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Average User Score
4.8 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 5 reviews
2011 Ford Taurus ReviewThe Good
A comfortable cabin, stellar safety record, state-of-the-art technology, quiet, stately ride, and, in the SHO, all kinds of sporty performance features define the 2011 Ford Taurus.The Bad
Some distracting blind spots, a confining rear seat, occasional hunt-and-peck transmission performance in non-SHO Taurus trims, and the SHO’s harsh ride, not to mention its hefty price, can be disconcerting for those considering the 2011 Taurus.
The CarGurus View
For the money, the 2011 Taurus is as good a full-size family sedan as there is out there. No automobile is perfect, but the object is value, reliability, safety, and, yes, at least a modicum of driving excitement, all of which the Taurus provides.
At a Glance
Retooled and re-introduced for the 2010 model year, the Ford Taurus glides into 2011 relatively unchanged. This five-passenger full-size sedan replaces the semi-popular Ford 500 and continues a tradition of technological innovation at an affordable price. Though not luxurious in the same sense as a Cadillac, Lincoln, Bentley, or Rolls, that term is occasionally bandied about when describing the 2011 Taurus, due in large part to its wealth of standard and available technologically savvy creature comforts. Generally regarded as comfortable, well-mannered, and good-looking, this family-oriented automobile represents its game-changing progenitors in a way that does Ford proud.
Available in four trims, the base SE, midlevel SEL, top-shelf Limited, and muscular SHO, the 2011 Taurus offers something for everyone. Both the SEL and Limited can be delivered with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), while the SE is FWD-only and the SHO comes only with AWD. All trims are delivered with V6 power, with the Taurus SHO adding twin turbochargers for V8 potency at V6 economy. AWD trims are equipped with an auto-manual transmission, and a four-wheel independent suspension is featured throughout the lineup.
For its price, the 2011 Taurus lineup acquits itself well against such competitors as the Honda Accord, Hyundai Azera, Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, and Hyundai Genesis. The Genesis is, however, considered by some reviewers as a particularly refined and luxurious sedan that may outshine even the high-end Taurus Limited – but, at 20.1 cubic feet, at least the Taurus’ trunk is larger.
Standard power for the 2011 Taurus SE, SEL, and Limited trims is a 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated V6 engine capable of 263 hp at 6,250 rpm and 249 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. All FWD trims are equipped with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, while AWD versions get a six-speed auto-manual transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Variable valve timing keeps gas mileage at a reasonable 18/28 mpg in FWD trims, while AWD trims drop to an estimated 17/25. For those so inclined, towing capacity is maxed out at 1,000 pounds, thus a trailer load of bicycles or brush clippings is not beyond this snappy sedan’s capabilities.
As expected, the 2011 Taurus SHO amps up the power considerably with a twin-turbo version of the standard 3.5-liter V6 powerplant. This up-muscled, variable-valve-timed mill, paired with the standard six-speed auto-manual transmission, will pound out 365 hp at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm to the tune of 17/25, and silly as it might look, can also tow 1,000 pounds of trailer. As is common for the AWD trim lineup, a center-mounted, mechanical, limited-slip differential ensures full-time power to all four wheels.
The naturally aspirated V6 is lauded by most reviewers as highly capable in all situations, though the AWD trims are noted as seeming marginally quicker than the FWD versions from a stop. The up-gunned SHO, though more potent overall, unfortunately suffers from some annoying turbo lag when booted from a stop, according to several reviews. Once it gets underway, however, virtually all reviewers find this up-powered Taurus a truly awesome performer. Reviewers also find timely and alert shifting with both the automatic and auto-manual transmissions, at least on level ground, though some hunting for gears was noted on hilly terrain from both transmissions.
Ride & Handling
For 2011 the Ford Taurus comes with a standard four-wheel independent suspension, MacPherson front struts, front stabilizer bar, and multi-link rear suspension. The SE trim is delivered with standard 17-inch wheels, SELs with standard 18-inch wheels, and Limited and SHO trims with standard 19-inch wheels and tires. Additionally, the SHO can be equipped with optional 20-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels.
Most reviewers find the Taurus aerodynamically svelte and well insulated from road and wind noise. Ride characteristics are found by virtually all reviewers to be smooth and comfortable with little floatiness or wallowing. The 19-inch tires equipping the Limited and SHO trims were noted, however, to reverberate with sound and fury over rough pavement. With its stiffer, sport-tuned suspension and available 20-inch tires, reviewers note the Taurus SHO rides a bit harder in virtually all conditions than the more sedate trims, but not to the point of distraction.
