This is the new Ford Taurus saloon, the seventh generation of a car that was credited with turning around Ford’s fortunes in the mid 1980s.
Nearly 7 million Ford Taurus cars have been sold since 1986 and for four years in the early 1990s, it was America’s best-selling car, out-gunning even Toyota’s Camry.
The latest Ford Taurus has been born out of the now-defunct Ford 500 saloon and uses the same (though stiffer and safer) front-drive platform, itself derived from the original Volvo S80.
Priced from $26,000, the standard engine is Ford’s 3.5-litre V6 Duratec, which delivers 263bhp and 249lb ft. Later Ford will offer the same engine in more powerful turbocharged ‘EcoBoost’ form.
A six-speed auto 'box comes in two versions, one equipped with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
Ford described the Taurus as its "premium flagship" for US markets and says the car is aimed at drivers who are less interested in hauling luggage and "place more of premium on the driving experience".
"Driver engagement was a key objective for the new Taurus, we also put huge emphasis on creating a quiet environment," said chief engineer Pete Reyes.
While there’s more than a hint of current Ford Mondeo about the car’s nose, the new Taurus has notably deep sides and shallow side windows, perhaps in a nod to the success of Chrysler’s 300C.
However, both the side elevation and the deep, cliff-like rear elevation have been taken directly from the (rear-drive and Mustang-based) Ford Interceptor concept, which was shown two years ago at the Detroit show.
Inside, the symmetrical dash design is bisected by a wide, flowing centre console, which runs from the dashtop to between the front seats.
Moray Callum, director of Car and Crossover Design, oversaw the Taurus design work at Ford’s US arm.
The car will be available with a version of Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System, which also alerts the driver of on-coming traffic when reversing out of a parking space.
Also optional is Ford’s SYNC system, which could be rolled out globally on the company’s cars. The voice-activated communications and entertainment system will connect to all MP3 players, ipods, memory sticks and PDAs, says Ford.