds more than the 2009 edition. And there's no denying the mass; the front-wheel-drive version weighs 4,015 pounds and the AWD example weighs 4,224 pounds.”
About the SHO, Car and Driver notes, “For the first time, a Yamaha-built engine is not under the hood of a SHO. Not to worry: Ford’s 3.5-liter 'EcoBoost' V-6 makes 365 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 350 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. The engine features direct fuel injection, variable intake-valve timing, and two small turbochargers that put out a maximum of 12 psi of boost.” Motor Trend reports that “modern materials allow the turbos to run safely at 1740 degrees, permitting the engine to operate on the ideal air-fuel ratio over much of its operating range instead of dumping extra fuel in to cool the turbos.” Automobile Magazine “clocked the new SHO's run to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and the quarter mile at 14.2 seconds with a trap speed of 101 mph. That said, the wheeze of this pressurized V-6 holds no candle to the guttural snarl of a hairy V-8.”
The six-speed automatic transmission on the 2010 Taurus is a smooth operator, but paddle shifters (on SEL and Limited versions) feel a little gimmicky in a big sedan like this. The USA Today reviewer agrees, saying “the steering-wheel paddles are neither easy nor fun to operate.” Further, they add, “Another unpleasant surprise: torque steer. That's when the front pulls to one side under hard acceleration as the front-drive system copes with more power than it perhaps was built to do gracefully.”
ConsumerGuide says, “The automatic transmission snaps off quick shifts, especially with the SHO's specific gear ratios. Steering-wheel paddles are standard on most Taurus models, and they help prevent the transmission from occasionally hunting for the right gear on hilly roads. While the paddles are nice, we wish Ford would have also included a manual shift gate on the console.”
The SHO also features steering-wheel-mounted paddles, but Automobile Magazine remarks, “Unfortunately, the actual gear changes are far too polite for a sport sedan.”
In terms of steering and braking, Edmunds says, “The front MacPherson strut suspension features a tad more anti-dive geometry, which is good because the brake calipers and rotors have been upsized, so there's more braking power. Our brief drive revealed admirably firm brake pedal action under moderately aggressive street use.” ConsumerGuide contends non-SHO Taurus models handle most curves with confidence that belies their large exterior size: "SHO ratchets the handling up a notch with neutral cornering, better-than-expected grip, and fine steering feel. Braking control is undramatic.”
Car and Driver is less impressed with SHO’s braking performance, describing it this way: “Though the SHO has 102 more horses than the family model, it gets the same brakes (Performance-package models get heavier-duty pads, but they can’t overcome the overtaxed regular-Taurus-size rotors). The 174-foot braking distance from 70 mph is 17 feet shorter than that of the base Taurus, but we credit the improvement to the aggressive summer tires on the Performance-package SHO.”
Edmunds reports, “Despite the mass increase, fuel economy is expected to hold station at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the front-driver. The AWD version should earn a 1-mpg bump in highway efficiency over last year, posting 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.”
Automobile Magazine says the real proof that Ford is onto something is that the new Taurus drives nothing like a living room on wheels.