2013 Ford Taurus Ride'm Review By Maureen McDonald
High Chaparral- Ride'm 2013 Ford Taurus
by Maureen McDonald
The Auto Channel
When the leaves in Michigan start turning gold and the temperature dips below freezing at night the call of the high chaparral gets louder – climb up where the air is clear and the nights are warm, where the country guitars strum late in the night.
Tour Arizona in a peppy 2013 royal blue Ford Taurus with flex fuel and you can see a good portion of the state and all your friends on two tanks of gas. I find I must allow a little extra because mountain ranges rise in nearly every part of the state. Average elevation is 4,000 feet. The high ground offers the most spectacular views.
With improved torque and electronic cornering the Taurus handled the most difficult switchbacks in the old mining town of Jerome, while the 3.5 L V6 engine zooms over the freeways in Phoenix to catch brunch with my nephew in Tempe. Sunny skies and low humidity makes the trip even better.
I took the Taurus through the paces from Sky Harbor Airport to the Grand Canyon National Park. I only wish I could drive my car down the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail instead of relying on Leki trekking poles and rusty athletic skills to hike a mile and a half to the Rest Shack and back up – hardest of all. The pack mules were faster than me. After we reached the car I was happy to find my giant water bottle waiting for me in the cup holder. I guzzled like a dehydrated puppy while my friend drove us around the scenic 26 mile tour of the park. Her hands were a bit blistered from the poles, so she enjoyed the cushioned leather steering wheel.
The October skies darken early, so we ran out of time to visit some of the South Rim’s hot spots, the I-Max theater showing videos of the majestic canyon, the Yavapai Geology Museum and the Tusayan Pueblo ruins. Instead, craving carbs after the strenuous hike down and up, we drove that Taurus into Burger King and feasted on chicken sandwiches and fries.
My friend Patricia Watkins, a former Detroiter now working as a research and instruction librarian in Prescott, who spends weekends hiking the surrounding Prescott National Forest and mountains, notices I’m near comatose. We stop for beers at Celtic Crossing, a popular Irish bar in the local Gateway Mall with surprisingly good Irish music. The car rolls back to her home without complaint, the heated leather seats provide much comfort to my very sore gluts.
“Tomorrow we’ll take a short walk to work out your muscles,” she says.
“No chance,” I add. “Let’s go shopping.”
The Taurus trunk is almost big enough to hold a bronze horse. She talks me into buying a new pair of cowboy boots and a bit of bling. People watching become even more fun in Prescott. My attention is drawn to two guys in historic Western gear with spurs on their boots who flirt with the female tourists and pose for photos at the 20-foot bar of the scenic Palace Restaurant & Saloon, opened in 1877.
The next morning I head up to Sedona to visit my friend Amy Blake, (who asks me not to reveal her real name) a stalwart believer that electromagnetic frequencies are causing most of the diseases in America. She is prepared to hate the Taurus on general principle.
To be sure, the car has a link for the iPad, curve control, message center, electrocromatic mirrors and remote start, among other features. “How can you drive something that could kill you,” she asks. “Hybrids are supposed to be worse because they have big batteries and electric motors just teeming with energy particles that can screw up your system.”
Consumer Reports.org did a study in 2010 on the EMF radiations found hybrid cars had no more EMF radiation than conventional cars. All the major automakers have done studies on radiation without conclusive evidence of harm. Given the widespread array of GPS devices, tablets, phones, Blue Ray connectors and wireless internet, the car is only one part of the equation.
Modern technology has a purpose. The back up navigation tool saved me from something far worse – running over Amy’s prized kokopelli sculpture or her saguaro cactus on the edge of her well-landscaped driveway.
Cruising on highway 89A I spot an alien rescue van and a little space capsule next to a country market. Could the radiation and EMFs come from outer space? I ponder these questions as I pass the mystic healer and crystal revelation stores, enroute to Tlaquepaque, (t’lah-kay-PAH-kay) a shopping mall designed like a town in Guadalajara, Mexico. Here I find life size bronze statues of elk and bear are displayed around fountains, sycamore-shaded courtyards and Spanish architecture. At least a dozen galleries vie for attention. I walk out with postcards and a whopping appetite.
We stop at the Secret Garden Café, modeled after the timeless novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Inside murals feature the brick wall, magical door and climbing morning glories, spinning memories of the four movies made from the beloved book. The outside patio transports guests to Mexico where the golden sun shines through the lattice work. The menu has sumptuous salads, espresso and delectable desserts. I want to stay for hours. But the red rocks call.
Amy and I hitch up our hiking boots and walk some miles in the Boynton Canyon. She tells me the prehistoric Hohokam and Sinagua Indians grew corn, beans and squash long before the white settlers came in the late 1800’s, enchanted by monoliths of red sandstone growing out of the Mogollon Rim.
Soon it is time to depart. I slide down the mountains, depending on curve and stability control to get me safely over the mountains for the 100-mile drive back to Phoenix. A friend and I stop at Long Wong’s for wings, a zany place decorated in every form of kitch known to hoarders, from inflatable aliens to statues of penguins. For all its peculiarities the wings are delicious.
Off to the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix where the Taurus slides into a small parking place as swiftly as a VW Beetle. The four doors shut smoothly, like a foreign car. For awhile I think I’ve been driving something very pricey and German. Then my thoughts shift to the southwest, to the Native Americans and their rich heritage.
I’m fascinated by the exhibit: “Beyond Geronimo, The Apache Experience.” Indians once roamed throughout the fertile Verde valley, and then lost whole tribes in battles with the U.S. Cavalry. Geronimo, subject of numerous movies, books and folk lore, fought back. I also take in an exhibit of bolo ties in the Sandra Day O’Connor wing of the museum. Hadn’t known the retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice sits on the board and endows this place.
The highway beckons departure before rush hour, the kind of thick traffic Detroit hasn’t seen since the 2008 recession. The Taurus never rumbles. The air conditioning flows with lusty streams of chilling air, offering one sided or two sided settings bound to save tempers of finicky people.
We’re due for a rendezvous at the airport later today. Kiss the Taurus keys and the red soil goodbye. Say hello to rainy skies and cold weather. I’ll cherish the memory of cowboy country and kick up my heels to a little Rosanne Cash and Garth Brooks. Once discovered, the high chaparral is never far from the heart.