2018 Taurus New Car Test Drive
Over thirty-some years, the Ford Taurus has become an icon. In the beginning it was lean and radical, but today it's a full-size front-wheel-drive sedan is on the brink of collapse. That's not entirely through fault of its own, but it does have issues that stem from its age and weight, in particular a dated exterior, interior, and packaging. The Taurus is based on a relatively old design shared with Volvo.
The current model was launched for 2010 and received minor updates for 2013; for 2017 there's nothing new. Bigger optional wheels and upgrades to the optional Sony sound system aren't enough to keep up with the competition, including the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and Chevrolet Impala.
Base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 making 288 horsepower, and, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, it works well for daily driving. There's also a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower and gets two more miles per gallon, but that's on premium fuel, and it costs $995 more, so you're left with less power and no savings. It's also not available with all-wheel drive like the V6. It uses the same 6-speed automatic.
The 365-horsepower turbocharged V6 in the all-wheel-drive SHO model is more like it; in fact it's a blast. It accelerates from zero to sixty in about five seconds, using a 6-speed paddle-shifting transmission and riding on a tuned suspension.
The V6 gets 18 city, 27 highway and 21 combined miles per gallon with front-wheel drive, 2 less mpg with all-wheel drive. We drove more than 250 miles in an all-wheel-drive model and got nearly 20 mpg combined. The turbo four gets 20/29/23 mpg, while the SHO gets 16/24/19.
The NHTSA gives the Taurus five stars overall in crash testing, with four stars in rollover. The IIHS gives it top Good scores in every test, although they haven't performed the difficult small-overlap frontal test that most cars can't achieve a Good score on. And probably won't, because the car is so old.
A rearview camera is standard. Active safety features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, forward collision warning, and active lane control are available on SEL and higher models.
Taurus models are SE ($27,345), SEL ($29,775), Limited ($36,855), and SHO ($42,520). The turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine costs $995 more, and adding all-wheel drive is $1850.
The SE comes with fabric upholstery, rearview camera, frustrating Ford Sync with Bluetooth connectivity and a 4.2-inch screen, six-speaker stereo, 18-inch wheels, and power adjustable front seats.
SEL includes dual climate control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Options include the better SYNC3 infotainment with 8.0-inch touchscreen ($1050), 20-inch wheels and sunroof.
Limited models get SYNC3, leather seats that are heated and ventilated in front, keyless ignition, and wood trim. Options include Sony premium audio, heated steering wheel, and advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alert.
The SHO is fully loaded.