2011 Ford Taurus

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Key Specs

of the 2011 Ford Taurus. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    21-23 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    263-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed automatic w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Sportier styling
  • Improved cabin quality
  • Big trunk
  • Available luxury features

The Bad

  • Boat-tail rear styling
  • Backseat feels smaller than before

Notable Features of the 2011 Ford Taurus

  • 263-hp V-6
  • Available heated and cooled front seats
  • Available collision-prevention system
  • Available adaptive cruise control
  • FWD or AWD

2011 Ford Taurus Road Test

Bill Jackson

The SHO version of Ford's full-size Taurus sedan tries hard to do a lot of things, but it doesn't excel at any of them.

It wants to be a performance car, but comes up short in a few critical areas. It could be a family car, thanks to its large exterior, but it's too cramped inside. It's comfortable cruising down the highway, but it's a pain on narrow city streets.

The SHO is the high-performance model, but there are several versions of the Taurus on the road. The models are, in ascending price order, SE, SEL, Limited and SHO. The SHO is available only with AWD, and the SE is available only with front-wheel drive, but the other trims can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive.

We tested a 2011 Taurus SHO. Not much has changed between the 2010 and 2011, but judge for yourself here.

As a Performance Car
The best part of the SHO is its drivetrain. It comes with a 365-horsepower, turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that Ford calls an EcoBoost engine. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine and transmission are well-matched, so you get good power pulling away from the line and while passing.

Some turbocharged engines have a lag before they start making acceleration power, and this can mean the engine first feels like it isn't doing anything, then like it's doing everything too fast. In short, they can be jerky. The SHO's EcoBoost engine displayed none of that. There was a slight hesitation passing at highway speeds as th...

The SHO version of Ford's full-size Taurus sedan tries hard to do a lot of things, but it doesn't excel at any of them.

It wants to be a performance car, but comes up short in a few critical areas. It could be a family car, thanks to its large exterior, but it's too cramped inside. It's comfortable cruising down the highway, but it's a pain on narrow city streets.

The SHO is the high-performance model, but there are several versions of the Taurus on the road. The models are, in ascending price order, SE, SEL, Limited and SHO. The SHO is available only with AWD, and the SE is available only with front-wheel drive, but the other trims can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive.

We tested a 2011 Taurus SHO. Not much has changed between the 2010 and 2011, but judge for yourself here.

As a Performance Car
The best part of the SHO is its drivetrain. It comes with a 365-horsepower, turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that Ford calls an EcoBoost engine. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine and transmission are well-matched, so you get good power pulling away from the line and while passing.

Some turbocharged engines have a lag before they start making acceleration power, and this can mean the engine first feels like it isn't doing anything, then like it's doing everything too fast. In short, they can be jerky. The SHO's EcoBoost engine displayed none of that. There was a slight hesitation passing at highway speeds as the transmission kicked down a gear or two, but it wasn't bad compared with most cars; it's only noticeable if you compare it with other performance cars. Mostly there was just a good sense of pulling power across the rev range.

The all-wheel-drive system deserves praise, too, because I really had the sense that the car was hunkering down — in a good way — and grabbing the road to propel me forward, whether I was accelerating in a straight line or in a curve. Also, the SHO has a sport-tuned suspension, but it didn't beat me up over rough roads.

The SHO comes with paddle shifters, and while they're no substitute for a true manual transmission (which isn't available on the SHO), they did make the engine/transmission even more enjoyable. I could hold gears longer when I wanted to really accelerate, and I could pass much more quickly.

For my money, getting the SHO going is where the enjoyment ends. The problems start with getting the SHO stopped.

A good performance car will have a brake pedal that's a bit firm, so it's easier to feel how you're stopping the car. The process should also be direct and linear, so the harder you press the pedal, the more vigorously the car stops. The SHO's brakes didn't deliver. The pedal was too mushy to inspire confidence, and I never got a handle on just how hard to press the pedal to make a quick stop.

From a performance standpoint, turning the SHO isn't the greatest experience, either. Cruising around parking lots, the initial signs were encouraging: There was a bit of resistance, and I had a good sense of how the car was moving. Once you top about 10 mph, though, it all goes to heck because the steering gets too light and there's not enough feedback. It wouldn't be atrocious in a normal car, but if this is supposed to be a performance car, it's just too light.

Finally, the seats are too soft. A good sport seat should cradle and support you. Some are more firm than a normal seat, yes, but they don't have to be, provided the bolstering is high and supportive enough to hold you in place. The only thing holding me in place in the Taurus was the weight of my rear end.

While that is substantial, during turns at speed I had to brace myself with my legs and arms, and tense up my abdominal muscles to keep from flopping over in the seat. Again: This isn't terrible if you're cruising around, but it's exactly the opposite of what you want when you're trying to drive fast.

