2013 Ford Taurus Limited Rental Review, Avis/National

Notable standard features on National’s 2013 Ford Taurus Limited

  • 3.5L 6-cyl Ti-VCT engine (288-hp, 254 ft-lb), 6-speed automatic transmission with Select Shift; 0-60 mph ~ 6.9 seconds
  • 19/29 (city/hwy) mpg fuel economy
  • Regular gas
  • 20.1 cubic feet trunk volume
  • Power windows, heated side mirrors with integrated blind spot inset mirrors, locks
  • Leather wrapped wood trim tilt & telescoping steering wheel with audio & cruise controls
  • 10-way power 2-memory driver’s seat with lumbar, 10-way passenger’s seat with lumbar, leather
  • Automatic headlamps
  • Dual zone automatic HVAC
  • 8″ color LCD touchscreen with rearview backup camera, ultrasonic sensors
  • 6 speaker audio with AM/FM/CD/MP3/(3 months free Sirius subscription)
  • Sync with MyFordTouch 2.0
  • Inputs: 2 x USB 2.0, SD card slot, RCA, Bluetooth
  • 60/40 split-fold rear seats

PROS:

- Sharp looking exterior/interior refresh
- Much improved handling, suspension, braking
- Integrated blind spot mirrors
- Hazard lights activated via a physical button!
- Improved MyFordTouch

CONS:

- Cabin space restricted despite vehicle dimensions
- Touch sensitive controls on center stack still difficult to use while driving
- Some lingering MFT issues
- 6 speed transmission and weight keep fuel economy slightly below average

CONCLUSION: A very significant and welcomed refresh of the Ford Taurus.

I believe CRR has the world’s/internet’s first review of the 2013 Ford Taurus Limited!  Eat your hearts out, Autoblog, Car & Driver, and MotorTrend!  I noticed Edmunds.com has a writeup of the 2013 Taurus, although it reads more like a repetition of the manufacturer’s specifications.  The National fleet at DCA has acquired one or two 2013 Taurus Limiteds in the past week, and I of course jumped at the chance to rent one.  This particular vehicle was nearly brand new (~189 miles on the odometer) when I drove it off the lot.

I rented the 2011-12 model year Ford Taurus several times over the past year, and was largely impressed with the significant improvement it represented over the horrible Ford Five Hundred.  However, the interior looked too “busy” and the exterior seemed a mis-mash of different design elements.  With the 2013 refresh Ford has significantly tidied up the exterior and interior, leaving simpler designs throughout.

For 2013, the entire Chicago-built Taurus line gets a massive exterior update.  While the proportions are still the same, replete with high beltlines and trunk decklid, improvements include a new trapezoidal grille, front fascia, wheels, front headlamps, rear LED tail-lamps, rear fenders and deck lid, quasi dual exhausts with chrome tips. Ford has also adjusted the suspension, switched over to complete electric power assisted steering (EPAS), and even added a new mild torque-vectoring system to improve handling. 

Torque-vectoring is the cheaper electronic brother to Ford’s RevoKnuckle (similar in intent to Buick’s HiPer strut), and reduces under/torque steer by engaging the brakes.  Ford has also added a larger brake master cylinder and revised booster tuning to improve brake pedal feel and shorten stopping distances.  Lastly, new wheels have also been added, and this particular Limited model wears new 19″ premium painted luster nickel-aluminum wheels.

The biggest mechanical update for 2013 models is the optional 4-cyl EcoBoost, which may boost highway fuel economy to the neighborhood of 31 mpg.  It is unclear as to whether rental fleets will acquire EcoBoost equipped models, so it looks like National will be sticking with the Ti-VCT 3.5L 6-cyl for now.

The updates continue throughout the interior as well.  Ford has substituted the old analog driver’s gauges and center stack with its (oft maligned, sometimes rightfully so) MyFordTouch connectivity/multimedia package, which has been given a significant software overhaul.  Higher quality soft-touch materials and sound deadening have also been increased.  The 2013 Taurus Limited now wears an interior very similar to that of the 2012/13 Ford Explorer XLT.

My particular ’13 Taurus did not come equipped with any other options, and had an as rented MSRP of $33,795.  It is noted that unlike the Ford Edge and Explorer Limited trims, the 5.1 Sony HD Audio system does NOT come standard, instead, it comes bundled with other high tech goodies like BLIS, push button start, cooled seats, which rental fleets are unlikely to purchase.  The base audio system is competent, but could benefit from the high definition audio and increased amplification from the Sony system.

