Most Taurus models are front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional. Standard power comes from Ford's 288-horsepower, 3.5L V6, coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission. A 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder is optional and makes 240 hp and 270 ft-lb of torque. With this engine, the Taurus is capable of 31 mpg on the highway.
The Taurus is offered in four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited and SHO. SEL models get painted aluminum wheels and chrome exhaust tips; they also get supplemental parking lamps and heated exterior mirrors. The Limited adds push-button start, power leather heated and cooled seats, a reverse sensing system and a premium sound system that includes the Sync voice-driven interface for phones and portable music devices. Limited models also get showy 19-inch chromed aluminum wheels.
The high-performance Taurus SHO is powered by a 3.5L, turbocharged and direct-injected "EcoBoost" V6, which makes 365 horsepower and 350 ft-lb of torque. The engine's two small turbos permit it to make peak torque just above idle, and direct injection technology claims to deliver "the power of a V8 with the efficiency of a V6," according to Ford.
The SHO's powerful engine is coupled to a 6-speed automatic "SelectShift" transmission with paddle shifters, which allow the driver to shift manually to suit the driving conditions. Torque-sensing all-wheel-drive is standard on the SHO and it employs electromechanical clutches to send torque to the wheels with the most grip. Electronic power steering works with the sport-tuned suspension to handle the power and bring an agile feel.
The SHO rides on Eagle F1 summer performance tires on unique painted wheels. Inside, the SHO gets "Miko Suede" seat inserts made from recycled materials, plus aluminum-trimmed pedals and aluminum trim throughout. Multi-contour heated-and-cooled seats are standard, and there's also a 12-speaker Sony surround sound audio system.
The Taurus is one of the top-rated vehicles in its class in crash tests and comes with a long list of safety features, including stability control, anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, side-curtain airbags, a Post-Crash Alert System and crash severity sensing.
Across the Taurus line, Ford's emphasis is on technology. Several systems utilize front and rear sensors and cameras to improve safety. Cross Traffic Alert warns the driver of vehicles to the rear that may be obscured when backing out of a driveway or parking spot. Collision Warning will warn a distracted driver of impending contact with another car and even employ the brakes if necessary. Adaptive cruise control, a system that monitors traffic ahead and will follow at a predetermined distance is also available, as is a lane departure warning system.
Intelligent Access and a MyKey entry system give parents control over who has access to the car and what happens when they give young drivers the keys. SIRIUS Travel Link, a set of features for the navigation system that brings live traffic information, weather forecasts, gas prices and other info, is also available.
Ford gave the Taurus a significant update for 2013, so changes for 2014 are minimal. Limited and SHO sedans now have standard push-button start and heated and cooled front seats, as well as an optional lane departure warning system.