My overall impression was that I would never want to take the SHO on a racetrack. I never had any sense of what the car was trying to tell me.

As a Daily Driver
In this realm, the Taurus SHO does better. The V6 engine is strong, and as I've said, the steering is well-tuned for parking lots and cruising at low speeds, as you would on city streets.

The same lack of support that damns the SHO's seats as a performance car can make them more comfortable for longer drives. (Personally, I find a softer seat to be more tiring on a long drive, but I don't think most people would take issue with sitting in the SHO on a long road trip.)

In fact, long highway drives are a strength of the Taurus. Set the cruise control and go. The engine makes passing on the highway a breeze, and the sport suspension isn't too firm for fast driving over bad roads. Having AWD will provide a bit more security when the weather gets bad on your trip. Wipers on, and keep going.

Just don't bring too many people on that trip. True, all Ford Taurus models (SHO or not) are large cars on the outside. How large? The Taurus is 202.9 inches long, about 18 inches longer than the Ford Edge SUV and only about 4 inches shorter than a full-size Ford Expedition SUV. It's about the same width as the Edge and, again, only about 2 inches narrower than the Expedition.  

Having a car that's almost as big as a full-size SUV isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the problem here is that while both the Edge and especially the Expedition can carry more than two people comfortably, the Taurus struggles with that. One of my taller rear-seat passengers said she was cramped for headroom and that legroom wasn't so great. And she was sitting behind a shorter person in the front seat; she couldn't sit behind me because there just wasn't enough room.

What's really interesting is that the Ford Taurus has a mammoth trunk. It's one of the biggest I've seen in a car lately, and it was impressive. Still, I kept thinking, "Great, I've got enough room to carry guns for the entire Russian Army, but I can only take one soldier."

Finally, the Taurus' exterior size means you have more to squeeze into parking spaces, which was a constant source of frustration. I admit I'm pretty rotten at parking, but usually after having a few tries in a car I get a sense of how to park it. This wasn't the case with the Taurus. Side-to-side visibility is a problem thanks to the high windowsills, and the high hood made it difficult to judge where the front end was. I was often sorry to see my journeys end, if only for the fact that it meant I'd have to park it again.

To paraphrase a line from the movie "The Searchers," the Taurus is both too much car and not enough.

Exterior & Interior
The full-size version of the Ford Taurus started out as the Five Hundred, but the name was eventually changed, and new styling, which substantially improved its looks, followed.

It's a handsome car from the outside and one of very few that manage to make the fender side vents so common these days actually look good. I also like this car's adoption of Ford's three-blade grille, as it doesn't look like something I shave my face with in the morning.

On the inside, the interior is well-laid-out, and I never found myself hunting or reaching uncomfortably for the buttons and controls I needed. I also thought the interior looked good and that there was a nice mix of materials.

Safety, Reliability & Mileage
Reliability is predicted to be above average. The 2011 (and 2010) Ford Taurus is designated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, meaning it scored the institute's highest rating (Good) in front, side and rear crash tests and a roof-strength test, and that it comes with a standard electronic stability system. Mileage is estimated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, which is the same as non-turbo models.

Taurus SHO in the Market
The Taurus SHO is at its best on the highway or in the suburbs, but it's not what I'd want to drive on a twisty road or a narrow city street. Visibility is OK on the highway, but bad while parking. The ride and handling made me want to drive the car all the way to Nebraska, but I wouldn't want to take it around a racetrack.

I think your affection for this car will be directly proportional to how many long highway drives you undertake. The more you travel that way, the more you'll like the Taurus SHO. 

It can't really compete with other large, high-performance sedans, like those from Chevrolet or other manufacturers, though it does offer a nice ride and a decent engine. In the end, I kept coming back to the same idea: If this were the base Taurus and not intended in any way to be a performance variant, I'd be happier. It would still be big and in some ways hard to live with, but at least I wouldn't feel like I'd spent my money on a sporty car that wasn't.

Send Bill an email  

 


Latest 2011 Taurus Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Ford Taurus. An a one car

by Tracylynn fordgirl from Hebron on August 28, 2018

I love the style of the Taurus great ride. Looks very stylish I've owned many with. Taurus and i live my fords always reliable great cars Read full review

(5.0)

Reliable, Safe, Luxurious

by OnTheRoad from CHESAPEAKE on August 12, 2018

We hate to sell this car, but we have to, because we no longer need three vehicles. This is the best-driving Ford we've ever owned. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 Ford Taurus currently has 4 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Ford Taurus SE

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Ford

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement up to $30 per day, full tank of gas, vehicle history report, new wiper blades and fresh oil and filter

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years from original new vehicle warranty start date or 100,000 miles. Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12- month/12,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty. See dealer for details. $100 deductible per visit.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Taurus received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker