January 13, 2010 > Auto Review: Ford's Taurus Sho
Auto Review: Ford's Taurus Sho
The SHO designation has always held a special meaning within the Ford organization. It stands for "Super High Output" and means that the vehicle carrying a SHO badge on its trunk lid has a special drive train.
Back in 1989 the Ryan family bought a Taurus SHO. We loved it. It looked like a normal run of the mill car, but its Yamaha designed engine pushed it along like a rocket. So when Ford announced a brand new for SHO for 2010, I couldn't wait to try it out. When our Candy Metallic Red ($295 extra for this color) test car arrived, I was surprised by its size; it was bigger than I thought it would be. This gives the Taurus body adequate back seat room for tall people.
A base Taurus has a 3.5-liter V-6 that develops 263 HP coupled to a 6-speed automatic and starts at $25,170. The SHO's engine is also a 3.5-liter V-6 and a 6-speed automatic (with paddle shifters). However, it gets two turbochargers stuffed under the hood to add 102 HP to the mix. Bigger wheels (19"), better tires, upgraded brakes, different suspension tuning, an all-wheel drive system, and other items are included in the SHO's base price of $37,770. Our test car had a voice activated navigation system, heated rear seats, blind spot monitoring, and other items that brought the price up to $44,275.
The Eco-Boost engine gives the SHO the power of a V-8 but the economy of a V-6. This engine was named one of the "10 Best Engines" by Ward's AutoWorld. Its EPA testing produced 17 mpg in the city cycle and 25 mpg for the highway test. Compared to the base Taurus (18/28), this is only a small drop for 100 extra horses.
SHO has great power and throttle response due to the direct injection of fuel into the cylinders and the twin turbochargers reducing the turbo lag to just about zero. The steering and suspension systems combine to produce handling which is very neutral and predictable. Brakes were up to the test of stopping a big car (4,388 pounds) going fast. The steering wheel is very comfortable to hold, and the SHO has a very good U-turn radius.
I did have a few complaints about the SHO's interior. First, the driver's seat always seemed too high. If it went down another inch or two, it would help. Also, the seat was not the most comfortable I have used. The last issue was that the right rear seat headrest did a great job of blocking the driver's view from the center rearview mirror. I found it hard to make lane changes to the right, because I was not sure that lane was clear of traffic.
So is the SHO worth the $12K+ premium over the base Taurus? It depends on how you view driving and what your goals are. If you want good, solid, get me from here to there transportation, the SHO is probably not cost effective. But for those of us who want more fun from our vehicles, spring for the twin turbos and related stuff. It's worth it!
By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists