For 2015, the Ford Taurus returns with a few key standard equipment upgrades.
In some ways, the 2015 Ford Taurus seems like an ideal choice for a large sedan. It offers most of the qualities that shoppers typically expect from this class of car, and there are distinctive powertrain choices available to expand its appeal. But in other areas, Ford's big sedan will seem less appealing.
Ford offers a choice of three different engines, including a fuel-efficient yet powerful "EcoBoost" four-cylinder, a competitive traditional V6 and a turbocharged V6 that churns out an impressive 365 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard, but an all-wheel-drive system is also available for buyers looking for an edge when driving conditions turn dicey. Other highlights for the Taurus include an adult-friendly rear seat, a truly enormous trunk, great crash test scores and a long list of available options.
With deeper analysis, however, you'll likely realize that the Taurus is outclassed by newer large sedan rivals. Its interior isn't as roomy as expected given the car's size, and outward visibility is poor. There's also ponderous handling indicative of a big sedan and the sometimes frustrating MyFord Touch system's touchscreen controls.
While a redesigned model is on its way, we think for this year you'll be happier with other alternatives. The well-rounded 2015 Chevrolet Impala, classy 2015 Chrysler 300 and elegant 2015 Toyota Avalon are our current top-recommended choices, with the sportier Dodge Charger, upscale Buick Lacrosse and stylish Hyundai Azera being other strong contenders. We'd also take a close look at Ford's own Fusion, which is easier to drive and not that much smaller inside. So although there is much to like about this big Ford, the 2015 Taurus is simply outdone in most respects.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Ford Taurus is a full-size five-passenger sedan offered in four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited and SHO.
The SE comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, integrated blind-spot mirrors, LED taillights, keyless entry, an exterior-access keypad, cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, six-way power front seats with manual recline, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, Sync voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The SEL adds 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, rear parking sensors, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio.
The SEL offers a long list of options, including Group 201A, which adds keyless ignition and entry, power-adjustable pedals, MyFord Touch (includes a touchscreen electronics interface plus two additional displays in the gauge cluster), two USB ports, an SD card reader, RCA video/audio input jacks, expanded Sync functionality (including traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions) and an additional center speaker. Stand-alone options include 20-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, a rear spoiler, leather upholstery (packaged with heated front seats) and a navigation system.
Stepping up to the Taurus Limited gets you the Group 201A equipment, plus 19-inch wheels, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats (with two-way lumbar), driver memory functions and leather upholstery.
The Limited's available 301A option package bundles automatic high beams and wipers, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, a blind-spot warning system (with rear cross-traffic alert), a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio. The Driver Assist package further adds adaptive cruise control, a collision-warning system with brake support, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and an automated parallel parking system. Additional stand-alone options for the Limited are 20-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a sunroof, the navigation system and multicontour front seats with active bolsters and a massage feature.
The Taurus SHO includes all of the Limited's major equipment and supplements that with a more powerful V6 engine, all-wheel drive, sport-tuned suspension and steering, xenon headlamps, distinctive styling, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, aluminum pedals and distinctive leather upholstery with simulated-suede inserts. The optional SHO Performance package adds 20-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, performance brake pads, an even sportier state of tune for suspension and steering components, a different final-drive ratio (for quicker acceleration off the line), a defeat function for the stability control and simulated suede trim on the steering wheel. Stand-alone options are identical to those on the Taurus Limited, except for the spoiler, which is standard on the SHO.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2015 Ford Taurus comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 288 hp and 254 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, while all-wheel drive is available as an option on the SEL and Limited models. EPA fuel economy stands at 23 mpg combined (19 city/29 highway) with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 21 mpg combined (18/26).
Optional on the SE and front-wheel-drive SEL and Limited models is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 240 hp and a stout 270 lb-ft of torque. This engine is the fuel economy leader, earning EPA ratings of 26 mpg combined (22/32).
The Taurus SHO gets a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that makes 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the Taurus SHO went from zero to 60 in a quick 5.8 seconds. Fuel economy ratings for the SHO are 20 mpg combined (17/25).
Every 2015 Ford Taurus comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and integrated blind spot mirrors. A rearview camera is now standard across the model lineup, along with the MyKey system that allows drivers to set speed and volume parameters for secondary drivers such as teenage children or valets.
Rear parking sensors are now standard on the SEL, Limited and SHO models. Optional on the Limited and SHO are a pre-collision warning system with automatic brake intervention (included with adaptive cruise control), lane-departure warning system and lane-keeping assist, and a blind-spot warning system that includes a cross-traffic warning system (which warns you of approaching cars or pedestrians when backing up).
In government crash tests, the Taurus earned an overall rating of five stars out of a possible five, including five stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection. The Taurus also received the best rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash testing, including moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Taurus features an attractive passenger cabin with an upscale look and feel, an effect that's enhanced by the availability of options like massaging front seats and a heated steering wheel. The available MyFord Touch system, which consists of a large touchscreen, a pair of smaller driver-configurable displays flanking the gauge cluster, steering-wheel-mounted buttons and voice controls adds a high-tech element. That said, trying to hit the touchscreen's virtual "buttons" while on the move can be frustrating and the entire system can take a while to get the hang of.
One design quirk of the Taurus is that its thick roof pillars, high beltline and tall center console can make the otherwise roomy cabin feel less spacious than it actually is. Outward visibility is also poor. Both front and rear seats offer generous head- and legroom, though, and the 20.1-cubic-foot trunk is pretty much the biggest you can find in any sedan.
The 2015 Ford Taurus offers the kind of unruffled ride quality and quiet cabin that one would expect from a full-size sedan. However, its overall dimensions, hefty weight and aforementioned compromised visibility can make it seem even bigger than it is when behind the wheel. This is also true of the SHO model despite its sport-tuned steering and suspension.
The standard V6 provides sufficient power, though the optional turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder offers an appealing blend of power and outstanding fuel economy. The Taurus SHO's turbo V6 delivers strong acceleration while still being more fuel-efficient than its competitors' V8 engines.
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