2012 Ford Taurus Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 5, 2012

The 2012 Ford Taurus is handsome, safe, and well-equipped, but it's not as big inside as its big-car exterior suggests.

The 2012 Ford Taurus, depending on how it's equipped, can play several different roles. At the base level, at about $26k, the Taurus is a big-car alternative to the likes of the V-6 Honda Accord or Chevrolet Malibu. On the other hand, it could be a luxury rival to the Buick LaCrosse or Toyota Avalon. And in top SHO guise, it's a strong, tech-loaded 365-horsepower luxury performance sedan that can sticker at $45k or even higher.

From one of the front seats, the 2012 Taurus feels almost like a personal-luxury car. There are focused, defined areas for the driver and front passenger, with a wrap-around instrument panel design and a low, wide center console that firmly splits the driver and passenger sides (and actually, taking up a lot of space). The back seat is wide, with potential space for three adults, though legroom and headroom can be surprisingly tight, given the Taurus' full-size exterior. Faux-wood and chrome trim combine with good fit and finish to give it an upscale look and feel that's generally in sync with its price tag. Special badging, glossy black dash trim, and more metallic highlights inside and out help give the SHO more interior panache, while a trunklid spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips, and different grille hint at the brawn.

The 3.5-liter V-6 that's under the hood of most 2012 Taurus models moves this big sedan plenty quick. With 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque, plus a smooth six-speed automatic, it's rarely caught flat-footed, and the paddle shifters included in SEL and Limited versions even feel a little gimmicky in such a big, comfy sedan. On the other hand, the Taurus SHO is focused around performance, with all-wheel drive and a 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 capable of running this big, heavy (nearly 4,400 pounds) sedan to 60 mph in about six seconds. But possibly because of that heft, the SHO is a little less transformational than you might think—in part because the SHO puts the power to the road with such stoicism and a lack of excitement or drama.

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Those worried about a pillowy, overly bouncy ride have nothing to worry about here; the Taurus rides more firmly than you might expect--taut but not too harsh, and certainly in base versions no sport sedan. But it's confidence-inspiring, with direct, precise steering and more feedback than is typical from the electric power steering.

The Taurus is strong on safety. In addition to great crash-test scores (IIHS Top Safety Pick) and the standard roster of safety features, Ford offers a collision warning system and adaptive cruise control on the 2012 Taurus, as well as Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Alert systems. For 2012, a side-mirror-integrated blind-spot system is standard across the model line, which does help make up for the limited visibility. The Taurus SHO also offers an optional rearview camera.

As an extensively redesigned model is due for 2013, there's very little new to the Taurus lineup for 2012, other than a new color, Ginger Ale Metallic. Even in base form, the Taurus comes somewhat better-equipped than mainstream mid-size sedans. Base cars get a power driver's seat, SEL models include automatic climate control. Meanwhile, top Limited trims are the way to go if you want a loaded car, as they include showier 19-inch wheels, ambient lighting, a six-CD changer, reverse parking sensors, leather seats, and power controls for the front passenger. Ford's Sync interface for smartphones and media players is included in Limited and SHO models. Push-button start, sueded seats, and high-intensity discharge headlamps are added in the SHO.

7

2012 Ford Taurus

Styling

The 2012 Ford Taurus has an interesting shape, though it can feel cluttered in the details.

A couple of years ago, Ford gave the Taurus an interesting new shape, dropping the old, arched Euro-utilitarian roofline in favor of a crisper profile that hints at the smaller Ford Fusion. With that refresh, front fenders became more pronounced and the roof wass lowered, giving the sedan a sportier stance.

In all, the 2012 Taurus is complex at first take, as there's a lot of chrome, creases, and details. 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, it's a bit overwhelming, if not garish. 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. Special badging, glossy black dash trim, and more metallic highlights inside and out help give the SHO more interior panache, while a trunklid spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips, and different grille hint at the brawn.

From one of the front seats, the 2012 Taurus feels almost like a personal-luxury car. There are focused, defined areas for the driver and front passenger, with a wrap-around instrument panel design and a low, wide center console that firmly splits the driver and passenger sides (and actually, taking up a lot of space). Faux-wood and chrome trim combine with good fit and finish to give it an upscale look and feel that's generally in sync with its price tag.

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7

2012 Ford Taurus

Performance

The 2012 Ford Taurus and SHO are rapid and refined, though often a bit too stoic.

With 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque from a 3.5-liter V-6, plus a smooth six-speed automatic, the 2012 Ford Taurus moves plenty quick. It's rarely caught flat-footed, and the paddle shifters included in SEL and Limited versions even feel a little gimmicky in such a big, comfy sedan. On the other hand, the Taurus SHO is focused around performance, with all-wheel drive and a 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 capable of running this big, heavy (nearly 4,400 pounds) sedan to 60 mph in about six seconds. But possibly because of its heft (nearly 4,400 pounds), the SHO is a little less transformational than you might think—in part because the SHO puts the power to the road with such stoicism and a lack of excitement or drama.

