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Taurus' goal: Revive the allure

Rafay Ansar

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DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is taking the next-generation Taurus sedan upscale.

The re-engineered and restyled 2010 Taurus, revealed today at the North American International Auto Show, is Ford's attempt to recapture relevance for the storied Taurus line. Ford revived the nameplate in early 2007 by renaming the Ford Five Hundred sedan. The previous Taurus was dropped in 2006 after becoming a rental car mainstay.

But the Five Hundred-turned-Taurus failed to jump-start sales. Ford sold 52,667 Taurus sedans in the United States last year, a far cry from the nameplate's days as the best-selling car in America.

Ford executives aren't disclosing specific sales targets for the 2010 Taurus, but they aim to increase volume significantly above today's levels, said Scott Tobin, Ford director of product development.

In late 2006, product planners at Ford sent the 2010 Taurus project back to the drawing board with orders to improve design, quality and craftsmanship. The resulting car, slated to go on sale this summer, is packed with luxury, safety and technology features such as steering-wheel paddle shifters, heated-and-cooled seats and adaptive cruise control with collision warning.

"It's much more of a me car as opposed to a family car," said Moray Callum, Ford's director of car and crossover design.

While the Taurus is based on Lincoln MKS underpinnings, it shares no sheet metal with the Lincoln. The 2010 Taurus is powered by a 3.5-liter, 263-hp V-6. It is expected to get an optional 3.5-liter, 350-hp engine with EcoBoost at launch this summer.

Pricing will start at $25,995, including destination — the same price as 2009 models.

Lofty mission

Callum said he was charged with "putting Taurus back on top."

"This is Ford's new flagship," he said. "It's not a family car, but an aspirational car, built with craftsmanship and good design."

An adaptation on Ford's three-bar grille has been influenced by the trapezoidal face found on Ford of Europe cars. This is a trend of the future as Ford moves to make the same products sold around the world.

Inside, designers have given the car a cockpit feel, with a raised console and dual binnacle gauges like those found on the Mustang.

Work on the new Taurus began about two years ago and benefited from 3D virtual modeling, according to Pete Reyes, the car's chief engineer. "The computer modeling took a year out of the process," Reyes said.

Reyes promises steering and handling to be significantly better than the current model, and he said it will be the quietest car in the Ford fleet.

The Taurus will also be available with electronic features Ford is rolling out, including adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation and a heads-up display, blind-spot warning system, and active park assist. Also, for the first time, the Taurus will sport a branded sound system, this one coming from Sony.
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