Tue09022014

On The Road

One practical sedan


Photo By: courtesy of ford
Photo Courtesy Of Ford

The new Ford Taurus is big car, weighing 2 tons, and doesn’t lack for modern conveniences.

Ford is definitely on a roll, with new vehicles in almost every segment of the automotive marketplace, from all-electric urban runabouts to full-size hybrid SUVs.

Our most recent experience was with the 2013 Ford Taurus, which definitely deserves consideration by the mature family or empty-nest couple looking for a classic, full-size, American-made four-door sedan.

Locals who remember the Taurus from the 1990s when it was the company car of choice for a certain local Fortune 500 company might wonder where the nameplate has been in recent years. These same folks might also be confused when first viewing the new Taurus. Not surprising. For several years in the last decade, Ford Motor Company had more or less lost its way regarding the styling and engineering of this model. Now the name Taurus is used on the model originally launched as the Ford 500, and it has dimensions more akin to 1950s sedans than to the low and sleek sedans and pretend-coupes manufacturers have recently been introducing to the family car market.

We think that’s a good thing, since the major advantage of this new Taurus design is that the car is high, wide and handsome, with a seating position that places the eyes at approximately the same level as most crossover SUVs. This makes entry and exit easier for members of the baby-boom generation.

The Taurus is a car for those who fondly remember the old days, when sedans had spacious, comfortable front and rear seats, and a trunk that could swallow a family’s luggage (and bags of golf clubs) for a two-week vacation. All three of these dimensions are best in class for full-size sedans.

Another advantage is that within the list price of the car we drove – $35,180 – Ford offers all the modern conveniences including backup camera and sensors, satellite radio, digital music library, voice-activated navigation and Bluetooth smartphone connection, heated seats and more.

On the other hand, in a break with tradition, Ford has taken a page from the foreign-car playbook with the optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive and six-speed automatic transmission. The result is fuel efficiency of 22 mpg city, 32 highway and 26 combined – and a smooth, quiet ride.

But there are some negatives in this new model. The Taurus is a big sedan that weighs 2 tons, has limited visibility and a large turning radius. Then there’s that elephant in the cockpit – the touchscreen interface which both Ford and GM have adopted, requiring one to make quick, precision selection of everything from cabin temperature to audio source. This interface is literally a hit-or-miss proposition, and it’s also distracting and frustrating to use.

If you’re looking for a large, comfortable, American car in the best of the old traditions, the new Taurus could be the right car for you. But if you skim car reviews looking for words like handling, performance and acceleration, you’ll have to look at other models and other manufacturers.

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