2010 Ford Taurus SEL Review

By Kevin Miller

11.08.2009

2010 Ford Taurus SELI was in Detroit earlier this year when the curtain was raised on the all-new 2010 Ford Taurus, and Ford rightfully made a big deal out of the Taurus introduction. It is a big nameplate in Ford’s lineup, as well as a big car in terms of the shadow it casts on the pavement. In addition to carrying on the storied Taurus nameplate, size-wise it fills the shoes of the finally-departed passenger version of the Crown Victoria (though the outdated Mercury Grand Marquis soldiers on).

Ford’s media info, as well as many available upscale features, indicate that the Taurus is moving into the premium segment. Based on what I saw in Detroit, as well as all of the press photos and all of the glowing early reviews, I was expecting a bit more premium feel. My mid-level Taurus SEL did have plenty of nice features (dual-zone climate control, heated leather Multi-contour massaging seats, SYNC system, 18” alloy wheels) but some of the interior materials and assembly left me unimpressed. While my tester had a Light Stone beige leather interior, the steering wheel and some door inserts are a dull gray color, which seemed unmatching and cheap. Too, a hard plastic interior trim piece that runs along the center console (next to driver’s or passenger’s leg) and up to the ignition lock was hard, brittle plastic, against which keys on the driver’s key ring will rattle.

2010 Ford Taurus MyKey TechnologySpeaking of keys- the first thing you touch when using any car is its key or electronic fob. In that regard, the first contact with the Taurus is a letdown. The key-integrated remote is a decidedly down-market-looking piece, with cheesy graphics, a too-big head, and buttons that are awkward to use. A better-looking keyless entry/start fob is available on some models, and would make a better first impression.

The design of the interior is striking in photos, with its forward-leaning, cockpit-inspired design. Unfortunately, the passenger-side dashboard extends well into the passenger cabin for the stylistic purpose of making a symmetrical dashboard assembly, which leads to a major loss of knee room for front seat passengers. My wife complained that she was unable to cross her legs as she normally does on longer trips in the car because of the way that the styled dash protruded into her leg space.

2010 Ford TaurusOther parts where pennies were obviously saved include the lock switch and window switches (and their surround) on the driver’s door, and the soft-but-wholly-unattractive padding on the door where my elbow rests. These parts serve to remind us that the Taurus is a nicely-equipped mainstream car rather than a luxury vehicle, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Taurus and Luxury didn’t really go together before, whereas now they are much closer by virtue of a stylish design, good build quality, and many available features that are normally found only in luxury cars (such as ventilated seats, active cruise control, AWD, keyless entry/start, heated rear seats, power adjustable pedals, head-up display…)

The new Taurus absolutely has a more-upscale look than its predecessor, though there are some awkward elements to the new sedan’s exterior styling. To my eye, most of the offensive styling occurs behind the rear doors. The crease in the bodyside that starts at the front fender vent totally disappears at the rear wheel arch, and incongruously reappears on the rear quarter panel; however the area below that line on the rear panel looks strangely indented and twice during my week with the car I glanced at it and thought it had been dented by a careless driver. That’s not good. Too, the tail lamps are an awkward shape, perhaps not quite wide enough in the huge expanse that is the trunk lid and bumper on the Taurus’ baby-got-back sized behind.

IMG_0821While that huge behind allows for a lot of room in the trunk, the trunk is so large that it can be difficult to use. The Taurus SEL I tested was not equipped with the optional trunk cargo organizer; instead there is a lowered section in the center of the trunk floor which essentially makes the trunk floor uneven. Trying to get objects farther back in the trunk than meant, even for 6”4’ me, leaning against the usually-wet-and-dirty back bumper, to push my cargo onto the raised area at the back of the trunk. After getting the huge trunk loaded, there is no interior handle for closing the trunk lid, meaning that you just have to reach up and touch the wet, dirty outside of the trunklid. This was incredibly dissatisfying; an inexpensive interior handle would do wonders for increasing the premium feel of the car.

2010 Ford TaurusIt may sound like I’ve been picking nits, and perhaps I have. The Taurus really does have a lot going for it. Much of the interior was very nicely executed. The Light Stone Leather seats had contrasting dark stitching which looked nice. The Multi-Contour front seats had power adjustment and power lumbar support plus a massage function, which worked by inflating portions of the bottom or back cushion on a type of interval. The massage control was not marked (it is located on the side of the seat adjacent to other power seat controls) but the massage was a nice feature to have. While the front seats had a lot going for them, there was no bolstering to speak of, and the bottom cushion was too short for my long legs, leading to significant discomfort after only an hour on the road.

