- Quiet ride
- Comfortable interior in front
- Generous trunk
- Good engine options
- Cramped rear seat
- Finicky base infotainment system
- Poor rear visibility
- Stale exterior style
The 2017 Ford Taurus is the full-sizer that Ford once called its flagship. Times change—and so do tastes—and the Taurus struggles to keep up with others in its class.
The Ford Taurus is the full-size sedan from the automaker with a pedigree that can't be overstated—when it arrived in the 1980s, it helped save the Blue Oval from bankruptcy.
Back then, the Taurus was lean and radical. Now, the Taurus is on the brink of collapse itself.
For 2017, Ford offers the Taurus in SE, SEL, Limited, and SHO grades with minimal changes from last year. The current model was launched new in 2010 and received minor updates in 2013.
The Taurus earns a 5.2 overall out of 10 on our scale. Although there are bright points, such as the SHO performance model, there are low points such as the style and packaging. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The Ford Taurus doesn't attempt to hide its size, but rather make the most of it. With 112 inches between the wheels, it adds more than 80 inches of front and rear overhangs to help it achieve a lower, sleeker profile. That's compounded with sharp exterior lines and defined haunches that aren't unattractive, but they are old now. Compared to other, sleeker full-sizers, the Taurus doesn't cut the same impressive shape it once did.
Inside, the Taurus is awash in quality materials and a good finish that helps justify its higher price tag. Although we prefer higher trims of the Taurus for better infotainment and engine options, we concede that base models aren't bad places to be.
A full complement of engine choices await shoppers under the hoods of Ford Taurus sedans. A V-6 that makes 288 horsepower is the standard engine for all models, except for the high-performance SHO, and is the only engine that can be mated to all-wheel drive. It's a fine pick for daily tasks, and eager gas pedal programming and a transmission gearing help it feel perkier than numbers might suggest.
A more fuel-efficient turbocharged inline-4 is available in front-drive only, which helps the Taurus achieve slightly better gas mileage figures (about 2 mpg across the board). Its 240-hp rating isn't far from the base V-6, and it helps save weight in the big sedan, but recouping the $995 cost for the premium engine may take owners more than 8 years at $2.24 a gallon for gas. (Not to mention, Ford recommends premium fuel for the turbo-4, although it's not mandatory.)
At the top is the 365-hp turbocharged V-6 in the SHO. It propels the sedan to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, which is nearly on par with other performance full-sizers. It comes with its own 6-speed paddle-shifted automatic and a dedicated suspension tune that helps the Taurus overcome its sizable 2-ton mass.
Comfort, safety, and features
The Ford Taurus sedan is a full-sizer by our eyeballs, although its interior space might indicate otherwise. Rear-seat passengers may have difficulty getting in and out of the sedan due to its low roofline, and the Ford Fusion actually has more leg room. (Albeit, by a fraction of an inch.)
The front seats are generally comfortable—especially when equipped with multi-contour seats—and clearly defined driver and passenger zones swaddle front-seat riders.
The Taurus has a generously sized trunk, more than 20 cubic feet, that's plenty of room for gear, golf bags, or large families.
Both the IIHS and federal testers have reported good crash test scores for the Taurus, although their ratings aren't fully complete. The feds gave the Taurus a five-star overall score, the IIHS rated it all "Good," even though they haven't yet subjected the sedan to the tricky small overlap front crash test.
In addition to good safety scores, the Taurus is available with advanced safety features that the IIHS rated as "Basic," and all sedans are equipped with a standard rearview camera.
New for 2017, the Taurus can be equipped with larger wheels in SEL models, and an optional Sony sound system can include signal processing for digital music.
Base sedans come with a rearview camera, Ford Sync with Bluetooth connectivity and a 4.2-inch screen, a six-speaker stereo, 18-inch wheels, and power adjustable front seats.
Top-of-the-line SHO models are fitted with leather upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with SYNC3, and 20-inch wheels.