Tight turns are handled with aplomb in virtually all trims, according to most reviews, with the larger tires getting a surprisingly firm grip and all trims showing little body lean or sway. Steering, even in the SHO, is described by a number of reviewers as a bit over-friendly on the highway, but admirably handy in cramped spaces, especially in combination with the car's comfortably tight turning radius.
With disc brakes all around, the Taurus is described as well-controlled and true when stopping in all situations. Available upgraded brake pads make the SHO especially strong in its stopping prowess.
Cabin & Comfort
Following in the footsteps of its forbears, the 2011 Taurus offers a wealth of standard comfort and convenience gizmos, especially the higher-end trims. Even the base SE packs a fistful of goodies, however, including cloth upholstery, six-way power adjustable driver’s seat, digital keypad power door locks, power windows and mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, front and overhead consoles with storage, air conditioning, single-CD player with six speakers, and phone pre-wiring. The SEL adds a trip computer, outside temperature display, premium cloth upholstery, heated outside mirrors, dual-zone climate control, leather, chrome, and simulated wood steering wheel, dashboard, and cabin accents, and Sirius satellite radio. The co-flagship Limited is delivered with standard premium leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with power lumbar supports, a universal remote garage door opener, rear-view camera, memory for driver's seat and mirror settings, a 6-CD player with six speakers and a subwoofer, SYNC voice activation technology for navigation, audio, and Bluetooth hands-free communication functions, and, last but not least, a USB connection. Meantime, though equipped similarly to the Limited trim, the Taurus SHO also adds standard push-button start and an auto-dimming driver’s side exterior mirror.
Options are few for the SE, with only a few dealer-installed cargo organizers available. The SEL and Limited, on the other hand, can be delivered with available rear parking sensors, Active Motion seats with massage, heated front and rear seats, DVD touch-screen navigation, a Sony 12-speaker premium audio system, remote engine start, and a power moonroof, with the SEL also gaining many available features that are standard on the Limited and SHO trims. Options for the SHO are more performance- and appearance-oriented, including the SHO Performance Package with 20-inch wheels (also a stand-alone option), recalibrated steering, and bulked-up brake pads.
Reviewers generally favor the Taurus’ dash and center stack layout, with most controls accessible and well-marked, though a few buttons are noted as a bit undersize and looking and feeling too much alike. Gauges are also mentioned as being a bit too deeply set for easy readability. Altogether, though, the Taurus gains kudos from nearly all reviewers for a quiet and pleasant interior, with cabin storage adequate, if not capacious. Luxurious it’s not, but for the price, most reviews find the Taurus’ cabin comfortable – at least in the front seats, as well as aesthetically pleasing, reflecting, for the most part, quality materials and workmanship.
Safety-wise, the 2011 Ford Taurus has all the bases covered. Beginning with four-wheel disc ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, the list of standard safety features across the lineup also includes traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, dusk-sensing headlights, and a post-collision safety system. The SEL, meanwhile, is delivered with a standard remote anti-theft alarm, while the Limited and SHO additionally come with standard rear parking sensors that are optional for the SEL. Adaptive cruise control with collision brake preparation, and the BLIS blind-spot warning system are optional for the Limited and SHO, as are auto-dimming headlights. The well-regarded MyKey feature, with programmable settings for speed and audio control, is standard on all trims as well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2010 Taurus five stars across the board other than a four-star rating for rollover protection in both FWD and AWD versions. As the 2011 trims are essentially identical, there seems no reason to doubt that these trims will continue this admirable record. Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2011 Taurus its best rating of Good in all tests, including roof strength.
What Owners Think
The 2011 Ford Taurus has generally been well received, but a few glitches have reared their ugly heads. Those who own the Taurus SHO, for example, seem most disappointed with the turbocharged V6's lack of an aggressive growl, though owners of the non-SHO trims are quick to appreciate the distancing of engine, road, and wind racket. Blind spots also plague all Taurus trims, according to several owners, making the available BLIS system almost required for safer highway cruising. The keyless entry feature is noted as needing work, while some buttons on the otherwise well-laid-out center stack could be sized and placed more conveniently. Finally, a cramped rear seat prevents several owners from showing off their new Taurus to more than one or two average-size adults at a time.
Gas mileage, a comfortable if not overly spacious cabin, decent handling and acceleration, not to mention the always-well-received SYNC technology have virtually all owners praising the next-gen Taurus. The consensus is that this full-size sedan is yet another sign that American automotive technology and engineering are back, that value can translate into driving enjoyment or even, in the case of the SHO, excitement.
Have Laptop, Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.
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