2013 Ford Taurus SHO's modest exterior masks excellent car
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Full-size sedans appeal to people requiring, or preferring, plenty of space for people and their gear. It's simple, really. The Ford Taurus SHO extends its appeal to drivers seeking a fast four-door with cat-like reflexes, regardless of road or weather.
The SHO, which stands for Super High Output, has traveled a long way since its beginnings back in 1988 as a 220-horsepower sport sedan. Then, as now, the "show" (as it's pronounced) has never been a huge seller simply because it basically looks like any other Taurus. And with a price tag in the $40,000 range, it's at least $5,000 more expensive than the best-equipped, regular-strength Taurus sedan that money can buy. Forty large is also within range of the Boss 302 Mustang with its 444-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. That sort of muscle eclipses the SHO's twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter "EcoBoost" V6 with its 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.
Still, the 4,350-pound 2013 SHO delivers respectable potency with an estimated zero-to-60-mph time of 5.2 seconds. It also offers a level of genteel cruiser-class comfort for five adults that's inconceivable in the Mustang.
The SHO's V6 is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Fuel economy isn't normally a top-of-mind issue for buyers of high-output sedans, but at least the SHO won't embarrass itself with a rating of 17 mpg in the city and 25 highway.
A major component of the SHO's performance content is its standard all-wheel-drive that kicks in when the car is driven in an aggressive manner, when it's cornering and when the weather turns nasty and surface grip is compromised.
For the 2013 model year, all Taurus models display a restyled grille and lower air intake, with the SHO receiving the blacked-out mesh-style grille as well as a set of bright high-intensity-discharge headlamps. Other visual markers include a decklid spoiler plus unique 19-inch wheels. Hidden from view are stiffer front springs and a beefed-up brake package highlighted by a larger master cylinder and front rotors. The electric power steering unit can been specifically calibrated to deliver plenty of feel and feedback for the driver.
Interestingly, much of the SHO-specific gear has been installed in the Taurus Police Package that replaces Ford's ancient (and now retired) Crown Victoria.
There's even more in store for buyers who opt for the Performance Package.
Here, you get a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, an "extreme duty" cooling system, a higher numerical final drive ratio for snappier acceleration and 20-inch machined wheels with summer-specific performance tires. Ford states the Performance Package is the one to get for buyers looking to stretch their SHO's legs once in a while on the racetrack. A Taurus on a racetrack? Move over Boss 302, the whole family is coming.
The standard interior includes leather-covered seats with SHO logos, a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and power-adjustable aluminum pedals. That's in addition to dual-zone climate control, push-button start, 10-way power driver's seat and a backup warning system.
The SHO also receives a revised version of MyFord Touch connectivity that uses both voice and touch-screen commands to control audio, climate and communications functions.
The extensive list of options includes the expected sunroof and navigation system plus heated rear seats and heated and cooled front buckets. Also available is Active Park Assist that parallel-parks the car for you as well as an "Active Motion" massager built into the power lumbar support and seat cushion.
Ford has exercised remarkable restraint by not festooning the SHO with superfluous scoops and decals that trumpet its power quotient. In most cases, only the person behind the wheel will drive secure in the knowledge that his or her Taurus is indeed rare and special. The car might not really shout it out, but the point all along has been to at least "SHO" it with your right foot.
What you should know: 2013 Ford Taurus SHO
Type: Four-door, all-wheel-drive full-size sedan
Engine (hp): 3.5-liter DOHC V6, twin-turbocharged (365)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with paddle-shift controls
Market position: Among full-size domestic- and import-based sedans, it is now commonplace to feature a high-performance edition that uniquely showcases the vehicle's sporting potential.
Points: As a performance sedan it focuses on being an overall package rather than just the horsepower; Turbo V6 provides the best kick just driving around down; Fuel economy is better than you might think; Overall design remains understated, yet conveys aggressiveness; Optional Performance Package almost mandatory to show the SHO's full potential.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
MPG (city/hwy): 17/25
Base price (incl. destination): $39,200
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Base price: $33,500
The R/T's 370-hp combined with AWD offers good bang for the buck.
Hyundai Genesis V6
Base price: $35,100
A 333-hp V6 provides lots of scoot; a 429-hp V8 is optional.
Base price: $42,000 (est.)
Upcoming 2014 RWD sedan features 400-plus horsepower V8.