- Comfortable ride
- Luxurious cabin
- Excellent safety ratings
- Convenience and technology
- Rear seat short on headroom
- Feels big and heavy underway
- large wheels degrade ride
- Taurus SHO is not engaging
The 2016 Ford Taurus is the biggest sedan in its lineup, but it's short on rear-seat room, and it's beginning to feel its age.
The Ford Taurus is the brand's flagship sedan, offering comfort and technology in a full-size sedan. When it was new, it was the car that saved Ford from ruin in the 1980s—and back then, the Taurus was rather lean, and radical in design.
It's useful to keep in mind that current model isn't that at all. It's a bigger full-size sedan that's not as efficient or sharp as newer efforts. It's struggled to keep pace with competitors like the exceptional new Chevy Impala, even the very good Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera.
The current-generation Taurus was launched as a 2010 model and was updated for 2013. Those updates 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. There have been only minor changes since then.
Ford Taurus performance
Three engines are available, all with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The most fuel-efficient engine is the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower. The more common engine, however, is the 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional with the V-6 on Taurus SEL and Limited trim levels. The inline-4 is a bit lean on power if you're carrying more than one or two passengers; the V-6 isn't as refined as it could be, but its acceleration is more than ample.
The Taurus still comports itself well, for a vehicle that essentially dates back to the mid-2000s. Recent ride and handling improvements make the suspension more progressive and reduce harshness over bumps. The electric power steering is precise, and provides more direct feedback than systems from many other automakers. Its brakes have a reassuring bite. Where the Taurus falls down is in its feel: it's a heavy car, and its road manners reflect the extra weight it's carrying, versus cars like Ford's own Fusion.
The Taurus SHO is powered by the highest-output engine, a 365-hp, 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6, and it comes with all-wheel drive. The SHO is not a car that engages as viscerally with the driver as a true sports sedan, but it is capable in corners with its tauter suspension and feels calm even when pushed.
Inside, the Taurus comes across as a near-luxury car. The finishes and quality of materials, from soft-touch plastics to chrome and faux wood, suggest an upscale vehicle. It isn't as roomy as expected, however. 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, and the console takes up a lot of space, making the cabin feel smaller.
Three adults will fit in the rear, but the low roofline restricts headroom and there's less legroom than expected. The Taurus does have a vast trunk, though—a legacy of its distant-cousin relationship with the last Volvo XC90.
Ford Taurus safety and features
Safety scores have been good in the past, but the Taurus hasn't been substantially updated since the IIHS introduced a tough new small-overlap front-impact test. There's no data for the Taurus in that test, though it still scores a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA.
As the flagship Ford for luxury and technology, the Taurus comes with an impressive list of features and options, including multi-contour seats with active motion, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, rear-view camera, heated steering wheel. The Taurus even offers an automatic Park Assist feature that works better than the system Lexus offers in its top luxury models. The 2016 Taurus has been updated with SYNC 3, Ford's latest in-car connectivity technology. Also, all 2016 Ford Taurus models come standard with a rearview camera.
The Ford Taurus SE starts at $27,985 MSRP, including destination. The Taurus SEL retails for $30,415, Taurus Limited $35,335, the Taurus SHO $41,150. The more fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbo four is a $995 option.
The best fuel economy in the 2016 Ford Taurus lineup comes from the 2.0-liter turbo-4. It's rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined. Equipped with the more prevalent 3.5-liter V-6, the Taurus gets an EPA-rated 18/27/21 mpg, with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive drops it to 17/24/19 mpg.
2016 Ford Taurus
The styling is beginning to look dated, but the Taurus still has crisp lines and a snug but well-trimmed cabin.
The design of the Ford Taurus with its low profile and sleek roofline dates back to 2010. The wheelbase is long, the car is wide, and it has substantial overhangs that add up to 203 inches of length, dimensions that reinforce the low, powerful look. Sculpted character lines and strong rear haunches along with the profile lend interest to the design. The Taurus is stylish, but it's a shape that's been with us for quite a long time.