All of the gauges are clear and legible, making them easy to read. A scale with numerals every 20 MPH on the speedometer make it easy to tell how fast you’re traveling at a glance, and there is even a temperature gauge, which is becoming a rarity in modern vehicles. The info display at the bottom of the speedometer and the audio/climate display at the top of the center stack are both easy to read, and get bonus points for having matching display colors and font sizes. The many pushbuttons for the audio and climate control systems are clearly marked, though consist of many small rectangular buttons, which can be a bit of a challenge to discern with just a quick glance.

IMG_0830The 3.5 liter V6 produces 263 HP, which is more than adequate to move the Taurus both around town and on the highway. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts very smoothly, though those shifts are not particularly quick. There is a manual shifting position for the transmission, which sends control of the transmission to the chunky shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel, though the slow shifts are unfortunately not hastened by using the manual shifting paddles. For those wanting more motivation in their Taurus, an Ecoboost V6 is available in the AWD Taurus SHO, producing 365 HP, which would dramatically change the character of the Taurus.

On the road, the Taurus’ ride is well damped. Whether around town or on the highway, the Taurus’ suspension tuning does a good job of isolating the car from road imperfections, providing a comfortable ride. While the steering isn’t particularly communicative about what the tires are doing, feel through the steering wheel doesn’t leave you clueless. Too, body roll, is kept in check quite nicely. Squat and dive, long the downfall of large American cars, are virtually nonexistent.

2010 Ford TaurusSide windows in the Taurus are somewhat short, as is the backlight; this limits visibility. Because of the prodigious (and tall) booty out back, when sitting at a stoplight I could usually see only the top half of the windshield of a regular-sized sedan behind me. The comparison photo showing the height of the Taurus’ back end and that of a Volvo wagon shows just how tall the Taurus is; the optional reverse sensors or camera are a must.

The spacious back seat offers plenty of leg- and head-room, though the shape of the back seats necessitated moving the front passenger seat forward a bit to accommodate a rear-facing child seat behind it. The back seat was equipped with LATCH anchors for all three seating positions, though there are just three anchors, meaning that you can secure a seat in the center or two seats in the two outboard positions, but you can’t secure three child seats across the back using only LATCH attachment points. When not used for child seats, there are headrests for all three rear passengers, or a fold-down center armrest for two passengers. Note that a passenger in the center position has to straddle a not-insignificant driveshaft tunnel, present to accommodate the optional AWD (which was not included on my test vehicle).

My Taurus SEL was equipped with Ford’s class-leading SYNC system. Having sampled the system in the Ford Focus Coupe I reviewed several months ago, I was happy to have its Bluetooth phone and music features and voice-actuation capabilities, and it was easy to use, though I couldn’t control my iPod’s songs from the Bluetooth-audio connected SYNC, and that Bluetooth audio connection had spotty reception failures, leading to brief interruptions in playing songs.

I had the opportunity to take several hour-long highway trips in the Taurus, as well as the standard runs around town. The Taurus always proved itself capable, easy to use, easy to get in and out of easy to park. During a rainy Seattle week, the Taurus’ recessed door sills are protected from dirt and rain and make stepping in and out of the car very easy. The FWD Taurus has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18/28 MPG, and I saw 23.1 average over nearly 400 miles.

The front-wheel drive Taurus SEL I drove was a preproduction model, but building a similarly-equipped car on Ford’s website adds up as follows: the Taurus SEL has a base MSRP of $27,170. Rapid Spec 201A includes SYNC and Reverse Sensors for $700, Candy Red Metallic paint for $295, Multi-Contour seats for $595, Power Moonroof for $895, Leather seating for $1395, and Destination Fee of $825, for a total price of $31,875. That is an attractive price for large, well-equipped, comfortable sedan which provides a lot more space- and much more expressive styling- than a comparable Accord or Camry.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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16 Comments

  1. I saw an interview with the exterior designer of this Taurus in some magazine and he said that the design brief was to put out a family car that also had some sophistication and daring to it, so the owners of the new Taurus would not have to “settle” when buying a car that met their family’s needs.

    Personally, I think the results are mixed, but those results are more positive than not. The car looks very good from a couple of angles, but falls down from others, looking merely uninspired instead of ugly. As you noted…

    On balance, I think it’s an attractive car, but certainly not a home run in terms of styling.

  2. I drove one of these at the dealership two weeks ago because I am car shopping. This is a big car, it seems significantly larger than the Accord and the Camry.

