2013 Ford Taurus
Base price: $26,600 – $39,200
As tested: $33,390 (SEL)
MPG: 23 city/29 highway/19 combined
- Nicely refined and stylish
- Excellent balance of comfort and performance
- Exemplary fit and finish with quality materials
- Snug cabin
- MyFord Touch interface
- Pricey SHO model
By Jim Prueter
Since its last redesign in 2010, Ford had to do something to keep the legendary Taurus from looking past its freshness date in an attempt to rival stylish competition such as the Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, and Hyundai Azera. Hence, its mid-cycle refresh for 2013 that’s in dealer showrooms now.
But the real news is that in addition to the standard 288-horsepower, naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6, the Taurus now has a 2.0-liter 237-horsepower 4-cylinder EcoBoost turbo engine, making it the first vehicle in Ford’s lineup to offer two EcoBoost engines. The other is a 3.5-liter 365-horsepower V-6 EcoBoost engine in the high-performance Taurus Super High Output (SHO) model.
Regardless of engine choice, all Taurus models come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual button on the console shifter. We drove both 3.5-liter V-6 engines models and, not surprisingly, found that the SHO automatic transmission responded with quicker shifts and less hesitation than non-EcoBoost trim levels.
Another big change for the new Taurus is the vehicle technology, which includes the third iteration of the much-maligned MyFord Touch interface, standard on the Limited and SHO models and optional on SE and SEL. The system employs an 8-inch color display and steering-wheel-mounted toggles that replace many of the traditional buttons, knobs, and gauges. This latest edition of MyFord Touch, while much improved, can still be slow to respond. And it’s easy to hit the wrong icons while operating the vehicle. Good thing there are physical knobs for the climate control and audio system just below the touch screen.
Styling changes for the full-sized Taurus include a sculpted hood and a new inverted trapezoid grille with built-in shutters that close for improved fuel economy at higher speeds and open at lower speeds for maximum cooling. There are new headlights, and the rear of the car is cleaned up with new LED taillights. Dual exhausts are also standard on all trim levels.
The beltline is high, and windows are small, separated by an exceptionally wide B pillar. The overall look is that of a large American sedan, rather than sleek, low European sedans such as the Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series. And, we don’t much care for the fake vents on the front fenders, which seem to be an afterthought for visual drama.
Inside, Taurus is treated to a fairly extensive redo, featuring a double hooded dash and a wide center console that definitively separates the driver and front passenger and eliminates much needed side-to-side knee room.
Soft-touch materials and padding replace hard plastic on the sides of the center console and throughout the interior. There’s ample use of faux wood and chrome trim that manages to look good, with excellent fit and finish. Window pillars are now wrapped in cloth, versus the plastic cladding on the previous model.
New front seat cushions are comfortable with an ample amount of adjustment room, and the rear seat is wide with room for three adults. But legroom and headroom is deceptively snug, given the Taurus’s large exterior. The 20-plus cubic-foot trunk is exceptionally large and, if you haul lots of stuff, could be decidedly important.
The 2013 Taurus will be available in four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited, and the high-performance SHO. Base price starts at $26,600 for the SE and climbs to $39,200 for the SHO. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive optional, except on the SHO with its standard all-wheel drive.
On the road, the new Taurus is exceptionally quiet and comfortable thanks to a completely retuned suspension that eliminates harshness. Engineers added torque vectoring and curve control this year to help eliminate its lumbering feel. But it’s a hefty vehicle that sits high and still exhibits lethargy around curves and corners.
We spent time behind the wheel of a front-wheel drive SEL and an all-wheel drive SHO. Powered by the standard 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 19 city/29 highway mpg, the SEL has an adequate performance that will please most drivers. There’s plenty of power from a stop and noticeable pulling power when passing or getting up to highway speeds. All models get new and better brakes that provide a precise feel when stopping.
The SHO has its own unique black mesh upper and lower grilles (without the shutters), black mirror housings, a rear spoiler, and SHO badging on the front fender vents. An optional SHO Performance Pack ($1,995) includes upgraded suspension, upgraded cooling, upgraded brakes, 20-inch wheels with Goodyear F1 245/45YR20 tires, a lower final-drive ratio, and a track mode that turns off the traction-control system completely for racetrack running.
Still, the SHO shouldn’t be thought of as a performance sedan in the same way one would think of a Chrysler 300 SRT or an S-Line Audi A6. To be fair, the SHO isn’t marketed as a serious muscle car, and while its power is adequate, it simply doesn’t have the same level of performance.
A fully loaded SHO lists at about $47,500. A price that’s hard to swallow, considering it’s in the same range as luxury sedans the likes of an Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series.
The 2013 Taurus comes with all the expected standard safety features.
Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control with a collision warning system, and lane departure, blind spot, and cross-traffic warning systems. It has been recognized as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and earned the highest possible government five star safety rating in front and side crash tests.
Overall, the new Taurus is not a perfect car, but it’ll adequately please those who either like or need a large family sedan. Besides, if you don’t opt for the pricier trim levels, it’s an excellent value. While it’s roomy, has a large trunk, accelerates with ease, and has just a few flaws, there’s a big move among consumers to smaller and mid-size sedans that are roomy inside and nowhere near this car’s price.