By KBB.com Editors
For most of its existence, the Ford Taurus has been known as a rather pedestrian family sedan. Ford put that image to bed last year with the debut of the all-new Taurus and Taurus SHO, two cars that targeted buyers who wanted an exciting car for themselves that also happens to seat five in comfort. There are still the typical sedan trappings, including a roomy interior, a big trunk and comfortable ride, but the 2011 Taurus has a sharper focus on progressive design, engaging driving dynamics and advanced technologies. Competing with vehicles like the Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300, the Ford Taurus aims to infuse the often uninspiring full-size sedan category with a dose of passion.You'll Like This Car If... You May Not Like This Car If...
The Taurus delivers a good balance of comfort and responsive handling, but buyers who favor comfort above all might prefer something like the softly sprung Toyota Avalon.What's New for 2011
Other than some new colors, there are no major changes for 2011.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2011 Ford Taurus drives with the supple feel expected of a full-size sedan while also delivering a reasonably engaging experience in the corners. The Taurus turns with an eagerness not always found in the full-size sedan world, giving it a welcome sense of agility. With the exception of a thick B-pillar over the drivers left shoulder, sightlines out of the vehicle are generally good, providing a clear view of the road. Accompanying the responsive handling is an energetic 3.5-liter V6 and standard six-speed automatic transmission that, besides an occasional abrupt shift, operates with a high level of sophistication. Those who enjoy driving fast will appreciate the extra horsepower and performance-tuned suspension of the Taurus SHO. On the road, especially in the curvier sections, the SHO's effortless performance make it a joy to drive and deceptively quick.Favorite Features
In a nod to both fashion and the environment, the Taurus SHO features suede-like seat inserts made from recycled plastic beverage bottles. Novel origin aside, the seats feel nice, look good and offer excellent grip, helping to hold occupants in place during hard cornering.
This system can be used to restrict vehicle speed, limit audio system volume and control other functions when a specific key is used to start the vehicle. In effect, MyKey lets parents better control the driving habits of their children, even when they aren't along for the ride.
A careful examination shows that much of Ford's efforts went into improving the Taurus' interior, as evidenced by the extensive use of soft touch materials, a modern dual-binnacle dash design and stylish sweeping center console. Head and leg room are plentiful in all seating positions – even the often uncomfortable rear middle seat – and with more than 20 cubic feet of space, the trunk is big enough to swallow several large bags, further enhanced by split folding rear seats.Exterior
With the exception of the original 1986 model, the 2011 Taurus stands in bold opposition to the many generations that preceded it. The latest iteration represents a visually ambitious take on the full-size sedan, touting a raised hood, slotted three-bar grille and highly-detailed wrap-around headlamps that create the Taurus' strong face. The striking design continues rearward with a raised belt line, a pronounced accent line that is stylishly bisected by the rear fender flare, and technical-looking tail lamps connected by chrome trim. The sportier Taurus SHO is subtly distinguished from lesser models by unique trim, dual exhaust outlets, inconspicuous SHO badges and a rear spoiler.Notable Standard Equipment
Included on the 2011 Ford Taurus' list of standard equipment are a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power driver's seat, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, power windows with one touch up and down function for the driver and Ford's programmable MyKey system. The standard audio system is a six-speaker CD player that includes an auxiliary audio input jack. Standard safety features includes anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, dual front airbags, front seat-mounted airbags and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers.Notable Optional Equipment
Many of the high-tech features offered for the Ford Taurus are typically reserved for more expensive luxury cars. Among the more interesting options are seats with massage function, automatic high-beams, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control with collision warning. Other options include heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, keyless entry and start, power rear sunshade, power adjustable pedals, the SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system (standard on Limited and SHO), and a 12-speaker premium Sony audio system. On the safety front, the optional Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) alerts the driver when other vehicles are in his blind spots, while Cross-Traffic Alert warns of approaching traffic when the vehicle is backing up.Under the Hood
All 2011 Ford Taurus trims feature a 3.5-liter V6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Taurus SHO offers 102 more horsepower than the standard Taurus V6 thanks to the use of direct injection technology and twin turbochargers. With the exception of the SE trim, all Taurus also feature steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, providing manual control of the transmission. Front wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is available as an option on both SEL and Limited trims and standard on the Taurus SHO.
263 horsepower @ 6250 rpm
249 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 FWD, 17/25 AWD
3.5-liter V6 Twin-Turbocharged
365 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
350 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
The 2011 Ford Taurus has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $26,000 for the SE trim, around $28,000 for the mid-level SEL, close to $32,500 for the Limited trim and just over $38,500 for the high-performance Taurus SHO. All-wheel drive adds about $1,850 to the price tag and, when fully loaded, the price for a Ford Taurus Limited tops out near the $42,000 mark. Prices for the Ford Taurus tend to be lower than those for the Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300, but slightly higher than prices for the Chevrolet Impala. To get the best deal, be sure to take a look at the Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for their Ford Taurus. We expect the 2011 Ford Taurus to hold its value better than previous versions, easily outpacing residual values for the Chevrolet Impala and Chrysler 300 while nearly matching the values for the Toyota Avalon.