2010 Ford Taurus Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 1, 2011

Pros

  • Big-car presence, sporty-car dashboard
  • Controlled ride, confident handling, available all-wheel drive
  • Cavernous trunk and lots of in-cabin storage

Cons

  • Less passenger room than exterior size implies
  • Acceleration defused by porky curb weight
  • Outward visibility pinched by roof design

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2010 Ford Taurus Buying Advice

The 2010 Ford Taurus is the best car for you if you believe in second chances.

The 2010 Ford Taurus is renovated inside and out, with crisp new styling and a cool cockpit copped from the Mustang. It’s Ford’s attempt to put Taurus back on course after mismanaging one of its most important nameplates. The break-out design of the original Taurus won Ford millions of new buyers in the 1980s and was America’s best-selling car well into the 1990s. But its popularity waned under ugly facelifts, overpricing, and a 2005 remake as the big, starchy Ford Five Hundred. The reclamation began in 2008 when Ford renamed that car the Taurus and culminates with the revamped 2010 model.

Should you buy a 2010 Ford Taurus or wait for the 2011 Ford Taurus? Buy the 2010 Taurus. The 2011 Taurus won’t change in any significant way, but Taurus may get fresh styling as early as model-year 2012. So buying the 2010 wins you a longer time with the latest looks and features. And it puts you in the midst of an incentive-laden buyer’s market – a market that might not be as hospitable by the time the 2011s roll out.

2010 Ford Taurus Changes back to top

Styling: A deft nip here, a smart tuck there, and you have the 2010 Ford Taurus, a car that looks younger and more compact than the 2009 Taurus without actually being smaller anyplace that matters. The new nose is more of a wedge than the 2009 model’s blunt design. It houses a neat three-bar grille and sweeping headlamps; the look is premium-car precise. Pronounced hockey-stick creases on the body make the 2010 Taurus appear sporty and raked, though the dummy front fender vents are already passé. Taurus’s tail is successfully tapered at the corners but lacks the harmony of the nose. This remains a large car with a long wheelbase, and it’s this distance between the front and rear axle that helps determine interior room. Thankfully, the 2010 dumps a dowdy dashboard for a new twin cantilevered design. The angled-back center portion descends without interruption to form a broad console that houses the gear shift. The instrument panel would be at home in a Mustang and is part of a strategy that positions the 2010 Taurus not so much as a family sedan but as a car for drivers who want a big four-door with a bold presence. Putting an exclamation point on this approach, the debut of the 2010 Taurus is accompanied by the re-launch after several years of the 2010 Taurus SHO, the high-performance version of the Taurus. The 2010 SHO looks only subtly different than the mainstream Taurus.

Mechanical: The 2010 Ford Taurus chassis and suspension adopts revisions introduced on the 2009 Lincoln MKS, an upscale sedan based on this same platform. This architecture also underpins the Ford Flex crossover SUV and its 2010 Lincoln MKT cousin. Excluding the specialty SHO, the mainstream 2010 Taurus lineup repeats 2009’s roster of base SE, midline SEL, and top-line Limited models. All again come with front-wheel drive, but for 2011, just the SEL and Limited are available with all-wheel drive (AWD). Ford says about 20 percent of Taurus buyers choose AWD, which responds to front-tire slip by automatically funneling a portion of the power rearward until traction is restored. Carried over as the only engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 with 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic returns as the sole transmission, but SEL and Limited models gain steering-wheel paddles to facilitate manual-type gear changes. Standard on every 2010 Taurus is Ford’s AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control that consists of traction control for better grip away from stops, antilock four-wheel disc brakes to prevent lock-up in emergency stops, and an antiskid system to mitigate sideways slides. Aluminum wheels also are standard. The SE has 17-inch tires, the SEL comes with 18s; and 19s are optional on the SEL and standard on the Limited.

Features: Safety enhancements are the big news, specifically introduction of Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support. This optional system is designed to prevent the 2010 Taurus from rear-ending another vehicle in low-speed traffic. It uses radar to sense if you’re closing too quickly on the vehicle ahead. First, it sounds a chime and projects a head-up warning on the windshield. If you fail to brake or apply insufficient pressure, the system decelerates the Taurus, but won’t stop it completely. Another option, Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS), warns of unseen traffic in adjacent lanes and projects radar beams 65 feet either side of the car to detect moving objects when backing out of a parking space. Push-button ignition is another new feature. And a Sony-brand audio system joins a list of information and entertainment features that includes voice-activated navigation and Ford’s popular Sync system. Developed with Microsoft, Sync links the car to an array of functions, including real-time traffic and weather, and incorporates Bluetooth phone and USB iPod connectivity. Standard is Ford’s MyKey programming to promote responsible driving by allowing you to restrict the car’s speed, prohibit tire-squealing starts, and mute the audio system if seatbelts aren’t buckled. A power sunroof, keyless pushbutton ignition, and remote start are available. Front seats that can be cooled or fitted with massaging air bladders and a heated rear seat are optional. So is ambient lighting that bathes the footwells and door panels in pink, green, red, blue, yellow, amber, or purple illumination. A DVD entertainment system isn’t offered, but DVD videos will play on the nav screen with the transmission in park.

