2011 Ford Taurus Review and Prices
The 2011 Ford Taurus is the best car for you if a big, bold sedan expresses your automotive self-image.
The 2011 Ford Taurus is basically a rerun following the splashy introduction of the reinvigorated 2010 Taurus. This five-passenger full-size four-door retains its aggressive styling and is again available with front- or all-wheel drive.
Should you buy a 2011 Ford Taurus or wait for the 2012 Ford Taurus? Wait for the 2012 Ford Taurus if you want to see the changes Ford is expected to make to this car’s styling, or you harbor a desire to drive one with a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder. The styling changes will be minor. Addition of the EcoBoost would give the current Taurus its first four-cylinder engine, one that promises the power of a V-6 with the fuel-economy of a four. Buy the 2011 Ford Taurus if you’re happy with a big sedan with lots of presence, plenty of tech, and a proven V-6 engine. Note that all these qualities are amped up considerably in the high-performance 2011 Ford Taurus SHO, reviewed separately.
2011 Ford Taurus Changes back to top
Styling: Completely revamped for 2010, the 2011 Ford Taurus styling stands pat, save for addition of some new colors, including Bordeaux Reserve Red Metallic, Kona Blue Metallic, and Sterling Gray Metallic. Ford’s 2010 restyling gave the Taurus an aggressive new look inside and out but didn’t really alter the size of a car that traces its basic chassis to the 2005 Ford Five Hundred. Taurus is among the largest cars on the road, but a relatively low roofline, bulging hood, and Mustang-inspired cockpit position it as a car Ford hopes will appeal to drivers who believe a big sedan conveys an image of sporty power, not family-car practicality. That concept is amped to the max in the high-performance 2011 Ford Taurus SHO, which is reviewed separately. Oddly enough for so large a car, the Taurus doesn’t quite have the expansive interior roominess you might expect. The 2011 Taurus lineup continues with the base SE model, midlevel SEL, and top-line Limited.
Mechanical: The 2011 Ford Taurus carries over with one engine and transmission, a 3.5-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic. The engine has 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque and the transmission. SEL and Limited models have steering-wheel paddles that allow manual-type control over gear changes. Taurus comes with front-wheel drive, which places the weight of the engine over the wheels that also drive and steer the car. This benefits slippery-surface traction, but isn’t ideal for all-out sporty handling. Enthusiast drivers generally prefer rear-wheel drive for its better weight balance and because it frees the front tires to simply steer the car. The 2011 Ford Taurus SEL and Limited models are available with all-wheel drive (AWD) as an alternative to front-wheel drive. The AWD system funnels power rearward if the front tires slip and reverts to front-wheel drive with traction restored. Every 2011 Taurus comes with Ford’s AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control that combines traction control, antilock four-wheel disc brakes, and an antiskid system. All models have aluminum wheels. The SE comes with 17-inch tires, the SEL with 18s; 19s are standard on the Limited and optional on the SEL. Overall, Taurus has satisfying handling and top-notch ride quality, but only adequate power for its size and weight. Acceleration junkies are advised to look at the Taurus SHO with Ford’s 365-horsepower twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6.
Features: Between options and standard equipment that escalates as you ascend the model line, the 2011 Ford Taurus presents an impressive balance of comfort, infotainment, and safety features. Among comfort features are heated and cooled front seats -- even front seats with air bladders that inflate and deflate to massage your back and buns. For information and entertainment there’s voice-activated navigation, as well as Ford’s popular Microsoft-developed Sync hands-free link to real-time traffic and other satellite-delivered data. Also available are iPod USB and Bluetooth connectivity. On the safety front, the 2011 Taurus is available with Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support. Designed to prevent low-speed rear-end collisions, this system uses radar to sense if the Taurus is closing too quickly on the vehicle ahead. First, it projects a warning on the windshield, then begins to apply the brakes to shorten the stopping distance, though it won’t actually bring the car to a halt. Also optional is Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS). This also uses radar to detect and warn of vehicles in over-the-shoulder blind spots and in proximity when you’re backing from a parking space.
2011 Ford Taurus Prices back to top
Base price range for the 2011 Ford Taurus is $25,995-$34,445. This range vies with that of the Dodge Charger for the most-affordable in the full-size-car class. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2011 Taurus is $825.).
The 2011 Taurus SE starts at $25,995 and comes only with front-wheel drive. Standard equipment on the 2011 Taurus SE includes power mirrors, windows and locks; a six-way power driver’s seat; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel that includes audio and cruise controls; 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks; and remote keyless entry.
The SEL is the most-popular model in the Taurus lineup, accounting for roughly 50 percent of sales. Base price for the 2011 Taurus SEL is $28,195 with front-wheel drive, $30,045 with AWD. The SEL adds to the SE such features as dual-zone automatic climate control, the steering-wheel paddle shifters, satellite radio, upgraded cloth upholstery, an outside temperature display, and a dashboard message center with trip computer and compass.
