Take one look at the 2013 Ford Taurus and you'll quickly see that this is no ordinary 5-passenger family sedan. With its new grille and fascia, muscular fenders and big wheels, the Taurus lets everyone know that it has evolved into a performance driving machine. And to prove that point, it now has more available power and greater efficiency than ever.

Big Interior

Big on the outside means big on the inside, too. The Taurus provides plenty of head- and legroom, and with the adjustable seat and pedals, it's easy to get comfortable. But it still feels a little claustrophobic with its wide pillars and oversized console.

There's also a big improvement in the MyFord Touch infotainment system. The revisions include fewer buttons and quicker responses. That's just what this interface needed. And with all the nicer materials and added insulation for a quieter ride, the interior of the Taurus shows some real refinement.

On the Road

Ford boosted output on the base 3.5-liter V6 to 288 horsepower and finally gave the 6-speed automatic a decent manual mode. It's standard in the SE, SEL and Limited.

But if you want even more power, there's the turbocharged 365 hp V6 that comes with the high performance, all-wheel-drive SHO trim. This is definitely a car for driving enthusiasts. That's why Ford makes it the only Taurus trim without an option for the new, fuel-efficient 2-liter inline-4 turbocharged engine.

For those who want respectable fuel economy, the 2-liter engine is a very good choice. Ford says it can improve highway fuel economy by 20 percent over the V6, which ranges from 17 miles per gallon city/25 mpg highway to 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

In addition, safety features such as adaptive cruise control will bring more peace of mind to drivers and their families. Not only does this system automatically adjust speed in traffic, but it provides collision warning, too. Unfortunately, extras like these are only available in the higher trims.

Bullish Price

Pricing for the Taurus starts at nearly $27,000. It's a big jump to around $39,000 for the more performance-oriented SHO. The Taurus model's competition includes the Toyota Avalon, Honda Accord and Chrysler 300.

End Notes

Of the choices, we think the SEL trim offers the best value and the best options for budget-conscious families. But the entire Taurus model range has something for everyone. The 2013 Ford Taurus shows the kind of improvement that makes it a must-see if you're in the market for a well-built, roomy and comfortable sedan. And that's no bull.

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Jessica Shea Choksey is an automotive journalist and former writer/reporter for the PBS/Discovery Channel television series "MotorWeek." She began her career in journalism as an editor for numerous magazines and publications mainly outside of the automotive field. Jessica currently resides with her family, in Southern California.

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