Driven: 2010 Ford Taurus

June 7, 2010
The 2010 Ford Taurus is definitely different enough to warrant another look if you've considered one in the past, or if you're in the market for a large sedan.

Although the mechanicals are basically the same as 2009 and before, the Taurus gets such a thorough reskin that you wouldn't be able to tell it. For all cosmetic considerations, the 2010 Taurus is an all-new car—a flashier-looking one.

The well-detailed grille and headlights, along with the creased hood, certainly bring a distinctive look, though the chromed side gills seemed a little gimmicky. From some angles, it's as if Ford has surrendered to the blocky, high-wasted look that Chrysler has been preaching with its 300C. To Ford's credit, the new Taurus has finally shed its frumpy side that it carried since when it was called the Five Hundred. The automaker has been attempting to frame the Taurus as its flagship model rather than the mainstream sedan the name referred to in the past (that's now the Fusion).

A couple inches off the top, a little tight inside

While the pre-2010 Taurus had a relatively high seating position, low beltline, and tall greenhouse—for an excellent view outward—the latest iteration of the Taurus could feel a little more secure—or a little claustrophobic, depending on the point of view. Two inches of roof height have been lost, and it's a difference you can feel.

All the styling changes that Ford made to the Taurus for 2010 altogether make it feel considerably tighter inside. The wide center console and curved instrument panel design leave the driver and front passenger with remarkably small areas, with those front seats seemingly wedged against the center console. The front seats themselves could be adjusted to an ideal position for a wide range of drivers, but the lower cushions felt unduly short, especially for a full-size car. The backseat area isn't so perfect, either; while wide and capable of holding three across, it's surprisingly tight for both legroom and headroom; the smaller Ford Fusion might be roomier, by some gauges. Overall, though the trunk is mammoth, there's a feeling that that some of this vast real estate could have been better spent.

We like the simple yet elegant look of the instrument panel, with brightly lit deep-dish gauges and a relatively simple layout. The only exception is that in looking down quickly, it's easy to get the four like-sized, like-feeling climate-control and audio knobs confused.

In the city, the Taurus rides and drives like a large vehicle, and the inability to see the front corners can be tough in tight spaces. The ride quality is a little odd—simultaneously jarring over potholes, pavement breaks, and the like, but also almost bouncy over the largest potholes or railroad crossings. We briefly had four aboard, and the Taurus' ride felt slightly more buttoned-down. For 2010, there have been extensive suspension changes, and to its credit the Taurus handles quite well for a more comfort-oriented large sedan.

Feels large in the city, just right on the highway

For those who do a lot of highway cruising, the story is quite different; then, the ride turns quite settled and composed, with road and wind noise kept to a minimum, and the steering has a nice weighting and reassuring on-center feel that won't wear on you.

The 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 in our Taurus had plenty of accessible torque, as well as higher-rev horsepower for passing, but it's a little too coarse-sounding when accelerating hard, and we didn't find the automatic transmission's shifts all that smooth compared to, say, the Toyota Avalon.

Fuel economy is about what you'd expect for a big 4,200-pound sedan with all-wheel drive. We saw about 18 mpg overall in a week and about 100 miles of mostly city driving. For only city driving, count on around 16 mpg; official EPA ratings stand at 17/25.

Standout safety and tech content

Safety remains one of the Taurus's strengths in the market. With top scores from the IIHS in all categories, including the new roof-strength test, it's a Top Safety Pick for 2010. Several more tech features, including Ford's updated Sync tools and MyKey system, have been added, too.

Here, Ford has traded off some functionality in the name of style. The Taurus still isn't a vehicle that you're going to fall in love with for its driving experience, but it is better-looking. Would you be buying a sedan for the look of it, or for the greater accommodations? That's your choice.

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