    Still haven’t made up my mind, but I really liked it.

  3. The size of the Taurus looks completely ridiculous next to the back of the V70R. It appears that the Taurus is suffering from the same giantism that has afflicted the Camaro and Challenger.

    To be fair to the Taurus, at least it’s SUPPOSED to be in a different size class. If I think of it as basically taking the Crown Vic’s spot in the [retail] lineup, its size isn’t quite so ridiculous.

    By the way, imagine the SHO’s 365-horsepower engine in the Fusion. Wow, would that be sweet.

  4. yeah, and that engine would fit too, but it would really pull.

  5. If you’re looking at an Accord/Camry, then look at the Fusion, not the Tauras. This is supposed to be a big car.

    I think this is a home-run for Ford. You can nit-pick the style and bulk all you want, but my 17 year old sister wants one. She previously made fun of all Tauras drivers.

  6. I had no idea this new Taurus was so big. Seems too big to me.

  7. Sound like you were looking for faults! Go get a Honda Accord like the two I had and try to see how great they are!

    I would much rather have the Taurus than the Hondas 1996 and 1999, the interior of the Honda and Toyota and no where near are great as the old Taurus I have! Plus at 90,000 miles I you had to install a timing belt for aprox $450 in the Honda! Plus they had ‘plastic hub caps” and when driving on a old paved road I always wondered if the back door was left open!

    You complain about the dull grey steering wheel, I have a 2005 Taurus with the petty leather tan steering wheel and after a couple of years it ages and shows up as dull grey now! Mabe they learned and made a improvement!

    II like the fact it is a bigger and heaver car! and one big tthing, the Ford Taurus with the 3.5 V6 gets as good of fuel mileage as the Fusion with a 3.0 V6, now that where you need to nit pit! Just think some of these car critic live in the 70″s

  8. Accord also grew bigger and become similar in size to previous vesrion of Taurus. Fusion is smaller than Accord.

  9. In theory the new Accord is a Full Size and supposed to competer with the Taurus. The Fusion is a midsize and is slotted right between the old Taurus and the discontinued Contour.

    The only real issue I have with the new Taurus/Ford 500 is that it really should be RWD given it’s weight.

  10. It’s not just the size of the car that jumps out at you, it’s the height.

    Look at the rump of this Taurus and how high up it is on that Volvo wagon hatch door.

  11. Ford’s Corporate Web site shows that sales of the new Taurus are already at 6,000 units for the month of October 2009, (or half the number of Fusions sold in the same period) That could translate into sales of 70,000 Taurus in NA this year assuming that a second recession doesn’t hit.

    Taurus sales are comparing quite favorably with the Chrysler 300 which is selling at a current clip of under 3000 units per month. By comparison the Pontiac G8 never sold much more than 2500 units in a good month. Even the hit Maxima didn’t match Taurus October sales (5000 units).

    Therefore there still is a market out there somewhere for this big lug of a machine. At least until retail gasoline prices rises back up to $5 per gallon.

    RWD?? It would only add more weight to what is already quite heavy.

  12. Jior, the height is a selling feature. My parents bought one of the Taurus/Ford 500s specifically because of the ride height. (beter visibility)

    George, the Taurus wallers badly in corners. RWD would help by distributing the weight better.

  13. Mark in AZ:

    Not if the RWD chassis has more is fitted with less capable spring rates or an otherwise simpler front suspension that offers less body motion control as in the case of the soon to be belated Town Car/ Crown Vic.

    In fact there are more than a few FWD based cars which handle virtually as well their RWD competition e.g. the Audi TT, A4, A5 and A6 lines.

    Weight is not so much the limiting factor in where to apply FWD platforms as is the power used in the specific application. 300 hp appears to be the limit of efficient distribution of power to the front drive wheels, given current transaxle designs. True with greater weight you would need greater power to move at an acceptable rate. Not to worry with the advent of sophisticated on-demand viscous AWD systems such as Haldex. Haldex systems (Quattro in Audi speak) can reduce the deleterious effects of 300+ hp worth of inertia on a FWD transaxle by shifting some (or much) of the power to the rear. That’s why it’s standard on the SHO.

    This way the money saved by sharing FWD platforms with several lines allows money to be budgeted for improved and interior materials for a still reasonable price.

  14. Yeah but imagine how much better a car this would be if Ford would build it on the Australain Falcon platform instead of the Volvo platform. (A man can dream)

  15. Mark in AZ, if only the automotive gods (or Alan Mulally) would grant us that wish and give us any car from the Ford Falcon platform.

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