Remember when you could get a cassette player with auto reverse as an option in your car? That was high tech in those days. Press the fast forward button (without eating your tape) and you now have access to what could be the greatest piece of automotive technology, out there, Ford's "Synch" system.
It was part of the package on the Ford Taurus Limited I recently tooled around in. It's so cool; the Taurus was named the "Official Car of the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show".
Before we go for spin and get into everything Synch can do, we need to look back at the evolution of the Taurus as it's important to see why the new car is ready to take on all comers in the "full size" sedan class.
The Taurus was a hit from the go for Ford. The first Taurus rolled off the line in 1985 as a 1986 model. Ford sold more than 200,000 that year. Over the next 5 years, just over 2 million Taurus' were sold with that body style. A makeover that ran from 1992 to 1995 resulted in 1 and a half million Taurus being sold. You can see where this trend is headed. In 2008 the Taurus moniker was dropped and replaced with the name 500. That change lasted for a year. Ford realized they needed to breathe new life into a former best seller and their flag ship sedan.
It starts with a bigger & bolder redesign. This is a good looking car. The so called "powerdome" hood alone gives it a beefier, more muscular look. Underneath that dome is a 3.5 liter V-6 churning out 263hp. The car looks big and it is. The trunk is massive. It's so big you could forgo the spare and park a Fiesta back there instead in case you break down on the side of the road.
Inside is where you get to have some fun. The Sync technology is the highlight of the car. If you want to make calls, change radio stations or work the GPS all you need to do is press a button and tell the car what you want to do. There are times when the car didn't understand what I wanted and I had to repeat myself. In some instances it was quicker to just dial the phone.
Synch can also keep you posted on all your cars vitals, receive audible text messages keep you up to date on personalized information like horoscopes, (the old horoscope calendar I imagine) let you know what stocks are falling, what movies are playing, even get you hooked up with airline and hotels. It does it all. As for the rest of the interior, it doesn't leave me as wowed.
The leather is of nice quality and the seats are very comfortable and highly adjustable along with being heated and cooled, which is an interesting backside experience. The gauges are laid out nice and with Ford's "Ice Blue Lighting" look great, but the fake wood looks fake, very fake. In this case I prefer the interior to go au natural. Controls and dials are laid out well but you control them from what looks like some sort of driver's side capsule. The curves in the "Flowing 38° center stack" center stack, and mere size of it, separate the driver and passenger in an odd looking, futuristic twin pod like fashion. This could be good if you want to keep your distance from your passenger as there is plenty of room between you and the person to your right.
This isn't a plus or minus to the car, but one thing I don't understand is why Ford made paddle shifters an option on the Taurus. It's a big sedan, not a zippy little sports car. The average age of the Taurus driver is 58, and I'm not sure how many 58 year olds are going to be flicking through the gears. If you are, good for you.
Should you opt for the "Selectshift Transmission" take note, the paddle shifters are set up in a non-conventional fashion. In most paddle shifter set ups the left paddle is used for a down shift and the right is used to up shift. In the Taurus, you pull back on either paddle to go up a gear and press down with your thumb to down shift. It works, but with an odd feeling. Perhaps the shifters make more sense in the much sportier and faster 365 HP SHO variant.
One redeeming interior feature that has no other function than to look cool are the adjustable color interior lights. You can flick between red, blue, green, white or pink. Changing colors is as simple as pressing a button. If you're doing a color swap with the car in park the shift lever partially blocks the button making it difficult to change. I really liked the way the blue made the interior look. My two girls both liked the pink. But since dad was driving and I liked the blue, pink it was.
The ride quality is very smooth and handling is decent for a car of this size. And the engine delivers enough pep for all your passing and stop light to stop light needs. If you plan on taking a long road trip this would be a good car to do it in.
Gas mileage for a car of this size isn't bad either. The EPA says you'll get 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway. I squeaked out 20mpg combined.
The base price for a standard Taurus is a right around 25k, but start throwing options on like collision warning, all wheel drive, blind spot information, rain sensing wipers and chrome grill and exhaust caps you'll push the price into the low 40's.
After turning in the keys I'm left with this; it's a good looking car, loaded with all sorts of bells and whistles, roomy and drives nice. Perhaps 20 years or so in the future I'll be on board with sitting in a pod, plus I'll be old enough to fit in with the Taurus generation.
Next Month: Chevy Cruze
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