2010 Ford Taurus Limited AWD

2010-Ford-TaurusWhen you think of Ford’s Taurus, does your mind immediately conjure up images of a trend-setting four-door sport sedan renowned for a premium-quality interior and performance-oriented driving dynamics? Ford knows that Taurus isn’t a brand synonymous with cool, but it believes in the marketability of name recognition and feels perceptions will change once enough people see and experience its new 2010 model.

Yes, if you’re thinking of buying a full-size sedan from an import brand, do yourself a big favour and check out the new Taurus first. No, really. This is a world-class sedan that will truly have you questioning why you’re even thinking about buying something made in Japan or Germany. Domestics shouldn’t merely build cars that are as good as the imports in order to regain our respect and concurrent business, rather they should produce cars that are much better, and Ford has delivered this time around.

The new Taurus looks exciting, even standing still. Yet it’s not trying too hard to get your attention, it just looks good thanks to complex curves, nice sheetmetal folds, a beltline that actually carries through to the car’s end, even across the gas cap, ultra-tight panel gaps, nice chrome detailing, and generally a good solid, athletic stance. Inside it’s even better, where it comes pretty close to Lincoln MKS territory other than a few harder plastic bits (the outer edges of the centre console are a bit sharp) and environmentally friendly faux wood instead of the real thing. I especially like the split dash top, soft-touch of course, while Ford even went to the trouble of making unique door panel insert molds for each door so that the spray polyurethane copies appear as real as any pseudo leather fittings to date.

The list of standard features is good but nothing shocking, reflective of its $29,999 starting price. The usual power features are joined by cruise and air conditioning, a tilt steering column and a trip computer, keyless entry, plus traction and stability control, four-wheel discs with ABS, a full assortment of airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels, Ford’s Easy Fuel capless fuel-filler, and more. Truly, it’s the options that make the Taurus stand out, shockingly offering more technology than anything in its class and beyond.

How about adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system with brake support, the BLIS blind spot warning system, Cross Traffic Alert that warns of passing vehicles or pedestrians when reversing, automatic high beam headlamps that dim for oncoming traffic, proximity sensing locks with push button ignition, Multi-Contour Seats with massaging Active Motion (and they feel great), MyKey so that your teen can’t drive too fast, rain sensing wipers, a keyless entry pad on the exterior B-pillar for those days at the beach when you’d rather not lose your keys in the sand, a Sony surround sound audio system with all the goodies, SYNC total connectivity system, and a six-speed automatic (standard) with unique BMW-like steering wheel mounted paddles.

The list is of extras that came with my Limited AWD tester is impressive, as is the transmission. It’s efficient and responds quickly to input, weather left in drive or flicked via its thumb and finger activated paddles. The setup will be perfect for some and frustrating to others, mind you, as the paddles won’t shift when the transmission is in Drive, and a flick of the shift lever to its rearmost position doesn’t engage a sport mode, which could enhance automatic mode by increasing revs and potentially holding each gear, but instead it merely engages the manual mode. A good transmission that could be better, but the engine leaves little to be desired.

At 263hp and 249 lb-ft of torque it’s no slouch off the line, even considering the Taurus weighs in at 1,821 kilos (4,015 lbs) in FWD and 1,915 kg (4,224 lbs) with AWD, as my tester was configured, and fuel economy is reasonable at 12.3L/100km in the city and 7.9 on the highway; it gets 11.6/7.2 respectively in FWD.

Its spirited acceleration is matched with a truly refined chassis, not only from the perspective of ride quality, but more so with respect to handling dynamics. The Taurus feels solid for sure, but in the corners it comes across as a much smaller more agile car, transitioning from side to side without much body lean and always feeling composed and rock solid mid-turn.

In between base SE FWD trim and my $40,699 Limited AWD tester, Ford offers an SEL FWD model for $32,299 and an SEL AWD for $34,799. A top-line Taurus SHO revises the go-fast nameplate and lives up to the legend, but we’ll discuss this car next week.

All said, most Taurus buyers should be happy with a mid-range trim level, with the regularly aspirated 3.5L V6 serving them well. After all, it’s an impressive car even in base trim, and still packs more style than competitors with all of their options.


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