2010 Ford Taurus Test Drive back to top

From behind the wheel:  You’ll need to saddle up an SHO for spine-compressing giddy-up. Acceleration with other 2010 Taurus models is perfectly adequate, but even the lightest tips the scales at 4,015 pounds. Their 265-horsepower V-6 just can’t deliver much scoot off the line or real snap when you want to slip through an opening in traffic. Dialing up more revs via the steering-wheel paddles is of only marginal assistance. And not every driver will agree Ford’s push-to-downshift, pull-to-upshift arrangement is the most logical.

Threading traffic, tackling cloverleaves, and taking corners is no sweat in the 2010 Taurus. This big sedan responds attentively to the natural-feeling steering and changes direction with no undue body lean or residual motion. Quick turns reveal a sense of nose-heavy behavior, but lateral grip is good. AWD will get you going in snow, but a Taurus SE, SEL, or Limited driver will be hard-pressed to detect any difference it might make in dry cornering. 

Taurus takes so well to being tossed around it’s too bad the driver doesn’t get a more complete picture of the surroundings. We know Ford’s going for a racy, chopped-top look, but outward visibility to the front and sides seems pinched by a tall cowl, high beltline, and scrunched ceiling. And the slanted rear window and intrusive rear headrests conspire to diminish the view aft. You might come to rely on that review camera and all those extra sets of radar eyes to detect objects lurking in your blind spots.        

Dashboard and controls:  The double-eyebrow dash bisected by a center stack angled forward a dramatic 38 degrees succeeds in creating a sense of occasion about the 2010 Taurus’s interior. It’s a functional design as well, presenting audio and climate controls, navigation, and message-center screens within the driver’s easy reach and high enough to see without diverting much attention from the road. 

Ford’s latest version of Sync is pretty trick, but it isn’t perfect. It’s easy to program via voice command or even from your home computer through a dedicated Web site. And you don’t have to order the navigation system to get it, which is good news for SEL buyers. Data is delivered audibly and on the screen that doubles as the climate and audio display. Sync can provide personalized sports scores, business news, and traffic conditions. But you’re most likely to ask it for turn-by-turn directions. In that capacity, Ford and Microsoft need to sharpen their game. Sync systems in 2010 Taurus models Ford provided for testing were tardy enough with instructions that we were sometimes in the desired intersection or passing the wanted off-ramp just as Sync instructed us to turn.

Credit Ford with some nice work on 2010 Taurus interior materials and assembly. Surfaces you’ll regularly touch are padded, grained, or covered with matte-finished plastic. Controls work with admirable smoothness. Console-bin doors waft open on damped hinges. The ambient lighting isn’t for everyone, but even without it, every gauge and control switch is nicely backlit in a color Taurus designers call “Ford ice blue.”

Room, comfort, and utility:  There’s a disconnect between the big footprint Taurus places on the road and the relatively cramped feel of its passenger compartment. The driver sits before an ideally located, thick-rimmed steering wheel on seats that have plenty of fore-aft travel. But tall occupants won’t sense much excess head room, and the front buckets’ seams and padding bulges have a way of bothering your pressure points. The rear seat is properly contoured, but there just isn’t the generous leg room or easy entry-exit expected of a sedan this large.   

A car this heavy ought to take bumps with aplomb, and here Taurus delivers in spades, with an absorbent, controlled ride on both the 18- and 19-inch tires. It’s quiet, too, with nary a whistle from wind nor a rumble from the road. The V-6 is vocal at wide-open throttle, but slumbers at cruise.

Taurus designers seem to have sacrificed some rear-seat space to create a trunk whose front wall is so far forward you need a miner’s headlamp to see it. There’s an incredible 20.1 square feet of cargo volume back here, and a wide trunklid that opens to bumper level makes its easy to access. The only flaw is a floor less than completely flat. The ample-storage theme continues in the cabin with bins and pockets aplenty.

2010 Ford Taurus Prices back to top

Only in America are cars this large marketed as mainstream models instead of luxury flagships. That’s evident in 2010 Ford Taurus prices well within reach of a mass audience. (Prices listed in this review include the manufacturers’ mandated destination fee; Ford’s fee is $825 for 2010.)

The 2010 Ford Taurus SE is priced from $25,995. Among its standard features is a six-way power driver’s seat; power mirrors, windows and locks; remote keyless entry; 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks; and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel that includes audio and cruise controls.

The 2010 Ford Taurus SEL prices start at $27,995 with front-wheel drive and $29,845 with AWD. The SEL is expected to account for about half of 2010 Taurus sales. In addition to SE equipment, the SEL comes standard with the paddle shifters, satellite radio, upgraded cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a dashboard message center with trip computer and compass, and an outside temperature display,

The 2010 Ford Taurus Limited price begins at $31,995 with front-wheel drive and $33,845 with AWD. Among standard features the Limited adds to the SEL model are leather upholstery, upgraded audio, Sync, ambient lighting, rear obstacle detection, power passenger seat, and a 10-way power driver’s seat with memory. 

