Over thirty-some years, the Ford Taurus has become an icon. In the beginning it was lean and radical, but today it’s a full-size front-wheel-drive sedan facing the end of its production run. The Taurus will disappear, most likely sometime this model year, as Ford continues its march toward a lineup of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, with just a couple of passenger cars to remain.
This is the 10th year for this generation of Taurus. It’s solid and well-built, but its exterior, interior and packaging are somewhat dated as a result. It got minor updates in 2013 to keep up with rivals like the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and Chevrolet Impala.
The base engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 making 288 horsepower, and, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, it works well for daily driving. The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder was discontinued in 2018.
The 365-horsepower turbocharged V-6 in the all-wheel-drive SHO model is a blast. It accelerates from zero to 60 mph in about five seconds, using a 6-speed paddle-shifting transmission and riding on a tuned suspension. All-wheel drive is standard on the SHO and optional on the Taurus SEL and Limited.
The V-6 gets 18 city, 27 highway and 21 combined miles per gallon with front-wheel drive, 2 less mpg with all-wheel drive. We drove more than 250 miles in an all-wheel-drive model and got nearly 20 mpg combined. The Taurus SHO gets about the same as the base Taurus with all-wheel drive, scoring 16/24/19 mpg.
The NHTSA gives the Taurus five stars overall in crash testing, with four stars in rollover.
The IIHS gives it top Good scores in every test except for just Acceptable in the driver-side small-overlap test, which simulates impact with an oncoming car on a two-lane road. The IIHS also rated the Taurus’ headlights â€œPoor.â€
Tellingly, the Taurus lacks optional automatic emergency brakingâ€”something standard on some competitors.
Taurus models are SE, SEL, Limited, and SHO ($42,520).
For about $29,000, the SE comes with fabric upholstery, rearview camera, frustrating Ford Sync with Bluetooth connectivity and a 4.2-inch screen, six-speaker stereo, 18-inch wheels, and power adjustable front seats.
The $31,000 SEL adds automatic climate control, leather around the steering wheel, and a few other items. For $1,000, an option package includes a sophisticated 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Ford’s latest system is one of the best in the business for its quick reaction times, clear screen, and excellent app integrationâ€”Waze users need only pair their phones via Bluetooth.
For about $37,000, Limited models get Sync3, leather seats that are heated and cooled in front, keyless ignition, and wood trim. Options include Sony premium audio, heated steering wheel, and safety features such as blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alert.
Topping the lineup, the SHO uses the twin-turbo V-6 and all-wheel drive. It’s fully loaded, with heated and cooled leather seats, and more. It starts at nearly $44,000, and adding some options pushes its price above $47,000.
A rearview camera is standard. Active safety features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, forward collision warning, and active lane control are available on SEL and higher models.
From its long overhangs to its high window line, the Taurus is the super size of full-size sedans. With a wheelbase of 112 inches, it blows out to a length of 203 inches, filling an average garage.
SE and SEL models ride on 18-inch alloy wheels, while the Limited and SHO use 20-inch wheels.
The SHO doesn’t have the visual punch of the Dodge Charger R/T, even though its black mesh-style grille and limited chrome accents give it some hints of menace.
A wide center console and a wraparound instrument panel divide the front seat into driver and passenger zones, a design found more often in coupes than sedans. A 4.2-inch screen comes standard on the SE, but an 8.0-inch upgrade is widely available. That SE uses the standard Sync infotainment, which controls a few basic phone and audio functions; SEL upgrades with the better Sync3 system, having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Some Taurus models have artificial wood trim, while others use silver-painted plastic. But the Taurus isn’t supposed to be a luxury car; even the Limited model is more like an Impala than a Lincoln.
Given its exterior size, the Taurus’ cabin should be roomy, but it’s not as efficient as some sedans. The dual-cowl dashboard juts far into the passenger compartment. The wide, high center console takes up a lot room without offering much storage for small items.
The standard cloth front seats are wide and generally comfortable for average sizes, but they could use more contour. Good thing that’s an option, along with leather.
Passengers will note the sedan’s low roofline, and head room isn’t as soaring as in a crossover SUV. Leg room is okay, at 38.1 inches. Three adults can fit in the rear, but the middle position is for smaller passengers.
One thing to note, the Taurus’ thick roof pillars mean rearward visibility for the driver is particularly poor. Trunk space is huge, 20.1 cubic feet.
The standard 3.5-liter V-6 is smooth and refined, and with its 288 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, it moves the Taurus with relative ease. It’s responsive and ready to roll at lower rpm, and the 6-speed automatic transmission is geared low in first gear to improve the takeoff. The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger have a bit more horsepower, but respond more slowly.
The Taurus SHO uses a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard equipment, and it does a good job of putting that power to the ground. Though the Taurus SHO is outmuscled by the Dodge Charger R/T, its smooth, broad torque curve makes highway passing a cinch.
The ride with the SE, SEL and Limited models is relatively quiet and comfortable on the standard 18-inch wheels, not so much on the 20-inchers. The Taurus is most at home cruising on a smooth freeway, with a soft and smooth ride. Our compliments to the police officers who hustle the Taurus around city streets chasing bad guys.
The SHO changes the story: same chassis but different suspension, although not enough to remove its big-sedan feel. With stiffer shocks and springs, and larger anti-roll bars, the SHO turns in crisply, for a big sedan. The steering delivers good feedback and a precise, direct action. It feels nicely balanced and grips the road well, although the body leans when driven hard in corners.
An optional Performance Package for the SHO adds stronger brakes, revised steering tuning, different suspension settings, and summer tires. So-equipped, the Taurus SHO handles surprisingly well, although snow-belters will need to plan for a set of winter tires.
The 2019 Taurus doesn’t do anything poorly, with the possible exception of rear outward vision. The SHO hangs better with today’s sport sedans, with its modern twin-turbo V-6, and could still be a very fun vehicle if the price is right.