2013 Ford Taurus Review
Ford's flagship sedan gains numerous upgrades, highlighted by a second EcoBoost engine, new electronics and brakes.
- Torque and fuel economy
- Much improved brakes
- SHO restyled to stand out
- Limited rear visibility
- Instrument cluster design not quite classic
- Pricey with options
The Taurus was once Ford's bread and butter sedan, the sedan that every family could own and many did; during the 1980s it was one of America's best-selling vehicles. Today, it is a car for the average Joe to aspire to, the dean in the Blue Oval's fleet.
For 2013, not much has changed. The vehicle is still big, roomy and powerful. However, it's getting a new powertrain option: a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers new levels of power and fuel economy.
A front- or all-wheel-drive 4-door sedan, the Taurus ranges from well-equipped to near-luxury. Trim levels start with the SE and move up the luxury scale to the SEL and Limited. And then there is the performance-oriented SHO.
SE buyers get the inherent Taurus attributes of size and engineering refinement, but mainly forgo the electronic goodies in exchange for modest cost savings.
The SEL gains dual-zone air conditioning, SYNCH, Sirius satellite radio and remote starting as standard, and access to almost the full gamut of Ford's electronic aids. These include self-parking and a rear-view camera, for example. Limited buyers have the chance to buy every luxe feature, all the way up to power rear-window shades, rain-sensing wipers and automatic high-beam headlights.
Stepping up to the SHO is for drivers wanting maximum performance while not skimping on the deluxe stuff. Thus, the SHO gets its own premium Sony sound system, heated and air-conditioned power leather seats, self-parking, push-button starting and so on as standard. That's not to overlook its impressive engine, 6-speed paddle-shift automatic, massive brakes and sport-tuned suspension.
Adding the optional SHO Performance package yields more aggressive final-drive gearing and brake pads, larger brake rotors, higher-rate springs, shocks and sway bars, 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires, extra engine cooling, an Alcantara wrapped steering wheel, an inflator kit instead of a spare tire, and more.
Under the Hood
Engines are a big part of what's new in the 2013 Taurus. Standard is a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter twin-cam V6 that makes 288 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque. For 2013, the base V6's fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway.
Optional on the SE, SEL and Limited is the all-new 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine. Combining direct-gasoline injection, turbocharging and variable cam timing, this is one 4-banger that really gets the job done with its 240 horsepower and impressive 270 lb-ft of torque. We've pedaled this engine in several Ford chassis, and it drives like a big torquey V6, while delivering an estimated 31 mpg highway in the Taurus.
The 365-horsepower twin-turbo EcoBoost version of the 3.5-liter V6, available only in the SHO, is unchanged for 2013.
All Taurus engines are coupled to three different 6-speed automatic transmissions, each one specific to the engine. The SHO is the only one with paddle shifters, which have been improved this year. All-wheel drive is standard on the SHO, optional on the SEL and Limited and not available in the SE.
A near-luxury full-size sedan, the Taurus offers comfortable seating for five. Expect to find a houseful of conveniences (except on the most basic SE), such as push-button starting, keyless entry and power telescoping and tilt steering. For 2013, most minor functions are handled via touch screen, steering-wheel-mounted toggle switches and voice commands.
For luxury fans there are optional heated steering wheels and the suggestively named Active Motion massaging seats.
SHO front-seaters get extra bolstering and revised paddle shifters — the right paddle now only upshifts, the left is dedicated to downshifts — plus the obligatory occasional and discrete "SHO" badging and other minor trim changes. The look is contemporary.
Complaints are few, but somehow the new and nicely backlit instrument cluster seems a bit brightly colored for the otherwise understated interior, and the high beltline and trunk mean the rear window serves as a useful portal for the rear-view mirror but little else.
On the Road
Weighing right at 4,000 pounds, the Taurus can't help but have a presence from the driver's seat. But thanks to its high-torque engines, the Taurus doesn't feel ponderous. This is especially true with the turbo 2.0-liter, which has the low-end torque to get this large car moving with minimal perceptible effort.
Freeways are the Taurus' natural element, and given its hushed cabin and buttery ride, long trips are something to look forward to. With power adjustable seats, everyone ought to find a comfortable seating position. However, shorter folks may find the driving experience a bit remote as they peer for the fenders.
As suspected, the SHO is an animal unto itself. It feels nearly nuclear, hitting with a swell of torque down low and rapidly revving to extralegal speeds. Its combination of all-wheel drive, immense brakes and tricky traction management software mean the SHO never puts a wheel wrong. Torque steer is nonexistent and tight corners are negotiated just as easily as open bends. Thankfully, the SHO remains as civilized as other Taurus trims, so it makes a fine daily driver when not playing sports sedan. Only with the Performance package does the SHO hint at ride roughness, and it's nothing to scare an enthusiast away.
Right for You?
If the Taurus' big-as-America dimensions are the main attraction, then the entry-level SE offers the size without the trinkets at $26,600. But the $28,800 SEL is more like it if you're looking for a well-appointed big sedan. The Limited is a bit pricey at $33,000.
Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson's credits include local racing championships, three technicalengine books and hundreds of freelance articles.