Ford Motor Co. is revamping its Ford Taurus sedan with three new, fuel-efficient engine choices and a hands-free system that automatically parks the car.
The 2013 Taurus has its debut Wednesday at the New York Auto Show and will go on sale next spring.
The sixth-generation Taurus was a strong seller when it went on sale in the summer of 2009. Sales rose 51 percent in 2010 over the previous year. But higher gas prices have taken their toll, and Taurus sales fell 15 percent in the first quarter of this year as buyers migrated to smaller sedans.
Ford wants to halt that slide by emphasizing the fuel efficiency of the new Taurus. At the same time, it wants to attract performance-minded buyers with the sporty Taurus SHO _ that stands for Super High Output _ which has a more powerful engine and design cues that will differentiate it from the regular Taurus.
"It's a rolling showcase of our best features and technologies," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's product development chief.
Here are features of the new Taurus:
UNDER THE HOOD: Taurus is the first North American car to offer an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine, which is now offered in Europe. Ford says the engine will get 31 miles per gallon on the highway and an estimated 237 horsepower. Ford says the standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine will get fuel economy that's at least as good as the current version, which gets 28 miles per gallon. On the SHO, Ford will have a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that gets 365 horsepower and an estimated 25 mpg on the highway.
OUTSIDE: About a quarter of Taurus customers opt for the high-performance SHO, and Ford says many of them are coming from high-end brands like BMW and Acura. So Ford wants to make the car stand out a little bit more. The SHO has a new black mesh grille that's different from the color-coordinated shutters on the regular Taurus grille. It also has a spoiler and unique 19-inch premium wheels with more grip than the regular Taurus.
INSIDE: Ford is replacing the knobs and buttons on the dashboard with its MyFordTouch touch-screen system. It has also upgraded the interior materials and added sound-dampening equipment.
IN SHOWROOMS: The 2013 Taurus and Taurus SHO will go on sale next spring. Ford didn't say how much they'll cost, but the current Taurus starts at $25,420, while the SHO starts at $37,845.
CHEERS: Ford says that with the release of the 2013 Taurus, it will have the freshest lineup of cars of any major manufacturer. No car is older than three years old. That's a big change from a decade ago, when Ford turned its attention to SUVs and crossovers and let the one-time hit Taurus languish, eventually replacing it with the bland Five Hundred. Now, Ford says it's benchmarking the Taurus against the luxury Audi A6.
JEERS: Ford could have a tough time attracting customers if gas prices continue to rise and customers go for the smaller Fusion or Focus sedans. And with a Taurus-based police vehicle coming out soon, Taurus could go the way of the Crown Victoria, which was eventually seen as an undesirable fleet vehicle.