- Comfortable, controlled ride
- Luxurious interior
- Top safety ratings
- Many technology features
- Back seat lacks headroom
- Large and heavy on the road
- 20-inch wheels add harshness
- SHO isn't engaging to drive
The 2014 Ford Taurus continues in its role of luxury and technology flagship for the Ford brand, but it remains compromised by its lack of rear-seat headroom and legroom
The 2014 Taurus is Ford's largest sedan, and it continues to resonate with buyers who want a heavy, comfortable, slightly staid four-door. Although the Taurus used to be rather lean, and radical in design, but it's useful to keep in mind that current model isn't that at all.
The Taurus received a mild update last year; and that's kept it mostly up-to-date--with revised styling, more modern infotainment features, and a slightly more fuel-efficient base engine. Those updates also included new styling for the front and rear of the car, along with a host of changes that improved driving dynamics and boosted fuel efficiency. Inside the car, Ford provided a spruced-up cabin, the addition of the MyFord Touch system in the dashboard, and some technology and safety features more often found in high-end luxury sedans from Germany.
The ride and handling improvements make the suspension more progressive and reduce harshness over bumps. The electric power steering remains precise, and provides more direct feedback than systems from many other makers. The smallest engine in the 2014 Taurus is now the 237-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, added last year, but most buyers are still likely to go for the 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6. In either case, the engine powers the car through Ford's standard six-speed automatic transmission.
The low-volume, high-performance Taurus SHO is back for 2014 as well: It's powered by the largest EcoBoost engine, a 365-hp, 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engine. It comes standard with all-wheel drive--optional on the Taurus SEL and Limited trims with the regular V-6, and not offered at all with the four. The SHO isn't a car that connects viscerally with the driver, but it's capable in corners and maintains the Taurus's calm cabin even when pushed hard.
As the flagship model in the Ford lineup for both technology and luxury, the features and options list is long and impressive. From multicontour seats with active motion to a heated steering wheel, there are comfort features both conventional and surprising. Then there's the technology list, including automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a rear-view camera system, and even Ford's Park Assist feature--conclusively better than the similar system offered by Lexus.
Behind the wheel, the Taurus comes across as close to a luxury car. The instrument panel wraps around the cockpit, and both the dashboard and the low, wide console clearly define areas for the driver and the front passenger, The console, in fact, is wide enough that it takes up a good deal of interior space. Three adults will fit in the rear, but the low roofline makes headroom and even legroom tighter than you'd expect--courtesy of a 2010 redesign of the earlier generation, which was simply roomier in those dimensions. The materials whisper "upscale" and the surfaces, from soft-touch plastics to chrome and faux wood, fit well and justify the price tag--which can get steep.
The standard lineup of Taurus trim levels continues unchanged for 2014. At the bottom of the range is the Taurus SE, starting at $27,495 including the mandatory delivery fee. The Taurus SEL is the volume model, the Limited is the high-luxe choice, and the Taurus SHO performance sedan occupies its own niche in the lineup, starting at a hefty $40,695. The more fuel-efficient 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine is a $995 option on all but the SHO model.
2014 Ford Taurus
The 2014 Ford Taurus is clearly a family member, though its bluff lines aren't as elegant as the newer Fusion's
The low-profile look of the 2014 Ford Taurus has been with us now since 2010, and it's a familiar profile on the roads. The wheelbase is long, the car is wide, and it has substantial overhangs that add up to 203 inches of length--all reinforcing the low, powerful sedan look. The sculpted character lines and strong shoulders of the rear and side profiles are some of the most interesting facets of the five-year-old design.
Most find the Taurus stylish, and a 2013 refresh to the grille, front fascia, and rear end brought the Taurus closer to current Ford design themes. The refresh makes the Taurus look a bit sportier, aided by taillights outlined with LEDs and some striking new alloy wheel designs. The Taurus SHO hot-rod model replaces the horizontal grille bars with tough black mesh, along with a much more aggressive lower front body molding, including a substantial air dam.
Inside, the comfortable front seats and high-quality finishes and materials make the Taurus feel like a luxury coupe more than a sedan. Driver and passenger each have their own defined space, separated by a very wide console. Fit and finish is excellent, and even the base model has a look that suggests quality and attention to detail that justifies price tags that can soar above $40,000 at the high end.
Unusually for a domestic carmaker, Ford told reporters it had benchmarked the Audi A6 for interior quality, fit, and finish. All-new switchgear, cloth-wrapped pillars, and other touches take the Taurus interior far above the large cheap value-for-money sedan that the nameplate had collapsed into before the current generation. The latest updates keep it current, and while they're really only nips and tucks to the basic design, the addition of MyFord Touch--like it or not--keeps the 2014 Taurus up to date in infotainment as well.
