2013 Ford Taurus EcoBoost
2013 Ford Taurus EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

Quick Spin: 2013 Ford Taurus and Focus EcoBoost
First Drive: 2013 Ford Taurus
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Test Drive: 2012 Buick LaCrosse
Preview: 2013 Toyota Avalon

Manufacturer’s web site
Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2013 Ford Taurus

Powertrains, and perceptions about them, are changing. Until recently, it was generally agreed that a V8 was superior to a six, which was in turn better than a four. More cylinders usually meant more power, more refinement, and quieter running, and larger displacement engines were usually found in larger, more prestigious and/or sporty vehicles. Bigger was perceived to be better, even if fuel costs were higher.

But a recent surge in the number of small four- and six-cylinder engines available, previously considered inappropriate in vehicles such as full-size pickup trucks, full-size SUVs, mid-size luxury sedans and full-size family sedans, has changed the mix of powertrain choices and is challenging those traditional perceptions. Spurred on by higher gasoline prices and stricter emissions standards, and enabled by improved engine technology such as direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and turbocharging, many vehicle manufacturers are now offering engines less than half the size of their predecessors with comparable performance, superior fuel economy, and lower emissions.

2013 Ford Taurus EcoBoost
2013 Ford Taurus EcoBoost
2013 Ford Taurus EcoBoost
2013 Ford Taurus EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

A good example of this is the 2013 Ford Taurus with the optional ($1,000) 240-hp turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder “Ecoboost” engine and standard six-speed automatic “SelectShift” transmission available in the SE ($27,299 ) and SEL ($33,799) front-wheel drive models. The standard powertrain in the 2013 Taurus SE and SEL is a 288-hp 3.5L V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. If your immediate reaction is, “Why should I pay more for a smaller engine with less horsepower?” Keep reading, because there are some advantages to the turbo. The first, of course, is fuel economy. The Taurus Ecoboost is rated at 9.2 L/100 km city and 6.2 L/100 km highway while the V6 Taurus is rated at 12.4 city and 8.1 highway. Unfortunately, though, premium gas is recommended for the Ecoboost engine while the V6 runs on regular grade.

The second reason to consider the Taurus’ turbo-four is torque: the turbocharged 2.0L four develops more grunt at lower engine revs: 270 lb-ft at 1,675 rpm compared to the 3.5L V6 with 254 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. The turbo’s extra throttle responsiveness at lower speeds is useful in low-speed city and suburban driving. I found that even in this rather heavy (1,800 kg/3,969 lb.) full-size sedan, the turbo-four engine provided brisk acceleration with little turbo lag and quiet running at highway speeds; the engine turns over just 2,000 rpm at 100 km/h. The turbocharger itself is surprisingly quiet—there’s no whistle to speak of during acceleration, but I did notice a curious scraping sound under gentle acceleration—not sure what that was. The 2013 Taurus’ quieter cabin can be partly attributed to added sound insulation in the wheel-well liners, A-pillars, cowl, dash, and under the hood.

The standard six-speed “SelectShift” transmission shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly when called upon. It features a Sport mode that alters shift points to enhance acceleration, and it can also be shifted manually using a button on the side of the shift handle. The six-speed automatic transmission in the Taurus Ecoboost is different than the six-speed auto that’s paired with the 3.5L V6. The former has two features that help improve fuel economy by reducing internal friction: “active” transmission warm-up and a different internal clutch material.

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