Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Ford TaurusFord's big sedan girds for battle with much cooler Impala, 300, and Avalon.
-A couple of people have asked me, "Is that a crossover?" No, it's not, but kind of biggish, isn't it? In fact, it's Ford's remaining large sedan now with the death of my dear beloved Crown Vic behind us. Let's roll excel on the 2013 Ford Taurus Limited. Check the tech. Good grief, the Taurus is big to have these massive lines all around. It also has to be big in another way. In the entire class of full-size sedans, take a look at the 2014 Impala, the newly redesigned Toyota Avalon and the heavily revised Chrysler 300, the Taurus can no longer be a car that you ride in only when you rent or visit your grandparents and this generation certainly goes way beyond that. Now, getting in the Taurus is like sliding into the tub, not wet but really high and enveloping all around you. I mean, look at this big high belt line up here and even higher brow line across the top of the dash, these sort of projections here also exude mass, the whole---- the whole dash T does. Over here, Ford keeps sort of improving the responsiveness and, to some degree, the cleanliness of the buttons in that interface, but they still have a ways to go. These are an issue. These four zones around here are like what Audi does except they're hard to get to look how deep and tight the bezel is around here. If you wanna get to one of those, you've really gotta arc your wrist and use your fingertip. Let's get specific. Go over here on the media side. You've got all the major sources. Notice how that was kind of a slow transition that's also something they have to address. AM and FM with HD radio, Sirius satellite radio, a single disc slot here for optical. Down here, I've got one of my two USB ports being used and that's where my iPod lives. And then you gotta scroll down the menu, you can find even more here. There's my Droid setup for bluetooth streaming. I have SD card playback as well and some A/V RCA input jacks. I wanna show you one thing Ford does really well. HD radio is really great on a Ford head unit. Everything comes in and nothing you don't want. My indicator that I have a second HD channel, if I hit tune, I end up going to dot two for this station. If I wanna tag that song so I can have it in iTunes later to prompt me to buy it, there is the button right there that's sending a tag to my iPod. And you have an easy HD radio on and off up there, which you're going to use when you're in fringe coverage areas because going between HD and analog is really annoying. In the current version of sync, you get text messages flashed on the screen. You can have them read to you or read them on the said screen and there's a bunch of canned replies available. Navigations up here, not much has changed. It's via SD card, so you can add it later by going to the dealer and spending 800 bucks for the card and sticking it in there. I like that flexibility. I like what they've done for traffic. This is something all automakers struggle with. How do you place the red, yellow, or green ink, if you will, on the road to show its traffic status? Ford's done it with kind of glowing shoulders around the traffic area, leaving them free to use that consistent color for the actual roadway itself. Our car has adaptive cruise control so you end up with a button over here that you won't always have that's called gap and that's where, when you turn on the adaptive cruise, you see four bars in front of that little car indicator there and that's where you set the distance you're gonna follow. It's a relative thing. I'm sure, in the manual, it tells you roughly how many feet those are. That also ties in to what we have here which is a forward collision alert system. If you're driving along and you're closing too fast on a car in front of you, this little thing right here, you see that? That's a projector. It looks kinda like a taillight. It projects right up on the windshield right there, like a very simple head-up display that puts a big old taillight right in your face. It's coming off your dash, and of course, it beeps and blares at you. What it doesn't do, though, is apply the brakes. It does, however, pre-charge them so they really grab when you do wake up and get on them. I thought about this and it's almost not so much as collision avoidance technology as liability transfer technology because once this thing beeps and your brakes are supercharged, you jump---- I mean, this car just stops. Instead of hitting the car in front of you, you're gonna get rear-ended, but in most states, that's their fault. Now, our car, our limited, has what's considered the base engine on the Taurii these days and it's an upgraded, modernized V6. No turbo charging. They are not EcoBoost stuff. It's simply a very modern V6, sitting side saddle of course, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. We have the former. The numbers: 288 horsepower, 254 foot-pounds of torque. The car weighs about 4030 pounds, kind of chunky. It's up to 60 in 6.9 seconds, not bad by any stretch. MPG is 1929. Now, the more interesting in brand-new engine option in this Beagle Taurus is a little turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder. Yeah, believe or not, it would have about 17 percent less horsepower, but 12 percent better MPG. By my calculation, is that $1000 option, that's why they cost more with a smaller engine, you're doing back in about three years. So, it's a reasonable alternative to consider and I'd like to get my hands on one as soon as we do. We'll report back. Now, the first thing to remember about driving a Taurus is that it's a Taurus. If you get too obsessed with skidpad adhesion on slalom times, you miss the point of this car. It's a big, roomy, semi-luxurious, four-door sedan. What I find they've done really well on this vehicle is that I've got a comfortable ride, road input but not too much. You could never call this car numb in its handling, and at the same time, maintains a comfort while still having responsive handling when you get into a turn onto a smaller road where you press it, not to its limits 'cause this car isn't about its limits, but press it to enjoy the road to some degree. It has a very nice blending of comfort and responsiveness. Very good. A less successful blending is of this really wonderful motor. There's great, smooth, torquey, linear power there. It sounds great revving up, but it gets bogged down in a transmission and a bunch of chips and engine control computers that just seem to always be figuring out what they wanna do in a committee meeting. Common to a lot of cars. It's too bad in this car 'cause there is such a great V6 out front. Okay, let's price this big boy. $33,900 for a limited V6 front-wheel drive. On top of that, you're gonna wanna add package 301A. It's a good value. For 2700 bucks, you get heated and cooled front seats, the BLIS blind spot, cross traffic alert on your butt, Sony Premium Audio, and the push-button start which I could live without, but it's in there. Now, $795 on top of that, mind you that little tiny SD card, but that unlocks a pretty darn good navigation system with great traffic display. $1195 gives you adaptive cruise control with the forward collision alert. All in, done up CNET style, you're a tick below $40,000. That's not a bad value for a car that, I think, drives very nicely and has got good to great tech all the way through it. The problem is a Taurus has no cachet. You gotta buy this car because you like it, not because they do.