2012 Ford Taurus Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 9, 2011

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2012 Ford Taurus Buying Advice

The 2012 Ford Taurus is the best car for you if you like to drive a large sedan and crave the latest comfort, convenience, and infotainment features.

The 2012 Ford Taurus continues with only slight changes for a short model year; a refreshed 2013 Taurus will debut in spring 2012. That model-year 2013 Taurus will feature mildly revised styling inside and out, though the big news will be availability of a four-cylinder version of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost engine expected to deliver V-6 performance yet rate 31 mpg in highway driving. The 2013 Taurus also will enjoy a slew of technological tweaks designed to improve performance and boost fuel economy and will be available with the configurable MyFord Touch operating interface and the latest version of Ford’s Sync multimedia system.

Should you buy the 2012 Ford Taurus or wait for the 2013 Ford Taurus? Wait for the 2013 Taurus if you want the very latest styling, even deeper levels of connectivity, and a better balance of performance and fuel economy. Buy a 2012 Taurus if this big, stylish sedan, which is available in front- or all-wheel drive, is already high-tech enough for you and you’re attracted by good deals intended to clear inventories before the 2013s arrive. Note that this review addresses the mainstream 2012 Taurus models. The high-performance version is covered in our 2012 Ford Taurus SHO Review and Prices and 2013 Ford Taurus SHO Review and Prices.

2012 Ford Taurus Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Ford Taurus is virtually unchanged visually, save for a new exterior color choice, Ginger Ale Metallic. The 2012 Ford Taurus remains among the largest cars on the road this side of a limo, though it’s less roomy on the inside than its generous exterior dimensions suggest. And while the trunk is also the largest by far in the class, at 20.1 cubic feet, a too-narrow trunklid opening restricts loading taller objects.

The 2012 Taurus does stand apart from more conservative-looking big sedans by virtue of its aggressive interior and exterior treatments. (The high-performance 2012 Ford Taurus SHO model -- reviewed separately -- carries distinctive styling cues that set it apart from the rest of the line.

The 2012 Ford Taurus is sold in multiple trim levels, with each adding features at progressively higher costs. The lineup consists of the entry-level Taurus SE, better equipped SEL, and top-of-the-line Taurus Limited.

Mechanical: All 2012 Ford Taurus models – except the SHO -- use a 3.5-liter V-6 rated a sufficient 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. Loosely, horsepower reflects an engine’s speed potential, while torque measures how quickly it can get there. (The SHO gets a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost version of this V-6 rated 365 horses and 350 pound-feet of torque.)

A six-speed automatic is the sole 2012 Taurus transmission and provides manual-type gear control via the floor shift lever. As before, the 2012 Taurus SEL and Limited models are available with all-wheel-drive (AWD) as an extra-cost alternative to the standard front-wheel drive for enhanced traction on wet or snowy roads.

Ford’s AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control system is standard. It combines traction control, antilock four-wheel disc brakes, and antiskid control to help prevent slipping and skidding (antiskid control is now federally mandated on all cars). Aluminum wheels are standard on the 2012 Taurus, with SE models getting 17-inchers, SELs 18s, and Limiteds 19s.

Overall, the 2012 Ford Taurus should continue to offer a controlled ride with competent handling. And it’ll again share its basic engineering architecture and powertrain components with the 2012 Lincoln MKS luxury sedan and the 2012 Ford Flex and 2012 Lincoln MKS crossover SUVs.

Features: The 2012 Ford Taurus’s roster of features is status quo except for addition of small convex mirror sections integrated into the sideview mirrors. A kind of poor-man’s blind-spot detection system, the convex sections are designed to widen the driver’s over-the-shoulder field of vision.

The 2012 Taurus again offers most of the essential standard features expected in a full-size car, along with a long list of comfort and convenience items, some of which are more commonly found in higher priced premium sedans. However, Ford seem stingy by making Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone connectivity and a USB iPod interface standard only on Taurus’s most expensive Limited models. These basic connectivity features, which are included at no extra charge on a host of car less expensive than the 2012 Taurus, are optional on the SEL model and unavailable on the SE.

