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Ford fires on 4 cylinders with '13 EcoBoost Taurus

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Don't expect to find a four-cylinder engine in a big, roomy, 17-foot-long sedan?

You're not alone. These big, four-door cars traditionally have V-6s, with optional V-8s.

But in the interest of fuel economy, Ford is turning tradition on its head.

For 2013, the automaker's full-size and attractively restyled Taurus includes an optional, turbocharged, EcoBoost four cylinder that capably and impressively delivers 240 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque.

This turbo four cylinder, which also is direct injected, makes the Taurus the most fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered, non-hybrid, 2013 full-size sedan in the United States.

The federal government fuel economy rating for this model is 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway, with an estimated range of nearly 450 miles on a single tank of regular gasoline.

This mileage rating rivals the pricier, 2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec, which uses diesel fuel and is a smaller-size sedan than the Taurus.

Also noteworthy: The 2013 Taurus earned across-the-board, five out of five stars for occupant protection in the government's frontal and side crash tests.

The EcoBoost four cylinder is not available with all-wheel drive.

Competitors to the Taurus include other mainstream full-size sedans, such as the front-wheel drive, 2013 Chevrolet Impala, whose starting MSRP, including destination charge, is $26,685.

The Impala has a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and automatic transmission and is rated by the government at 18/30 mpg.

The 2013 Chrysler 300, a large, rear-wheel drive sedan, has a starting retail price of $30,990 with 292-horsepower V-6 and eight-speed automatic. Its government fuel economy rating is 19/31 mpg.

The 2013 Taurus is restyled on the outside, with a new grille, lights, trunk lid, rear fenders and wheels, updating the car with a fresh, more upscale appearance. But the new look doesn't quite bring the Taurus to the same sporty styling “face” that the Ford Fusion, Focus and Fiesta have.

Inside, cheap-looking plastic from the predecessor Taurus is replaced by nicer-looking, textured plastic. And every Taurus comes standard with interior ceiling fabric that's made from recycled material and seat foam that is made from a soy-based rubber.

Even Ford's Sync system that can be used to control radio, ventilation, navigation and other settings is updated, in an effort to be more user-friendly. It still takes time, however, to learn the Sync system and commands, and a driver can get distracted working the touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard.

Plenty of passengers traveled in the test Taurus SEL with optional EcoBoost, and none guessed the powerplant was a four-cylinder gasoline engine.

Ann M. Job writes for the Associated Press.

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