Click above for high-res image gallery of the 2010 Ford Taurus
Last month, Ford's President of the Americas Mark Fields remarked that it was going to be like 1986 all over again when the 2010 Ford Taurus
arrives. The original Taurus
that debuted during the Reagan Era was certainly groundbreaking, not only for its aerodynamic design that was unique in the mid-size sedan segment of the day, but also its tremendous value versus the competition. That car went on to become the best-selling passenger vehicle in the U.S. during the early '90s before a series of successively worse redesigns saw it fall from grace. It was sold uninterrupted for 21 years until late 2006 when the final one rolled off the assembly line at the company's assembly plant in Hapeville, GA. By that time, sales to the public had ceased and Ford was only selling the Taurus to fleets and rental companies, which had become the car's biggest customers as more and more families bought Camrys and Accords
Then came Alan Mulally. Bill Ford Jr. replaced himself as CEO with Boeing's ex-head honcho and one of this Kansas-bred boy's first actions at the Blue Oval was to resurrect the Taurus name. Ford's new large sedan, the Five Hundred
, wasn't selling well, and it was thought that slapping the Taurus name on it would help things. It didn't, and despite some substantive improvements to the car, the newly minted Taurus v2.0 earned a reputation for being a good but not great car that sold just enough to justify its existence.
The new 2010 Taurus has been completely redesigned, and Ford hopes all these changes to the exterior, interior, platform and powertrain will add up to a full-size car worthy of the Taurus name. Will it become the best-selling vehicle
in the U.S. again? Not likely, but it will be a new halo car for the Ford brand that's crammed with all the best technology and state-of-the-art engines. Follow the jump to find out more.
Live photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
Incredibly, Ford has been able to totally redesign the Taurus for 2010 in a very short amount of time. The current Taurus' shape is based heavily on that of the previous Five Hundred sedan with a Passat-like profile and simple surfaces with little detail. Ford designers threw that design in the garbage and went about changing every body panel. The new front end is marked by the latest interpretation of Ford's three-bar grille. There are still three bars, but they're much thinner with the top and bottom ones framing the grille. There are now also two additional bars in there that are perforated with little holes.
Flanking the grille are new headlamps that look inspired by Ford of Europe's Kinetic design language. They're thinner and flow farther back along the fender than the old lamps. The front bumper, meanwhile, is dominated by a large air intake and two discreet, smaller intakes at the outer edges with chrome accents. Topping it all off is a new power-dome hood that's much taller and broader than the rounded, low hood of the current car. The new engine lid is contoured with the center section rising above the outer edges that form the tops of the fenders.
Moving to the side, the most striking change on the 2010 Taurus is the new roof line. The perfect arch of the old car has been replaced with a straighter roofline that kinks down sharply after the C-pillar. Its reminiscent of the tank-like roofline of the Chrysler 300C
, though not as severe. Designers reportedly fought for this change, perhaps feeling the profile of the current Taurus was one of its defining features, and there's no better way to show customers how much a car has changed than by changing those elements for which it's most well known.
The doors now also feature a strong character line that starts at the faux fender vents (yeah, they were kept for some reason) and runs across the doors. It ends right before the rear fender and then reappears right after. The bit that remains behind the rear wheels looks a little awkward to us, kind of like the sheetmetal was pinched.
The new Taurus' rear end has been changed just as drastically as the rest of the car. In fact, the layman won't be able to recognize the Taurus from the rear at first glance. The top of the trunk is taller and flows back into a raised bit of sheetmetal forming a little ducktail spoiler. The back of the car is also canted sharply forward and in a way mimics the angle of the rear window. This makes the Taurus look like its leaning forward and ready to roll down the freeway for a long road trip
at any time. New squarish tail-lamps are also connected by a strip of chrome that bisects the back end. And finally, Ford designers have placed dark black plastic trim around the bottom of the entire car to reduce its visual height.
