I expected the large, sleek 2013 Ford Taurus sedan with its turbocharged 2-liter “EcoBoost” four-cylinder to be lazy. But it turned out to have strong acceleration and sparkling highway fuel economy for such a big guy.
It wasn’t all that long ago a 2-liter four-cylinder engine in an American car was found in small economy autos and provided lackluster performance, especially outside town. A V-8 was needed if you wanted good performance on freeways and highways.
Even a V-6 was a big step up from a four-cylinder, which was at home in small, light foreign sports car such as the MG or Alfa Romeo.
The new Taurus EcoBoost four-cylinder has 240-horsepower and actually kicks out more torque (270 pound-feet vs. 254 pound-feet) than the larger, updated 3.5-liter, 288-horsepower V-6 also offered for the new Taurus. The Taurus lineup also has a hot rod SHO (Super High Output) sedan with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 with 365 horsepower, but it’s another story.
The turbocharged EcoBoost engine provides an estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on highways. That’s not bad for a fast, approximately 4,000-pound family sedan that isn’t a gas-electric hybrid. The smooth, generally quiet engine is a picture of sophistication, with such features as direct fuel injection.
The EcoBoost works with the car’s six-speed automatic transmission, which has a manual-shift feature. While mostly smooth and efficient, the transmission in my test Taurus EcoBoost occasionally was slow to shift.
List prices for the new Taurus go from $26,600 to $39,200, with the most expensive naturally being the SHO with its standard all-wheel drive. Other Taurus models come with either front- or all-wheel drive.
I tested the front-drive Taurus SEL with the EcoBoost engine. The SEL front-drive model stickers at $28,800, but the EcoBoost adds $995 to that price.
The Taurus has a familiar name, and the base SE model has a good amount of standard comfort and convenience equipment, while the SEL adds such things as power and heated driver and front-passenger seats, dual-zone temperature controls and a remote engine start.
The Limited adds woodgrain interior trim, a rear parking aide and a back-up camera. The SHO adds stronger brakes, adjustable pedals, rear spoiler and an optional performance package.
My test Taurus SEL had many desirable options, including a push-button starter, adjustable pedals, reverse sensing system and a rearview camera. They upped the list price from $28,800 to $34,385. That figure included the EcoBoost engine, but not a $795 destination and delivery charge.
Visually distinguishing the regular 2013 Taurus models are a reworked trapezoidal grille and a resculpted hood. They make a handsome car look even better.
New mechanical features are Torque Vectoring Control, which uses slight braking of the inside front wheel while the car is accelerating through curves. There’s also a new Curve Control that proactively provides brake pressure if a turn is entered too fast, helping stabilize the car. There also are new Active Grille Shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag at higher speeds, helping increase fuel efficiency.
The Taurus SEL EcoBoost has quick, but rather heavy, steering and a supple suspension that allows a somewhat firm but comfortable ride. The brake pedal also has a firm feel, but a progressive action. This is no sports sedan, but it has secure handling.
My test car’s quiet interior had easily read backlit gauges, but a too-small tachometer near the speedometer. Controls could be easily used. There was lots of interior plastic, but it didn’t look cheap. Front seats provided decent side support and were generally comfortable, but could have used more thigh support. Door had storage pockets, and the console had a covered storage bin.
The Taurus is roomy, although a large front console steals some space. The center of the backseat—often stiff in many cars—is comfortable. And a center rear armrest with cupholders can be flipped down if only two occupants are in the rear. Windows roll all the way down back there to make it easier to reach food and beverages at fast-food drive-through lanes.
The opening for the extremely spacious trunk is wide, but somewhat high. The 60/40 split rear seatbacks flip forward to enlarge the cargo area, but are too thick to sit perfectly flat when folded forward. The lid has a pull-down strap to ease closing it.
The hood opens via twin hydraulic struts, so you don’t have to wrestle with a prop rod.
The Taurus SEL EcoBoost feels like a big, solid, comfortable American sedan. The market for such sedans is not what it once was, with competition from a variety of smaller vehicles, but this Ford with the EcoBoost engine is definitely worth considering.
Pros: Potent turbocharged Eco-boost engine. Slicker look. Roomy. Comfortable. Secure handling. Established name.
Cons: Space-eating front console. Rather high trunk opening. Tiny tachometer.
Bottom Line: Full-szie sedan with lively performance and good estimated fuel economy.
Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist for nearly 45 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.