2014 Ford Taurus
The 2014 Ford Taurus performs competently, though it's a big, heavy car that's not that engaging behind the wheel
The 2014 Ford Taurus offers three engines among its various models. The default engine is the 288-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, paired to Ford's high-volume six-speed automatic transmission--the only choice with any engine, in fact. Variable camshaft timing, added to the engine last year, increased fuel efficiency ratings and made the engine more responsive at a wide range of speeds.
The engine moves the large Taurus sufficiently quickly, and is tuned well, so it's rarely more than one gear away from the one you need. The throttle is sharply calibrated and first gear is low, though, giving it a particularly powerful feel at low and medium revs. Paddle shifters, included in the SEL and Limited trim levels, are really superfluous in a car that you're not likely to toss around mountain passes all that often.
From the middle of last year, Ford offered an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine as its gas-mileage champ. This boosts combined EPA ratings from 23 to 26 mpg, and offers performance almost as good as the V-6--and lower weight to boot. The price bump for the four (in SE, SEL, and Limited models) is a reasonable $995.
At the other end is the 365-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 fitted to the Taurus SHO, complete with turbocharging and direct injection. The engine and transmission controllers work closely together to keep power delivery consistent during upshifts, avoiding old-style turbo lag and surge. The SHO engine delivers a substantial 350 pound-feet of torque from 1,500 rpm all the way up to 5,000 rpm, giving acceleration times to 60 mph from rest as quick as the low-5-second range. That's actually better than the hot-rod Chrysler 300C with its V-8, though not quite as quick as an SRT8.
The Taurus SHO comes standard with all-wheel drive, and it's optional on the SEL and Limited models (with the V-6 only). But no AWD Taurus drives like a traditional rear-wheel-drive sport sedan (or like the RWD Chrysler 300C). It's a large, front-wheel-drive sedan, and the AWD system only sends power to the rear wheels when more grip is needed, measured by wheel slip. With engineering that dates back to Volvo underneath, the Taurus is stoic but competent--and rarely challenged for grip.
The SHO suspension, as you might expect, uses stiffer springs and shocks, new mounts, and thicker anti-roll bars, and it delivers a nicely balanced big sedan that turns in crisply. There's body lean when hustled hard through corners, but the Taurus grips the road well and the steering offers good feedback and a precise, direct action.
Ford has accomplished this by mounting the rack directly to the subframe, giving a nice load and actual feedback and bite--at least a bit--through the wheel. Even the standard models offer impressive road manners. They ride more firmly than other large, comfortable sedans, but the ride remains smooth even as the body leans noticeably. Recent upgrades to the brakes give them a confident pedal feel and substantial bite when needed.
2014 Ford Taurus
Comfort & Quality
The 2014 Ford Taurus is comfortable and well-made, but the tight rear seat is its biggest drawback
The 2014 Ford Taurus has the presence of a large sedan, but it lets down that impression if you're assigned to ride in the back seat. While three adults can fit into the space, they won't be happy--and the limited headroom and legroom in the rear seat remain the biggest drawback to the otherwise commendable Taurus sedan.
A remarkably wide center console and a wraparound instrument panel firmly divide the front area into driver and passenger zones. It really feels more like a touring coupe than an upright four-door sedan. The generously sized seats are comfortable and supportive for long trips, and the option of multi-contour seats gives added adjustability that's welcome for the oddly proportioned and achy alike.
The culprit for the restricted rear-seat room is the low roofline that defined the 2010 restyling of the formerly tall, anonymous Taurus sedan. It's stylish from the outside, but it condemns rear-seat riders not only to cramped quarters but also minimal outward vision, with thick roof pillars and a slight rise in the beltline making the rear windows surprisingly small and slit-like. Getting in and out of the back seat is a challenge, too, with considerable ducking under the low roof needed.
If you're just two people with a lot of luggage, though, the Taurus will do you well. The trunk has more than 20 cubic feet of volume, substantial even for a full-size sedan, and you'll be hard-pressed to fill it completely.
The 2014 Taurus really delivers on refinement, one of its key virtues. It's well-built, the plastics and trim materials look good and feel substantial, and the ride is firm but largely comfortable and quiet. Last year's chassis retuning measures quieted the ride while cutting the impact and harshness of bad road surfaces, isolating passengers from what the wheels are doing.
On the topic of wheels, though, we strongly suggest that you avoid the optional 20-inch alloy wheels. Driving a Taurus Limited with that option, the ride felt more abrupt, bumps came through more harshly, and some of the smooth ride and refinement was lost--without any noticeable benefits in the handling or roadholding. The large wheels and tires may look good, but they may not be something you want to live with every day.
2014 Ford Taurus
The 2014 Ford Taurus offers an impressive array of safety options and does well on crash tests
The Ford Taurus has always had a reputation for safety and good scores on its crash tests, and the 2014 model continues the tradition. It's largely a carryover model, but Ford added a number of new electronic safety systems to the Taurus last year that keep it at the front of the pack.