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.

Road manners for standard Taurus models are quite impressive, too. It rides more firmly 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. At the same time, it's not exactly nimble, and there's a lot of nosedive during hard braking.

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2012 Ford Taurus

Comfort & Quality

Cabin space is surprisingly tight--especially in back--in the Ford Taurus, though its trunk is huge.

From the outside, the 2012 Ford Taurus is a full-size car. But if you're very tall, or in the back seat, it might not always seem so from inside. There are focused, defined areas for the driver and front passenger, with a wrap-around instrument panel design and a low, wide center console that firmly splits the driver and passenger sides (and actually, taking up a lot of space). The back seat is wide, with potential space for three adults, though legroom and headroom can be surprisingly tight, given the Taurus' full-size exterior. The culprit? With the Taurus' last refresh, in 2010, Ford dropped the roofline a bit, and while it makes the Taurus better-looking from the outside, the effect is that the cabin's simply more confining. 

Entry and exit in back is harder than it should be, too. 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.

As you might be able to tell from the Taurus' silhouette, trunk space is more than ample. At more than 20 cubic feet, it's almost twice the size of the Acura RL trunk; it's one of the few trunks that probably won't having you wish on occasion that you had a utility vehicle.

Overall, refinement in the 2012 Taurus is top-notch, with tight construction, impressive plastics and trims, and a ride that's on the firm side but for the most part quiet and comfortable.

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2012 Ford Taurus

Safety

Excellent crash-test ratings plus a great set of traditional safety features and breakthrough accident-avoidance features make the 2012 Ford Taurus one of the safest big sedans.

Impressive crash-test results plus a better-than-typical roster of safety equipment make the 2012 Taurus a great pick for the safety-minded.

Crash-test results for the Taurus have been among the best of any vehicle, with top 'good' results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal offset, side impact, rear impact, and roof strength; it's again been named a Top Safety Pick for 2012. In the new, tougher testing and rating system employed by the federal government, the Taurus earned a four-star rating overall, including four stars in frontal impact and five stars in side impact. But its top five-star score in the federal side-pole test, which simulates the side collision with a tree or pole, indicates that the Taurus' structure is especially robust and protective.

In addition to the usual roster of airbags, rain-sensing wipers are included throughout the model line, and Ford offers a collision warning system and adaptive cruise control on the 2012 Taurus, as well as Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Alert systems. For 2012, a side-mirror-integrated blind-spot system is standard across the model line, which does help make up for the limited visibility. The Taurus SHO also offers an optional rearview camera. And an SOS post-crash alert system is standard; after an impact that causes airbags to deploy, the SOS system unlocks all doors, turns on the hazard flashers, and sounds the horn.

The sole strike against the Taurus thus far is the poor rearward visibility that comes from its styling and big headrests on the backseats.

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2012 Ford Taurus

Features

The 2012 Ford Taurus gets expensive if you add a lot of options, but it could look like quite the deal against luxury-brand models equipped with the same tech features.

Available in SE, SEL, Limited, and SHO versions. the 2012 Taurus starts at $26,350 (including destination) but spirals up to around $40k for the high-performance SHO version.

Even in base form, the Taurus comes somewhat better-equipped than mainstream mid-size sedans. Base cars get a power driver's seat, though otherwise equipment seems relatively basic for this kind of sedan. The next trim up, the Taurus SEL includes Sirius Satellite Radio, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel; the 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 comes with its unique powertrain and suspension and gets a spoiler, push-button start, sueded seats, and high-intensity discharge headlamps.

All-wheel drive is available on the SEL and Limited, and it's the various advanced-tech features available as options that really give the Taurus a unique selling point. With the available active-safety features, adaptive cruise control, and Ford's MyKey feature that lets parents program a specific key fob with restricted vehicle function, such as maximum speed and maximum radio volume, you're getting a vehicle as full-featured and tech-filled as some luxury-brand models costing $20k more.

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6

2012 Ford Taurus

Fuel Economy

Compared to other mid-size or larger sedans, the 2012 Ford Taurus

The 2011 Ford Taurus isn't as green as some other mid-size sedans, as its fuel economy ratings—of 18 mpg city, 28 highway with front-wheel drive, and 17/25 with all-wheel drive—aren't nearly class-leading.

The Taurus SHO also comes with an EPA rating of 17/25, but it runs in a different group altogether. And considering its greater performance and lower-mileage competitive set, it's one of the more efficient high-performance picks.

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April 16, 2017
2012 Ford Taurus 4-Door Sedan SE FWD

Feels like one of the best cars I've had in Years..

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It's roomy, comfortable, quiet, economical and Very peppy. Also owned a 2013 AWD and tried a 2016 AWD, they were also as nice, quiet and comfy but I still preferred my Front wheel drive for performance.. It... + More »
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