One could easily argue that the interior of the 2010 Taurus is even more a departure from the past than the exterior. The biggest difference is the new center stack that flows away from the dash at a very shallow angle, almost like in a low-slung supercar. The center console also sits higher, so each front seat passenger is cordoned off in their own compartment.
The top of the dash features a twin-hood design like the Mustang
, and the remaining interior surfaces vary from soft-touch light and dark plastics to wood grain inserts. A new steering wheel sits front and center and the seats, oh those seats. They're called Multi-Contour Seats and have three, six-way adjustable lumbar bladders and a seat cushion featuring a new technology called Active Motion that continually moves the seating surface in a subtle way that wards off back pain on long trips without distracting the driver.
The Taurus interior is also packed with every piece of infotainment, safety and convenience technology that Ford has to offer. You've got Intelligent Access (Ford-speak for keyless entry) and Push-Button Start; MyKey; the latest version of SYNC with the just-announced new features of Traffic, Directions and Information; a voice-activated nav system with SIRIUS Travel Link; the first use of Sony-branded stereo system in a Ford; a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and accompanying Cross Traffic Alert system that warns of oncoming cars when pulling out of parking spots.
There's also Adaptive Cruise Control, which is the first application of such technology in a Ford brand product. The ACC uses a front-mounted radar to keep a watchful eye on cars up to 600 feet ahead. In addition to maintaining a safe distance, the ACC also uses Collision Warning with Brake Support to warn the driver of an impending fender bender (or worse). Even if ACC isn't being used, the radar is on and watching ahead. If the car approaches slower moving traffic too fast, the system will present a visual warning at the base of the windshield, an audible warning and also precharge the brakes. That last point is important, as normal driving over bumpy roads sometimes causes a brake rotor to push back against the pad, thereby pushing the piston back into the caliper. Ford's system will fill the the caliper with fluid to push the brake pad right back up to the rotor, thereby eliminating any play the could lengthen an emergency stop.
While the same platform that underpins the Lincoln MKS
can also be found underneath the Taurus, Ford engineers have tweaked the suspension to be sportier and more responsive. The car features MacPherson front struts and a multi-link rear suspension. Their configuration is new for Ford and called SR1, named for he "one-to-one" rear shock absorber ratio. SR1 also allows for larger wheels with either 19- or 20-inchers available for 2010.
Underneath the powerdome hood will be one engine at launch: the now familiar 3.5L Duratec V6 producing 263 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque. Ford has confirmed that a twin-turbo, direct-injected EcoBoost 3.5L V6 is on its way, but hasn't specified availability yet. That engine will produce big V8 power, somewhere in the range of 350 horsepower, and is expected to return decent fuel economy
for a full-size car.
The base Taurus SE will come with a run o' the mill six-speed automatic, while uplevel SEL and Limited models get a six-speed automatic with SelectShift that adds shift paddles to the steering wheel. Ford says SelectShift will match revs when downshifting and not automatically upshift when you hit the redline. Of course, as before, the Taurus can also be had with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The new Taurus wouldn't be a Ford if it didn't also feature more safety equipment than you thought you needed. The body structure itself is stiffer, and there are enough airbags
to float the car across the English Channel. Ford's electronic stability control system called AdvanceTrac is also standard, as is SOS Post Crash Alert that automatically unlocks the doors, honks the horn and turns on the hazard lights if the airbags go off.
The 2010 Ford Taurus is clearly heads and tails better than the car it's replacing, but the Taurus of today competes in an entirely different segment than the one from 1986. Today's Taurus is a large car that competes with other big front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive sedans, vehicles like the Toyota Avalon
, Nissan Maxima
, Chrysler 300
and Pontiac G8
. In case Ford hadn't noticed, this isn't a high volume segment. While the new Taurus may not single-handedly bring Ford back from the brink like the first one did, it does represent the best of what Ford has to offer in a passenger vehicle. And here's the best news – the 2010 Taurus will have the same $25,995 base price as the 2009 model. That's a good move by Ford for what appears to be a very good car. We'll let you know our final judgment when we get behind the wheel of one in the near future.