Roomy interior, massive trunk, extensive standard and optional features list, smooth and quiet ride, contemporary styling.
Some subpar interior materials, obstructed rear visibility, cumbersome in parking lots.
The Ford Taurus debuted in the 1980s as a midsize sedan that made import manufacturers take notice, and this scrappy welterweight defended its title until age and overseas competition ended its reign. Gone are those early midsize Tauruses, though, replaced by a full-size behemoth with SUV-like characteristics that don't end with its sun-eclipsing dimensions. You sit high and upright in the 2010 Ford Taurus Limited, and you get a 263-horsepower V6 under the hood and tons of luggage space. Its lack of rearward visibility makes you glad for parking aids, and its large turning circle gives you a newfound appreciation for power steering.
Why so big? Well, with Ford's Fusion already battling for midsize sedan supremacy, the 2010 Taurus needed to find its niche. Based heavily on the outgoing Taurus' chassis, the new model is only bigger by a few inches, but its proportions and styling make it seem positively gargantuan in comparison. In lieu of the departed Crown Victoria, the new Taurus seems to fit the "American-made old-guy car" mold quite nicely — in fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see a Taurus-based police cruiser chasing down bad guys in the near future.
With its big-car identity firmly established, the feature-laden 2010 Ford Taurus Limited turns out to be a capable member of a pack that includes the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300 and Hyundai Genesis. For those who pine for the days of massive luxury cars and find the current crop of large sedans too delicate in appearance, the new Taurus is just right for the old-school driver.
Powering our 2010 Ford Taurus test car is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 263 hp and 249 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control and rev-matched downshifts channels power to the front wheels, with an all-wheel-drive model available at additional cost. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, which is on par with the competition's figures. We managed 20 mpg in mixed driving.
Behind the wheel, there's no mistaking the new Taurus for a smaller car. The broad dimensions also come with a heavy curb weight, as the Taurus tips the scales at just over 2 tons. Power is adequate but not impressive — the engine never really feels labored, but it lacks the floodlike oomph we've become accustomed to in other large luxury cars. Our test car accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds — slower than most other full-size sedans and even some SUVs. Braking is also unimpressive, requiring a lengthy 131 feet to stop from 60 mph, and the soft brake pedal doesn't inspire confidence.
Changes in direction also elicit SUV-like responses from the Taurus, including plenty of lumbering body roll in turns. To its credit, though, the Taurus feels planted and controllable when evasive maneuvers are called for. Steering is well-weighted, but very little feedback is transmitted to the driver's hands. The 2010 Taurus has the honor of being the first Ford-badged model with paddle shifters for its transmission. We suspect this feature will be more of a novelty, given the automatic transmission's penchant for smooth and quick shifts.
Whether on a long highway cruise or in the grind of a daily commute, the 2010 Ford Taurus delivers a smooth and mostly quiet ride that is comparable to top-tier German luxury cars. Only a hint of a mechanical engine growl presents itself when the Taurus is driven hard, while wind and road noise have been reduced to near silence. Road imperfections are rarely felt, although bumps and expansion joints tend to resonate throughout the cabin with muted, low-frequency thuds.
Large, flat and wide is the best description for the Taurus' front seats. Some may initially take issue with the trucklike upright driving position, the short seat cushion and the lack of any discernible side bolstering, but a telescoping wheel and adjustable pedals allow enough customization for most drivers to find an agreeable position. Even after several hours behind the wheel, we found the seats pleasantly cozy.
Rear seats are similarly flat yet comfortable for average-size adults, and these passengers are treated to a commanding forward view thanks to the raised, stadium-style seat. Taller passengers relegated to the backseats will likely curse this elevated seating position, as it forces them to slouch to avoid the roof. Rear legroom is decent, but not nearly as expansive as we'd expect from such a large vehicle.
Our 2010 Ford Taurus Limited test car was packed with plenty of features, some of which help to remedy the car's ills. The thick roof pillars and chunky styling limit side and rear visibility, but our Taurus' rear parking sensors and optional Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and Cross Traffic Alert mitigated some of the visibility issues. These aids should be used with caution, however.
The Cross Traffic Alert system, for example, helpfully alerts the driver to slow-moving cars and pedestrians while the car is backing up, but notification comes far too late when vehicles approach at boulevard speeds. Our Taurus was also equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses a front-mounted radar sensor to maintain a driver-adjustable distance from the leading vehicle.
As with most current Ford vehicles, the new Taurus' interior features a button-heavy layout for the audio and climate controls and Sync voice activation, which thankfully makes some of those buttons redundant. Also present on our test car was the standard dot-matrix display screen, which has a decidedly downmarket appearance. The front cupholders ably held supersize drinks, but their central location had a tendency to impede shifter operation when occupied. Despite the quiet cabin, the premium Sony sound system fell short of our expectations due to a slightly muddled sound overall, particularly in the upper registers.
The 2010 Ford Taurus excels as a people hauler, and its massive trunk sweetens the deal with a whopping 20-cubic-foot capacity — enough for our standard golf bag and suitcase plus a side of beef. With this much luggage space, we're doubtful most would need to employ the 60/40-split-folding rear seats very often, but they're there just in case. Rear passenger space is also generous, with ample room for rear-facing child seats, but the outboard LATCH anchors were not centered in line with the seat cushions, resulting in a crooked mounting position.
Design/Fit and Finish
"Heavy" best describes the new Taurus' imposing dimensions and wide expanses of sheet metal. Front-end styling is aggressive and pleasing, with a variety of trapezoidal elements combining to form a cohesive look, but we took issue with the out-of-place crease in the rear quarter panel. Overall, the exterior should appeal to drivers looking to cast a more substantial shadow on the road.
Inside, the new Taurus exhibits a graceful arching design philosophy that is pleasing to the eye, but less so to the touch. Notably, while the high-quality dash pads are soft and elegantly joined to the high, sweeping center console, the latter consists of hard plastic despite being more likely to be pressed on by hands and knees. Moreover, although the dashboard's massive overhanging twin cowls keep incoming glare in check, the spongy vinyl construction reminds us of a disco-era beanbag chair. To the Taurus' credit, though, all elements are solidly assembled, with few squeaks and rattles.
Who should consider this vehicle
The 2010 Ford Taurus should appeal to the mature driver who prefers the feel and spaciousness of a road-going yacht over the engagement and athleticism of a sporting sedan. For those with an aversion to higher-riding SUVs, but who still want a substantial vehicle, the Taurus also makes for a fine choice. Taurus fans looking for a bit more excitement should check out the performance-oriented Taurus SHO.