- Interesting new lines
- Revamped interior with higher-quality feel
- Reborn SHO edition has 365 horsepower
- Available all-wheel drive
- Cutting-edge features like SYNC
- Taurus SHO is expensive
- big car that feels big
- Still not as handsome as Malibu or Altima
- Rear-seat headroom is small for its size
The 2010 Ford Taurus punches up Ford’s reputation for quality and features, with an engaging new SHO model to boost.
There’s a new Taurus in town—for the new model year, Ford revamps the styling and packaging of its full-size sedan and creates a more attractive, more capable competitor in a class that includes top sellers like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Chevrolet Malibu. The new 2010 Ford Taurus comes in SE, SEL, Limited, and SHO versions. It carries a base price of $25,995 and can spiral over the $37,995 base sticker for the SHO performance edition. High Gear Media drove a manufacturer-provided Taurus and a Taurus SHO to produce this hands-on road test.
All around, the 2010 Ford Taurus presents an interesting new shape. The old VW Passat-like roofline is gone, replaced with a crisper profile that hints at the smaller Ford Fusion. The front fenders are pronounced and the roof is lowered, giving the sedan a sportier stance. Up front it’s less than perfect; with a broad upper chrome bar, three dissimilar painted bars below, a new grille, and wrap-around headlights, there’s a lot to take in at first glance. The rear fenders are most interesting, with sculpted shoulders and firm, straight character lines playing off each other in a way no Taurus has ever seen. Inside, the Taurus is more focused; defined areas for the driver and front passenger are marked with a low, long center console. The instrument cluster presents information to the driver in three, deeply recessed gauges, and lots of blue-lit gauges and small black buttons are placed logically. Standard Tauruses wear more traditional faux-wood and plastic trim, while the SHO gets special badging, glossy black dash trim, and more metallic highlights inside and out, as well as a trunklid spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips, and a snazzier grille.
The 2010 Ford Taurus has the moves to match its trimmer, more athletic looks. It sports a newly revamped 3.5-liter V-6 with 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. It moves off the line smartly, and acceleration is smooth and plentiful at all sane speeds. The six-speed automatic’s a smooth operator, but paddle shifters (on SEL and Limited versions) feel a little gimmicky in a big sedan like this. Fuel economy is impressive, at 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive models; adding all-wheel drive subtracts 1 and 3 mpg, respectively. Road manners are the biggest improvements; the Taurus is firmer than you might expect from such a big sedan, taut but not high-strung, with a smooth ride and some natural body roll. The steering is direct and precise, and it provides plenty of feedback, a notable accomplishment since it’s electronically dialed in, rather than hydraulically assisted.
The Taurus SHO benefits from a lot more power, but it’s a little less transformational than in past SHO Taurus sedans. Older versions were very distinct from base cars; the new car’s 365-horsepower, turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 version of the same engine breathes easily but not as dramatically as expected. Ford quotes a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 6.0 seconds for the new SHO; the curb weight of 4,368 pounds must mask some of its strength. Fuel economy, in case you’re wondering, is 17/25 mpg.
As with the other paddle-shifted Taurus sedans, you can leave the SHO Taurus in manual mode and click off shifts as you please, with electronic backup in case your gear choices harm the engine and gearbox. The SHO suspension is tuned for handling, with stiffer shocks and springs, thicker anti-roll bars, and new suspension mounts, and it pays off with crisp turn-in and nicely balanced handling. Hustle it through corners, and the SHO leans a little before it takes a good set and grips the pavement as well as any competitor, save for the Nissan Altima, the handling standout in the class.
The 2010 Ford Taurus is a full-size car, and there’s copious passenger room. Front seats are a little constrained by the large console, though the Taurus has great room for tall drivers. The basic seats are fine and sit high for good straight-ahead visibility. (SHO models get tighter-fitting, suede-trimmed versions.) In the rear seat, the Taurus is wide enough to sit three across, but legroom is only adequate. With the front seats in their rear-most position, things are actually a little cramped. The biggest issues with the rear seat come from tall passengers, as always; the door opening is wide for feet, but the roofline is low, which makes entry and exit a little tougher than need be. With a sunroof installed and six-footers in back, headroom is a letdown, with constant contact between hair and headliner. In contrast, the Taurus’ trunk is enormous, thanks to the high profile of the rear fenders and the tall decklid. At more than 20 cubic feet, it’s almost twice the size of the Acura RL trunk; a tandem stroller and a Diaper Genie could get lost in it. Along with a more stylish cabin, the 2010 Taurus has better noise damping—even though it's not tomb-like, the interior is quiet and vibration free—and nicer materials. Plastics are higher-grade and more attractive in this new model.
