First Look: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

If Ford resuscitated the Taurus nameplate for consumer appeal, then the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO's rebirth is strictly for the enthusiasts.

You heard us right: enthusiasts. We know it's counter-intuitive to combine the words "Taurus" and "passion" within a sentence, but adding a high-revving Yamaha-developed engine, along with track-tuned suspension bits, helped make such a phrase possible. Some say the original, built between 1989 and 1997, was nothing short of magical - and that's what Ford hopes to recapture with the 2010 Taurus SHO.

That magic won't be visible from the outside, however. Apart from larger aluminum wheels, a trunk spoiler, and small - and we mean small - 'SHO' badges on the trunk and C-pillars, it's hard to tell a Taurus from a Taurus SHO.

Underhood, however, things begin to change. Ford's installed a twin-turbocharged, direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 from its Ecoboost engine range. Although its rating of 365 hp is hardly anything to sneeze at (that's a 50-hp advantage over the 2010 Mustang GT's V-8), we're a bit reluctant to call it a "Super High Output" motor. Perhaps "Slightly Higher Output" is more appropriate - after all, it's a 10-hp boost over similar engines installed in the Lincoln MKS.

Although the manual transaxle - a highlight of the first-generation SHO - is nowhere to be found, the new gearbox does allow drivers to row their own gears via column-mounted shift paddles. We're more interested in the fact that the SHO is offered only as an all-wheel-drive sedan, using the torque-distributing system introduced in the 'normal' Taurus earlier this year.

If you're of the 'race on Sunday, commute on Monday' mindset, we'd recommend ordering one with the "SHO Performance Package," which adds a sport setting on the stability control, upgraded brake pads, recalibrated steering, and a 3.16:1 final drive ratio. Also included are 20-inch aluminum wheels, wearing no less than summer-compound Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber.

Sure, the Ford Special Vehicle Operations team of old would have made such goodies standard, but we're happy to see such go-fast hardware available directly from the factory. Whether or not it'll help the Taurus compete against the BMW 5-series - Ford's target both then and now - remains to be seen. Even if it doesn't steal marketshare from the Bavarians, we're sure the new Taurus SHO will appease the enthusiasts.

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