2013 Ford Taurus Limited review: smooth, comfortable and BIG

2013 Ford Taurus Limited

2013 Ford Taurus Limited

It’s been three years since Ford dusted off the moribund Taurus nameplate and transformed the aged bull into a graceful big cat. The time is right for a mid-model upgrade, so the 2013 Ford Taurus has undergone undergone a mild facelift and some important refinements.

What exactly will a present-day buyer get that the early adopters did not? A lot, actually.

Although it doesn’t look a whole lot different on the outside, alert observers will notice a new grille and front fascia, new wheels, redesigned front and rear lighting, new rear fenders and a new trunk lid.

More importantly, the standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine (the one in the test car) gets more power, 288 horsepower compared with 263; and more torque, 254 pound-feet, compared to 249.

Most importantly, according to the EPA, the all-wheel-drive test car even ekes out an extra mile per gallon of regular gasoline. The EPA estimates 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg overall.

 Ford Taurus Limitedback seat

Ford Taurus Limitedback seat

In my week of mostly suburban and highway driving in a fully optioned  2013 Ford Taurus Limited, I averaged between 17 mpg and 25 mpg, with an overall average of nearly 22 mpg.

Prospective buyers should note that for 2013 Ford offers two additional engine choices.

An optional turbocharged, 2-liter, four-cylinder engine combines with a six-speed automatic transmission to produce 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It earns an EPA rating of  22 mpg city/32mpg highway and an overall average of 26 mpg. It is available only on front-wheel-drive sedans.

The slightly sportier 2013 Taurus SHO gets a twin-turbocharged version of the 3.5-liter V-6 engine that generates 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. With a six-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive, it is rated at 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway/ 20 mpg overall.

There are a number of other mechanical changes, too.

The suspension has been retuned, power steering has been switched from hydraulic to electric, the six-speed automatic transmission can now be shifted manually with a button on the shift lever, brake feel and stopping distances have been improved, and a feature of the all-wheel-drive system known as torque vectoring automatically adjusts power from wheel to wheel as needed to improve handling.

On the inside, the 2013 Ford Taurus features higher quality soft-touch materials, supple leather upholstery, better sound  insulation and updated Sync and My Ford Touch infotainment systems.