Psst: you don’t have to buy an SUV to get utility with your vehicle. All you need is Ford’s improved Taurus, with its immense trunk (big enough for two bikes), spacious interior and comfortable chairs. It’s not perfect, sure – but it’s an excellent upgrade over the large but bland and weak-kneed Five Hundred. Of course, you can’t buy that model anymore, so who cares…but it does show that Ford is making progress where it counts. The name change itself ought to make more people aware of the car, though we’ll never know if that makes any real difference in terms of sales. I maintain that a brand as strong (though slightly battered) as “Taurus” deserves a better marketing effort. Case in point: where’s the SHO? If the Way Forward is to be built on the tradition of past nameplates, Ford could do worse than bring back the SHO.
But back to the car. Yes, it’s a bit much, optioned-out at $32,000 and change. You do, however, get a comfortable, well-appointed interior with loads of soft-touch surfaces, a grippy steering wheel and plenty of room front and back, unless you’re the driver. The cockpit is cramped, starting with the driver’s side footwell: it intrudes too far, and as a result the pedals are too close together. Several times during my drive I stepped on the accelerator and the brake pedal at the same time. In general, room for driver’s legs was too narrow, though head, hip and shoulder room was ample, the seat wide, and driving position comfortable. Mostly, the Taurus offers up all the reasons why you buy a large sedan, and does so with class, and a fairly weighty sticker, sure to be trimmed by rebates. I’d like less wind noise and a more authoritative powertrain with sharper, more responsive brakes. Indeed, the powertrain handles hills, passing and aggressive driving pretty nicely: it’s powerful enough to make you want more.