What does SEL mean on a Ford Taurus (Explained)

What does SEL mean on a Ford Taurus

The Ford Taurus comes in a variety of different trims. One of these is the SEL. This is the mid-range trim.

It boasts a variety of features that you wouldn’t be able to find in the cheaper SE model, although not quite as much as you would find in the top fo the line Limited model.

Here, we want to take a look at the various features that can be found in the Ford Taurus SEL. We are only going to be talking about the features that come as standard, with one exception.

What does SEL mean on a Ford Taurus? SEL stands for ‘Special Edition Limited’. However, if you are picking up a used Ford Taurus SEL, then it could have a couple of features on top of this.

You should also remember that the Ford Taurus SEL has been produced in a variety of different model years. This means that the features can vary ever so slightly between model years.

After all, Ford is always looking to improve the vehicles that they sell.

What does SEL stand for on a Ford Taurus?

A lot of people seem to believe that the SEL part indicates the main feature found in the Ford Taurus SEL. This is known as the SelectShift automatic transmission.

It doesn’t. Instead, SEL stands for ‘Special Edition Limited’.

This sort of name would imply that the Ford Taurus SEL is an especially rare model of vehicle. However, we can assure you that it isn’t.

It is one of the more popular trims in the Ford Taurus range. There isn’t really an indication why Ford has opted to call it by this name. 

SelectShift Automatic Transmission  

The main ‘feature’ of the Ford Taurus SEL is the SelectShift Automatic Transmission. This is a hybrid of a manual and automatic vehicle. So, you really get the best of both worlds. 

How the SelectShift Automatic Transmission works will be dependent on the model year that you own. Although, they are roughly the same.

The number of gears can vary between vehicles, though. Some of the Ford Taurus SEL models can have 5-speeds and others can have 6-speeds.

If you are buying your Ford Taurus used, then it is worth looking at the model year and the exact specifications.

This way you know exactly what you can expect from your transmission. The way in which it works in practice is much the same, though.

With SelectShift Automatic Transmission, you will have to switch your vehicle to ‘Sport’ mode by moving the stick shift into position.

Once the vehicle is in ‘sport’ mode, the gears can be changed with small paddles on the steering wheel. You have one on either side to move the gears up or down, based on what you want the vehicle to do.

This is a clutchless system, which means that you do not have to worry about pressing a clutch when you change gears. Just tap the relevant paddle. 

Of course, that is just the manual side of things. As we said, this is also an automatic transmission.

Even when you have told the vehicle that you want to be in control of the paddles that change the gears, it is going to be keeping a watchful eye on you.

Sophisticated software built into the Ford Taurus SEL will be monitoring the speed that you are traveling at. If the system believes that you are in the wrong gear, then it will change it automatically for you. 

Read also: What Does SE Mean on a Ford Car (SEL vs SE)

The major benefit of the Ford SelectShift Automatic Transmission system is that you do get a little bit of control. This means that you can switch around the gears how you please.

This can improve your performance on the road. However, you do not have so much control that you risk damaging your engine. For example, if you have just started your vehicle and the RPM is not high, then the vehicle is not going to let you switch into 3rd or 4th gear.

That could end up damaging the engine. Of course, when you are out there on the road, you can switch to 3rd or 4th whenever you like.

If your speed plummets due to traffic and you forget to switch the gears down, then the car will deal with all of that for you.

As one final point to note here. Some of the older models years of the Ford Taurus SEL do not use the paddle system. Instead, the buttons that you need to switch gears will be located on the stick shift.

This means that you will need to reach over to the stick shift every time you want to switch gears. It feels much more like a manual system like that. It functions in the same way otherwise. 

Satellite radio

All models of the Ford Taurus SEL will come with satellite radio as standard. The lower trim does not feature a satellite radio. 

Remote start

The Ford Taurus SEL comes with a remote start system. This allows you to start your vehicle up before you have even left your home. This is fantastic for those that are wanting to make a quick start as soon as they hop into their vehicle. 

Dual-Zone Climate Control

Both the back and the front of the vehicle will have their own temperature sensors in the Ford Taurus SEL. This ensures that the ride is going to be a whole lot more comfortable for both the drivers and the passengers. 

Rear parking sensor

The Ford Taurus SEL comes equipped with a rear parking sensor as standard. This means that it is a whole lot easier to park your vehicle.

This is great because the Ford Taurus SEL is a rather substantial vehicle, so you are probably going to need all the help that you can get.

All-Wheel Drive 

This is the one optional feature in the Ford Taurus SEL. You are able to select AWD for the vehicle if you wish. All-wheel-drive systems are, of course, fantastic for those that live in slipperier conditions i.e. if it gets quite icy during the winter months.

They are not quite as good as 4WD systems, but AWD is the best that you are going to get if you are buying a sedan like the Ford Taurus.

If you do not opt for the AWD on the vehicle, then the standard version of the Ford Taurus SEL will be FWD. 


When you see SEL on the Ford Taurus, then you will know that this means ‘Special Edition Limited’. The company has produced a variety of Ford Taurus SEL vehicles over several different model years.

In terms of what SEL actually means, it is just one of the various trims that the Ford Taurus is available in. This trim is known for having the SelectShift automatic transmission, as well as a whole host of other premium features.

It is worth remembering that the feature set of the Ford Taurus SEL can vary from model year to model year.

Some model years have provided a lot more customization over the features of the vehicle too. This means that if you are planning on picking up the vehicle used, you are probably going to want to do your research to find out the exact model that you have.

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Jeff is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Reatta. Jeff has been creating written and video content about transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used for more than 18 years. Jeff is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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