2016 Ford Taurus Limited Rental Review

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

Well, Ford, I’ve gotta hand it to you. You did it, something that TTAC readers probably thought unlikely, improbable, maybe even downright impossible. I’m about to type some words that most of you never expected me to say.

I found a Ford that I don’t like. Its name? Taurus Limited. And we had a wretched week together.

I know, I know. I’m as surprised as you are. In fact, when I first got behind the wheel of the 2016 Ford Taurus Limited at Memphis International Airport last week, I texted Mark Stevenson and said, “I already love it.”

And it was true! The car was attractive in all black. The 3.5-liter V6 seemed powerful enough to spin the front wheels on command. I had comfortable leather seating, SYNC 3, and a deep, resonant sound system. The steering wheel felt comfortable, with classy (fake?) wood trim on top. Visibility was decent. The A pillars were a little obstructive, but nothing to seriously complain about. And it only costs $32,585 (including a whopping $2,750 of dealer cash on the hood) as optioned!

What’s not to love, right?

The back seat was big enough for two large adults (and one small child in the middle, thanks to the stupid hump in the middle). Plenty of comfort back here, too. Nice, tasteful ambient lighting in the door handles. Seemed like a nice place to spend a few hundred miles, if need be. The Taurus was more than adequate in the rear seating department.

Not only would a drive to Disney World be practical on the inside, I could have easily fit a whole Disney vacation for my family of four in the cargo area, too. The trunk was vast enough to swallow multiple large suitcases, making my ever familiar red 27-inch suitcase look downright Lilliputian in the back.

My rental only had 1,000 miles on the clock, so everything was like new, too. Everything about the car looked and felt premium to the touch.

“I don’t get why people don’t like this car,” I said to myself as I headed out of the airport toward my Beale Street hotel. “It’s great!”

Well, it would have been great if I didn’t have to drive the damn thing. Unfortunately, I did.

My first complaint is with the Spotify app in SYNC 3. I couldn’t select each song, only playlists. The app crashed about every 45-60 seconds, so as with the Escape rental I had a few months ago, it was best just to select USB as the source and manage my Spotify from my iPhone 6S+. But I can live with that minor complaint. The worst, however, was yet to come.

The V6 that seemed powerful enough in the parking garage felt weak and underpowered as I attempted to merge onto the highway — and I really don’t understand why. The same motor powers my 2013 Ford Flex at home, and I’ve never felt a lack of available power there. Perhaps I had greater expectations of the motor in the Taurus, because it’s a sedan that’s supposed to compete with the Impala V6 and Pentastar-powered Charger/300. I’ll sum it up thusly: it doesn’t match up, at least not in the powertrain department. I know that Ford claims 288 horsepower for this motor, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. In real life, it feels like an 8-second 0-60 car.

My second disappointment followed quickly. The suspension became bizarrely wishy-washy on the entrance ramp, giving me the sort of rocking and rolling motion that one experiences on a cruise ship. The combination of the soft suspension and the absolutely feckless stock tires provided a complete lack of confidence in any cornering situation. It wasn’t helped by the steering, either.

The steering feedback provided by that pretty steering wheel is best described as anesthetized. I knew that the front wheels were doing something, because the car actually turned, but I might as well have sat behind the wheel of a low-cost Gran Turismo 3 simulator setup. The wheel could be turned several degrees in either direction before the Taurus accepted direction. It reminded me of when I tell my son to get dressed for school in the morning, and five minutes later he’s still sitting around in his underwear watching Disney XD. The Taurus is a lot like that.

This would be all be manageable except for that the car is so damn heavy that the braking suffers badly, too. You plow past your desired cornering apexes in turns, and then you keep going because trail braking is useless, resulting in terminal understeer. I’m not talking about high performance driving here, people. I’m talking about turning onto the highway. It’s dreadful.

And I know that I have waxed poetic about the MKS and SHO in the past, but maybe it was the combination of all the above failures that made me appreciate the driver’s seat claustrophobia of the Taurus. The center console truly is much, much too large and invasive, even for my 5-foot-9 self.

Fuel economy for the week was bizarrely poor, too. I observed a combined 19.8 miles per gallon over four days. I suppose that’s to be expected, however, with a wheezing V6 and over 4,000 pounds of car to move. I can’t imagine how dreadful this car would be with the “upgraded” 2.0-liter EcoBoost motor.

But, that being said, there’s something that could have fixed all the problems I had with my Taurus, and I found it in my home airport’s parking garage upon returning home.

Yes. YES. More power from the good EcoBoost motor, all-wheel drive, and an upgraded suspension. Isn’t that essentially what the new Continental is going to be? A new Taurus with more power and better suspension? So where does a 2017 Taurus fit into the Ford lineup? My guess is that it doesn’t. With a new, improved Fusion squeezing it from the bottom, and a Conti squeezing it from the top, the Taurus seems to be irrelevant, doomed to a fleet-and-police-only existence.

After my week with the Taurus, I can’t say that would be a bad thing. In a world that has an Impala, a Charger, and even a (shudder) Maxima, the Taurus continues to be a black eye for Ford.

I’m gonna say it for the millionth time: 5.0-liter Coyote and rear-wheel drive in this segment, Ford. Pretty please. Until you do that, you need to stop making a full-sized sedan. It’s not worthy of the Blue Oval.

[Images: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars]

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on May 08, 2016

    I drove what appears to be an identically equipped Taurus that a friend rented while his F150 was being repaired (Son fell asleep, sideswiped a parked car). It was better than I expected. It had at least "OK" power, not a rocket, but not horrible, it handled "OK" too. I didn't notice anything good or bad about the brakes. The stereo, well, that's one area of the review I couldn't agree more with, it's terrible. From my experience, FCA has the best interface of any entertainment system available, but I haven't driven any high end cars over the last couple of years. He had the Taurus for about 2 weeks and said he wasn't hating it when it was time for it to go back. That's a lot better than the last car he rented, a Ford Escape. I agreed with him, it was just bad, in so many ways.

  • Grey_ghost Grey_ghost on May 12, 2016

    5.0-liter Coyote and rear-wheel drive in this segment, Ford. Pretty please. Until you do that, you need to stop making a full-sized sedan. It’s not worthy of the Blue Oval. They did in Australia. It was called Falcon. They're stopping making the full-size rear wheel drive sedan in 4 months.

  • Eric As I would not buy a GM or any other EV the question is moot. As to Apple or Android play, I don't care if the car uses them. I don't use those apps anyway.
  • SCE to AUX I'd want Android Auto.
  • FreedMike They're highly important to me, particularly for navigation.
  • Bill Wade No Android Auto, no car. How else would I listen to Radio Paradise. ;)
  • KOKing "One of the most interesting parts of this situation is that Stellantis, and by extension, the Chrysler Group, is increasingly considered a foreign company instead of a traditional American automaker."Does that mean Simca and Hillman are coming back?