When Ford introduced the Taurus in 1986, it was a smashing success. Its sleek style and affordable price charmed buyers. Ford hopes its all-new 2010 Taurus will do the same thing.
Taurus sales have been through many ups and downs since the 1980s, and Ford even dropped the name completely for a while. Shortly after Alan Mullaly took over as Ford's CEO, the name Taurus re-emerged.
For 2010, the vaunted nameplate is once again on the Ford flagship. Design is the first thing that catches your eye, and the Taurus is most handsome. Even though the wheelbase is 112.9 inches, the car looks big. That's partly because it is tall and wide, but also because the body has a substantial presence that adds to the car's visual heft.
The nose is bold, and subtle character lines, from the power-dome hood to creases over the fenders, reflect a level of styling detail that is more like that of a luxury model.
To me, an unintended consequence of the excellence of the Taurus redesign is that it outshines the Lincoln MKS and costs less.
The Taurus is available in SE, SEL and Limited trim levels. The SE begins at $25,995, the same price as 2009 models but with more features. The SEL starts at $27,995, and the Limited begins at $31,995. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on the SEL and Limited. A loaded Limited with all-wheel drive will be more than $38,000, which is fairly pricey.
I drove a preproduction SEL. Its sticker price was $31,290.
Later in the summer, a twin-turbocharged SHO, with 365 horsepower and all-wheel drive, will go on sale with a base price of $37,995.
Power comes from Ford's 3.5-liter V-6, which delivers 263 horsepower. The transmission is a six-speed automatic, and it can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel.
Fuel economy is rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway. I recorded 22.4 mpg with a high percentage of the miles in town.
Ford has made a major quality improvement with the interior. The dash leans away from the passengers to give the cabin a feeling of spaciousness. The design borrows cues from the Mustang, with eyebrows over the gauges and over the glovebox. The instruments have a jewellike appearance that makes them glitter. Bright numbers are easy to read in day and night.
The center stack flows gently from the console up into the center of the instrument panel. Controls for heating/cooling and audio are close to the driver and simple to use.
Tiny design details, such as carefully placed chrome trim accents and beveled edges on buttons and seams, make the instrument panel look expensive.
The optional multi-contour front seats have 11 air cushions that deliver a subtle massage, and that helps relieve fatigue on a long drive.
The Taurus is available with a host of impressive technological options, such as cross-traffic alert, collision warning, MyKey with parental programmability, Sync, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, voice-activated navigation and rain-sensing wipers.
The cross-traffic alert is clever and extremely useful because it alerts the driver to approaching traffic when backing out of a parking space.
It's great to see the Taurus name attached once again to a stylish vehicle that is likely to play a major role in helping the company gain sales and profitability.
The SEL has a list price of $27,995. The sticker price was $31,290 with options that include reverse parking sensors, push-button start, 19-inch wheels, Sony stereo with six-disc player and Sync capability for MP3 players, Bluetooth phone connectivity and 911 assist that calls emergency help after an airbag deployment.
Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
There is no "At A Glance" box because this was a preview drive of preproduction model.
2010 Ford Taurus SEL
Wheelbase: 112.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,015 lbs.
Base price: $27,995
As driven: $31,290
MPG rating: 18 city, 28 hwy.
To reach Tom Strongman, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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