On the safety front, the 2010 Ford Taurus is well equipped with standards, including six airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction and stability control; automatic high beams; and rain-sensing wipers. An SOS post-crash alert system is also standard; after an impact that causes airbags to deploy, the SOS system unlocks all doors, turns on the hazard flashers, and sounds the horn. Ford offers a collision warning system and adaptive cruise control on the new sedan, as well as Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Alert systems; these use rear- and side-aiming radar to alert drivers to impending disaster. The Taurus SHO also offers an optional rearview camera. The sole strike against the Taurus thus far—crash-test agencies haven’t tested it yet—is the poor rearward visibility that comes from its styling and big headrests on the backseats.
The long list of standard features on the 2010 Ford Taurus means even base versions are well-equipped. The $25,995 Taurus SE gets an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 playback; tilt/telescope steering; a 60/40 split-folding rear seat; a power driver seat; and power locks, windows, and mirrors. The next trim up, the $27,995 Taurus SEL includes Sirius Satellite Radio, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel; the $31,995 Limited adds 19-inch wheels, ambient lighting, a six-CD changer, reverse parking sensors, leather seats and power controls for the front passenger, and the SYNC entertainment controller. The SHO starts at $37,995 and, with its unique powertrain and suspension, gets a spoiler, push-button start, sueded seats, and high-intensity discharge headlamps. On the options list, all-wheel drive adds $1,850 to the SEL and Limited; there’s adaptive cruise control; keyless entry with push-button start; and Ford's keyless entry keypad with a new pad flush-mounted on the driver’s side B-pillar. Also available: Ford’s MyKey feature that lets parents program a specific key fob with restricted vehicle function, such as maximum speed and maximum radio volume. A navigation system and sunroof are big-ticket options, too.
With the 2010 Taurus, Ford’s taken the same tack as with its other recent products, like the 2009 Flex and the 2010 Fusion and Fusion Hybrid. Advanced technical features are a huge selling point for its new products, but take-notice styling is also a new hallmark—as are its turbocharged EcoBoost engines. The Taurus isn’t quite the game-changing sedan that the 1986 original was, but it’s a solid step forward for the company’s portfolio of high-quality four-doors—and one more way to challenge those upstarts from Honda and Toyota.
2010 Ford Taurus
The 2010 Ford Taurus presents an interesting new shape that hints at the smaller Ford Fusion.
The 2010 Ford Taurus has an attractive new profile with trimmer, more athletic looks, and even though it's short of a full redesign, reviewers tend to like it much better than last year's version.
The most obvious changes of the new Taurus, according to Edmunds, are “the raised beltline and a lower, flatter roof that suggests a mildly chopped top. The all-new nose is tidy and wears an aggressive face, and the whole car is about 2 inches wider.” Automobile Magazine says, “Lowering the roof, raising the beltline, and loading the wheel wells with a selection of seventeen-, eighteen-, and nineteen-inch wheels has swept most of the fuddy-duddy from the exterior.”
The reviewer from USA Today scrutinizes some the Taurus’ exterior styling: “A so-called gesture line—a crease along the side about halfway down—provides visual drama. But the indentations in the upper and lower grille bars make no sense. The fake vent on the front fender shouldn't have happened. The thick-looking rear end is not especially pleasing.”
The 2010 Taurus, however, remains a large vehicle. “Sure, it sits 1.1 inches lower, but it's still 60.7 inches tall—2 inches or more higher than most anything else,” observes the Edmunds reviewer. “And while width can convey coolness, 76.2 inches is 2 inches wider than a Chrysler 300C and 3.5 inches wider than a BMW 5 Series. This is a very big car.”
Car and Driver says the Taurus SHO model “looks almost exactly like its lesser brethren. Subtle SHO badges appear on the trunklid and C-pillars, and the LEDs in the front bumper have a silver bezel instead of a black one. Judging by the car’s looks, SHO owners won’t be showing off much, and that’s okay. The letters S-H-O are still about power, but this one is mature enough not to advertise its speedy nature.”
