Everyone loves to have a secret. McDonald's secret sauce, Coke's secret formula or just that little personal story a friend shares with only you. For example, I recently drove the 2013 Ford Taurus Limited from El Dorado Hills, California to San Francisco. Along the way, I stopped at the Tower Café in Sacramento for some early morning French Toast; French Toast that is so good, you almost can't believe it. Or course, it has a secret. The secret to this stellar French Toast is that they bake it after cooking it on a griddle. Seriously, it's delicious.

Full of a high-calorie breakfast and facing a wide-open Interstate 80, I realized that the Ford Taurus doesn't really have to rely on a secret formula to get the job done. It's just a really competent large sedan that does almost everything well. It's kind of the "what you see is what you get" of cars.

Better Looking for 2013

It helps that the 2013 Taurus is good looking. It gets a few cosmetic changes outside and a more powerful V6 versus the 2012 Taurus. A friend recently told me that beauty is directly related to symmetry (and she should know). Maybe that's why the new Taurus looks so good. The car now has a decidedly aggressive look up front, but that's tempered with big, blocky sides and a well-defined trunk that adds a certain air of authority. Inside, it's clear the Limited is the plushest Taurus available - stitching on the seats and center armrest give the cabin an almost luxury sedan quality. I said almost.

The Ford Taurus SEL is about $30,000 and has desirable features like dual zone climate control, satellite radio, Sync, remote start and 18-inch wheels. The Limited includes those features and adds 8-way power front seats, leather seats, a wood trimmed steering wheel and voice activated nav. Most of the SEL's option packages are included with the Limited.

Good Road Tripper

It's about a two hour drive from San Francisco to El Dorado Hills, CA. That's just long enough to really settle into the Taurus Limited's seats. The driver's seat is both comfortable and supportive and the rear seat is especially roomy. What's really odd about the Taurus is that the car is pretty big, it feels larger overall than a 2013 Toyota Avalon, yet the Taurus has a somewhat cramped driver's area. The car is certainly wide enough and has plenty of interior space, but the available floor space for both front occupants is oddly small. On the whole, the '13 Taurus Limited is worthy competitor to other large sedans like the Chrysler 300 and the new Toyota Avalon.

On the road, the 2013 Ford Taurus Limited maintains it's composure on the highway. The cabin remains quiet and handling is predictable with well-controlled body roll (especially for a big sedan).

Ford's voice-controlled Sync system is part of the Limited and that continues to be a bright spot in most Ford vehicles. It's more comprehensive and feels more sophisticated than Toyota's Entune system, but Sync's menus can be overwhelming, especially when you want to back out of a certain feature.

The Limited's 3.5 liter V6 makes 390 horsepower, which is more than enough for passing . The engine feels strong and never sounds noisy or harsh even under heavy acceleration. That engine is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with a shift it yourself feature.

Ultimately, the 2013 Ford Taurus is a lot of fun for such a big car. It's a comfortable highway cruiser but also looks fresh, contemporary and even somewhat youthful for such a big sedan. The size will appeal to those with a family, but the driving dynamics and look will likely appeal to young men. The Taurus is solid choice among big sedans. Then again, the Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, and even the Hyundai Genesis are really good too - each one of the cars mentioned here deserves a test drive.

The secret to the Ford Taurus Limited's success isn't really a secret at all, it's just a great car that does a lot of things really well.

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Brian Moody heads up the AutoTrader.com editorial team. An automotive writer and presenter for more than 12 years, he's contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Edmunds.com, Fox Business, Speed TV and The Today Show.

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