ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With a legacy running back to the 1980s, Ford’s Taurus has had its ups and downs.
Its very first iteration broke the mold for American sedans, with an aerodynamic design that captured buyers’ imagination. Subsequent redesigns reverted to a more conservative look.
Unfortunately, later Tauruses failed to keep pace with competitors’ performance and features, and sales – once the top-selling sedan in America – slowly tapered off until the marque was phased out.
It took new corporate leadership with vision to refashion the big, slow-selling Five Hundred sedan by reviving the Taurus nameplate, then slapping it onto a bold design based around modern mechanicals with a panoply of comfort and convenience features.
And for 2013, the Taurus receives a mid-model revamp that greatly increases the car’s desirability.
There are exterior tweaks that give the car a more aggressive presence. The suspension is retuned for a smoother ride and improved handling. Electronic steering with a quicker ratio lends a sportier feel, while updated brakes result in more confident, shorter stops.
The interior also has undergone a thorough upgrade with enhanced materials; more soft-touch surfaces; greater application of insulation to cut wind- and road-noise intrusion; and the latest version of the Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment systems.
Overall, the cabin displays better fit and finish and comfort than previously, with refinement approaching luxury levels in our SEL-model tester.
Our car featured the standard 3.5-liter V-6, with improved power and economy, hooked to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Acceleration was more than adequate, even with the added weight and mechanical friction of pushing all four wheels. Fuel gets burned at a rate of 18 miles per gallon in town while highway jaunts deliver 26 mpg, according to the Feds.
There’s no denying the Taurus is big: It won’t fit comfortably into a parking spot designated “compact.”
But out on the road, Ford’s large sedan pleasantly devours miles with a newly confident stride.