2010 is barely over and here’s a 2013 car already: the new Ford Taurus, unveiled just in advance of the 2011 New York International Auto Show. It’s a full-size car loaded with technology including a 31 mpg, four-cylinder turbocharged engine; self-parking; the MyFord Touch update of Ford Sync; torque vectoring for better stability while cornering; low-cost adaptive cruise control (about $1,000, not $2,500); capacitive touch center stack controls; and SD Card navigation for around $800. It will ship early in 2012 and be a 2013 model. Ford Rolls the Dice: Turbo Four in a Full-Size CarThe most important change is Ford’s decision to put a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in a full-size car. Conventional wisdom says buyers of full-size cars tend to want big engines with lots of cylinders. Ford hopes they’ve got open minds. The new Ecoboost (Ford’s word for turbocharging) has two specs that will scare traditionalists – just four cylinders and 2.0 liters displacement – and three that should be reassuring – 237 hp, 250 pound-feet of torque, and 31 mpg highway rating on regular fuel. If not the Ecoboost four, Ford will continue with a normally aspirated (that is, no turbo) producing 290 hp. Nice Inside, Same Slab Siding Outside At a private press briefing Monday in New York in advance of the official press unveiling Tuesday night in anticipation of the 2013 Taurus’ public unveiling at the auto show at Javits Center Wednesday during the press-only days, Ford flacks scowled at editors attempting to snap photos, so what you see here is from the Ford media kit, and it shows the exterior from its best angles. From square-on, the Taurus’ slab siding bears a separated-at-birth likeness to the Merrimac, of Civil War Monitor-and-Merrimac ironclad fame. It’s a lot better looking inside. Capacitive Touch Center Stack The controls in the center stack other than the knobs will be capacitive touch, meaning it’s a smooth surface, illuminated from behind. Touch the outline of the button to close the circuit and activate the function; the surface can pop back or vibrate slightly to let you know you pressed the button. Other tech-inspired elements carry forward from recently released Ford models. The instrument panel includes a pair of 4.2-inch color LCDs to display information. On navigation-equipped cars there’ll be an 8-inch touchscreen LCD panel in the center stack. Navigation will be supplied by Telenav and come in the form of an SD card you plug in to a slot in the center console alongside two (not one) USB jacks and a set of RCA-jack audio-video inputs. Ford Sync continues with its voice input (by Nuance), Gracenote lookup of song information, and free emergency crash notification using your cellphone rather than an embedded, fee-based telematics solution. Ford continues its relationship with Sony for premium audio, forgoing fancier names (Bose, Harman/Kardon) for a name that has worked in the past and remains admired by most motorists other than the fanatic fringe who’d rather see tube amplifiers in the trunk. Many Changes Make the Taurus New, Not Necessarily All-New This appears to be is a mid-life refresh for the Taurus, meaning it’s an adaptation of the fully redone and resurrected Taurus that appeared in 2009/2010, and puts Ford on a glide path to deliver a true next-generation Taurus circa 2015. Ford is being hailed in some circles for doing this so quickly, three years, which would match the fastest Japanese-car model replacements, but if it’s the mid-life refresh rather than an all-new model, then three years is not unusual. Ford made changes to improve the suspension and braking. Ford’s version of torque vectoring brakes the inside front wheel in a turn to allow the outside wheel to overdrive the car through the corner; this is a more profound effect than provided by the differential alone. The Taurus also adds curve control, not a fitness center targeting women but controlled braking assist when the driver goes into a corner faster than might be safe. Ford says curve control can wipe off an extra 10 mph in one second. In the meantime, Ford continues to make most of its technology available for far less than on a luxury German or Japanese cars (thousand-dollar adaptive cruise control is a good example) and most of it works (active parking from Ford vs. the first attempts by Lexus). The hefty side-view styling remains. A big mesh grille distinguishes the 2013 Taurus from the current model, along with LED taillamps, different headlamps, and reworking of the front hood and rear decklid. According to Taurus chief designer Gordon Platto, all this gives the Taurus – stop us if you’ve heard this before – a look that is “aggressive yet subtle … [with] a more muscular, athletic stance.”Taurus SHO Checks Back in with 365 HPThe top of the Taurus line will be the Taurus SHO with a turbocharged V6 that raises power from 237 hp (Taurus Ecoboost four) to 290 hp (standard Taurus V6) to 365 hp. That’s the Taurus SHO grille in the adjacent photo.