The Taurus is Ford's D-segment (large) flagship sedan, and market competitive forces mean that the car that was new in the 2010 model year gets a major upgrade for 2013. That includes the first North American application of the 2.0-L four-cylinder EcoBoost in a Ford passenger car and important transmission changes. The Taurus is built on a 112-in (2845-mm) wheelbase, and overall length is 202.9 in (5154 mm).
The 2.0-L EcoBoost gives the Taurus an automatic transmission model with a window sticker that will carry a 31 mpg highway number, just over the magic 30. The city number has not yet been announced.
The engine is a direct-injected turbo rated at 240 hp (179 kW), 270 lb·ft (366 N·m), with a fuel injection system that operates at 2200-2800 psi (15.2-19.3 MPa). The injectors are a seven-hole design and are capable of up to three sequential injections per cycle. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head.
This EcoBoost edition’s air intake was redesigned for an end entry vs. the previous center entry. This provides a larger, longer plenum area for the airflow, which results in more time for the airflow to develop and then continue on more tapered paths into the manifold and the cylinders. Other features include a smart-charging system and more aggressive fuel shutoff on deceleration.
The 2.0-L EcoBoost actually is an optional engine. The 3.5-L V6, naturally aspirated and rated at 288 hp (215 kW) and 254 lb·ft (344 N·m), is the base powerplant. Both have TI-VCT (twin-independent variable cam timing) on both intake and exhaust. The 3.5-L V6 window sticker U.S. EPA numbers are 19 city/29 highway.
The 6F35 six-speed automatic transmission for the 2.0-L EcoBoost incorporates an active transmission-oil warm-up system. Along with the 6F50 and 6F55 automatics mated to the V6 engines, it has the latest shapes in Ford’s new segmented friction-disc system for the clutch packs.
Active transmission oil warm-up adds a stacked-plate oil-to-coolant heat exchanger (similar to an engine oil cooler) to the transmission oil and engine cooling system circuits. It is in addition to the auxiliary oil-to-air cooler mounted to the A/C condenser in front of the radiator.
With the new heat exchanger, the transmission oil operates at closer to engine coolant temperature and warms up faster, which improves city fuel economy up to 2% under conditions where the system is operating. Under severe operating conditions, such as when the vehicle is towing, both heat exchangers can work to cool. At sub-freezing ambient temperatures, both transmission oil heat exchangers are bypassed by computer-controlled valves, to bias the engine cooling system for engine warm-up and cabin heat.
Segmented clutch plates, also called a “dot nozzle” design, have become Ford’s “secret sauce” for smooth, quick operation of the transmission clutch packs and to reduce drag in its automatics, explained Craig Renneker, Chief Engineer, Transmission and Driveline Component and Pre-Program Engineering. The conventional clutch disc is a ring of friction material glued to a steel plate, with spoke-like oil flow grooves cut or molded in. The segmented/dot design instead uses semi-rectangular sections of friction material, called “dots” or “segments,” so the grooves between them are deeper than ones cut or molded in.
There are two primary sources of drag reduction. The segment edges are 90-degree sharp, so they are superior at wiping oil off the separator plate. The shaped sides of the segments define the oil path of the grooves, so they do a better job of pumping oil from the clutch pack. Renneker told AEI: “In some applications, we shape the “dots” to leave a nozzle-shaped groove gap between dots,” but in others “we found the nozzle shape not to be our ideal choice.”
As Ford’s large family sedan, the Taurus gets such safety features as adaptive cruise control and collision alert, plus blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic indication. The column-mounted electric power steering is now across the board, and the rack—with a faster ratio— is hard-mounted to the subframe. Handling also is improved with Ford’s Curve Control and Torque Vectoring, two electronic controls of the ABS, the first to slow the car—up to 10 mph in 1 s—if it enters a turn too quickly, the second to use wheel brakes to assist the driver accelerating through a turn.
The high-performance Taurus is the SHO, equipped with the 3.5-L EcoBoost V6. An engine with the EcoBoost “economy” label may seem like an oxymoron for a performance car, but this version is rated at 365 hp (272 kW), 350 lb·ft (475 N·m)—top numbers in the Taurus lineup. Even with standard AWD, the window sticker EPA numbers are 17 city/25 mpg highway. Compared with the other Taurus models, SHO driving dynamics and braking also are upgraded, and 20-in wheels are an option.
The Flex crossover also gets a midcycle freshening, with Sync as standard plus many of the same technology features as the Taurus. The Flex version of Sync has the latest MyFord Touch, two 4.2-in screens in the instrument cluster, and an 8-in screen in the center stack.