Reviews

2013 Ford Taurus Walk Around

For 2013, Taurus gets a makeover with a new hood, wider grille, cleaner front bumper and fascia, new wheels, new halogen projector beam headlamps, new deck lid, and LED taillamps. Thankfully the grille remains Ford. s signature three-bar with a blue oval (cool black mesh on the SHO), unlike the new Flex that wiped out the oval with chrome.

Taurus has a presence now: muscular, smooth and cool. Body-colored doorhandles and mirrors, with graceful headlamps; long horizontal slits that seem like they. re as much on the corners and fenders of the car, as on its face. Horizontal character lines under the door handles streak rearward at the same level as the headlamps, as if they. re an extension of speed.

From the side, following these lines, the rear deck looks like it was sliced off by a guillotine. With a chrome strip between the taillamps and across the vertical trunk lid, the tail does not look as good from the rear as it does from the side. It looks a bit like a Chrysler. The SHO carries a tidy black spoiler back there.

The roofline is distinguished; we'd probably like it more without the chrome trim around the side windows.

Somehow, even with a 5-inch shorter wheelbase than the Ford Flex, the Taurus body is as long as that seven-passenger people-hauler. The Taurus isn't the midsize car it used to be. You want midsize, the Fusion is your Ford.

In fact, the Taurus's stretch is largely forward of the front wheels; its long hood is its style. The Taurus is 4.3 inches longer than the Chrysler 300, for example, but there are 11.6 more inches of overhang. Maybe it's the Chrysler that's the exception, because the Chevy Impala has the same overhang as the Taurus. The Toyota Avalon, with the least length of the four (5.7 inches shorter than the Taurus), falls between the Ford and Chrysler.

The exterior fit and finish, namely the tight body seams, matches that of an expensive European sedan. Craftsmanship reaches new levels with digital pre-assembly, at the Chicago plant. This technology enables engineers to find manufacturing imperfections before they become fixed sheetmetal, and ensures precise and uniform margins during production.

There are a number of wheels to choose from, depending on the model: either 17, 18, 19 or optional 20 inches.

Interior

If we could sum up everything we say below in detail, it would be that: the Taurus interior will make you happy. You won't curse your car for its flaws or what it lacks, you'll love it for the way it treats you, and feel comfortable in it.

The 2013 Taurus interior gets a makeover like the exterior does, with soft-touch materials and a clean instrument panel, center stack, and console. Fabric, trim, seat cushions and switchgear are all new, and beautifully done. There are rich surface materials for the stylish dash, and soft-touch material and padding on the sides of the center console, where the driver's leg rests and is sometimes braced during cornering.

The dashboard is handsome, being split up over the center stack so there are two separate eaves, over the driver's gauges and the space over the glovebox. It's a simple and pretty design, to avoid the big flat dash that many bigger cars seem to end up with, even expensive ones.

The seat cushions are new and super comfortable, not too soft and not too firm. The seats have ample bolstering to hold the driver in place. The optional Recaro seats in the SHO are amazing. And with the perforated suede-like leather, your body doesn't slide around. It feels to us like a perfect compromise for the hard-cornering but gentlemanly SHO.

The thick leather-wrapped steering wheel on SEL, Limited and SHO models is especially beautiful; it's basically a three-spoke but the downward short spoke is a V, so it's technically four spokes. Controls for audio, cruise control and trip information are on the wide horizontal spokes, reachable with a thumb. Taurus SE gets a urethane-wrapped steering wheel.

The Taurus is roomy inside, with total passenger volume of 102.2 cubic feet, including a decent 38.1 inches of rear legroom (Chrysler 40.1, Impala 37.6, Avalon 40.9), and a massive 20.1 cubic feet of trunk volume. With a deck that appears so short, we wonder where the trunk space comes from, and that's the mark of a well-designed car.

The cabin is sweetly silent on the highway, thanks to work on sound insulation, namely behind the dash to keep engine noises at bay, in the wheelwells for road noise, and A pillars for wind noise. The engines are also quiet and smooth, whether the Ti-VCT or EcoBoost V6.

As with other 2013 Fords, the MyFordTouch system of electronic control gets revamped, after being introduced just two years ago. It's standard on the Limited and SHO models, using a terrific 8-inch touch screen on the center stack.

Ford owners said they liked the idea but hated the execution, so it's been redesigned to be simpler. What's more, the new MyFordTouch can be downloaded by dealers into any Ford vehicle that has the 2011 program. There. s no charge for this upgrade/update, a tacit recognition by Ford that the first version was problematic, if not a mess as many complained.

We got along much better with MyFordTouch with this latest generation, introduced on the 2013 models. The touch-screen buttons are bigger, clearer about what they do, and respond with a satisfying blip. This version of MyFordTouch is more intuitive. SYNC voice recognition can be used in place of using the touch screen. Rather than pressing the on-screen Destination button, you say “Destination,” and tell it where you want to go, and hope it understands you. It worked for us, this time. We've had trouble with voice-recognition and are still unsure about talking to our cars, but these systems are getting better all the time.

Fancy interior options can run the price up, but the luxury sure sounds good. There's multi-contour front seats, with 6-way lumbar and subtle rolling-pattern massage. Great seats are important when doing a lot of driving. The bottom cushion features Active Motion, which provides a therapeutic lower back and upper leg massage. We say: you gotta be kidding us. And: woohoo!

Ambient lighting, standard on Limited and SHO, optional on SEL, uses LEDs that illuminate the front and rear footwells, door handles and two front cupholders. You can select the color you want: ice blue, soft blue, regular blue, orange, red, green, or purple. There are also five dimmer levels to adjust the intensity of the light.

Another nice option is HD Radio with digital broadcasting, giving CD-quality sound to FM radio and the sound of standard FM to AM stations. It comes with no monthly subscription fee.

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