Ford is ramping up its emphasis on improving fuel economy big time for the coming year, and by the end of 2012, it will offer an industry-leading selection eight vehicles that boast EPA highway mileage figures of 40 mpg or better. Although not part of that elite mix, the 2013 Ford Taurus with the automaker's potent 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine underhood promises to make its own kind of in-segment econo headlines. This mileage-maxing front-drive-only runningmate to the baseline 2013 Taurus V6 and performance-oriented SHO models that we tested previously goes on sale later this summer has been officially EPA rated at a class-leading 32 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in the city for a combined figure of 26 mpg.

Ford currently anticipates this new $995 optional motivator will be the choice of 10-14 percent of 2013 Taurus buyers. While fluctuating gasoline prices will certainly play a key role in determining that final figure, based on its real-world performance, we wouldn't be surprised to see the well-proven 2.0 EcoBoost exceed that window.

As it does in Explorer and Edge, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four in the 2013 Taurus makes 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. While it gives away 48 ponies to the 2013-spec V6, the 2.0 does hold 16 more units of peak torque on hand that arrives significantly lower in the rev range and allows this mileage-oriented Taurus to step out smartly from rest in a manner that belies its reduced cylinder count. The 2.0 engine is backed by a new 6-speed 6F35 automatic transmission that also contributes to the econo-performance cause by incorporating active warm-up technology and unique "dot nozzle" internal clutch material that help reduce internal resistance while delivering even smoother shifts. All 2.0-liter EcoBoost cars also will come with auto-deploying Active Grille Shutters that help reduce aerodynamic drag at higher speeds.

About the only issue we noted during our test drive of the Taurus 2.0-liter EcoBoost is the same good news/bad news one common to all members of the 2013 line. Select changes to chassis tuning that add a bit more feel to the Taurus' electrically assisted power steering and help trim body roll also result in a bit more impact harshness over rough and uneven road surfaces. Although a truly comprehensive assessment will have to wait until we drive one on a more extended basis, it appears that the average 2013 Taurus buyer is likely to find little sacrificed and a good deal gained by opting for the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine.


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