The Taurus SHO replaces the horizontal grille bars on the other models with black mesh, along with lower front body molding, including a substantial air dam.
Inside, high-quality materials give the Taurus the feel of a luxury car. The design of the cabin almost makes it feel more like a coupe than a sedan. Driver and passenger each have their own defined space, separated by a very wide console. Fit and finish is excellent. Even the base Taurus SE looks suggests quality and attention to detail to help justify its price.
2016 Ford Taurus
The Taurus has impressive road manners, but can feel heavy and less engaging than lighter mid-sizers.
The 2016 Ford Taurus is available with a choice of three engines. All come with 6-speed automatic transmissions.
The traditional choice is the 288-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 with variable camshaft timing, which improves fuel economy and responsiveness over a wide range of engine speeds. The V-6 moves the Taurus quickly. The throttle is sharply calibrated and first gear is low, giving it a powerful feel at low and medium rpm. Paddle shifters, which come on SEL and Limited trim levels, seem superfluous in a car unlikely to be tossed around mountain passes very often.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine offers better fuel economy and with performance almost as good as that of the V-6. It manages 240 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. The 4-cylinder engine is lighter than the V-6, as well. The price premium for the 2.0-liter Ecoboost is a reasonable $995.
The hot rod is the 3.5-liter V-6 fitted to the Taurus SHO, complete with turbocharging and direct injection for 365 hp. The engine and transmission work closely together to keep power delivery consistent during upshifts, avoiding old-style turbo lag and surge. The V-6 in the Taurus SHO delivers 350 pound-feet of torque from 1,500 rpm all the way up to 5,000 rpm, allowing 0 to 60 mph acceleration performance in the low 5-second range. That's quicker than the Chrysler 300C with its V-8, though not as quick as an SRT8.
The Taurus is stoic but competent, and rarely challenged for grip. 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. The brakes have a confident feel and substantial bite when needed.
All-wheel drive is optional on V-6-powered SEL and Limited models and standard on SHO. All other models are front-wheel drive. The AWD system is biased toward front-wheel drive and does not make the Taurus feel like a rear-wheel-drive car. The all-wheel-drive system only sends power to the rear wheels when they begin to spin.
The SHO suspension, as you might expect, uses stiffer shocks and springs and larger anti-roll bars. We found the SHO to be a nicely balanced big sedan that turns in crisply. The body leans when hustled through corners, but the Taurus grips the road well and the steering offers good feedback and a precise, direct action.
2016 Ford Taurus
Comfort & Quality
The Taurus is a full-size sedan, but its back seat feels claustrophobic.
The Ford Taurus looks and feels like a large sedan, but the back seat doesn't back this impression with roominess. Three adults can sit in back but they will not be happy. Limited rear headroom and legroom are the biggest drawback to the otherwise commendable Taurus sedan.
A wide center console and a wraparound instrument panel divide the front seat into driver and passenger zones, a design associated more with a coupe than an upright four-door sedan. The large seats are comfortable and supportive for long trips, and the option of multi-contour seats adds welcome adjustments for drivers of other than average build.
Rear-seat space is restricted by the stylish low roofline, making for cramped quarters and minimal outward vision. Thick roof pillars and a slight rise in the beltline make the rear windows surprisingly small. Ingress and egress are also a challenge for rear-seat passengers, with considerable ducking under the low roof needed.
Two people with a lot of luggage will be happy with the Taurus, however. The trunk offers more than 20 cubic feet of cargo space, substantial even for a full-size sedan. You would be hard-pressed to fill it.
The Taurus delivers on refinement, one of its key virtues. It's built well. The interior trim looks good and feels substantial. The ride is firm but quiet and comfortable. However, we've found the optional 20-inch alloy wheels result in a harsher ride with no noticeable benefits in handling or roadholding. The large wheels and tires look good, but we would not want to live with them.
2016 Ford Taurus
The Taurus has performed well in crash tests, but it has not been subject to the latest test from the IIHS.
