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  • 2010 Ford Taurus SEL

    Posted on August 12th, 2009 ninarussin

    First drive

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Ford Taurus

    2010 Ford Taurus

    For a certain generation of drivers, the full-sized sedan is the archetypical American car. Those of us who were kids prior to the introduction of the minivan grew up in family sedans. Back then, few families owned more than one car, so the sedan that carried dad to work also took the kids to school, mom to the grocery store, and the whole clan on summer road trips.

    The first-generation Ford Taurus that debuted for the 1986 model year was a car in that tradition. It was one of Ford’s greatest success stories, becoming the top selling sedan in North America.

    After several iterations, Ford discontinued the Taurus, focusing on trucks and sport-utility vehicles that were dominating the market. A couple years of tough economic times and rising gas prices have the car-buying public shifting its focus back to passenger sedans. Enter the 2010 Ford Taurus.

    In addition to buyers moving out of trucks and sport-utility vehicles, Ford expects to draw Crown Victoria owners, now that the full-sized sedan is out of production.

    The new Taurus is stylish, fuel-efficient, and comes standard with a host of segment-leading convenience  and safety features,  including Ford SYNC, adaptive cruise control, collision warning with cross-traffic alert,  and MyKey: a chip that allows parents to control the maximum speed their kids can drive the car at. Lucky for Ferris Bueller that Ford has yet to share the technology with Ferrari.

    Three available grades

    The 2010 Taurus comes in three grades, ranging from the base SE, priced at $25,995 to the Limited that starts at $31,995. A high-performance SHO model retails for $37,995. Available all-wheel drive can transfer torque between axles or side to side to enhance traction, for better winter performance.

    All models except the SHO come with Ford’s 263-horsepower Duratec V-6, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 in the Taurus SHO develops 365 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque. The twin turbo setup ensures more consistent power delivery at altitude than naturally aspirated engines.

    Ford expects the mid-grade SEL, priced from $27,995, to account for about half of all Taurus sales. Standard equipment includes Ford’s keypad entry and capless fuel filler systems, a six-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate controls,  and SYNC with 911 alert.

    At a recent media event, I got my first chance to get behind the wheel of the 2010 Taurus. The test car is the front-wheel drive SEL with one option: a power moonroof.

    Good bye oval windows

    As someone with a fairly strong design sense, I have to believe the former model’s uninspired exterior contributed to its eventual demise. The new model is much more attractive, with an aggressive beltline, short front and rear overhangs, and a narrow greenhouse. Large headlamps that wrap around the front corners and standard 18-inch wheels on the SEL make the Taurus stand out in a crowd.

    Inside, the Taurus incorporates design cues from European sport sedans, such as a one-piece center console and center stack, two-tone front bucket seats, and Formula-style shift paddles on the steering wheel.

    Designers have modified the keypad entry system, so the numbers are hidden until the driver sweeps his hand across the B-pillar. At that point, numerals light up. Entering a numeric code allows multiple passengers to enter the car without the key.

    The standard 3.5-liter V6 is a competent performer, though my average fuel economy of 16.7 miles-per-gallon fell short of the manufacturer’s 18/28 mpg estimate. Although I wasn’t driving aggressively, the test took place in the hottest part of the day. Ambient temperatures of about 110 made it necessary to run the air conditioning full-time.

    New electronic and safety features add weight to the car. The front-wheel drive Taurus weighs over 4000 pounds: something that doesn’t help its gas mileage.

    Steering response from the standard rack-and-pinion setup is excellent. On-center response at speed is positive: drivers shouldn’t have problems controlling the car during quick lane changes.

    Although I didn’t have the chance to drive the car on winding rural roads, the Taurus handled well on cloverleaf entrance and exit ramps. Despite its front-wheel drive configuration, the sedan doesn’t feel nose-heavy.

    A four-wheel fully-independent suspension with a standard front stabilizer bar keeps the chassis flat in the turns. Testing a car suspension in Phoenix, where all of the roads are smooth, can be a disadvantage. The setup seems compliant enough without feeling mushy.

    Four-wheel disc brakes with standard four-channel antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion without being grabby.

    Visibility is good out the front and front corners. Thick rear pillars create some blind spots in the back corners, which the small side mirrors don’t completely compensate for. Available blind spot detection and cross-traffic alert are easy ways to fix the problem.

    Upscale interior

    2010 Ford Taurus Interior

    2010 Ford Taurus Interior

    The new model’s upscale, Euro-style interior is a huge improvement over former models. An information screen in the gauge cluster displays the trip meters, average fuel economy, a compass, driving range and MyKey information.

    Sirius satellite radio is standard, as is Ford SYNC: a downloadable hard drive with 911 assist. Navigation and rear-view camera assist are available as options.

    A standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel allows smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view. Shift paddles manually change gears for performance driving. Cruise, audio and Bluetooth interface on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.

    I found the six-way power driver’s seat easy to adjust, with adequate lower lumbar support. Drivers who spend a lot of times in their cars can add seat massagers that inflate and deflate the seat cushions and lumbar to keep muscles from tiring.

    Dual-zone temperature controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position. Vents behind the center console bin keep second-row passengers comfortable.

    Both rows of passengers have plenty of access to cup and bottle holders, storage cubbies and map pockets. Twelve-volt power points up front and behind the center console bin recharge portable electronic devices.

    The second row comfortably seats two: a tall floor tunnel and protruding center console eliminate most of the legroom in the middle position. Overhead reading lamps illuminate the car at night. Passengers can also program ambient lighting in the foot wells, cupholders, and other areas to project a variety of colors.

    Second-row seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern to extend the cargo floor. With the floor extended, the trunk can hold a road bike with the front wheel removed. However cyclists will be better served by one of Ford’s crossovers or sport-utility vehicles.

    Standard safety

    Engineers spent a lot of effort giving the new Taurus segment leading safety, including front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and vehicle stability control. Ford’s internal testing included crash testing with bicycle wheels, shopping carts, wheels and balls. The purpose of these tests was to make sure that the side airbag sensors could determine the difference between collisions that require airbag deployment, and those that don’t.

    Available passive safety features include collision warning, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, MyKey and cross-traffic alert.

    Ford builds the Taurus at its Chicago, Illinios assembly plant. The all-new Taurus rolls in dealerships this month.

    Likes: A stylish, affordably-priced full-sized sedan with excellent ride and handling and a high level of standard and available safety technologies.

    Dislikes: Middle rear seat lacks legroom.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Ford
    Model: Taurus SEL FWD
    Year: 2010
    Base price: $27,995
    As tested: $29,950
    Horsepower: 263 Hp @ 6250 rpm
    Torque: 249 ft-lbs. @ 4900 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 18/28 mpg city/highway

     

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