by John Neff on Jan 11th 2009 at 12:02AM
Last month, Ford's President of the Americas Mark Fields remarked that it was going to be like 1986 all over again when the 2010 Ford Taurus arrives. The original Taurus that debuted during the Reagan Era was certainly groundbreaking, not only for its aerodynamic design that was unique in the mid-size sedan segment of the day, but also its tremendous value versus the competition. That car went on to become the best-selling passenger vehicle in the U.S. during the early '90s before a series of successively worse redesigns saw it fall from grace. It was sold uninterrupted for 21 years until late 2006 when the final one rolled off the assembly line at the company's assembly plant in Hapeville, GA. By that time, sales to the public had ceased and Ford was only selling the Taurus to fleets and rental companies, which had become the car's biggest customers as more and more families bought Camrys and Accords.
Then came Alan Mulally. Bill Ford Jr. replaced himself as CEO with Boeing's ex-head honcho and one of this Kansas-bred boy's first actions at the Blue Oval was to resurrect the Taurus name. Ford's new large sedan, the Five Hundred, wasn't selling well, and it was thought that slapping the Taurus name on it would help things. It didn't, and despite some substantive improvements to the car, the newly minted Taurus v2.0 earned a reputation for being a good but not great car that sold just enough to justify its existence.
The new 2010 Taurus has been completely redesigned, and Ford hopes all these changes to the exterior, interior, platform and powertrain will add up to a full-size car worthy of the Taurus name. Will it become the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. again? Not likely, but it will be a new halo car for the Ford brand that's crammed with all the best technology and state-of-the-art engines. Follow the jump to find out more.
Incredibly, Ford has been able to totally redesign the Taurus for 2010 in a very short amount of time. The current Taurus' shape is based heavily on that of the previous Five Hundred sedan with a Passat-like profile and simple surfaces with little detail. Ford designers threw that design in the garbage and went about changing every body panel. The new front end is marked by the latest interpretation of Ford's three-bar grille. There are still three bars, but they're much thinner with the top and bottom ones framing the grille. There are now also two additional bars in there that are perforated with little holes.
Flanking the grille are new headlamps that look inspired by Ford of Europe's Kinetic design language. They're thinner and flow farther back along the fender than the old lamps. The front bumper, meanwhile, is dominated by a large air intake and two discreet, smaller intakes at the outer edges with chrome accents. Topping it all off is a new power-dome hood that's much taller and broader than the rounded, low hood of the current car. The new engine lid is contoured with the center section rising above the outer edges that form the tops of the fenders.
Moving to the side, the most striking change on the 2010 Taurus is the new roof line. The perfect arch of the old car has been replaced with a straighter roofline that kinks down sharply after the C-pillar. Its reminiscent of the tank-like roofline of the Chrysler 300C, though not as severe. Designers reportedly fought for this change, perhaps feeling the profile of the current Taurus was one of its defining features, and there's no better way to show customers how much a car has changed than by changing those elements for which it's most well known.
The doors now also feature a strong character line that starts at the faux fender vents (yeah, they were kept for some reason) and runs across the doors. It ends right before the rear fender and then reappears right after. The bit that remains behind the rear wheels looks a little awkward to us, kind of like the sheetmetal was pinched.
The new Taurus' rear end has been changed just as drastically as the rest of the car. In fact, the layman won't be able to recognize the Taurus from the rear at first glance. The top of the trunk is taller and flows back into a raised bit of sheetmetal forming a little ducktail spoiler. The back of the car is also canted sharply forward and in a way mimics the angle of the rear window. This makes the Taurus look like its leaning forward and ready to roll down the freeway for a long road trip at any time. New squarish tail-lamps are also connected by a strip of chrome that bisects the back end. And finally, Ford designers have placed dark black plastic trim around the bottom of the entire car to reduce its visual height.
One could easily argue that the interior of the 2010 Taurus is even more a departure from the past than the exterior. The biggest difference is the new center stack that flows away from the dash at a very shallow angle, almost like in a low-slung supercar. The center console also sits higher, so each front seat passenger is cordoned off in their own compartment.
