2010 Ford Taurus SEL AWD
2010 Ford Taurus SEL AWD. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Ford Taurus

Oshawa, Ontario – Every now and again, the auto world turns upside down. First it was the Japanese automakers gaining dominance over the domestics, on the domestics’ own turf. Now the North American companies are rebuilding their brands, with competitive vehicles such as Ford’s all-new 2010 Taurus.

Yes, that same Taurus nameplate that took the market by storm when it was introduced for 1986 and became North America’s best-selling automobile, but slowly slid behind rivals such as Camry and Accord. It eventually morphed into the Five Hundred, but when sales stalled, the company went back to the Taurus name, figuring the more familiar moniker would draw buyers back into showrooms. As it turned out, a rose by any other name doesn’t necessarily smell any sweeter. What Ford needed to do was drastically improve the product, and now with this all-new 2010 edition, it’s done that.

2010 Ford Taurus SEL AWD
2010 Ford Taurus SEL AWD. Click image to enlarge

It still isn’t clear sailing, partly because the Taurus moved up, not sideways. It’s now the flagship sedan, and at prices that run from $29,999 to $40,699 for the non-SHO versions, it might well scare away those who remember it being further down the product lineup. On the other hand, this freshly-minted Ford is good enough that some buyers may look at the platform-sharing Lincoln MKS and wonder why they’d spend the extra.

Trim choices on the regular Taurus start at the SE and finish at Limited; my tester was the mid-range SEL. It was further upgraded with all-wheel drive, which is unavailable on the SE, optional on SEL, and the only choice on the Limited trim. The front-wheel SEL starts at $32,299, while my all-wheel initially checked in at $34,799. A $2,500 Technology Package of pushbutton start, power-adjustable pedals, reverse sensing system, ambient interior lighting, premium six-CD stereo and SYNC pushed it to $37,299 before freight and the government’s share.

All three use a 3.5-litre Duratec engine, making 263 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque; the 3.5-litre direct-injection Ecoboost is reserved for the SHO. A six-speed automatic transmission is the default, but you get manual shift mode at the SEL level and up, worked via large steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Unfortunately, they’re the redundant type, with a push/pull function on both sides. I far prefer either push or pull, with one hand for upshift, the other for down.

2010 Ford Taurus SEL AWD
2010 Ford Taurus SEL AWD
2010 Ford Taurus Limited AWD; photos by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

Driving the Taurus is best described as drama-free, and that’s not a put-down. Many track-happy auto magazines that would slam it for that seem to forget that the vast majority of buyers want just three main things in their automobiles: comfort, safety, and reliability. This new Ford doesn’t excite in the corners or set the heart racing from a standing stop, but that isn’t its intention. Instead, it’s a very competent, surefooted and cozy vehicle in the grand tradition of full-size sedans, the type that you load up at the Canadian border and unpack when you get to Phoenix or Myrtle Beach. It’s also extremely quiet, doing an exceptional job of keeping wind and road noise out of the cabin.

It drives big – you’re always aware of its size – but it takes turns with a minimum of body roll, and the hydraulic power steering sends input quickly and accurately to the front end. The platform is still that of the Five Hundred, ultimately based on Volvo’s full-size chassis, but with rear suspension improvements for a smooth ride and better stability. It stops accurately, but I found the pedal feel a bit mushy: that first hard stop had me feeling that I’d left it too long, even if I did end up halting at precisely the right place.

At a portly curb weight of 1,915 kg (4,224 lbs) for the AWD, the V6 has a lot of sheet metal to pull around, but it has no problem getting up to speed. The six-speed shifts very nicely as well, although you must pull back the shift lever a notch in order for the shift paddles to work. I like transmissions that allow you to bang down a gear via the paddles when you’re in Drive, and which then switch back into automotive mode once they’ve figured out you’re done with working them on your own. The official fuel figures are 11.7 L/100 km in the city, and 7.4 on the highway; in combined cool-weather driving, I averaged 11.2 (25 mpg Imp).

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