I prefer the new look of the 2013 Taurus.  The updates clean up the front grille area, and help to visually slim down the vehicle.  Despite the vehicle proportions, it manages to retain an  aggressive appearance, even trapezoidally menacing.  On more than one occasion, I noticed several Acura TL owners admiring my ride from afar.  Thanks to all the improvements that Ford made, the Taurus has a significantly improved handling that belies its weight.  The brake pedal now has a firm and linear feel, although as I learned on a few emergency braking situations, the brake pads still have to work considerably to bring the two ton monster to a halt.  The suspension no longer wallows as it did before, and provides a happy balance between soaking up road bumps yet also providing a tinge of sporty resolve.  Steering is light but predictable.  Acceleration is surprisingly brisk, and the Taurus feels lighter on its feet than it did previously.  Integrated blind spot mirrors, as on the ’12 model, significantly aid the driver’s visibility.  I now prefer the ’13 Taurus to the ’12 Chrysler 300, because it drives smaller and is not as excessively ponderous.

The interior is more minimalistic now due to the 8-inch center touchscreen and MyFordTouch implementation.  MyFordTouch 2.0 has significantly improved over the previous generation, because of faster response times, larger touchscreen buttons, and larger, more legible font.  Some quirks still remain, though I’ll address MyFordTouch 2.0 in another post.  It’s still not quite as responsive as Dodge’s/Chrysler’s UConnect, but it is more full featured and comprehensive.  The touch-sensitive controls on the center stack are difficult to use while driving, because it’s nigh impossible to tell which buttons I’ve hit unless I take my eyes off of the road.  Ford at least should have added haptic feedback to provide button differentiation.

I have never had any issues with the MyFordTouch driver’s gauges- in fact, they have always been my favorite aspect of the entire package.  They are similarly implemented well here with Taurus-specific font and a highly functional, though corporate steering wheel.  I have a lingering complaint with the Taurus interior that has not been addressed by the refresh.  Ford engineers have retained the dual-pod design, which is endemic only to the Taurus model.  While it might look interesting and provide some functional value (e.g. shielding driver’s gauges from sunlight), they flow into a high-mounted center console which severely limits interior cabin space and knee room.  Despite the Taurus having generous external dimensions, the interior feels quite small.  Comparatively in the Buick Lacrosse I recently rented, the Lacrosse’s dashboard had a much better design that produced a voluminous, airy feeling and did not restrict knee/hip movement.

Seats fore and aft are comfortable, and much better than the flat park bench styled ones on the 300.  Ford designers have traditionally given rear passengers higher seat cushions for better thigh support, a welcome design for taller folks like myself.  However, in the Taurus, the rear seats are a little too high, leaving my head to brush against the ceiling.  The center rear seat is best reserved for children or shorter adults.  Legroom is not an issue in either aisle, and the trunk space is gynormous enough to satiate even the most demanding mafioso.

Overall cabin material quality is very good and better than the previous Taurus model years.  Soft touch materials cover the dashboard and door frames.  The doors include an interesting scalloped, stitched leather pattern (retained from last year’s model) and the plood (plastic wood) contrasts nicely with chrome ringed gauge housings and HVAC vents.

In conclusion, the 2013 update was much needed, but well done.  I think Ford did the best they could with what they had, despite the limitations of the aged D3 platform.  Driving dynamics are now much tauter, although optimization can only mask so much of the vehicle’s weight.  The interior updates present a cleaner and more unified appearance, although cabin space is limited by the retained dual pod design. I’ve previously rented and comfortably driven a Taurus for 12 hours straight, and would not hesitate to rent a Taurus again, especially with all the new updates, for future long haul trips.  All these Taurus updates are a sign of good things to come, and I can’t wait to rent the 2013 Fusion and Escape.

Slight trim update for Avis’ Ford Taurus Limited rentals:

http://carrentingreviews.com/2012/05/28/2013-ford-taurus-limited-review-update-avis/

For more information on the 2013 Ford Taurus, please see the manufacturer’s webpage here:

http://www.ford.com/cars/taurus/

Leave a Reply