Software in the vehicle control system called Curve Control monitors whether a driver has entered a curve or an on-ramp too quickly, and backs off the acceleration if necessary to keep the car in line. Adaptive cruise control is still mostly found in high-end sedans, along with collision warning and brake support. Blind-spot warnings are quickly proliferating, but cross-traffic alert is less common--and the MyKey monitoring system remains unique to Ford. Both parents and fleet managers appreciate the ability to know what a driver is doing and, in the case of new drivers, the ability to limit radio volume and otherwise stack the cards for safer driving. The Taurus also has a post-crash alert system, called SOS, that unlocks all the doors, turns on the hazard flashers, and sounds the horn after any event in which airbags deploy.
The insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn't yet put the Taurus through its new Small Front Overlap crash test, which tripped up a few well-rated cars since it was instituted in 2011; but it gets top ratings in all other respects. As for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2013 Taurus was rated five out of five stars for overall safety, frontal, and side crash tests, and four stars for rollover safety. There's no reason to think the 2014 scores would be any different.
From the driver's seat, the Taurus loses safety points for its poor rear visibility, due to the low roofline, high beltline, and slit-like rear window. The optional rearview camera system helps with this, at a cost.
2014 Ford Taurus
The tech goodies in the 2014 Ford Taurus include some usually seen on luxury brands, plus MyFordTouch
The 2014 Ford Taurus carries over its SE, SEL, Limited, and SHO trim levels from prior years, with prices up only incrementally from last year.
The lowest SE model still offers a number of standard features not found in mid-size sedans, which help justify a base price that starts most of the way up the mid-size range. Air conditioning and cruise control are pretty standard, but a six-speaker sound system and power driver's seat won't be found on base mid-size sedans.
Moving up to the SEL, perhaps the most popular trim level, the 2014 Taurus gains the Sync voice-command system that provides connectivity for Bluetooth and USB devices, satellite radio, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The top-of-the-luxury-line Limited model lays on the leather upholstery and ambient lighting inside, 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition, MyFord Touch, parking sensors, and even a garage-door opener. The Taurus SHO, of course, comes with a more powerful turbocharged V-6 engine, a sportier suspension, a number of appearance improvements, and everything in the Limited package--plus HID xenon headlamps and accents like suede inserts for the sport seats.
If you opt for MyFord Touch, you get a higher-spec Sony sound system in a center stack that uses capacitive (touch-sensitive) controls that need only to be touched, not turned or pushed. Ford has learned from its mistakes in other models, though: The hazard-light switch is now a real button. And the company said in June 2013 it would add conventional radio volume and tuning buttons to future iterations of MyFord Touch, trying to strike a middle ground between tech-forwardness and passenger preferences. The MyFord Touch system also provides displays with user-configurable data displays in the instrument cluster.
Then there's the 2014 Ford Taurus option list, including a number of items that you might expect to see on German sport sedans. From muticontour seats with active motion, a pushbutton start, and a heated steering wheel, they range through tech goodies like automatic high beams, a rearview camera for reversing, and rain-sensing wipers. There's a sunroof, and even a power rear sunshade. The technology highlight is Ford's Intuitive Park Assist system, which really is easy to use--and is rated far better than the similar system used in Lexus sedans.
The Ford Taurus, however, has never been a cheap car, and the 2014 model follows its predecessors in climbing the price ladder quickly. A basic 2014 Taurus SE starts at $27,495, but you have to spend more than $30K to get MyFord Touch, and the Taurus Limited can go over $40K if you have a heavy hand on the options list. The Taurus SHO starts at $40K, but add options to that one and you'll cross $45K--at which point you might start looking at European sedans after all.
2014 Ford Taurus
One drawback to the 2014 Ford Taurus is only-average fuel economy, even with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
The fuel-economy champ in the 2014 Ford Taurus line is the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder turbocharged engine, at a combined 26 mpg rating (22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway). That's not bad, but it's a far cry from the real-world 40 mpg we saw in the Avalon Hybrid that's Toyota's new and stylish large sedan competitor--and lower than the 29-mpg combined rating of the Buick LaCrosse with eAssist.
Otherwise, the 3.5-liter V-6 models come in at 23 mpg combined (19 mpg city, 29 mpg highway) in front-wheel-drive form. Adding all-wheel drive (available on SEL and Limited models) bumps that down to 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city, only 26 mpg highway). We saw almost 20 mpg in a Taurus Limited AWD test car over more than 250 miles of driving.
The hot-rod Taurus SHO model with the turbocharged 3.5-liter engine does even worse, at just 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway), but the SHO we drove enthusiastically for more than 100 miles returned just 16.5 mpg.