Base price for the 2011 Taurus Limited is $33,445 with front-wheel drive, $34,445 with AWD. Standard on the Limited is leather upholstery, the Sync system, upgraded audio, rear obstacle detection, a power passenger seat, a 10-way power driver’s seat with memory, and ambient interior lighting.
Among key options, the Taurus SEL can be equipped with leather upholstery for $1,395 and with Sync for $700. On the Limited, $2,500 adds the BLIS system, heated and cooled front seats, and heated rear seats. The navigation system option is exclusive to the Taurus Limited and SHO at $1,850.
2011 Ford Taurus Fuel Economy back to top
Fuel economy ratings for the 2011 Ford Taurus are 18/28 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 17/25 with AWD.
2011 Ford Taurus Release Date back to top
The 2011 Ford Taurus went on sale in late summer 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Ford Taurus back to top
A few features will likely be added as well, most probably the automaker’s MyFord Touch configurable operating system in the top model and updates to Ford’s Sync multimedia system. The Taurus could also see a four-cylinder version of Ford’s EcoBoost turbocharged engine added to the line for 2012 as a fuel-economy leader, which may be worth the wait if you’re betting gasoline prices will have skyrocketed again by then.
In addition to the EcoBoost four-cylinder, reports point to minor styling freshening and assorted technology upgrades for the 2012 Ford Taurus, with a full redesign coming for model-year 2015 or 2016.
In the 2012 Taurus, the EcoBoost four-cylinder would become the standard powerplant or, as in the 2011 Ford Explorer midsize crossover SUV, an optional engine. Presence of the EcoBoost four should help Ford meet stricter federal corporate-average fuel-economy (CAFÉ) requirements that phase in during 2012. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder version offered in the Explorer nets 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, which give the 2012 Taurus acceleration on par with the 3.5-liter V-6 but better fuel economy. What’s more, four-cylinder EcoBoost prototypes have been tested in conjunction with a dual-clutch transmission Ford is developing. It’s possible such a transmission could be coming to the Taurus. Similar to transmissions already available in Volkswagens, BMWs, and other import brands, Ford’s PowerShift acts like an automatic but internally is a fuel-saving manual transmission without a clutch pedal.
Added technology for the 2012 Taurus could also include a version of Ford’s MyFord Touch operating system that was introduced in the 2011 Ford Edge crossover SUV. Developed in conjunction with Sony, this replaces conventional controls with programmable LCD displays and touch-screens; all but the most tech-savvy buyers will likely leave it in default mode, however. The Taurus’ version may also include optional Internet access via a dashboard-mounted monitor and either a Wi-Fi signal or a USB broadband modem. The latest version of Ford’s Sync multimedia system will also probably be offered that will enable drivers to stream music from a smartphone to the audio system and even remotely access Internet services like Twitter.
In any event, Ford won’t make any major near-term alterations to Taurus’s size or mechanical components. Those sorts of extensive changes would likely come with the model-year 2015 or 2016 Taurus, which could see a re-engineering similar to the 2010 makeover. Ford could choose 2015 to introduce the next-generation of this platform, which shares its basic engineering and powertrains with the Lincoln MKS luxury sedan and the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossover SUVs.
2011 Ford Taurus Competition back to top
2011 Buick LaCrosse: Carrying forward its successful redesign for model-year 2010, the 2011 LaCrosse has softer styling than Taurus inside and out, reflecting the influence of GM designers in China, where Buick is popular and aspirational. LaCrosse is fractionally smaller than Taurus and has far less trunk space, but boasts about as much usable passenger room. It also features both a V-6 and a four-cylinder engine. Like Taurus, LaCrosse offers AWD as a front-drive alternative. LaCrosses are priced slightly higher than their similarly equipped Taurus counterparts as Buick takes aim upmarket at a more conservative buyer.
2011 Chrysler 300: A redesigned 2011 model debuts by the end of calendar year 2010 and carries refreshed styling that’s a bit more on the formal side, along with a new base engine, which is Chrysler’s Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6. The version slated for the 300 is reported to have around 290 horsepower and get as much as 30 mpg on the highway. Few details were available in time for this review, but expect a choice of 5.7- and 6.4-liter V-8 engines and AWD to continue. A new eight-speed automatic transmission is possible. As before, the 300 shares platforms and powertrains with the similarly redesigned 2011 Dodge Charger sedan though will likely be tuned to ride and handle more conservatively than the sportier Charger.
2011 Toyota Avalon: A refreshed 2011 Avalon remains the librarian of full-size sedans. But anyone shopping for an astonishingly roomy, utterly refined, and impressively reliable five-passenger four-door in the $30,000-$36,000 range ought to set aside prejudices and consider this stretched Toyota Camry that acts like a Lexus. Avalon comes only with front-wheel drive and a single V-6 that has surprising verve. Road manners are genteel but more than capable.
UPDATED BY JIM GORZELANY