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Weidel on Wheels: Taurus makes a triumphant return

Ford redesigns its once-flagship sedan with a more appealing look and solid performance
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Its debut came with plenty of notoriety nearly 25 years ago. The Ford Taurus quickly gained approval from auto enthusiasts and more importantly from the car-buying public, which immediately was captivated by the look and performance of this unusual family sedan. Introduced in 1986, the Taurus was an atypical front-wheel drive sedan that displayed a rounder shape than any of its contemporaries. It offered good performance, plenty of appealing features and was eventually named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. But like anything that makes an original fashion statement, the Taurus eventually lost its bling factor as both Toyota and Honda sedans began dominating sales. Ford even reintroduced the Taurus as the Ford Five Hundred for a short time and turned its attentions to the smaller Fusion. However, Ford has smartly done a major redesign and once again the Taurus is turning some heads in 2010. Although a substantial departure from its popular predecessor, the Taurus has been modernized and some have suggested Ford is trying to bridge the gap between family sedans and luxury models. Its target audience is probably folks who have purchased the attractive Chrysler 300. While the low-end model can be bought for $25,170, what has many potential car buyers excited is the Taurus SHO (super high output), which was test driven here for a week. While not cheap at $37,770 (the test model had extras that jacked the sticker price to 45,635), the SHO offers an engaging driving experience and many people should also be enamored by its muscular appearance. No longer with its highly identifiable oval rear shape, the 2010 Taurus features a sizable rear end and is now a full-size sedan that comfortably transports five people. Gone is its distinctive three-bar chrome grille that is now somewhat sleek. The Taurus SHO packs some punch with a twin turbocharged 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that employs 365 horsepower and will get one there in a hurry if called upon. Although it’s a V-6, the weighty, half-ton Taurus feels more like a hyped-up V-8 that surprisingly gets between an estimated 17 to 25 miles per gallon and runs extremely smooth and quiet. The SHO model has a generous list of standard features. The standard Taurus is a 3.5-liter, V-6 that produces 263 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard in every model. There has been a major refreshing of the Taurus interior as well. The controls, while appealing in design, are really nothing out of the ordinary. The one major knock here is too much hard plastic for a vehicle looking to make more of an upscale statement. Gone is the ultra-roomy backseat, but the Taurus still ranks high for its room and comfort for all passengers, and has a deep and spacious cargo area. The optional 20-inch tires enhanced what Ford says is a terrific driving experience because it will absorb many road imperfections. The Taurus SHO provides a stable, secure ride while also keeping the fun factor front and center. __________ 2010 Ford Taurus SHO all-wheel drive Price: $37,770 Power: 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine with 365 horsepower Mileage estimate: 17 mpg city; 25 mpg highway Standard features include: Collision, blind-spot warning system; automatic headlights; security code entry pad; 10-way power driver seat; premium six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack; automatic transmission paddle shifters; solar-tinted glass; push-button ignition; heated front seats; dual-zone automatic climate control; rearview camera; sport-tuned suspension; anti-lock disc brakes; stability, traction control