NEW YORK - Our @Ford team caught up with Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development, at the New York International Auto Show for his views on the new Taurus.
Q: What's new about the Taurus we revealed in New York?
A: Just about everything is new.
Our new engine lineup is a great story for us. Taurus continues to have the 3.5-liter EcoBoost in the SHO, but then we have an all-new 2.0-liter EcoBoost as well. Think of it as a 2.0-liter I4 powering a Taurus – but doing so with 237 horsepower and class-leading fuel economy of at least 31 mpg highway. We’ve also upgraded the standard engine significantly to deliver class-leading fuel economy amongst V6 engines.
Along with the engines we’ve added technology, new design and significant upgrades to functionality for handling and ride control.
Q: The fuel economy leadership seems even more important at a time when gas is hitting U.S. $4 a gallon...
A: This comes back to delivering on two commitments we’ve made. One to have a full line of vehicles from small to large cars, utilities and trucks. And the second commitment is that for every new vehicle we launch we will have amongst the best – and generally the best – fuel economy in its segment. That commitment allows our customers to choose a large vehicle if that’s what meets their families overall needs, but still provide a cost of ownership in fuel economy that’s probably even better than their outgoing vehicle, even if it was smaller.
Q: What will the driving experience be like for the 2013 Taurus?
A: Everything about the driving experience is improved over what is already a great car. We upgraded the brakes. We upgraded the suspension so it handles better, but also has better ride quality. And the Taurus will be even quieter than today’s model. And then on the inside it’s about paying attention to detail everywhere. We have more soft touch material, particularly around the center stack, and we now have MyFord Touch and just a beautiful looking 8-inch touch screen.
Q: The styling has changed a bit as well. Why the update at this point?
A: We have been on a path to deliver the freshest showroom in the industry, which we do today with our car lineup. So the changes to Taurus are really consistent with what we're doing with all of our core vehicles. We get there by providing vehicles that are new to customers every three to four years. And when we say "new" we mean it. We mean exterior significantly differentiated, the interior new, new powertrains and new technology and frankly a vehicle that simply has a better experience.
Q: It’s a beautiful car, what are some of the changes that were made on the outside?
A: it starts on the front end where you have an all-new hood and the front fascia and grille is widened to give the Taurus a more elegant appearance and better stance. On the rear, you have beautiful LED taillamps. It all comes together to give a really great balance of premium and sportiness. And then we've done work to differentiate the SHO a bit more, which is what SHO customers told us they wanted to do, but still give it that sort of stealthy look that the SHO has always had.
Q: We listened a lot to customers to make these changes. What did they tell us?
A: We started from a point where we looked at J.D. Power and its two measures of quality. There's initial quality, which is problems per 100 vehicles, or what I like to call rational quality. And there's a type of quality which is things gone right – surprise, delight, excitement – or emotional quality. And so our starting point was the fact that Taurus is one of only two vehicles in history to have top ranking in both J.D. Power surveys. So we had a really good baseline. But customers, as you would expect, are very particular when it comes to a flagship sedan. They told us they wanted the vehicle to be a bit quieter, they wanted a bit more soft touch material, and we got some feedback on the brakes. Clearly fuel economy is important to everyone. So all of those elements and feedback we received we also addressed. And frankly, we did even more, which is what you need to do on your flagship sedan.