Otherwise, the 2012 Taurus is available with such perks as leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and cooled front seats. Also on tap are front seats with a massaging function that uses inflating and deflating air bladders in the seat bottoms and backs to help reduce fatigue on long trips. Available as well is Ford’s MyKey system, which allows fleet managers or parents of young drivers to promote safe driving and encourage seat-belt use by programming limits on top speed and audio volume.

Available on 2012 Taurus Limited models is Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support system, an option that also includes radar-based adaptive cruise control. Developed by Volvo when it was part of Ford (Volvo is now owned by a Chinese automaker). The system can’t slow or stop the car on its own. Rather, it triggers audible and visual driver alerts if the Taurus is coming up too fast on an obstacle or on traffic ahead and primes the brakes to full force in anticipation of a panic stop.

Also available is Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS). This warns of unseen traffic in adjacent lanes and can detect and alert the driver to moving cars in cross traffic when backing out of garage or parking spot.

2012 Ford Taurus Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2012 Ford Taurus (excluding the SHO model) is $26,350-$32,950. That represents a modest increase over the 2011 Taurus and keeps this Ford competitive with its closest domestic rival, the 2012 Dodge Charger. (Base base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2012 Taurus is $795.)

Base price is $26,350 for the 2012 Taurus SE, which comes only with front-wheel drive. Few options are offered on the base SE version, which seems built primarily for the rental and fleet markets.

The 2012 Taurus SEL is priced from $28,550 with front-wheel drive and from $30,400 with AWD. To the SE, the SEL adds such standard features as dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, and an instrument-panel message center with trip computer and compass. Among SEL options is Sync with a backup proximity alert system for $700 and heated leather seats for $1,495.

The 2012 Ford Taurus Limited starts at $32,950 with front-wheel drive and $34,800 with AWD. To the SEL, the Limited adds such standard features as perforated-leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat (a power driver’s seat is standard on all Taurus models).

Sync is a $700 option on the Taurus SEL and is standard on the Limited model; it includes voice activated control of the audio system, provides audible turn-by-turn navigation directions, and incorporates Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone connectivity and a USB iPod interface.

The navigation-system option is exclusive to the Limited model; it’s voice-activated, includes hard-drive-based digital music storage, and costs $1,850. It must be paired, however with a $2,000 option that includes BLIS, keyless entry and ignition, and a 12-speaker Sony audio system or with a $3,300 option package that includes heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, adjustable brake/accelerator pedals, and BLIS, among other amenities. The $3,300 option package is also available on the SEL model.

2012 Ford Taurus Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 Ford Taurus are 18/28 mpg city/highway, 22 mpg combined city/highway with front-wheel drive and 17/26/20 with AWD.

These ratings are quite competitive for a car of this size and weight, those some rivals, such as the Toyota Avalon, do better, while the 2012 Buick LaCrosse employs a novel electric-motor boost to help achieve ratings of 25/36 mpg city/highway, 29 mpg combined. That “eAssist” model, however has a four-cylinder engine and peak output of 182 horsepower.

2012 Ford Taurus Release Date back to top

The 2012 Ford Taurus went on sale in July 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Ford Taurus back to top

Having been last fully redesigned for model-year 2010, the Ford Taurus will undergo a midcycle freshening as an early-release 2013 model. Typical of such freshening, it’s likely to receive some modest exterior styling revisions, a richer looking interior, added features, and assorted performance tweaks to help keep the car current and competitive.

The most significant change for the 2013 Ford Taurus will be availability of Ford’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder direct-injected and turbocharged EcoBoost engine. This engine is currently available in the Ford Explorer midsize SUV and likely is slated for the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion midsize sedan. It’s expected to generate a sturdy 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, with fuel economy at least 31 mpg on the highway, according to Ford sources. As with the other engines in the 2013 Taurus model line, it will come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Also, the 2013 Taurus’s 3.5-liter V-6 is likely to get more muscle – up to an estimated 290 horsepower -- to better differentiate it from the EcoBoost four-cylinder. Expect Ford to install active grille shutters, which automatically open at low speed for engine cooling and close at high speed to help fuel economy by decreasing the car’s wind resistance.

