We bought the Taurus SEL AWD V6 after trading our 2010 Escape Limited. Our SEL was upfitted with the 201A package, then they added heated leather, 8 inch touchscreen with voice-activated navigation, moonroof and it was still $5,500 under a Limited. If you don't need the Sony sound and a few other costly and unnecessary options, the upfitted SEL is the better buy. 18" wheels give it a smooth but assertive ride and its a very confident car to drive. The V6 does a great job and surprises you with how well it really pulls consistently from zero to 100+...not neck snapping but very fun. AWD excellent in nasty conditions, very quiet and a great value with incentives and rebates.
I've had my Taurus SEL for three years and 60,000 miles. I shopped the Impala, 300, Cadenza, Avalon and others before picking the Taurus and am happy with my choice (I went into my search expecting to buy an Impala or Cadenza). Whether I bring my golf buddies and four sets of clubs to the course, or my wife and I cross country, or run a quick trip to the store, it's a comfortable ride and pleasure to drive. The vehicle quality is good. I had one small rattle when new that the dealer promptly fixed, other than that there have been no problems. Everything fits and works. I keep track of all my fuel use. The V6 has averaged 25.71mpg since we got it; not as good as my Impala but pretty good for a big car with plenty of throttle. Edmund's is usually right on with their reviews, but I must disagree with their 'lumbering' handling comment. I've found it to be responsive for a car this size. Furthermore, I've test driven most of the cars in this class and believe the Taurus comparable to them. I love the voice commands, especially with the navigation system. Occasionally there will be problems with voice commands if I speak to quickly or if there is a lot of ambient noise--such as a heavy rain--but it works surprisingly well. There are a lot more things that can be done by voice than I use because I do have trouble remembering all the voice commands.
This is by far the most comfortable car I have ever owned. It is quiet, doesnt wear you out driving long distances, nor in traffic. I have been quite satisfied with my Taurus. Only issues I have had have been a small rip on the steering wheel, which the dealer repaired, and the paint. I am not sure of the root of the problem, but it seems to ding pretty easy on the plastic parts, ie the front bumper. The gas mileage isnt what is advertised, but a k&n air filter boosted mpg by 2. The headlights have taken time to get used to, as they are shutter high beam and are noisy. The parental controls on the car are a problem as well as they seem to default to as another reviewer calls it nanny mode. It blocks certain xm channels when engaged, and require a master key to change, and if you do not have both keys its annoying. These problems are not a huge deal, but they are a problem. I am very pro taurus, and love the cargo space. I am constantly amazed at how big the trunk and overall space is. Everytime I am loading it, and think that something isnt going to fit, it does, its awesome. I actually put more into the car then a friend with a newer explorer. The look is awesome, it is truly a beautiful car with lines in all the right places. The tire and rim package is the best looking market wheel combo I have seen, and I get compliments about it all the time. The factory spoiler also looks great. I got the white leather in it, and this is the first car I have had with this, and I have noticed that bluejeans do cause staining to the leather, but with the proper leather cleaner it is not permanent, and it is best to put a sealer on the seat to keep this from happening again. One thing I have noticed about Ford in general, is the dealer you use, makes the difference. I have gone to 5 different dealers from ga, va, tn, il x2, and have had good experiences in most but I have noticed a difference. One dealer would not fix the steering wheel and the other in the town did. The place I bought the car from had horrible service so I started using the one in my town, and they have always been great. So if you are getting a ford, do not be distraught from buying a ford because of the service, just find the good ones, as they are more common then the bad ones.
Look why you are considering a car of this size. Its not small. But it is much roomer and has a more stable feeling than a CAMRY. I disagree with the notion that it is somewhat ponderous around turns. It really rides and handles great. And my other car is a CORVETTE. This car is what it is. Buy a Brass Hat if you can. A one or two year old TAURUS with low miles is an absolute steal. Oh yeah, Get the 3.5L engine. Its quiet and really sooth.