Inside, the Taurus is more focused. Standard Tauruses wear more traditional faux-wood and plastic trim, while the SHO gets special badging, glossy black dash trim, and more metallic highlights inside and out, as well as a trunklid spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips, and a snazzier grille.
Automobile Magazine comments that the “dash and center console are integrated in a grand sweep that designers love to flaunt on show cars and engineers habitually veto before production." Edmunds is very complimentary of the new Taurus’ interior: “The notion of a driver's cockpit is further reinforced by an attractive center stack that reclines from the dashboard and sweeps between the comfortable and supportive bucket seats, carrying myriad logically arrayed controls with it. This new Taurus is refreshingly unrecognizable from inside.”
Again commenting on the SHO version, Car and Driver says, “The SHO’s interior is differentiated from the standard Taurus’s via black trim along the center console, metallic-looking trim instead of wood, leather-trimmed seats with fake-suede inserts, and a steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather.”
2010 Ford Taurus
The 2010 Ford Taurus performs well overall, and while the SHO benefits from a lot more power, it’s a less of a revelation than SHO models of the past.
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.
2010 Ford Taurus
Comfort & Quality
Comfort and interior space are more abundant in the 2010 Ford Taurus than in most other large sedans, while the SHO doesn't sacrifice any refinement for its performance.
The 2010 Ford Taurus is a full-size car with copious passenger room, while SHO versions get tighter-fitting, suede-trimmed versions. Based on reviewer comments, it's a great car for tall drivers and wide enough to seat three across in the rear.
Edmunds says, “Inside the cabin, the front seats sit 1.6 inches lower, retaining a healthy 39 inches of headroom. The backseat couldn't be dropped so much, so there's a 1-inch loss of rear headroom. The remaining 37.8 inches is still enough for our 6-foot-2 tester, but the exaggerated stadium-style seating (raised significantly above the level of the front seats) leaves you looking right at the windshield header.”
Front seat comfort draws mixed reviews. ConsumerGuide favorably comments, “The front bucket seats are all-day comfortable. The available multi-contour seats feature power lumbar and air bladders that automatically inflate and deflate to provide something of a massage function. A wide up and down and front and back range of travel ensures most will find an accommodating driving position.” The USA Today reviewer, however, isn’t nearly as impressed: “Partway home, the seat cushion began to feel rump-wrecking stiff. The optional massaging-seat feature didn't help, and neither did the array of inflatable support bladders. It's crazy. You could adjust the seat every way from Sunday and not find that just-so position.”
The ConsumerGuide reviewer is less complimentary about the back seating of the Taurus, asserting, “Neither headroom nor legroom is as expansive as in the previous-generation Taurus. Depending on where the front seat is positioned, legroom is either adequate or ample. The slope of Taurus' roofline cuts into headroom more than it should.”
In terms of functionality, Car and Driver says, “The SHO has easy-to-use controls, Ford’s voice-command Sync system, and an excellent navigation system (a $1995 option).” Automobile Magazine considers the Taurus “a thoroughly modern sedan with a broad range of capabilities. There's ample elbowroom for four, plus a fifth in a pinch, and more than enough cupholders to go around. The cabin is nicely appointed with leather, suede, and deco-metal trim.”
USA Today says “interiors are classy” in the 2010 Taurus. “Truly the premium ambience Ford wants as it repositions Taurus upscale,” they add. ConsumerGuide asserts that the “Taurus' cabin doesn't quite match the ambiance of most luxury nameplates, but it holds its own. Non-SHO models have some uninspiring plastic trim, especially in the center console area. To Ford's credit, most of the rest of the interior has pleasing textured and padded soft-touch surfaces.” Motor Trend remarks that the new Taurus has “subtle luxury, offering Great Recession consumers a lot of elegant kit for the money.”
Edmunds mentions that part of the weight gain of the 2010 Taurus comes from additional equipment, “but Ford engineers also added more acoustic insulation to reduce noise and vibration. Indeed the 2010 Ford Taurus rolls down the road with a serenity we've not experienced previously in a big Ford sedan.” Car and Driver offers comparable praise regarding noise levels of the SHO: “Few noises of any kind permeate the SHO’s double-pane front glass and acoustically treated windshield glass. If it weren’t for the constantly changing scenery, you’d almost never know the SHO was in motion. Trust us, there isn’t enough ambient noise to hide even the daintiest flatulence.”
