2013 Ford Taurus

PORTLAND, Ore. — Ford’s latest major revision of its flagship Taurus occurred in 2010. However, even though the 2013 model is not referred to as “all-new” it has so many refinements and upgrades it might as well be. It has better fuel economy, more technology, enhanced design, improved craftsmanship and sharpened driving dynamics.

The revisions start with the engine, or in the 2013 Taurus’s case, engines. Standard motor for the Taurus SE, SEL and Limited series models is the 3.5L V6 that contains twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT). All this engine technology helps Taurus achieve better fuel economy, more horsepower and a reduction in part-throttle emissions compared to the previous Taurus V6. It is rated at 288 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. The other engine choice is a 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder that provides maximum fuel efficiency without robbing it of performance. It delivers 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The EcoBoost is expected to deliver at least 31 mpg highway.

Both engines are mated to an exceptionally smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Shifts are slick enough to almost imagine a well-mannered CVT (continuously variable transmission) is part of the powertrain. Through a lengthy series of hilly, twisty, long and straight terrain it was next to impossible to hear or even feel the transmission performing its duties.

And speaking of driving endless miles, the 2013 Taurus is like sitting in a well-appointed cone of silence. Ford engineers have worked tirelessly on eliminating interior noise that was lessened to begin with. All pillars have been cloth-wrapped, trunk space is fully trimmed and cowl baffles, acoustic wheel well liners, shock tower wraps and upgraded hood and dash insulators have been added to further quiet the noise.

The new Taurus features a more muscular hood, a unique decklid spoiler, rear quarter panels that house larger, full LED taillamps, a new, wider grille, wider wheels and tires to fill out the wheel well openings and projector headlamps. It has a solid stance and depending on the trim level sits on 17”, 18” or 19” tires and wheels (with 20” as a further option). There’s a variety of new aluminum wheels.

Driving the new Taurus is an effortless treat, further increased through the standard electric power-assisted steering (EPAS). The system allows for a high degree of tuning to optimize steering feel while saving fuel and providing drivers with enhanced feedback. As much fun as it is to drive it’s equally comforting in knowing how much built-in safety equipment the new Taurus contains. Things like side protection and cabin enhancement, enhanced airbags, safety canopy with rollover sensor, AdvanceTrac® with Electronic Stability Control and a vast array of others. Furthermore, Taurus offers other technologies like adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, (my favorite technology ever) blind sport information system, cross-traffic alert and MyKey®. Taurus is a big car but don’t let it know that because it drives more like a midsize.

As alluded to earlier the interior is not only where you’ll spend the most time but a place you’ll want to spend the most time. The Taurus interior keeps green with extensive use of recycled material in the cloth surfaces, in the headliner and in the NVH control components. Seat cushions are made from soy-based foam that significantly reduces petroleum-based content. To say the seats are comfortable is like saying King Kong was a big monkey.

Technology-wise you’ll be in a Star Wars environment minus the Darth Vaders of the universe. Such class-leading innovations as Ford’s heralded SYNC with MyFord Touch replaces many traditional buttons, knobs and gauges with clear, colorful LCD screens and steering wheel-mounted five-way toggles.

The screens can be personalized to display information relevant to each driver by using voice command, allowing the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Also, the new Taurus adds its intuitive active park assist technology. This device will make a parking dunce look like a professional driving instructor.

Other available comfort and convenience technologies are a new heated steering wheel, multi-contour seats with Active Motion, Intelligent Access with push-button start, auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, rear view camera and rear window power sunshade. Taurus is also available with a wide variety of audio and navigation connectivity alternatives including a Sony audio system. As for instrumentation, in a word it’s “pretty.” By that I mean pleasing to the eye. Also, the ergonomics God has left his mark with the positioning of the HVAC controls on the center stack.

There’s also a cool palette of existing and new exterior colors. The test car I drove was adorned in Ginger Ale Metallic, which couldn’t have been more descriptive. Close analysis put it between the hues of Canada Dry and Vernor’s.

One last word on technologies: I previously mentioned navigation alternatives. Do NOT purchase this car without the excellent Navigation System. You’ll hate yourself if you do and more than likely you’ll blame the Taurus for your lack of foresight. It’s not your car’s fault, Buddy. This system is so precise you could find your way out of a Turkish jail using it. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will spend a lot of money for a car and then chintz on the extra $1,500-$2,000 to include a potential life-saving features like a navigation system.

The 2013 Taurus probably won’t appeal to some elements, like those with anti-social behavior, hermits and loners. But anyone else who is looking for a dynamite vehicle with lots of room for others besides yourself, this Bud’s for you, my friend.

— Al Vinikour