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2010 Ford Taurus and Taurus SHO: A break with the past

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You must admit that Ford’s been making progress for several years now. We’re finally seeing the tangible results of the recovery plan in the quality of the new vehicles, and the 2010 Taurus is no exception. Those who still believe that Ford products aren’t competitive compared to others should go to a Ford dealership and get into a vehicle like the new Fusion, the Flex, not to mention flagship products like the F-150 and the Mustang. Add to that list the soon-to-be-arriving Fiesta and a brand new Focus, and you get a range of models that can hold its own against many other manufacturers.

The Taurus, first introduced in 1986 has been completely refreshed for 2010. At one point, it was renamed the Five hundred, but I guess everyone makes mistakes… Ford realized that the Taurus is one of its most recognizable models, so it was better to capitalize on this advantage than to reinvent the wheel. I wonder what became of the Einstein that came up with the idea to change the name?

More power
Offered at a lower-than-last-year base price of $29,999, the Taurus 2010 comes in three versions (SE, SEL and Limited), all of which use the V6 3.5-litre engine. It features 263 horses at 6,250 rpm for a torque of 249 lbs-ft at 4,500 rpm and the only gearbox offered is a six-speed automatic. This engine, which is not new at Ford, is the same one used on the Fusion Sport and the Edge. One of the advantages of the Taurus compared to its main rivals – the Toyota Avalon, Pontiac G8, Chrysler 300 and Chevrolet Impala – is the availability of optional all-wheel drive. 

As for the high end Taurus SHO, it has more power under the hood thanks to its 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 with fuel injection and a brutish 365 hp for a torque of 350 lbs-ft. Now that’s what I call a juiced-up Taurus! However, Ford doesn’t consider it a high performance version. Moreover, it’s pronounced Taurus “Show” rather than S.H.O. In an era where political correctness is the norm, marketing people who have a habit of latching on to trends prefer to avoid using terms like “performance”. Hence the Taurus SHO (Super High Output) bears the green EcoBoost monogram at the back (surprise surprise) that will be on the manufacturer’s new supercharged models. SVT is out. Now it’s all about environmentally-friendly performance!

A fresh start
In any case, the classic lifeless lines that used to be associated with large Ford cars are a thing of the past. The Taurus is nothing if not soulful. I think the manufacturer had to break with the past and give its flagship model a new image. The 2010 Taurus has nothing in common with the old generation when it comes to style. It has a much more athletic exterior shape and features a more dynamic style, which is emphasized by its higher beltline and flared fenders that house beautiful rims. Various features, notably the ventilation inlets integrated with the fenders, give the car more personality. The beautiful front end is typical of the manufacturer’s new lines, but it takes some time to get used to the back, mainly because of the wide horizontal bar that crosses the trunk and connects the rear lights. Transforming the Taurus SHO into a “pimped” ride was not an option. Ford wanted a car that was both high performance and discrete, so this souped up edition has only a few unique features, like a small rear spoiler and a sportier front grille. 

The manufacturer’s new philosophy is most obvious inside the car. The quality of the finish and the careful choice of materials make for a rich and meticulous passenger compartment. It’s tough to find fault with it. It has everything you need to guarantee comfort and a good driving position, such as adjustable pedals and a telescopic steering column. Add to that various little features like background lighting, an integrated dashboard and central console in one single piece and a new urethane injection process that create surfaces with rich textures, including over stitching, and you get a cockpit that would be worthy of Audi. That’s the highest of compliments. My only small complaint is with the seat benches, which are not long enough and don’t fully support the thighs.

A myriad of technologies
It wasn’t enough for Ford to simply offer a quality product as a competitive price – the manufacturer took the opportunity to include various conveniences worthy of luxury cars. For a little more than $40,000, you get a Taurus Limited that includes features like adaptive speed control, a collision warning system, the MyKey security system, blind spot monitoring, Cross Traffic Alert, the SYNC system, a navigation system..and the list goes on. That’s what makes it possible to drive around in a car as well equipped, if not more so, than many BMW, Lexus or Audi cars, while saving enough money to buy yourself a sub-compact to boot! I know, the prestige of the logo has a price, but is it worth almost $20,000?

On the road
The Taurus is nice, well equipped and a good value for the equipment. As for ride, it’s just as positive. The 3.5-litre V6 helps the car perform well in spite of its weight and size. The six-speed automatic gearbox more than gets the job done and features smooth and precise shifting. There’s a manual mode including controls behind the steering wheel for selecting gears. One of the more noteworthy features is without a doubt the passenger compartment’s soundproofing. Even at higher speeds, there’s no audible engine or wind noise.

The steering wheel is easy to get used to and steering is precise enough to make for an enjoyable ride. The suspension is also a positive as it offers a good combination of comfort and stability. It’s a long way from the steering in a Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis. The Taurus SHO sets itself apart with its increased power, but it’s mainly its superior torque at low gear that maximizes output. Even when pushed a little more, it remains steady with minimal weight transfers.

The new Taurus clearly has everything it needs to be successful. Ford was not satisfied to simply offer an affordable car overloaded with gadgets; it is excellent overall. While too high a price would have sent buyers running for luxury products, Ford managed to take everything into consideration to make an extremely interesting car. 

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