The top of the dash features a twin-hood design like the Mustang, and the remaining interior surfaces vary from soft-touch light and dark plastics to wood grain inserts. A new steering wheel sits front and center and the seats, oh those seats. They're called Multi-Contour Seats and have three, six-way adjustable lumbar bladders and a seat cushion featuring a new technology called Active Motion that continually moves the seating surface in a subtle way that wards off back pain on long trips without distracting the driver.
The Taurus interior is also packed with every piece of infotainment, safety and convenience technology that Ford has to offer. You've got Intelligent Access (Ford-speak for keyless entry) and Push-Button Start; MyKey; the latest version of SYNC with the just-announced new features of Traffic, Directions and Information; a voice-activated nav system with SIRIUS Travel Link; the first use of Sony-branded stereo system in a Ford; a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and accompanying Cross Traffic Alert system that warns of oncoming cars when pulling out of parking spots.
There's also Adaptive Cruise Control, which is the first application of such technology in a Ford brand product. The ACC uses a front-mounted radar to keep a watchful eye on cars up to 600 feet ahead. In addition to maintaining a safe distance, the ACC also uses Collision Warning with Brake Support to warn the driver of an impending fender bender (or worse). Even if ACC isn't being used, the radar is on and watching ahead. If the car approaches slower moving traffic too fast, the system will present a visual warning at the base of the windshield, an audible warning and also precharge the brakes. That last point is important, as normal driving over bumpy roads sometimes causes a brake rotor to push back against the pad, thereby pushing the piston back into the caliper. Ford's system will fill the the caliper with fluid to push the brake pad right back up to the rotor, thereby eliminating any play the could lengthen an emergency stop.
While the same platform that underpins the Lincoln MKS can also be found underneath the Taurus, Ford engineers have tweaked the suspension to be sportier and more responsive. The car features MacPherson front struts and a multi-link rear suspension. Their configuration is new for Ford and called SR1, named for he "one-to-one" rear shock absorber ratio. SR1 also allows for larger wheels with either 19- or 20-inchers available for 2010.
Underneath the powerdome hood will be one engine at launch: the now familiar 3.5L Duratec V6 producing 263 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque. Ford has confirmed that a twin-turbo, direct-injected EcoBoost 3.5L V6 is on its way, but hasn't specified availability yet. That engine will produce big V8 power, somewhere in the range of 350 horsepower, and is expected to return decent fuel economy for a full-size car.
The base Taurus SE will come with a run o' the mill six-speed automatic, while uplevel SEL and Limited models get a six-speed automatic with SelectShift that adds shift paddles to the steering wheel. Ford says SelectShift will match revs when downshifting and not automatically upshift when you hit the redline. Of course, as before, the Taurus can also be had with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The new Taurus wouldn't be a Ford if it didn't also feature more safety equipment than you thought you needed. The body structure itself is stiffer, and there are enough airbags to float the car across the English Channel. Ford's electronic stability control system called AdvanceTrac is also standard, as is SOS Post Crash Alert that automatically unlocks the doors, honks the horn and turns on the hazard lights if the airbags go off.
The 2010 Ford Taurus is clearly heads and tails better than the car it's replacing, but the Taurus of today competes in an entirely different segment than the one from 1986. Today's Taurus is a large car that competes with other big front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive sedans, vehicles like the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8. In case Ford hadn't noticed, this isn't a high volume segment. While the new Taurus may not single-handedly bring Ford back from the brink like the first one did, it does represent the best of what Ford has to offer in a passenger vehicle. And here's the best news – the 2010 Taurus will have the same $25,995 base price as the 2009 model. That's a good move by Ford for what appears to be a very good car. We'll let you know our final judgment when we get behind the wheel of one in the near future.
UPSCALE, TECH-SAVVY NEW TAURUS FLAGSHIP DELIVERS STYLE, SUBSTANCE FOR FULL-SIZE SEDAN BUYERS IN 2010
Athletic, upscale new 2010 Ford Taurus confidently leads a growing wave of new-car introductions from Ford Motor Company. Available this summer, this distinctive new vehicle combines class-leading technologies with confident, engaging driving dynamics.
Taurus features an impressive set of standard and available technologies that add convenience, connectivity, safety and value for customers. They include Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning, Intelligent Access with Push Button Start, MyKey™ parental programmability, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS™) with Cross Traffic Alert, Rain-Sensing Wipers, EasyFuel™ capless refueling, Ford SYNC® and Voice-Activated Navigation with SIRIUS® Travel Link™.
