Review: 2010 Ford Taurus

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Don’t believe the hype. The 1986 Taurus was not “the car that saved Ford.” Trucks saved Ford in the late Eighties and early Nineties, as consumer tastes moved away from the one-sedan-fits-nearly-all market in favor of the newly popular SUV. Nor can the 2010 Taurus save a Ford beset by problems on all sides. There are no longer enough potential mid-sized car buyers to make a huge impact on the company’s bottom line, and most of those buyers are really better candidates for the smaller, more affordable Fusion.

No, the Taurus is neither Ford’s savior nor the vanguard of an American sedan renaissance. Instead, it’s a return to that quaintest of quaint American ideals: that of the premium Ford, primus inter pares in the millions of tract homes and leafy streets in that oft-derided “flyover country.” The original Taurus was notable for its unabashed futurism; the 1996 model, for a tragically ovoid miscalculation of the importance of price versus product in the market. This Taurus is something new and old at the same time. It’s intended to be a car that people want to own.

Our exposure to the 2010 Taurus took the form of a press introduction in Knoxville, Tennessee, followed by a long drive to Asheville, North Carolina, in conditions that could best be described as “forty percent chance of loading pairs of animals into a homebuilt ark.” The particular vehicle we drove was a white front-wheel-drive Taurus Limited with a reasonable but not comprehensive selection of the available options. Although the Taurus SE starts at $25,995, same as its predecessor, expect real-world stickers to range between twenty-eight and thirty-four grand for “popularly equipped” lot stock.

The alert reader will note that this price range is not really “Camcord” territory. The vast majority of the Japanese-brand mid-sizers sold are automatic-transmission four-bangers which leave the lot for a price well south of the base Taurus. This is fine with Ford; those buyers will be shown a Fusion. Instead, the Taurus is aimed upmarket. The media kit mentions the Audi A6, Lexus GS350, Chrysler 300, and Toyota Avalon. The first two comparisons can be dismissed as fantasy, the third is likely to be increasingly irrelevant, but the fourth is critical. There are plenty of older people in America who like the idea of buying a large sedan with a few gadgets on it, and those people are very fond of Toyota’s big Camry derivative.

Towards that end, Ford’s made no fewer than ten killer-app gadgets available on the Taurus, including radar cruise control, a surprisingly effective blind-spot warning system that can also notify the driver of cars approaching from the side in a parking lot, and the Orwellian “MyKey” that allows a top speed to be set for the valet key. Presumably this last feature is aimed at overprotective parents.

The MyKey setting on our car was turned off, so we headed for the hills to engage in a little bit of the old ultraviolence. Seated behind the Ford corporate steering wheel and fiddling with SYNC to our hearts’ content, we mercilessly tortured the charmless Duratec 3.5 for every last pony. This is not a fast car by any means—the SHO (in a forthcoming review) will address this—but it can be driven very hard in lousy weather. Stability is outstanding, steering feel is usable, and the chassis provides a sound ride while preserving a modest ability to be turned in on the brakes, should some irresponsible Boomer try it.

Over space and time, the new Taurus proved itself to be a quiet, comfortable vehicle with plenty of useful features. The exterior styling is up for debate, but the interior really does satisfy, providing ninety-five percent of the Lincoln MKS experience for about sixty percent of the price. Lon Zaback, Ford’s Interior Design Manager, waxed eloquent to us on the terribly complex process by which the absolutely convincing-looking faux-stitched leather doors were produced. The doors deserve a story all by themselves, but for now just consider it emblematic of the effort put into the Taurus by all hands.

The last Ford sedan to have this kind of whole-hearted effort devoted to it was the 1996 Taurus, and we all know what happened to that well-intended but ultimately star-crossed effort. It was a premium product and design statement masquerading as a family car, but the 2010 suffers from no such mission confusion. Comparing this very competent and interesting big sedan to the aging Impala or Chrysler 300 is bringing a gun to a knife fight. Against the Maxima, Avalon, and Azera, the Taurus offers size, styling, unique features and perhaps the most focus on the driver to be found in the segment. Don’t expect it to save Ford, but don’t expect it to fail, either.

[Ford provided the vehicle reviewed, gas, insurance, transportation, lodging and food.]

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Santhoshg Santhoshg on Oct 26, 2009

    I just got one SEL AWD. Excellent car, but have a concern for rear visibility; and ofcourse its expensive.

  • Lax_NJ Lax_NJ on Oct 20, 2010

    My dad stepped into the dealer for the LTD or SHO and bought the SEL AWD . He has owned great cars including Mercedes Benz. He was looking for a four-door sedan possibly Audi or BMW. After looking at these cars and realizing everyone and their mom owns one he decided he wanted something more unique but still subtle. I sent him a text about the new Taurus which he almost laughed me out of the house. After further investigation he found the car to be gorgeous and the new FORD system to be worth investing in (no bailouts). After test driving, we found the fit and finish to be great. Tons of room, drove nice, looked sharp was in the price range 29-40k. On purchasing day, there was an AWD on the lot and we didn't even know that was an option. We went for it mainly because the other thing we had in mind was an SUV. We get some ice and snow and rain here in the hilly NJ suburbs and its a nice "psychological" attribute. Did great its first snow season (not a truck, but helped on slushy roads) Performance is great. I laugh when people talk about car performance like they drive the INDIE 500 commuting to work. The finish is great. The FORD experience has been great. I suggest this car for anyone thinking about an SUV and looking for style longevity and performance. There is a boatload of room. Plus it stands out in the crowd of NJ yuppies driving BMW's and AUDI's. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked about this vehicle I could buy another one already. Our good friends and BMW nuts are getting one now. The "taurus" thing was a tough sell, but now we like it. It's almost classic in a way. Availability seems to be an issue. The dealer had a bunch on the lot already sold before arriving. Price I think is fair. We paid low 30's and it has sync, AWD, leather, sunroof, nice wheels, wood grain ... If they keep the price a little cooler than the competition it will be great. The SHO is worth every penny though. Deciding on color will be the hardest part. GO FOR IT!

  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.
  • ToolGuy New Hampshire