The updated 2013 Ford Taurus will also receive an improved braking system, along with a so-called torque-vectoring control system that places a slight amount of braking force on the outside front wheel when accelerating through a corner to help improve handling. Newly optional will be Ford’s Curve Control system, which helps the driver maintain control by selectively applying the brakes if it senses the car has entered a curve too quickly.

The 2013 Ford Taurus SHO will continue with the 2012 model’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V-6, but will feature assorted improvements along with a new performance package that features various steering, braking, and suspension enhancements.

Expect to see even more in the way of technology and convenience features offered in the 2013 Ford Taurus, including a version of the automaker’s MyFord Touch operating system that features programmable touch-screen interfaces in lieu of standard buttons and dials. This system debuted in the 2011 Ford Edge midsize crossover SUV and is designed to appeal to younger and/or more tech-savvy drivers (though for others it can be unacceptably complicated to operate).

The 2013 Ford Taurus will also get the latest version of Ford’s Sync multimedia system that will likely offer smartphone connectivity. If that’s the case, users will be able to stream music from the Pandora Internet radio website to the car’s audio system and even have their Twitter messages read aloud to them via a synthesized voice. This will be in addition to Sync’s other myriad functions like iPod USB and Bluetooth cellphone connectivity, and access to real-time traffic and other satellite-delivered data, all on a hands-free basis.

The next full redesign for the Ford Taurus will likely come for the 2015 model year, though it’s possible the car could be released in first quarter of 2015 as an early model-year 2016 entry. This version will be completely redesigned inside and out, and could be more dramatic looking, overall, with a choice of four-cylinder and V-6 engines. As is currently the case, the Ford Taurus will continue to share its platforms and powertrains with the Lincoln MKS luxury sedan and (assuming they’re still being sold by then) the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS crossover SUVs.

2012 Ford Taurus Competition back to top

Buick LaCrosse: This near-luxury Buick sedan carries graceful styling that few Americans would realize was penned in conjunction with General Motors’ design studio in China. The automaker actually sells far more Buicks there than it does here, as Buick is a popular brand for entrepreneurial Chinese. For 2012, LaCrosse’s gets a base four-cylinder engine supplemented by a small electric motor to lend a hand in acceleration and an automatic start/stop function that shuts down the engine at idle to help save fuel. This LaCrosse eAssist model has 182 horsepower and rates an impressive 25/36 mpg city/highway, 29 mpg combined. Also continuing will be a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 17/27/21 with front-drive and 16/26/20 with optional all-wheel-drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is included in all models. Base prices range from $30,820-$39,130.

Dodge Charger: After a model-year 2011 redesign, Dodge’s full-size sedan continues in both rear- and all-wheel-drive versions as a sportier alternative to the Chrysler 300, with which it shares is engineering and powertrains. Unlike the competition, the 2012 Charger continues to offer a choice of V-8 engines as alternatives to the base V-6; this may change in coming years as higher federal corporate fuel economy requirements put the squeeze on automakers to build more fuel-efficient fleets. With a 470-horsepower Hemi V-8, the top Charger SRT8 version pays homage to the muscle cars of the 1960s, but it costs more than $46,000 and rates 13/21/17 mpg. Expect the 2012 Charger V-6 model to start around $27,000, have some 292 horsepower, and rate 18/27/21 mpg. The 2012 Charger R/T should be priced from around $32,000, repeat with a Hemi V-8 generating around 370 horses, and rate 16/25/19 mpg.

Toyota Avalon: The most conservative car here, but unequaled for refinement, Avalon was updated for 2011 and continues largely unchanged for model-year 2012. It’s roomy, soft riding, and handsome, with a comfortable and quiet interior. It’s far from the most exhilarating car to drive, but its only engine – a V-6 should again have 268 horsepower, rate 20/29/23 mpg, and deliver uncannily smooth and surprisingly responsive performance. Unlike the other cars listed here, Avalon comes only with front-wheel drive. Expect a 2012 base-price range of around $34,500-$38,000, and a fully redesign for model-year 2014.

2012 Ford Taurus Next Steps