Notable 2010 Ford Taurus options include leather upholstery ($1,395) and Sync ($700) for the SEL model. The power sunroof is an $895 SEL option, too, but must be paired with other extra-cost packages. A $2,500 option group for the Limited model includes the BLIS system, heated and cooled seating, rear power sunshade, and 390-watt, 12-speaker Sony-brand audio. The navigation system is exclusive to the Limited model, where it adds up to $1,995 but actually inflates the sticker more because it must be paired with other, more-expensive option groups.   

2010 Ford Taurus Fuel Economy back to top

EPA estimated fuel-economy ratings for the 2010 Ford Taurus place it among the most-efficient cars its size. Some full-size sedans have marginally higher fuel-economy numbers, but achieve them with smaller, less-powerful engines than Taurus’s 263-horspower V-6.

The 2010 Taurus is rated at 18/28 mpg (city/highway) with front-wheel drive and 17/25 with AWD. The car uses 87-octane gas.

2010 Ford Taurus Safety and Reliability back to top

At the time of this review, the 2010 Ford Taurus had not been subjected to government crash testing that awards a maximum five stars for occupant protection (safecar.gov). However, Ford engineers say they’re confident the 2010 Taurus will repeat the 2009 model’s outstanding performance in the tests. The 2009 Taurus was awarded five stars in every category of driver and passenger protection.

In initial overall quality, the Ford brand ranked slightly above average in ratings compiled by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm (jdpower.com). At the time of this review, the 2010 Ford Taurus was too new to be included in J.D. Power quality surveys. J.D. Power rated the 2009 Taurus about average in overall initial quality.

For overall reliability, the Ford brand rated about average in J.D. Power surveys measuring problems reported by owners of three-year-old models. Again, the 2010 Taurus was too new to be included, but owners of the 2006 Ford Five Hundred rated their car above average for overall dependability.

2010 Ford Taurus Release Date back to top

The 2010 Ford Taurus went on sale in August 2009.

What's next for the 2010 Ford Taurus back to top

Taurus isn’t likely to change in any notable way for model-year 2011, but some reports suggest Ford could be readying a facelift as early as model-year 2012 -- model-year 2013 at the latest. It would alter nose and tail styling, maybe some interior appointments, and could juggle some features. But the car’s basic shape and size would not change.

The facelift prediction is based on the premise that model-year 2015 will bring a fully redesigned Taurus or at least one treated to the kind of sweeping changes that updated the 2010 model. Ford has a huge interest in keeping the basic Taurus platform viable because it’s also used for those other core Ford and Lincoln vehicles.   

In the near term, Ford could certainly juggle features availability – granting the SEL model the option of a navigation system, for example. It could tweak the 3.5-liter V-6 to improve fuel economy. Or it could determine its coming turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine has sufficient power for duty in the Taurus.  

2010 Ford Taurus Competition back to top

2010 Buick LaCrosse: All new for model-year 2010 and designed primarily in China, where Buick is popular, upscale, and trendy. LaCrosse is slightly smaller than the Taurus, but matches it for usable interior space (partly at the expense of trunk volume, which is a stingy 12.8 cubic feet). LaCrosse is rounded where Taurus is angular: Buick hopes you’ll think “Lexus ES.” V-6s of 255 and 280 horsepower, a choice of front-wheel drive (17/27 mpg) or AWD (16/26), and plenty of accessories are on tap. Base price range is roughly $28,000-$34,000 for LaCrosse models that compete directly with Taurus, though a less-expensive four-cylinder version of the Buick is also available. LaCrosse won’t be altered for the next several years.

2010 Chrysler 300: Introduced for 2005, it was a style sensation and renewed interest in rear-wheel drive. Today, the 300 still feels solid and looks bold, but a major restyling and re-engineering tentatively planned for model-year 2012 won’t come a moment too soon. Handling isn’t on par with that of the 2010 Taurus, and the 300’s interior design is stodgier, though it is slightly more spacious. This big five-passenger Chrysler is available with a fine V-6 of around 250 horsepower and with versions of the mighty Hemi V-8 churning out some 359 and 425 horsepower. It also offers the traction advantage of all-wheel drive. Base price range is around $28,000-$45,000.  

2010 Toyota Avalon: Don’t dismiss this sedan as a chariot for geriatrics. It’s really Lexus luxury at a fraction of the price, and not a bad drive, to boot. It’s got all the passenger room and comfort you could want, a sterling reputation for owner satisfaction, and surprising verve from a lively 268-horsepower V-6. Handling isn’t a sharp as Taurus’s, though it is front-drive predictable and highly refined. Styling is unadventurous, but unpretentious, too. Base prices are $29,000-$36,000. Avalon’s next redesign is slated for model-year 2012.