Taurus Style: Alignment and Surfaces

And just what is that dinky side crease doing on that 2010 Ford Taurus pictured below?

2010 Ford Taurus

It's that little horizontal dash along the side above and to the right of the rear wheel well. It's actually a time-honored automobile styling element: the interrupted line. The concept is to have a line continuing across a surface of a car to provide visual continuity and, usually, the optical effects of lengthening and/or lowering the appearance of the vehicle.

What is usually avoided are out-of-alignment lines. These tend to kill any attempt to lengthen or lower the appearance and usually make the design seem somewhat incoherent.

First, Let me add two more views so that we have a better sense of the styling before I deal with what's wrong with the interrupted line along the side of the new Taurus.

Side view

Three-quarter rear view

The side view shows the continuation of the interrupted line more clearly. It begins at a tiny, current-styling-cliche vent to the upper-right of the front wheel well and ends a few inches from the tail light housing. The interruption is caused by a subtle body side flare related to the raised rear wheel well surrounds. Had the flare been steeper and narrower, the line would not have been interrupted.

The problem? The rear continuation is too short to be read as the extension of the main line. Solution? One solution would be to alter that shaping of the wheel well flare so that the leading segment of the line would end two or three inches farther back and the continuation would start a similar distance farther forward. Another would be to leave the flare alone and extend the continuation line to the tail light. But that would not align with the tail light housing which, in turn, would need modification to create the alignment.

What the Taurus now has is this small, seemingly isolated crease that simply clutters the appearance of the car.

Now look at the rear 3/4 view. Here, aside from convex-concave elements along the lower part of the bumper panel that extend around to the sides, there is no continuation with side styling elements. Such continuation is less vital because we are dealing with different body planes, so a certain amount of discontinuity can be tolerated. Nevertheless, I think the Taurus could use a bit more integration here.

Note the positions of the top and bottom edges of the tail light housings along with the horizontal chrome strip on the trunk. None align with the side accent we've been discussing, and I think that at least one of these should do so. Why? Because cars aren't always seen purely from the front, sides or rear. Usually we view them from other than a 90-degree angle from a surface, so a certain amount of visual integration is useful. The Taurus is simply under-integrated at the rear.

The same might be said for the front which, just possibly aside from the lower lip of the opening below the headlamp housing and its relationship to the raised panel below the doors along the side, there is no continuation. Note especially the lack of alignment between the top line of the headlamp housing and the side crease. They are almost aligned, but not quite -- and that adds to the styling confusion. (Actually, the lower line of the housing is closer in alignment to the side crease, but its upward kick at the rear sends the viewer's eye off in a different direction. Sigh.)

The 2011 Tauruses will be coming off the assembly lines in the next month or so, and it will be interesting to learn if Ford was willing to invest some money to tidy up Taurus styling.