California Autos Examiner

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2010 Ford Taurus Takes the Technology Bull By the Horns

There are all sorts of cattle-related metaphors that could be applied to the 2010 Taurus, but no matter how you phrase it, this car means business. Now, how much business it actually generates will remain to be seen. It certainly is a dramatic makeover. Thinking back to the Plain Jane Ford 500 of yore, this 2010 model is a vast improvement. Before getting into specifics, I'll point out a few things about the design that occurred to me.

I have was won over by Ford's three bar grille and I think the 2010 Fusion epitomizes the design. Drilling holes in some of the bars, to me, takes away from the impact of the design. In fact when I look directly at the front of the car, in pictures, it reminds me of Subaru.

The contour and shape of the hood make for some interesting eye candy. How all this surface work appears in person remains to be seen, but initial impressions are good. The side of the car has more tension to it than previously, a good thing in my book. I've hated fender vents since the beginning and I don't like them here either. Odd that Ford removed the faux vents from the Focus after complaints, but yet elected to keep them here. Some folks are carping about the character line that appears and then disappears and then once again reappears. I'm on the fence about that until I can see it in person. For now I'll describe the trunk as "interesting" but I might have some more choice words for it later.

Now I mentioned in the title that the Taurus has grabbed technology by the horns. I'm not even going to attempt to rattle off all the features, but instead will quote the press release below. Ford has discovered that technology, like the SYNC system, can sell cars so it is throwing every technological gadget it can at the Taurus to help sway consumers. Oddly enough, I see no mention of active headrests in any of the press releases. The IIHS has made a big deal about head restraints and their ability to protect occupants in a rear impact. The headrests in the 2010 Taurus do seem to be large, so perhaps they are sufficient, but it is odd to me that there isn't more attention paid to this in the press material.

Adaptive Cruise Control allows the driver to set the vehicle cruising speed while using radar technology to monitor traffic travelling up to 600 feet ahead, automatically adjusting Taurus speed to help maintain a safe distance between vehicles.

Adaptive Cruise Control also integrates Collision Warning with Brake Support, a new active safety feature.The collision warning system uses a radar sensor to detect moving vehicles ahead and provides a visual "heads-up" warning signal transmitted across the base of the windshield and an audible warning when slower moving traffic is detected ahead. The system also pre-charges the brakes and engages an electronic brake assist to help the driver stop more quickly.

Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start, a new Taurus feature, allows the driver to enter the car and start the engine by simply carrying the fob as they approach and enter the vehicle.

SecuriCode™ Keyless Entry Keypad enables vehicle access by unlocking the driver's door using a five-digit code on the new keypad system flush-mounted in the driver's side B-pillar.

MyKey™ allows parents or fleet administrators to activate a restricted driving mode.

When enabled, MyKey features a Persistent Beltminder® with Audio Mute until safety belts are buckled, an earlier low-fuel warning, and consistently engaged AdvanceTrac® stability control, Blind Spot monitoring, Cross Traffic Alert and Forward Collision Warning. Additional programmability includes restrictions on audio volume, limiting top speed to 80 mph and speed chime warnings at 45, 55, or 65mph.

Auto High Beams/Rain-Sensing Wipers harness sensor technologies to switch headlights to high intensity when no other vehicles are detected, in a range of up to 500 feet for taillight detection, and up to 2,000 feet for oncoming headlight detection. Rain-sensing wipers use an advanced optical sensor to detect the intensity of rain and/or snowfall to adjust wiper speed.

Easy Fuel™ Capless Fuel Filler System is an industry-exclusive feature that self-seals without a traditional fuel cap.

Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) consists of two multiple beam radar modules, one each per rear quarter panel. When an approaching vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone, an indicator alert provides warning to the driver in the corresponding side view mirror.

Cross Traffic Alert uses the existing BLIS radar modules to sense oncoming traffic when slowly backing out of a parking spot. This industry-exclusive system functions only while the vehicle is in reverse and warns when cross-traffic appears within three car widths.

Ford SYNC® is the fully integrated, in-vehicle voice-activated communications and entertainment system, with 911 Assist, Vehicle Health Report and GPS-based features including business search and call completion. SYNC connects to MP3 players, iPods, memory sticks and PDAs. SYNC's 911 Assist™ will place a call to a local emergency operator in the event of an air bag deployment incident. The latest version of SYNC adds Traffic, Directions and Information, providing turn-by-turn route guidance, and the ability to access content by personalized favorites such as region, subject matter or sports team.

Voice-Activated Navigation System with SIRIUS Travel Link™ uses an 8-inch screen to present a birds-eye-view map with 3D landmarks. The system responds to voice commands for destination programming and route selection.

In addition, it provides enhanced route guidance features such as street name announcements and detailed freeway exit, turn and ramp position lane guidance. The screen can be personalized with up to 32 pictures, sized up to 1.5MB. The system also incorporates the SIRIUS Travel Link, offering availability of current weather and ski conditions, a five-day forecast, local fuel pricing by cost per gallon as well as brand, sports scores and movie listings.

Sony® branded audio components deliver sound from a variety of sources, with an AM-FM tuner, SIRIUS Satellite radio, CD, DVD audio and an integrated 10 GB hard drive for storage of up to 2,400 songs. This package also includes an available 10-speaker premium audio system.

Multi-Contour Seats are available on an industry-exclusive basis for driver and passenger, integrating a six-way lumbar support and subtle rolling pattern massage. The bottom cushion features Active Motion. This provides minute but continuous movement, stirring a change of muscular activation helping a driver avoid back pain. "Multi-Contour seats will be a real benefit for long distance drivers, or people with back trouble," said Steve Michell, product design engineer. "The key is their subtlety. Active Motion is enough to help relieve fatigue but not enough to be distracting to a driver."

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