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.
Ford says that it benchmarked the interior of the Audi A6 for fit and finish, adding cloth-wrapped pillars and all-new switchgear. While it's clear the interior isn't a clean-slate redesign—it continues with the same sweeping-down center stack and tall center console—the Taurus looks to have been nipped, tucked, and upgraded throughout, and based on Ford's other recent products we expect a substantially upgraded look and feel to the materials.
The current Taurus has an excellent record for safety and is one of the top-rated sedans of any size or price. In the 2013 Taurus, Ford bolsters that reputation with even more safety-tech. In the '13 it introduces a new Curve Control feature that senses when the driver has entered a curve (or freeway ramp) too quickly, smartly scrubbing off speed. Other noteworthy features include adaptive cruise, collision warning with brake support, a blind-spot system, cross-traffic alert, and Ford's MyKey electronic-nanny system, which has proven appreciated by both parents and fleets.
Enough tech goodness to satisfy Silicon Valley's ubergeeks
The 2013 Taurus gets MyFord Touch, the voice- and touch-screen-based system that interfaces with Bluetooth and USB devices as well as vehicle functions. As in other Ford products, it also includes an upgraded Sony sound system.
The automaker is also continuing with Alan Mullaly's vision of making the Taurus the brand's luxury-and-tech flagship by really heaping on the comfort and convenience features this time. Examples of what's on offer include a new heated steering wheel, multicontour seats with Active Motion, Intelligent Access with push-button start, auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera system, and a power rear sunshade. And for those who do a lot of parallel parking in urban areas, the Intuitive Park Assist feature remains another standout convenience.