There's something in an underdog that really gets me rooting.
Perhaps it's the fighter in them, an unrelenting, dogged tendency to refuse to stay put. Case in point, the new 2010 Ford Taurus.
Ford Motor Company refuses to go in its corner - stay on its shrunken dais. The automaker isn't ready to raise its white flag and surrender to a new day in automotive history when crosstown U.S. rivals have done the unimaginable and tumbled into bankruptcy.
Instead, Ford went back to the drawing board and devised a full-size sedan that at the least will be graded as one good-looking car; and at the most, prove to be a capable contender in the marketplace.
The new Taurus, which rolls into dealerships along with a high-performance, 365-horsepower Taurus SHO version, demonstrates that Ford isn't asleep at the wheel. The company gets that American consumers want bells and whistles, not a choice between the two. It hopes its latest Taurus brought back from the dead will be a game changer like the one first launched during the 1986 model year.
The new Taurus pushing 263-horsepower doesn't conjure up mid 80s images of what it once was. It's not attempting to be that. It's a new day filled with comparable large sedan choices and this is a new car with all-new sheet metal aiming to be seen amid that crowd.
The Taurus has shed its outdated albeit acclaimed aerodynamic looks, but not its graceful road handling.
This updated sedan is decked with a beautifully understated power dome hood that is modern, not muscle car-esque. Under the hood sits Ford's 3.5-liter Duratec V6 engine.
That design touch along with flowing exterior lines are just enough to grab the attention of family buyers looking for something that doesn't scream fam-i-ly. It's sure to attract those of the equally important singles crowd.
The vehicle comes in two trim levels – SE and SEL. I drove the SEL model from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Asheville, South Carolina, home of the famed Biltmore Estate.
The car accelerated nicely. Its six-speed automatic transmission changed gears with ease.
The SHO version, which I drove the following day on a route just as scenic as the first, moved like a linebacker who'd taken dance lessons. It whipped right then left, taking the shape of each roadway curve. Its suspension strutted its stuff on the twisty parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The SHO comes with 19-inch wheels, while shapely wheel wells on the regular Taurus fit 17- to 20-inch wheels.
The slightly bulged wheel wells are a fitting touch for a vehicle that design-wise makes sense from its chrome three-bar grille to chrome dual exhaust tips.
Taurus front seats are big and comfortable; rear seats are roomy and slightly raised to give passengers in the back the same oncoming view as the driver.
Inside, the center console sweeps upward into the centerstack and instrument panel, exuding a pricier, softer, European feel than one that is hard, flat, cheap, and sadly synonymous with current American interior designs.
There are some goofy things like a reset button placed on the busy centerstack, remote from its typical location near the steering wheel. The trunk button, which opens the most cavernous trunk I've ever seen, is on the other side of the centerstack. Another interior design choice that perplexes me.
The trunk button should be as close to the driver side as possible, not near the glove compartment. I don't want to stretch even a skosh to pop the trunk, and I'll presume there are many other drivers who prefer not to do this as well.
But alas! The vehicle makes up for these kooky shortcomings with its overall package.
The base price for the Taurus SE is $25,995 and $27, 995 for the SEL version. The SHO, SEL and Limited models are priced between $31,995 and $37,995.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, multi-contour front seats with active motion (essentially a massage system), advanced electronic stability control with ABS and all-speed traction control, and a MyKey system that lets the driver limit the vehicle's performance capabilities.
It's a handy feature in cases where say you don't want the car to start if a teen driver isn't buckled in or you want to limit their driving speed.
Optional amenities include the Microsoft “Sync” entertainment system and a Sony sound system.
The 2010 Taurus is a complete package. Let’s hope Ford’s marketing efforts for the car are complete as well.
Kimatni D. Rawlins is the pubhliser of AutomotiveRhythms.com