2017 Ford Taurus
The Taurus is a big sedan from Ford, but hardly its flagship for design anymore.
The design of the Ford Taurus is long in the tooth by now, and has been surpassed by others in its class.
The low profile and sleek roofline had its moment, and the interior—while comfortable and finished very well—is dark and aged. We give it a 3 on our style gauge. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There aren't many ways to hide the long, 112-inch wheelbase of the Taurus, so Ford's sculpted lines and strong rear haunches just underscore it. Substantial front and rear over hangs add depth and character to the look, but also add to the Taurus's bulky looks. The overall look is stylish, but also old.
Inside, the Taurus makes amends with high-quality materials that speak to more luxury potential. The driver and passenger have their own defined space up front—something we find more often in coupes than sedans—and the big, wide console makes space more inhabitable. We've found base versions to be fairly well-appointed, which help justify its relatively high price.
2017 Ford Taurus
The Ford Taurus runs the gamut from frisky to frugal, tempered somewhat by its prodigious weight.
The 2017 Ford Taurus has a wide range of available powertrains that are all competent in the full-size car.
We're giving it a 5 out of 10 on our performance scale with some jockeying involved. The high-powered turbocharged V-6 is a blast, the two-ton mass it hauls around isn't. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A traditional 3.5-liter V-6 is the base engine on all models, except for the SHO model. The standard V-6 makes 288 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, which shuffles the Taurus up and down roads with relative ease. The gas pedal has been tuned to respond a little more quickly than in other models, which helps the V-6 feel powerful and ready at lower speeds. The standard 6-speed automatic has been tuned similarly; it's geared lower in first for improved response.
That helps the base engine keep pace with other V-6 full-size sedans such as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, which boast a few more horses, but slower responses.
The 2.0-liter turbo-4 is available in all trims above base SE models, but can only be fitted with front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic. These models help stretch out fuel economy for the Taurus without making many sacrifices on the spec sheet. The turbo-4 makes 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, but premium fuel is recommended for the engine—but not mandatory. In 2016, opting for the smaller engine netted an across-the-board improvement in fuel economy by 2 mpg.
Opting for the performance SHO engine brings along a turbocharged V-6 that we think is the jazz. Its turbocharging and direct injection packs a 365-hp wallop that propels the full-sizer to 60 mph in about 5 seconds. The engine and 6-speed automatic work together in harmony to keep the engine on the boil, avoiding turbo lag and surge. The turbo-6 also shells its occupants with 350 lb-ft of twist from 1,500 rpm to 5,000 rpm—enough to shift lunch around with verve.
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.
In other trims, the Taurus just feels heavy. With 4,000 pounds loaded up on the tires, the Taurus begins to show that it's based on a relatively old design shared with Volvo. Those two words: "old," and "Volvo," just don't inspire much performance.
2017 Ford Taurus
Comfort & Quality
You're never short on space in the Taurus—at least in the trunk, that is.
The Ford Taurus is a full-size sedan that competes against the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and Chevrolet Impala—on paper.
In reality, the Taurus feels smaller than those other sedans, notably because of the aged structure and narrow packaging of the sedan.
It earns one point above average for a roomy trunk, and that's about it. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Five adults fit within the confines of the Ford Taurus, but hopefully not for long. Rear seat space is somewhat restricted by the stylish low roofline, which dictates some origami-style folding by rear-seat riders to climb in and out of the Taurus. Passengers in the back get 38.1 inches of rear-seat leg room, which is nearly identical (actually a little smaller) to the smaller Ford Fusion.
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.
The good news? The trunk in the Taurus is tremendous. At 20.1 cubic feet, it rivals some big-city storage units, and we'd have no problem stashing several golf bags in the back.
The interior trim on the Taurus is substantial and good looking, and the ride is relatively quiet and comfortable. In previous models, we haven't found much of a performance benefit by opting for bigger tires, we've just discovered that the ride quality suffers a bit. In our opinions: Skip the bigger wheels.
2017 Ford Taurus
What scores we have for the Taurus are good, albeit incomplete.
