The 2011 Ford Taurus has a lot going for it, including a spacious and comfortable cabin, a long list of standard equipment, appealing high-tech options, a cavernous trunk, a composed drive, topnotch crash test scores, all-wheel-drive availability and an impressive turbocharged SHO model.
As part of Ford's overall broad move towards higher quality in recent years, the full-size Taurus sedan sports an attractive cabin constructed of high-grade materials. And its roomy passenger space and gigantic trunk (one of the largest available) make for happier occupants and increased usefulness and versatility.
Large sedan shoppers who place a higher value on power and performance can also consider the Taurus SHO. It's outfitted with EcoBoost, a robust 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine that still gets the same gas mileage as the base 263 horsepower V6.
And new for the 2011 model year is a standard rearview camera on Limited and SHO models, while those equipped with Sync get a free three-year subscription to the new Traffic, Directions and Information service. Also new this year is HD radio capability added to the optional navigation system.
Of course, there are always worthy alternatives for those shopping this segment. The regular Taurus competes with, and compares well with, sedans such as the new and improved Chrysler 300, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Avalon. Another strong competitor with the uplevel Taurus Limited would be the Hyundai Genesis.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Ford Taurus is available in four trims: SE, SEL, Limited and SHO.
Standard features on the already well-equipped base SE model include full power accessories, a 6-way power driver seat, air conditioning, cruise control, 17 inch alloy wheels, steering-wheel audio controls, automatic headlights, keyless entry with an access keypad, a tilt/telescoping steering column, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a 6-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Taurus SEL then adds satellite radio, automatic transmission paddle shifters, upgraded cloth upholstery, heated mirrors, 18 inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Available optional features on the SEL include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, a rearview camera, 19 inch wheels, ambient lighting, rear parking sensors and the Sync system (provides hands-free, voice-controlled cell phone and MP3 player commands) with the three-year complimentary Traffic, Directions and Information service subscription.
The Taurus Limited comes standard with all of the above options, plus 8-way power front seats with power lumbar, driver memory settings, an upgraded audio system with a 6-disc CD/MP3 changer and a wood-trimmed steering wheel.
The top-of-the-line 2011 Taurus SHO comes with the more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler, upgraded leather upholstery, faux-suede upholstery accents, xenon headlamps, keyless entry/ignition (optional on the SEL and Limited) and an auto-dimming exterior driver mirror (optional on the Limited).
There's also an optional SHO Performance package that includes 20-inch wheels (also a stand-alone option), summer tires, recalibrated steering, a different final-drive ratio, performance brake pads and stability control defeat.
Other optional features for the Limited and SHO include adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a power rear window shade, automatic wipers, keyless entry and ignition, automatic high beams and a navigation system (includes a touchscreen, voice controls, Sirius Travel Link, a single-CD player, digital music storage and DVD audio).
In addition, all models except the SE have an optional 12-speaker Sony audio system, a sunroof and multicontour seats with active bolsters.
Powering the 2011 Taurus is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that outputs a healthy 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. All models but the SE also come with manual shift control and downshift rev-matching capability. With this engine, front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive is available on the SEL and Limited.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage for this engine with front-wheel drive stands at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway. With all-wheel drive, these numbers decrease slightly to 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Under the hood of the more performance-oriented Taurus SHO is a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that's good for a hefty 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. All SHOs are all-wheel drive and come with a 6-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles.
The EPA gas mileage for the SHO is surprisingly good, even with all the extra power, coming in identically with the regular all-wheel drive Taurus at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Standard safety features on every 2011 Taurus model include traction control, stability control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In addition, the Limited and SHO come with a rearview camera (optional on the SEL). Available safety options also include a pre-collision warning system, rear parking sensors, a blind-spot warning system and a cross-traffic warning system (when driving in reverse).
The 2011 Ford Taurus also excelled in government crash tests, earning perfect five-star-ratings across the board in all frontal and side-impact occupant protection categories.
The Taurus' cabin is well-designed, attractive and even on a par with "entry level luxury" sedans, depending on the trim level and options. Material and construction quality is overall quite high, however, there are some hard plastics on the center console and door panels which really do not match the otherwise high quality and upscale look and feel of the interior.
Another strong Taurus selling point is its generous interior space, particularly in the backseat, and high overall level of passenger comfort. The rear seatbacks also fold so that cargo space, already huge with a trunk capacity of 20.1 cubic feet, can be expanded even further.
The ride quality, with either engine, is solid with stable and secure handling. Cabin noise is also surprisingly quiet, whether cruising at highway speed or taking on city traffic, thanks to its aerodynamic design and ample sound insulation. Even with the SHO's stiffer suspension, it manages a comfortable driving experience. That said, while most drivers will be more than satisfied with the Taurus' road performance, its large size and somewhat numb steering feel keep it from being truly sporty, even in SHO form.
Most drivers will also find that the standard V6 engine provides enough acceleration for everyday driving. But if its in the budget, the turbocharged Taurus SHO adds a significant power boost without sacrificing fuel economy.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Bank And Government Car Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them at no cost in your own area.
2011 Ford Taurus:
SE, FWD: list price: $25,170, invoice price: $23,348
SEL, FWD: list price: $27,370, invoice price: $25,328
SEL, AWD: list price: $29,220, invoice price: $26,993
Limited, FWD: list price: $31,770, invoice price: $29,288
Limited, AWD: list price: $33,620, invoice price: $30,953
SHO, AWD: list price: $37,770, invoice price: $34,688