Not long ago you couldn't throw a stone without hitting a Ford Taurus. Through the '80s and '90s, the Taurus rose to the top of the sales charts and even went on to become America's best-selling car between '92 and '96 before the Toyota Camry snatched the title away. But today's Taurus is a very different machine. It's bigger, plusher, and a lot rarer than it used to be - though it's still likely to be encountered on dealer lots and rental car fleets.
For 2017, the Taurus's optional sound system gets ClearPhase and Live Acoustic technologies; it's standard on the SHO and Limited trim levels. There are also two new colours available - a White Gold and Smoked Quartz.
The Taurus is available in four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited, and high-performance SHO. The SEL is available with all-wheel drive; it's standard on the Limited and SHO. The SE and SEL come standard with front-wheel drive.
The SE, SEL, and Limited feature a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine. Though its output figures are competitive (288 hp, 254 lb-ft), acceleration and fuel economy lag behind the competition. Fuel economy for front-wheel drive cars is rated at 13.1 L/100 km city and 8.7 highway, with AWD versions consuming 13.6 / 9.8.
For $1,000 more, the SE and SEL FWD can be upgraded to a more economical option that takes the form of a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-litre four. Horsepower dips to 240 hp, but torque climbs to 270 lb-ft, making the smaller engine feel just as powerful as the bigger standard V6. Fuel economy is rated at 11.8 L/100 km city and 8.0 highway.
The SHO offers a significant increase in performance thanks to a standard 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine that produces 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. While Dodge's Hemi-powered Chargers often hog spotlight for large performance sedans, the Taurus SHO's quick-spooling engines and standard all-wheel drive are capable of slingshotting the sedan to 100 in around five and a half seconds. An optional Performance Package is also available, and while it doesn't gain any additional power or torque, it adds firmer springs and dampers, upgraded brake pads, recalibrated power steering tuning, high-performance summer tires, and a shorter final drive ratio for better acceleration. So equipped, the Taurus SHO is the most entertaining large sedan this side of a Charger Hellcat.
While the Taurus has a big frame, its interior isn't as big as its dimensions might suggest. Certainly, four will ride in comfort, but rear legroom isn't as generous as the Impala or Avalon. Outward visibility is hindered by small exterior windows and thick pillars. Few are likely to complain about the trunk, though, which at 569 L with the rear seats up, is huge. The Taurus SE offers a standard power driver's seat and tilt and telescoping steering column; power-adjustable pedals are available on SEL and higher trim levels. The SHO and Limited also get massaging seats, too.
Most Taurus models also come with the Sync3 infotainment system that uses an 8.0-inch screen. Launched just last year, it includes CarPlay and Android Auto, plus enhanced graphics with more intuitive controls. Models without Sync3 use the older Sync system, which still provides voice-activated controls for mobile devices and Bluetooth.
Though limited to the Limited and SHO trims, the optional Driver Assist Package helps the Taurus stay atop the charts in active safety technology with radar cruise control, emergency autonomous braking with forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and an automatic parking function. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard on the Limited and SHO. A reverse camera is standard on all trim levels.
The 2017 Taurus starts at $30,998 with the top-of-the-line SHO selling for $51,598.
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