The Taurus’ trunk is enormous, thanks to the high profile of the rear fenders and the tall decklid. At more than 20 cubic feet, it’s almost twice the size of the Acura RL trunk. ConsumerGuide says, “The trunk is wide and deep, with an opening large enough to accommodate fairly substantial cargo," and interior storage is “adequate” with “decently sized door pockets, center console, and glovebox.”
2010 Ford Taurus
The 2010 Ford Taurus is a perfect 10 in safety, with rearward visibility its only slight blemish.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tested the 2010 Taurus, but the '09 Taurus, which was almost structurally identical, got perfect scores in all crash tests. Plus, Ford has endowed its new flagship model with a host of new safety equipment.
Standard safety features include six airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction and stability control; automatic high beams; and rain-sensing wipers. An SOS post-crash alert system is also standard; after an impact that causes airbags to deploy, the SOS system unlocks all doors, turns on the hazard flashers, and sounds the horn.
“Protective parents can program an optional MyKey to sound chimes when 45 mph is exceeded, to restrict radio volume and top speed, and to alert text-messaging teens with early low-fuel warnings,” reports Automobile Magazine.
Ford offers a collision warning system and adaptive cruise control on the new sedan, as well as Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Alert systems; these use rear- and side-aiming radar to alert drivers to impending disaster. The Taurus SHO also provides an optional rearview camera.
The sole strike against the Taurus thus far—crash-test agencies haven’t tested it yet—is rearward visibility, which several reviewers note.
“Another first for the 2010 Ford Taurus is adaptive cruise control, a $1,195 option that maintains a driver-selectable following distance to the car ahead. If someone swerves into the gap or if traffic ahead slows unexpectedly, it flashes a bright LED collision warning in a head-up windshield display and pre-charges the brakes in anticipation of a quick stop,” reports Edmunds.
2010 Ford Taurus
The long list of standard features on the 2010 Ford Taurus means even base versions are well equipped.
According to ConsumerGuide, “this generation of Ford's flagship sedan offers a breadth and depth of features, gadgets, and trim levels, all at prices that make it stand out among a wide variety of midsize and large cars.”
Standard features no the $25,995 Taurus SE include an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 playback; tilt/telescope steering; a 60/40 split-folding rear seat; a power driver seat; and power locks, windows, and mirrors.
The next trim up, the $27,995 Taurus SEL includes Sirius Satellite Radio, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel; the $31,995 Limited adds 19-inch wheels, ambient lighting, a six-CD changer, reverse parking sensors, leather seats and power controls for the front passenger, and the SYNC entertainment console.
“Sync comes standard when you step up to the Limited model, along with a six-disc CD changer plus 10-way-adjustable perforated leather seats,” states Edmunds. “From here you can buy voice-activated navigation with a 10GB hard drive for music storage for $1,995. Several first-time Taurus options such as heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade, automatic high-beams and rain-sensing wipers are available as package options.”
USA Today says, “Optional radar systems notify you of traffic and obstructions in the danger zones, including traffic from the sides as you back blindly out of that narrow slot at the boutique grocery where customers are mainly car-haters. Optional radar-based cruise control can slow the car (dramatically, we verified) if you get closer than a set distance to a car ahead. It's theoretically capable of emergency stopping, but Ford doesn't think people want to surrender that much control.”
The SHO starts at $37,995 and, with its unique powertrain and suspension, gets a spoiler, push-button start, sueded seats, and high-intensity discharge headlamps. On the options list, all-wheel drive adds $1,850 to the SEL and Limited; there’s adaptive cruise control; keyless entry with push-button start; and Ford's keyless entry keypad with a new flush-mounted pad on the driver’s side B-pillar. Also available: Ford’s MyKey feature that lets parents program a specific key fob with restricted vehicle function, such as maximum speed and maximum radio volume. A navigation system and sunroof are big-ticket options, too.
“The $995 Performance Package adds twenty-inch wheels and tires, sport-tuned steering, a numerically higher final-drive ratio, performance brake pads, and two extra modes for the electronic stability system,” reports Automobile Magazine.
Edmunds sums up the features and options of the 2010 Ford Taurus: “Even if you don't load yours up, the very presence of these items on the options sheet is a clear sign that Ford wants the 2010 Ford Taurus to be a more aspirational sort of full-size sedan, a flagship with a recognizable name.”