Watching the bull

The last couple months have been... less than good for me, as far as driving is concerned.  About two weeks ago, a woman ran a red light and smashed up the side of my car pretty good.  So my car's been at the body shop, getting worked back into shape.

In the meantime, I ended up with a Taurus as a rental car.  Not nearly as exciting as the BMW, of course.

It is the Limited edition (I don't know why they call it that; it might be more featureful than the base model, but it's not a limited production run), which means it has the reverse camera, the automatic locks, and a few other odds and ends.

The interface is Ford Sync (a product of both Ford and Microsoft; perhaps more Ford than Microsoft at this point in its existence), which is kind of interesting.  It's a bit overcomplicated; it has more controls than it needs, but can be configured to be pretty useful in information.

Much of it is driven by a touch-screen, which is pretty nice.

But the steering wheel has a pair of four-way rockers, two OK buttons, two +/- sliders, and several other controllers.  Those control information presentation around the speedometer (left side gives engine-/performance-related info, the right has phone-/entertainment-related controls).  It lays out pretty logically, but that's certainly too much.  I usually use the touch-screen for the phone instead of the steering wheel controls, and that isn't a good thing.

The phone/entertainment interface can handle two bluetooth devices, which is good, but it wasn't tested enough for that setup.  Sometimes it works great, but it also regularly fails in one of several ways.  One of those ways is to refuse to pair with a device, which can be anywhere from annoying to problematic (failing to talk to the iPad is annoying; failing to talk to the phone is problematic).  It can also lock up the system, such that you need to reboot it.

And rebooting it on the road is quite annoying; you can't just cut off the engine.  You need to cut the engine off and then open the (driver? not sure if it matters) door; that's a problem.

The turn signals, like the BMW, are completely electronic, but not as well designed.  If you hit it accidentally, turning off the blinker can be really annoying (it isn't always, but a couple times I needed to hit it four or five times).

The wiper control is also on the same control arm as the blinker; not good.

And I don't trust the gas gauge.  I've filled it up twice, and both times it's indicated that it was only 3/4 full when I finished.  But then, half a mile later (the second time) it indicated full.  I didn't track it carefully enough to see if it was because of the hill I was on.

What is good?  Well, the steering wheel position is very adjustable.  That's not a huge deal, as it's something you do once, but I like the option.  And it pushes in closer to the dash when you shut the engine off; a nice touch (especially for people who, like my mom did, have to sit right up next to the wheel).

The seat is also pretty adjustable (not quite as much so as the BMW; no surprise there), and automatically moves backward an inch or two when turning off the engine.  Again, a nice feature.  What I don't like is the interface for saving the settings for the seat (two buttons on the floor).

The reverse camera is really nice, and includes guidelines to show where the car is going and proximity alerts when very close to something behind you.

Despite the hiccups about pairing with two bluetooth devices, the control to switch between them in the entertainment system is very convenient.  I wish you could do it using the steering wheel controls instead of the touch screen, but it's hella easier than switching in our Odyssey (and our Odyssey doesn't have those back-up guidelines in its camera, which helps me to appreciate them more).

And I do like the keyless entry.  Not pushing buttons on the fob, but if the fob is on your person (not sure if in your purse would be good enough, but pocketed is, as is holding it at arm's length via the rental company's tag.  On the ground is not; I experimented a little bit), you can open it by pulling on the front door handles.  And lock it by pushing on protrusions on the outside of those handles.  Really conventient.

My biggest problem with the car, though, is a simple matter of size.  It's a foot longer (plus an inch or two, actually) and four inches wider than my TL (the 2014 TL, I just saw, is five inches longer and two inches wider than mine).  The four inches doesn't sound like much, but it sure feels like it.  The Beemer was one inch wider, which was noticeable but not problematic.  The four inches is enough to be bothersome, though.  Oddly, the foot hasn't really caused issues, although I haven't been parking it in the garage (where I suspect it would).

Overall, it has a few nice features, and the price doesn't seem bad (it irks me that BMW wants more money for the back-up camera, for instance), but I have no interest in one.  I kind of wish they'd had a SHO, as that has all the performance options and such.  Not sure if it would have made a difference in my opinion, but it's possible.

Overall, thumbs down.  Ford has improved, but still has a ways to go (and it's unclear if they have any motivation to do so).

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