The Ford Taurus made its debut to much fanfare in 1985 (as a 1986 model). It was perhaps a risky move for Ford. Not only was it Ford’s first big foray into midsize front-wheel-drive cars, the styling was like nothing else. In an era where crisply folded lines were the norm, the “soft” styling was decidedly different. So different, some pundits declared it would prove to be an outright sales disaster. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Like with the original Taurus, Ford stylists broke new ground: Front fenders are pronounced, with headlamps and markers that wrap around the flanks. A deeply chiseled character line runs from the wheel arch to the end of the back door. This deeply cut character line makes another appearance aft of the rear wheel arch. Like the headlamps, the taillights swathe around the body sides. The deck lid incorporates a subtle hump, almost as if there’s a restrained spoiler built in. The roofline is lowered and somewhat reminiscent of the first chiseled-look fastbacks Ford pioneered way back when in 1963. Most interesting though is the wheel placement. Rolling stock is pushed to the edges of the body sides. That provides the Taurus with a brawny, extremely capable, athletic look.
Open the door and immediately you know this is a driver’s car. Bench seating is banished. Instead, the office is based upon a dual pod dash layout that recalls Mustang from almost every generation. The center stack slopes downward into an integrated console, effectively creating a five-passenger sedan. Get behind the wheel (which includes an array of fingertip controls) and it’s clear this car was built to use. Controls are logical and fall quickly into place. The shifter is offset toward the driver. The large high-tech, ambient lit speedometer is flanked by a large 7,000 rpm tachometer on the left and a combination temperature gauge-fuel gauge-gear indicator on the right. The front seats are deeply bolstered. An integrated armrest on the center console together with a deeply sculpted door panel locks the driver firmly in place.
Standard SE-equipped cars feature a six-way power, manual recline and lumbar driver seat. SEL models include dual zone climate control, SIRIUS Satellite radio and an anti-theft perimeter alarm. On Limited Series models, the seating moves to perforated leather seating surfaces and 10-way power with integrated lumbar controls for both driver and passenger. On all models, the split folding rear seat is a three-passenger bench (in truth, a pair of deeply formed near-buckets with an occasional passenger seat between them). Using Ford’s newest (optional) signature Intelligent Access with Push Button Start arrangement in our test car to bring the base engine to life, we knew we were in for a treat. The standard Duratec 3.5-liter V-6 produces a healthy 263 horsepower along with 249 pound-feet of torque. The new Taurus is front-wheel drive, with all-wheel-drive available as an option. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission offered while SEL and Limited versions include a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle shift activation. One of the factors that pushed the original Taurus to the forefront in sales was the inherent value, perpetuated by a long list of standard and reasonably priced optional equipment. The 2010 model follows that value leader blueprint by incorporating items such as six standard airbags, AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control traction control, ABS brakes, rain sensing wipers, projector beam halogen headlights and other technology-laden hardware as standard equipment.
Additionally, the SYNC voice-activated communication and entertainment system includes a 911 Assist enhancement that will place a call to a local emergency operator in the event of an airbag deployment. Twelve-speaker, premium sound systems from Sony are available along with a SIRIUS Satellite radio system, as are heated and cooled seats, an adaptive cruise control and a power rear sunshade.
Ford offers a number of technologies on the Taurus that are definitely exclusive. MyKey is an easily programmable system that can limit the car’s top speed to 80 mph, and/or limit the stereo’s volume up to 44 percent of maximum, and set a series of sustaining chime if the seat seat belts aren’t in use. With BLIS (Blind Spot Information System), when another vehicle takes a position within the mirror blind spot, a light flashes on the A-pillar warning you not to change lanes. It works by way of a small digital camera mounted beneath the sideview mirror that continuously monitors the blind spot area and through use of a computer, calculates changes between frames. With Adaptive Cruise Control, the driver selects a desired interval to follow traffic along with the desired cruise speed. When slower traffic is encountered the ACC alters the Taurus speed to maintain the desired interval. Speed is controlled by ACC with moderate braking when needed. When traffic clears, ACC resumes the desired cruise speed. The driver can override the system by braking at any time.
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