The new Taurus is powered by the award-winning 3.5-liter V-6 Duratec engine, mated to one of two available fuel-efficient six-speed automatic transmissions including SelectShift® with shift control paddles mounted on the steering wheel and available all-wheel drive.
DETROIT, Jan.11, 2009 – The Ford Taurus – the car that changed America's view of full-size sedans – is all-new for 2010 and ready to take on the world's best, with an upscale new design, impeccable driving dynamics, class-leading technologies and an unbeatable price tag.
"The new Taurus sets the pace for Ford's growing new car launch momentum," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "This sedan completely redefines expectations of what Taurus stands for – and helps further define what Ford is capable of delivering – quality, fuel-efficient vehicles featuring the latest technologies and head-turning design."
The new Taurus benefits from Ford's Global Product Development System, which made it possible to deliver an all-new sedan 12 months sooner – with more new features than customers and dealers dreamed possible.
"Taurus is our premium Ford flagship, and it casts a halo across the entire brand portfolio," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president for global product development. "Building on its reputation for safety leadership, we leveraged extensive use of computer-aided design and engineering technologies as well as digital pre-assembly modeling to deliver a high-quality, new Taurus a year ahead of schedule."
Even better news? The new 2010 Taurus will start at $25,995 – the same price as 2009 models but with more class-leading features, new technologies and perceived quality that rivals premium luxury sedans.
"The new Taurus showcases the what the Ford brand promise is – expressive design, class-leading technologies and an engaging driving experience," said Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of Marketing and Communications. "To truly appreciate the new Taurus, you have to drive it. All of the experiences come together once you're behind the wheel."
New times, new design
"Lightning can strike twice," said Peter Horbury, executive director of Design for The Americas. "Like the 1986 original, the new 2010 Taurus differentiates by combining style with substance."
The shift starts with the vision for Taurus itself. It debuted as a family sedan, but with the advent of crossovers, the new Taurus is aimed more at drivers who might move friends and family but place more of a premium on the driving experience and technologies aimed at making time on the road more meaningful and fun.
"Taurus is more of a 'me' sedan now, and we've delivered with this buyer in mind," said Moray Callum, director of Ford's Car and Crossover Design.
Exterior design details are more sculpted and powerful – from the powerdome that speaks to the strength behind its confident grille to the pronounced fenders and fascia.
Bold new headlights combined with recessed parking lamps frame a new expression of the signature Ford three-bar grille – and the lowered roofline helps make the new Taurus more aspirational.
New wheels, from 17- to 20-inches in diameter, fill the sculpted wheel wells and lend Taurus a muscular and athletic stance. The raised shoulder lines of the new Taurus provide a confident profile and enable generous truck capacity.
The exterior color palette for the 2010 Taurus includes new hues, selected to harmonize with interior appointments and offer customers a broader range of color combinations. New colors include Candy Red Metallic Tint, White Platinum Metallic, Steel Blue Metallic, Gold Leaf Metallic and Ingot Silver Metallic.
Inside, a forward-leaning center stack – home to the climate controls, audio components and available navigation screen – flows in a continuous unbroken form through the instrument panel and down into the center console. The smart design allows for the interior to be formed with unbroken lines to impart seamless quality and craftsmanship.
The door panels employ an innovative urethane tooling process providing unique texture and identity to surfaces, with visible stitching and a hand crafted appeal. This same process allows for door panel two-toning, enabling model series differentiation.
The new Taurus' precision craftsmanship is reflected in the quality of materials used in the interior as well as the exterior panel margins, which are comparable to costly German luxury sedans.
Better on-road performance, too
To match its more athletic looks, the new Taurus features sportier driving dynamics.
The 2010 Taurus comes standard with Ford's proven Duratec 3.5-liter V-6, generating an estimated 263 horsepower and 249 foot-pounds of torque. This award-winning engine earns a ULEV-II emissions certification and comes paired with a choice of two new six-speed automatic transmissions.
The smooth and refined Duratec V-6 helps the front-wheel-drive Taurus deliver unsurpassed highway fuel economy. Taurus reflects Ford's commitment to deliver the best, or be among the leaders, in fuel economy across the vehicle segments where it competes.
