2013 Ford Taurus: A turbocharged four-banger and a SHO-y new grille

This is the 2013 Ford Taurus, a swarm of tweaks on the current model lineup that runs from a four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine to this "Superman" grille on the SHO. Forget the Chevy Impala — Ford's aimin' to intercept the Audi A6.

Disclosure: Ford wanted me to see its executives talk about the Taurus so much they supplied a hotel in New York right next to Ray's apartment building. Seriously, it's randomly right next to his apartment building. I can almost hear him snoring. The junket for reporters also includes a free concert by Train. I took them up on the hotel room. Train? In vain.

There's nothing revolutionary in the new Taurus, aside from the fact that Ford has been able to renew its full-size sedan twice in the same time GM has let the Impala turn into rental-car compost. Instead, Ford has made scores of small changes — from adding MyFord Touch into the revised dash to full LED tail lamps — meant to keep the Taurus from going stale.

The biggest change comes from the addition of a 2-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder as an option in the non-SHO Tauruses. Turbocharged and direct injected, the 2-liter Ecoboost in Taurus guise will churn out 237 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, while returning 31 mpg in highway driving — a number Ford says should be best among the Taurus' peers when the updates arrive a year from now. The Taurus also gets larded with all the latest acronym'd tech the company has to offer, from torque vectoring to fuel-saving shutters in the front grille.

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The base 3.5-liter non-turbo V6 gets Ford's Ti-VCT variable valve timing system, boosting its output by 27 hp to 290 hp while also tweaking fuel economy upward some 3 percent. The twin-turbo SHO Ecoboost V6 soldiers on unchanged at 365 hp, despite the renewed competition from Chrysler's 300C, as does the six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel-drive systems.

It says something that every competitor to the Taurus has a glaring deficiency; the Toyota Avalon has poisonous levels of beige, the 300 needs a new transmission and the Impala's most fervent fans carry Hertz Gold Club cards. Mentioning the A6 in the same breath goes too far, but at least Ford's punching up.