Despite being a relatively old car, the Ford Taurus has a fairly good safety record, bolstered by good crash-test scores.
The feds give it five stars overall (out of five), and the independent IIHS has given it top "Good" scores—although it hasn't subjected it to newer, more stringent tests.
That lack of information caps its possible score fairly low on our system. The 2017 Ford Taurus only gets a 6 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Federal testers gave the Taurus top five-star scores in their front and side crash tests, but only a four-star rating in the rollover test. The IIHS hasn't yet subjected the Taurus to its new, tougher small overlap frontal crash test, and considering the age of the Taurus, it's unlikely that it'll ever undergo that test.
All cars get a standard rearview camera that help rear visibility, which is particularly poor in the Taurus due to wide pillars and a small rear window.
Active safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, forward collision warning, and active lane control are available on SEL and higher trims. 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.
2017 Ford Taurus
The Taurus covers a lot of ground between its wide wheelbase; base models are good beyond their infotainment systems.
The 2017 Ford Taurus is available in a wide range of trims, from base configuration all the way up to a high-po SHO model for families on the go, go, go. Starting with base SE cars, the Taurus is also offered in SEL, Limited, and SHO trims.
We give the Taurus a 5 on our features scale with some math involved. The Taurus takes one step ahead on good base content; it takes one step back on its standard infotainment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The base Taurus SE model comes with a rearview camera, Ford Sync with Bluetooth connectivity and a 4.2-inch screen, a six-speaker stereo, 18-inch wheels, and power adjustable front seats.
In this application, we've found SYNC to be frustrating and difficult to use. It won't be ideal for many budget shoppers looking for a full-sizer, and upgrading the system requires stepping up in grade and adding optional equipment.
Getting rid of the base SYNC system requires stepping up to the SEL model, which isn't wholly bad. The base trim adds dual-climate control, remote start, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and available 20-inch wheels and sunroof. Upgrading the standard infotainment system to Ford's newest SYNC3 system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen is a $1,050 option, swapping in a more fuel efficient 2.0-liter turbo-4 is $995, and addling all-wheel drive is $1,850.
Limited models get SYNC3 as standard, leather seats instead of cloth, heated and ventilated front seats, keyless ignition, and wood accents inside. Available options include the smaller 2.0-liter turbo-4 ($995); additional creature comforts such as rear seat heaters, Sony premium audio, heated steering wheel, and blind-spot monitors with cross traffic alert ($2,150); all-wheel drive ($1,850); and advanced safety features ($1,995), which we cover separately.
The top-of-the-line SHO is the full boat with a fun motor too. In addition to the high-output turbocharged V-6, the SHO offers standard all-wheel drive and paddle shifters for its 6-speed automatic. Active safety features and premium audio are available on the SHO and are priced similarly to the SEL trim.
2017 Ford Taurus
The Ford Taurus can be fitted with a fuel-efficient turbo-4, but savings may be hard to realize.
This year, the most efficient option is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that manged 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined in front-drive configuration, according to the EPA.
More cars will be equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 that manages 18/27/21 mpg for front-wheel-drive cars. We're basing our fuel economy rating of 6 out of 10 on that score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Adding all-wheel drive to those V-6 cars predictably lowers the fuel economy rating to 17/24/19 mpg. Opting for the high-powered SHO, which is only equipped with all-wheel drive, drops the rating further to 16/24/19 mpg.
Unlike the Toyota Avalon or even Ford Fusion, Ford doesn't offer the Taurus with a hybrid powertrain. It's also worth noting that while the 2.0-liter turbo-4 manages 2 mpg better across the board, at just over $2 a gallon for gas, owners would need about 7 or 8 years to recoup their initial $995 investment for the engine in fuel savings. (Ford also suggests premium fuel for the turbo-4, although it's not mandatory.)
We've achieved nearly 20 mpg in a Taurus Limited AWD test car over more than 250 miles of driving, in line with its EPA combined rating.