The Ford Taurus has enjoyed a good reputation for safety, and the current car scores well in the crash tests it's undergone. However, it hasn't been subjected to the toughest, newest tests.
The IIHS gives the Taurus its top "Good" rating for its crash tests, though the Taurus has not been subjected to the insurance industry agency's small-overlap front-impact test.
The NHTSA gave the 2016 Taurus five out of five stars for overall safety, frontal, and side crash tests, and four stars for rollover safety.
The Taurus can be equipped with active and passive safety features intended to help the driver avoid having a crash in the first place. A system called Curve Control monitors that reduces power to the engine when the driver has entered a turn too quickly to help keep the car traveling on the intended path. 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.
On the options list are adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings, blind-spot monitors and cross-traffic alerts. They use sensors to predict whether an accident is imminent, and can warn the driver to respond. The MyKey system helps parents and fleet managers know what a driver is doing and allows the owner the ability to limit radio volume and otherwise stack the cards for safer driving.
From the driver's seat, the Taurus loses safety points for poor rear visibility due to the low roofline, high beltline, and turret-like rear window. The optional rearview camera system helps, but in a car in this class, it really should be standard equipment.
2016 Ford Taurus
The Taurus has some, but not all, of the latest high-tech features—including the woeful MyFord Touch.
As before, the 2016 Ford Taurus comes in SE, SEL, Limited, and SHO trim levels.
The base Taurus SE model comes with some features not found in all entry-level mid-size sedans. Among them: a rearview camera; Ford SYNC, which provides connectivity for Bluetooth and USB devices; a six-speaker sound system; and a power driver's seat. More standard equipment and its larger size helps justify Taurus prices being higher than mid-size prices.
The popular Taurus SEL upgrades with automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio, and keyless ignition.
The Taurus Limited comes loaded with leather upholstery, ambient lighting, parking sensors, garage-door opener, and 19-inch alloy wheels. It also comes with Ford's balky MyFord Touch infotainment system, which the company is replacing in newer models with a much easier to use system. It's not expected to be installed in the Taurus any time soon.
The Taurus SHO features a more powerful turbocharged V-6 engine, a sportier suspension, special trim, including suede inserts for the sport seats, high-intensity headlights, and everything in the Limited package.
The available MyFord Touch system comes with premium Sony audio, a center stack that uses capacitive controls that need only to be touched, not turned or pushed. MyFord Touch provides displays with user-configurable data in the instrument cluster.
Options include multi-contour seats with active motion, keyless ignition, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, sunroof, and a power rear sunshade. Ford's Intuitive Park Assist system is easy to use, better than the similar system used in Lexus sedans.
2016 Ford Taurus
Fuel economy is mediocre, when the Taurus is compared to newer mid-size rivals.
The best fuel economy in the 2016 Ford Taurus lineup comes from the 2.0-liter turbo-4. It's rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined.
Equipped with the more common 3.5-liter V-6, the Taurus gets an EPA-rated 18/27/21 mpg, with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive drops it to 17/24/19 mpg.
By comparison, the Toyota Avalon with 3.5-liter V-6 is rated 21/31/24 mpg, beating the Taurus V6. The Avalon Hybrid is rated 40/39/40 mpg, which is vastly superior to that of the Taurus with the 4-cylinder, but it's worth noting the Avalon Hybrid carries a price tag anywhere from $7,000 to $9,000 higher than that of a 2.0-liter Taurus.
On the other hand, the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse with the 3.6-liter V-6 are rated 18/28/21 mpg, just slightly poorer than a Taurus V-6. The LaCrosse with eAssist is rated 25/36/29 mpg, substantially better than a Taurus 2.0-liter inline-4.
We've achieved nearly 20 mpg in a Taurus Limited AWD test car over more than 250 miles of driving, below its EPA combined rating.
The Taurus SHO with its high-performance 3.5-liter engine gets a rating of only 16/24/19 mpg. We saw just 16.5 mpg when we drove one enthusiastically for 100 miles.