Taurus fuel economy is aided by employment of a two-speed fuel pump and Aggressive Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off technology.
The Taurus engine plan also calls for optional availability of Ford's advanced EcoBoost™ 3.5-liter V-6, with an announcement regarding availability coming soon.
The Taurus SE offers a six-speed automatic transmission with a Grade-Assist hill-holding rollback prevention feature, paired with an economical 2.77 final drive ratio.
SEL and Limited series Taurus models are offered with SelectShift®, featuring racing-inspired shift control paddles mounted on the steering wheel. SelectShift offers the convenience of conventional automatic operation, or a manual shift mode that gives the driver complete control over gear selection. The SelectShift transmission enables "match-rev" downshifts and will hold manually selected gears, unlike some competitive transmissions that second-guess the driver.
The SEL is offered with a 2.77 final drive ratio, while the Limited series uses a 3.16 gear in front-wheel-drive models, and a 3.39 ratio in all-wheel-drive models to provide enhanced acceleration.
Chassis and suspension components are tuned to deliver on the sporty and aggressive design with optimized roll stiffness for cornering control, responsive steering with sharp turn-in and precision accuracy. This chassis tuning of the MacPherson front struts and multi-link rear suspension reflects Ford Global DNA, defined by responsive steering and handling, while maintaining a comfortable ride quality.
The 2010 Taurus features a new SR1 suspension configuration.
Named for its "one-to-one" rear shock absorber ratio, it provides a superior balance between cornering and handling while providing a stable baseline for fine tuning. The new SR1 enables the use of 19- and 20-inch wheels – and reduces vehicle weight, saving fuel.
"While driver engagement was a key objective for the new Taurus, we also put huge emphasis on creating a quiet environment," said Chief Engineer Pete Reyes. "Wind tunnel development time was important to reduce noise, vibration and harshness, but it also helped with fuel economy.
Tech-savvy customers will find plenty to like about the new 2010 Taurus. Its technologies enable customer connectivity, while fulfilling desires for personalization, customization and control. This comprehensive list of features isn't just technology for the sake of technology. These offerings have been selected and developed to provide the ultimate in comfort and convenience for the driver and all passengers. Extensive work has also been done to ensure that these technologies are easy to understand and intuitive to operate.
Adaptive Cruise Control allows the driver to set the vehicle cruising speed while using radar technology to monitor traffic travelling up to 600 feet ahead, automatically adjusting Taurus speed to help maintain a safe distance between vehicles.
Adaptive Cruise Control also integrates Collision Warning with Brake Support, a new active safety feature.
The collision warning system uses a radar sensor to detect moving vehicles ahead and provides a visual "heads-up" warning signal transmitted across the base of the windshield and an audible warning when slower moving traffic is detected ahead. The system also pre-charges the brakes and engages an electronic brake assist to help the driver stop more quickly.
Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start, a new Taurus feature, allows the driver to enter the car and start the engine by simply carrying the fob as they approach and enter the vehicle.
SecuriCode™ Keyless Entry Keypad enables vehicle access by unlocking the driver's door using a five-digit code on the new keypad system flush-mounted in the driver's side B-pillar.
MyKey™ allows parents or fleet administrators to activate a restricted driving mode.
When enabled, MyKey features a Persistent Beltminder® with Audio Mute until safety belts are buckled, an earlier low-fuel warning, and consistently engaged AdvanceTrac® stability control, Blind Spot monitoring, Cross Traffic Alert and Forward Collision Warning. Additional programmability includes restrictions on audio volume, limiting top speed to 80 mph and speed chime warnings at 45, 55, or 65mph.
Auto High Beams/Rain-Sensing Wipers harness sensor technologies to switch headlights to high intensity when no other vehicles are detected, in a range of up to 500 feet for taillight detection, and up to 2,000 feet for oncoming headlight detection. Rain-sensing wipers use an advanced optical sensor to detect the intensity of rain and/or snowfall to adjust wiper speed.
Easy Fuel™ Capless Fuel Filler System is an industry-exclusive feature that self-seals without a traditional fuel cap.
Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) consists of two multiple beam radar modules, one each per rear quarter panel. When an approaching vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone, an indicator alert provides warning to the driver in the corresponding side view mirror.
