The Ford Taurus has lived a long and storied life. Through ups and downs, low power and high, the venerable Taurus has trundled on throughout the years. After all those years of hard service, Ford killed off the nameplate in 2006, and introduced the Ford 500. Within months, there was an uproarious backlash from many, and Ford’s new CEO Alan Mulally stepped in and brought back the Taurus name. Now for 2013, the Taurus is into its sixth generation and has just received a facelift. We decided to turn the Taurus into our Christmas sled, and used it to complete our 400+ journey between families and meals, all through some of the nastiest holiday weather we have had in years. Read on to see how the big sedan performed.

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The 2013 facelift includes revised front and rear fascias and a new wheel design. The new grille adds a more aggressive touch the front end, while the other mild adjustments just create a more cohesive and tauter design.

Our Kodiak Brown Metallic tester is a Premium trim mode and comes with just about every option box checked. Total as-tested price: $41,135.00. That cash does snag niceties like adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, SYNC voice control and power everything. Even the steering column adjustment is motor operated.

While we found the technology in the Ford Escape, there were a few pieces in the Taurus we found more annoying than useful. The first of which is the entire main control panel. For reasons that we will never be able to understand, the whole panel is touch capacitive. There are no real buttons, just a massive touch sensitive slab. It feels like technology for technology’s sake. There is nothing to gain by losing the feedback of a real button. Gone are the days of reaching for a button and “feeling” your way to the correct function. The worse part of the situation is that the cockpit is fairly confined with many functions in close proximity of the shifter, so we constantly found ourselves bumping the capacitive controls by accident. Our last big complaint of the controls involves the seat heaters. There are NO buttons to operate the seat heating and cooling systems. They can only be operated through the MyFord Touch touchscreen interface. It makes no sense to have a feature that will be operated and adjusted so often would have no hard controls. The only perk we found to this layout was that we could alter a setting before someone got into the car, and watch them spend the better part of 15 minutes trying to figure out why the seat was blowing cold air in the middle of winter. Thankfully, at least the volume for the stereo is a large knob, so there is no touch panel to fiddle with to alter the volume, but all the buttons inside the knob are still touch.

Leaving our complaints about the central control panel, we felt that the majority of the vehicle was well set up. We enjoyed the smaller and more streamlined controls on the steering wheel compared to the large and scattered buttons of the Escape. The driver’s display is also very nice consisting of two LCD screens that are customizable and configurable to show what data the driver wants. Sandwiched between the displays is a large speedometer. Our tester came with a collision warning system, which places a long string of bright LEDs on top of the dash. These lights will flash, creating a heads-up display style effect, when a potential collision is detected. Along with the warning beep, we found the system to be very effective at gaining our attention.

Powering our big Ford sedan was the tried and true 3.5-liter V6. This naturally aspirated engine pumps 288 horsepower and 254 lb/ft of torque through a six-automatic transmission. For our tester, that power was sent to all four wheels via the optional AWD system. When it came to load up all the presents and goodies and take our journey over the river and through the woods, we were glad to have the AWD system. This holiday season was a particularly nasty one with our route taking us through torrential rain and into higher elevations where that rain turned cold and white. Thanks to what ended up being days of wet weather, we even played in a small mud bog that used to be a driveway. Through all the foul weather, the Taurus never once showed any signs of giving in. We were very impressed with the planted feeling, and praised the invisibility of the AWD system. If it was busy shifting power to keep us on the road, we couldn’t tell it.

That lack of intrusion may be due to the lack of steering feel however. If there was anything we would improve about the Taurus it would be the feedback. While the steering is well weighted and direct, there is just little communication from the front wheels. That doesn’t meant the Taurus won’t be good for a spirited drive, though. If you get a frisky with the big sedan, you could be in for a real treat. We found the best way to drive it was to approach slow, and use the punchy midrange torque to build velocity mid turn. If you get it right, you will be greeted with a rear-bias feel, and none of the front-end push you would expect from such a nose heavy car. Ford has a history of making great driving cars, and this is no different.

When the road turns only to the horizon, lean back and enjoy the cabin. The leather and wood that surround you and your passenger all look and feel fantastic. The seats are supportive and comfortable for long distances, and once you figure out how to operate them, the seat heating and cooling functions work well. Rear passengers get their own seat heaters (with real buttons!), and there is also a power rear sunshade for those days when the sun is beating in. The cabin also features plenty of storage space, with four cubbies in the center drivers console alone. We greatly enjoy how all the cubbies fold shut to create a smooth cohesive surface when not in use, but are able to open and swallow massive amounts when necessary. This intelligent style of design should be present on more vehicles.

Once you settle into your cruise, you will be surprised to look at your fuel consumption meter. The AWD V6 is rated at 18/26 for fuel consumption, and we managed a respectable 23.1 during our entire tenure with the vehicle. We do wish the tank was slightly larger though. We have gotten spoiled by some of the longer range tanks that are equipped on many vehicles, and wouldn’t mind losing a little bit of the HUGE trunk to spend less time at fueling stations.

Over our week with the Taurus we turned it into a Christmas sleigh, foul weather stomper and, for a brief moment, an off-road mud machine and never once did it turn foul on us. Comfort was superb, power delivery was smooth and adequate and it even showed a playful side when handled properly though the bends. We have walked away from this experience with a new found fondness for the largest sedan in the Ford lineup. If our tester didn’t carry such a hefty price tag, we see no reason why we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who needed a comfortable AWD runabout with space for four. We just hope that the next model in the lineup features a few more physical buttons.

Ford, consider us impressed.