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2010 Ford Taurus ReviewThe Good
The 2010 Ford Taurus distinguishes itself as one of America's premier new-car offerings with sleek new styling, available all-wheel-drive (AWD), and a refined engine and transmission package.The Bad
Its beltline limits the view out of the 2010 Taurus, some interior details fall short on quality, and well-equipped upper trim levels get expensive in a hurry.
The CarGurus View
As a turning point for Ford, the 2010 Taurus is both an incredibly good car and a bit of a letdown. It has power and space in spades, offers a wide range of trims and features to appeal to different buyers, and emphatically feels like a quality product. But it doesn’t set any new ground dynamically, nor does it offer the stylish, retro look that has made the Chrysler 300 and its Dodge Charger sibling so popular.
At a Glance
Available only as a four-door sedan, the Taurus is 202.9-inches long and rides on a 112-inch wheelbase. Casting a large shadow, the car pulls off the square-shouldered look with standard 17-inch alloy wheels to fill out the wheel wells. The big exterior translates to big space inside, and the trunk is simply enormous. Four trim levels are offered, the base SE, the midlevel SEL, the up-market Limited, and finally the sport-sedan SHO. All Tauruses get a version of the Duratec 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Base SE trims are functionally well-equipped with power windows and locks, keyless entry, air-conditioning, and automatic headlamps. Stepping up to the SEL trim adds dual-zone automatic climate control, a paddle-shift system for the transmission, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The penultimate Limited trim adds ambient interior lighting (seven different colors), perforated leather memory seats, and a standard SYNC music and phone connection. The top-line SHO receives a hot, 365-hp turbocharged motor and standard all-wheel drive. 19-inch alloy wheels and a firmer suspension make for a sporty ride, and the available SHO Performance Package ups the ante even further with better brakes, re-calibrated steering, and 20-inch wheels with sticky summer tires.
Shared by all Taurus trims, the 3.5-liter Duratec V6 engine has 24 valves and all-aluminum construction. This big six is commendably powerful, with base variants making 263 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque. The SHO features twin turbochargers and churns out 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, providing rapid acceleration (though no manual transmission option). Refinement and power delivery are good, if still short of the world-class standards set by BMW and Honda. Both versions of the engine mate to a six-speed automatic transmission that offers optional paddle shifting and slurs from gear to gear unobtrusively. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) offered on the old Taurus has been dropped.
An electronic AWD system is optional in SEL and Limited trim levels and standard in the SHO. The system uses a Haldex computerized differential to vary the torque split among all four wheels. Completely transparent and requiring no driver initiation, the AWD is a big selling point for buyers in the snow belt. Front-wheel-drive Taurus models earn an EPA combined rating of 22 mpg, while AWD and SHO variants check in at 20 mpg, owing to the weight of the extra driveline components.
Ride & Handling
The Taurus's chassis features a four-wheel independent suspension that is biased toward a comfortable, secure ride, with moderate amounts of body lean.
The sport-tuned suspension in the SHO stiffens things up a bit, but still won’t be mistaken for a BMW M. Buyers should note that the more expensive trims may not provide a softer ride, as the 19-inch tires on the Limited, for example, don’t soak up bumps as well as the 17-inch ones on the SE.
Cabin & Comfort
While not quite as cavernous as the outgoing Taurus, the interior of the new model still provides more than ample room for five. Hip and shoulder room is excellent up front, and the roomy backseat features real legroom and reasonable three-across comfort. The trunk is simply huge, almost as large as the now-discontinued Crown Victoria's, and the rear seats fold down for even more space. Thanks to a modern structure and liberal sound deadening, the interior is well isolated from road noise.
The dash design represents a new theme for Ford, with a sweeping "waterfall" center stack and wide center console. The look is appealing, but the materials leave something to be desired, and hard plastics and cheaply rendered buttons give the interior a low-rent feel. Comfortable seats are covered in tasteful cloth or leather and feature optional heating and cooling. The driving position is upright and gives a tall feel, though visibility could be better.
Properly equipped, a Limited or SHO Taurus can do battle with a European luxury sedan in features and amenities. Navigation, adaptive cruise control, a Sony premium sound system, and even "Active Motion" massaging seats are available. Of course, this level of equipment comes at a hefty price: A fully loaded SHO is well north of 40 grand. Most buyers would be well advised to select a base SE version, getting the same basic vehicle for more than 15 thousand less and making do with a more frugal set of features.
Safety has always been a strong point for Taurus, and all trims get a full complement of standard safety features. Stability and traction control help to avoid dangerous situations, while antilock brakes bring the two-ton sedan to a halt quickly.
The advanced safety structure includes dual front, side, and curtain airbags for maximum occupant protection. An available blind-spot warning system will illuminate a light near the mirror when another car pulls alongside. The Taurus scored very well in both government and insurance crash tests; the NHTSB gave it a five-star rating in both front and side impacts, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated it Good, their highest rating.
What Owners Think
Owners of the new 2010 Taurus report being very happy with their vehicle's comfort, space, and contemporary styling. Interior features score points with those who enjoy high-tech conveniences, while the spacious trunk is popular with vacationers.
Complaints are few; the cheap interior plastics, which are especially out of place in the loaded Limited trim, are widely disliked. Not all find favor with the styling, with the big rear end drawing the most negative reactions.
by Jesse Berger
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