Cross Traffic Alert uses the existing BLIS radar modules to sense oncoming traffic when slowly backing out of a parking spot. This industry-exclusive system functions only while the vehicle is in reverse and warns when cross-traffic appears within three car widths.
Ford SYNC® is the fully integrated, in-vehicle voice-activated communications and entertainment system, with 911 Assist, Vehicle Health Report and GPS-based features including business search and call completion. SYNC connects to MP3 players, iPods, memory sticks and PDAs. SYNC's 911 Assist™ will place a call to a local emergency operator in the event of an air bag deployment incident. The latest version of SYNC adds Traffic, Directions and Information, providing turn-by-turn route guidance, and the ability to access content by personalized favorites such as region, subject matter or sports team.
Voice-Activated Navigation System with SIRIUS Travel Link™ uses an 8-inch screen to present a birds-eye-view map with 3D landmarks. The system responds to voice commands for destination programming and route selection.
In addition, it provides enhanced route guidance features such as street name announcements and detailed freeway exit, turn and ramp position lane guidance. The screen can be personalized with up to 32 pictures, sized up to 1.5MB. The system also incorporates the SIRIUS Travel Link, offering availability of current weather and ski conditions, a five-day forecast, local fuel pricing by cost per gallon as well as brand, sports scores and movie listings.
Sony® branded audio components deliver sound from a variety of sources, with an AM-FM tuner, SIRIUS Satellite radio, CD, DVD audio and an integrated 10 GB hard drive for storage of up to 2,400 songs. This package also includes an available 10-speaker premium audio system.
Multi-Contour Seats are available on an industry-exclusive basis for driver and passenger, integrating a six-way lumbar support and subtle rolling pattern massage. The bottom cushion features Active Motion.
This provides minute but continuous movement, stirring a change of muscular activation helping a driver avoid back pain.
"Multi-Contour seats will be a real benefit for long distance drivers, or people with back trouble," said Steve Michell, product design engineer. "The key is their subtlety. Active Motion is enough to help relieve fatigue but not enough to be distracting to a driver."
Safety leadership grows
The new 2010 Taurus builds on its legacy of safety leadership, incorporating a comprehensive array of passive and active features engineered to protect and preserve its passengers.
"A stiffer body structure and new crash avoidance technologies make the Taurus – already named the safest full-size sedan – even safer," said Reyes, chief engineer.
Taurus safety begins with a body structure optimized for strength and stiffness. The energy-absorbing front structure features octagonal front frame rails, tunnel rails and "shotgun" front structural members designed to absorb and redirect crash forces away from the passenger compartment.
The Taurus body structure features ultra high-strength boron steel in the B-pillar for added side impact protection.
The new Taurus is equipped with a comprehensive package of active and passive safety features, including dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags, side impact air bags and Safety Canopy®, a Ford exclusive protection system that features side curtain air bags that help protect front and rear outboard passengers in both rollover and side impact crashes.
Other key safety features include:
Side Protection And Cabin Enhancement (SPACE™) Architecture is comprised of a hydroformed cross-car beam embedded in the floor between the door frames, providing additional strength in the side of the vehicle. In the event of a side impact, the beam helps divert crash forces away from the occupants. A strong roof cross member and side impact door beams work with the floor-mounted tube to further improve side impact protection.
Personal Safety System® is designed to reduce the risk of injury to the driver and front seat passenger in the event of a moderate to severe frontal collision. Sensors note right front occupant weight, safety belt usage, outboard seat belt tension and seating position to optimize air bag deployment force for occupant safety.
AdvanceTrac® electronic stability control predicts the vehicle's intended path, using sensors to detect and measure oversteer and yaw, while continuously monitoring vehicle speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When the system senses a loss of wheel traction, engine torque is reduced and braking is applied in conjunction with the standard Anti-lock Braking (ABS) system. The system also incorporates traction control to aid drivers when operating the vehicle on loose or slippery surfaces.
SOS Post-Crash Alert is an integrated system that automatically unlocks the doors, sounds the horn and activates the emergency flashers in the event of an air bag deployment.
"Customers will find a lot to love about the new Taurus," Fields said.
The 2010 Ford Taurus will be built at Ford's Chicago (Ill.) Assembly Plant and will be available in dealer showrooms in the summer.
Click Here For Autoblog