2013 Ford Taurus Introduction

The 2013 Ford Taurus is new, though it isn't all-new. It's not a new generation, just the current generation at its peak. This latest Taurus has many significant changes for the 2013 model year, all good so far as we can see, from powertrain to interior to exterior, in that order. Three engines are available for the 2013 Taurus.

The standard 3.5-liter V6 engine has been updated for 2013 for improved fuel economy, increased power and lower emissions. It's called TI-VCT, for Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing, a system that precisely times the valve openings to increase power, throttle response and fuel mileage, while reducing emissions. As a result, the 2013 Taurus gets an EPA-estimated 19/29 miles per gallon City/Highway with front-wheel drive, 18/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. The 3.5-liter V6 with Ti-VCT now makes 288 horsepower, a boost of 25 horsepower over the previous model.

A new EcoBoost 2.0-liter engine expected to get 31 miles per gallon on the highway is an option, though not initially. The turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder is rated at 240 horsepower, 270 foot-pounds of torque at 3000 rpm. Keeping in mind that the Taurus is a full-sized car, these numbers make a statement about Ford's commitment to improved fuel mileage with increased power.

The twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 that comes in the 2013 Taurus SHO has been pumped up to 365 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque beginning at a super-low 1500 rpm. SHO stands for Super High Output and this engine lives up to the moniker. The 2013 Taurus SHO engine delivers 17/25 mpg, according to the EPA. Premium fuel is recommended. We got 19.4 mpg running it fairly casually in the city, on a freeway, and on two-lanes; and 17.6 mpg running it hard on a twisty two-lane.

The 2013 Taurus also gets a styling makeover, with a new hood, wider grille, cleaner front bumper and fascia, new wheels, new halogen projector beam headlamps, new deck lid, and LED taillamps. Unlike the new 2013 Ford Flex that wiped out the traditional Ford blue oval with chrome, the grille remains Ford's signature three-bar with a blue oval (cool black mesh on the SHO). A new trick is active grille shutters, that reduce aerodynamic drag at highway speeds.

The 2013 Taurus has presence: smooth, cool and muscular. Body-colored door handles and mirrors, with graceful headlamps; long horizontal slits for headlamps, that seem like they are as much on the corners and fenders of the car as on its face. Horizontal character lines travel under the door handles and streak rearward at the same level as the headlamps, as if they're an extension of speed. Taurus is a big car, larger than the midsize Ford Fusion and comparing with the Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, and Buick LaCrosse.

The interior gets a makeover for 2013 as well, a clean and stylish instrument panel, center stack, and console. Soft-touch materials abound, as fabric, trim, seat cushions and switchgear are all new, and beautifully done. There are rich materials on the graceful dash, and padding on the sides of the center console, where the driver's leg rests and is sometimes braced during cornering.

The Taurus is sweetly silent on the highway, thanks to work on sound insulation, namely behind the dash to keep engine noises at bay, in the wheelwells for road noise, and the A-pillars for wind noise. It's quiet also because the engine is so smooth, whether the TI-VCT or EcoBoost.

As with other 2013 Fords, the MyFordTouch system of electronic control gets revamped, after being introduced just two years ago. It's standard on 2013 Taurus Limited and 2013 Taurus SHO models, using a terrific 8-inch touch screen on the center stack. Ford owners liked the idea but hated the execution on the 2011 models, so MyFordTouch has been redesigned for 2013 to be simpler. What's more, the new MyFordTouch can be downloaded by dealers into any Ford vehicle that has the prior program. There's no charge for this upgrade/update, a tacit recognition by Ford that the first version was problematic, if not the total mess that many buyers complained about.

Taurus SE, SEL and Limited have been moved uptown for 2013, with driving dynamics made lively by electric power steering with a quicker ratio, firmer springs and dampers for more precise cornering, and the new TI-VCT engine with its 288 horsepower.

The Taurus SE is a satisfying family sedan with ample power from the 3.5-liter engine. For daily driving the Taurus with the 3.5-liter V6 more than holds its own, including out where the roads weave and wind, which it handles with alertness and stability. The Taurus is not a sports sedan. The ride is comfortable, as the suspension skillfully soaks up bumps. Power from the 3.5-liter V6 is smooth and progressive, with no awkward gas pedal tip-in that many cars with electronic throttles have nowadays. The TI-VCT V6 is even exhaust-tuned to deliver a satisfying little growl under acceleration.

The 6-speed automatic SelectShift transmission is seamless and well-programmed. Even in the SE, there's a Sport mode, with manual control using a thumb button on the side of the shift lever.

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