2009 Detroit Auto Show: 2010 Ford Taurus
By Chris Haak
Finally, after much, much speculation, Ford officially unveiled its all-new 2010 Ford Taurus. True to the rumors and speculation, the next-generation Taurus is a far more attractive and stylish automobile than its frumpily-styled (yet eminently spacious) predecessor. It also features a dynamically-styled interior, improved materials, and an impressive array of technology – particularly when you consider that it’s a Ford brand car and not a Lincoln. (The Flex is similarly luxurious and high tech).
The most obvious difference between the old Taurus and new is the styling; the roofline has been lowered and the beltline raised; this results in a smoother profile, but also gives the car a slightly bottom-heavy appearance from the side. The Taurus includes a new interpretation of the Ford three-bar grille, with two set-back, perforated bars above and below a more prominent bar containing the iconic blue oval in the center of the grille. The lower intake is of a trapezoidal shape and appears to clearly be intended as a transitional step in the act of combining the design language of Ford Americas and Ford Europe into a single, Europe-derived kinetic design language.
Continuing on the front of the car, nearly the entire hood is a power dome, and the ubiquitous fender vent – which made its inaugural Taurus appearance in the reborn model that was actually a renamed Five Hundred. The sides of the car have several interesting shapes; the front fenders below the chrome vents are reminiscent of the Focus’ (that’s not a compliment), the roofline shape at the C-pillar in particular is reminiscent of the Fusion’s, and the rear end treatment reminds one of either the well-received Ford Interceptor concept, of a Bentley Continental, or a Chrysler Sebring. You decide which of the three isn’t a flattering comparison. I often harp on this point about many front wheel drive-based cars, but the Taurus has unfashionably long overhangs on both ends of the car.
As with the exterior, the interior of the 2010 model dispenses with the simple, yet functional, shapes and instead adds Ford’s new-generation audio, HVAC, and navigation controls on an angled center stack, with three different compartments around the gearshift lever to nicely hide storage compartments and even rarely-used controls. The entire dashb
oard has a nice symmetry, with the pushbutton start teaming up opposite a trunk release button to keep the symmetry theme going strong. As with the old Taurus, most spots in the dash were soft plastics, but they’re nicer in the new Taurus.
A few nits to pick on the interior, though: first, the console is very large and very tall and is large enough to nearly create a virtual wall between the driver and front passenger. Second, the car in some ways dispenses with one of the old Taurus’ best features: its roominess. The chopped roofline turns what was once absolutely commodious headroom into just average headroom, if not slightly worse. Also, I found legroom in the back seat to be somewhat lacking. Taken together, it makes me wonder a bit what the benefit of taking utility out of the Taurus was. I was sort of hoping that by taking away the old Taurus’ worst features (generally styling and interior) and replacing them with some better features, the old car’s good features would at least stay intact. But it was not to be; in this case, function follows form (at least in terms of headroom, and I am biased toward taller interiors being 6’4″.
So what kinds of advanced technology does the 2010 Taurus have either standard or optional? It gets the updated version of Sirius Travel Link that can provide sports scores, movie times, gas prices, and more. The 2010 Taurus also includes blind spot information system (accompanied by cross traffic alert), adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, automatic high beams, MyKey (parental monitoring/governance), pushbutton start, ad adaptive cruise control. According to the company, this is the first-ever application of adaptive cruise control in a Ford-branded product.
The sole powertrain at launch with be the standard 3.5 liter V6 and six speed automatic transmission, but Ford has also committed to a 350+ horsepower EcoBoost V6 coming soon and with additional details. FInally, Ford made some suspension tweaks from the 2009 Taurus to the 2010 Taurus which are expected to improve handling, even if the roofline is slightly lower in the new model,thus lowering the center of gravity slightly.
I thought the Taurus would have a chance at being a home run, but in spite of the company hearkening back to 1986 numerous times during the press conference, the closest model to the original 1986 Taurus is actually the Fusion. The Taurus is a large car, and the market has not been kind to large cars, so I’m not predicting a huge sales success for the Taurus. I’ll know more about whether the car is capable of critical acclaim once we get a chance to test the car for an extended period. Regardless, I am absolutely feeling a need to drive a 350+ horsepower Flex or a Taurus with 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6s.
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