The SHO represents a nice all-around effort by Ford, but it hardly feels like a true high-performance sedan.
The problem isn’t the engine. The EcoBoost V-6, while still not quite a replacement for a honking V-8, more than holds its own, and swills considerably less gasoline than say, the Dodge Charger SRT8’s 6.1-liter Hemi. Where Ford falls short is on all the little things that a large family sedan needs to transform into a satisfying performance car. As technical editor Don Sherman has noted, the SHO lifts its rotors and calipers from the Ford Flex — and charges extra for performance pads. Compare that with the four-piston Brembo brakes you’ll find on each wheel of the Charger SRT8, which sells for the same price as the SHO. Even after a short, brisk drive to lunch – hardly a lap at the track – the SHO’s brakes smelled as if they needed some rest. The suspension and steering, while much better than what comes on a base Taurus, is still too soft and slow to offer the grip and handling you’d expect of an all-wheel-drive car riding on 19-inch performance tires.
The SHO strikes me more as a refined and well-appointed, if somewhat overpriced, luxury sedan. Interior design and materials quality are top-notch. It also looks quite swanky and imposing, a huge improvement from the regrettably bland last-generation Taurus/Five Hundred.
If I pulled the strings at Ford, I’d lower the price on this model and let the guys at SVT get to work on a SHO that really lives up to its name.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The SHO left me much more interested in the Taurus than the last SEL model that I drove. It’s not just the horsepower that sways me, but the fact that the interior is much more complete in the SHO. There’s a nicely balanced variety of materials in a sporty, yet mature style. Of course, the thrust of the twin turbos is also quite fun.
The Taurus is a big car and that dulls the sporting edge that Ford was after here. In reality, the Fusion seems to be the real spiritual successor to the Taurus that inspired the last SHO. A truly special car would be an all-wheel-drive Fusion packing this 355-hp, 3.5-liter engine.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO has some great strengths and, regrettably, a couple of key unforgivable weaknesses. First off, it looks quite good, even if it’s rather tall and bulky for a sport sedan. Second, it has a modern, attractive interior. Third, most important in a sport sedan, it has a great powertrain, and with standard all-wheel drive, it puts all that nice turbo power to the ground very quickly and effectively.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that this car’s brakes are not up to snuff for a sport sedan. Sure, they work fine, and they’re perfectly safe, but you should be able to hustle a 365-hp sport sedan down a two-lane road for four miles, brake mildly hard a couple of times, and not have the rotors be all smelly and smoky when you get out of the car. Come on, Ford, what WERE you thinking?
The other problem is that the Taurus SHO needs more precise steering. Communicativeness is not too bad, but the car is difficult to place in a corner because the steering effort is not linear, and the boost level is unpredictable.
On the plus side, ride quality is quite good, even on crap pavement, and as I mentioned earlier, the traction of all-wheel drive is very welcome.
When it comes down to it, a sport sedan, or any car with sporting intentions, has to get a few basics right: powertrain, chassis, brakes, and steering. I’d say that Ford is about halfway there with this Taurus SHO.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
I’m glad the Ford Taurus SHO is back in Ford’s lineup. There’s no denying that the new EcoBoost engine makes great power. I took a friend, a V-8 guy, for a spin, and he quickly became a fan of the turbocharged V-6. The subtle exterior styling cues that separate the SHO from a regular Taurus are small but noticeable; horizontal beam lights below the headlights and larger wheels just to name a couple, are tasteful and aren’t tackily overdone.
Behind the wheel, the Ford Taurus SHO feels like a much bigger car than it is. The dashboard is high, and the windshield looks short; when you hit the brakes, the car feels very heavy. The interior is nicely put together, although a bit clustered with buttons, but it’s still user-friendly.
I do believe Ford is on the right track, and the Taurus SHO is another step in the right direction.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
The new Taurus SHO isn’t a world-beater, but it is a very, very cool car nonetheless. The Ecoboost twin-turbo V-6 makes for one extremely quick car – significantly quicker than other Tauruses. Wheel spin isn’t an issue, thanks to the SHO’s all-wheel drive, but torque steer is still present, particularly when accelerating through corners.
As my colleagues have noted, the SHO falls far short – in steering, braking, and grip, for instance – of other mega-sedans such as the BMW M3 and the Cadillac CTS-V. But I think it is still a good ownership proposition for the person who used to own a hot sports car but whose professional status and/or family size no longer allows such flashiness or impracticality. The SHO offers plenty of power and respectable handling, and along with those performance plusses comes a very large back seat and trunk; a well-trimmed, comfortable cabin; and plenty of useful features, from navigation, satellite radio, heated and cooled front seats, and heated rear seats to the bevy of cupholders and the business-card and pen holders in the center console. The $38,000 base price and the $44,500 as-tested tag do seem a bit steep, but I don’t think they’re outrageous.
Our test car was painted a very dark green that was almost black, but it looked good on this car. The SHO is not hugely differentiated from the regular Taurus, but it does have cool wheels (nineteen- or twenty-inch), a small spoiler, dual chrome exhausts, and special parking lamp bezels. I’d prefer a stronger visual statement, but I suspect that most SHO buyers probably won’t mind the undercover styling.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The Taurus SHO is a good effort from Ford, but it likely won’t blow away anyone who’s looking for a performance sedan. The quality of the materials seems to be a step higher than that in the regular Taurus, but, having said that, it isn’t really luxurious, or sporty, or unique in the way you might expect from an uplevel sport sedan. The Ecoboost V-6 and the six-speed automatic together make a fine powertrain – give the gas pedal a firm nudge, and the power comes on quickly and smoothly – but the steering and braking don’t feel as finely honed as what one expects to find in a car with sporting pretensions. The ride is decent, with fairly good bump suppression, but there really isn’t a lot of driving excitement – perhaps it’s been masked by the fact that the SHO isn’t exactly a lightweight, weighing in at some 4300 pounds. Still, the Taurus SHO is a car that is clearly fast enough to endanger your driver’s license.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
Base price (with destination): $37,995
Price as tested: $44,480
Heated sideview mirrors
10-way power driver and passenger seats with driver memory
SYNC voice activated system
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Capless fuel filling system
Rear parking sensors
SOS post crash alert system
Front side airbags
Front and rear side curtain airbags
Tire pressure monitoring system
Options on this vehicle:
Rapid spec 402a – $3700
-Heated and ventilated front seats
-12-speaker Sony surround sound system
-Heated rear seats
-Power rear window sunshade
-Blind spot monitoring system
-Automatic high beams
-Rain sensing wipers
-Adjustable pedals with memory
Adaptive cruise control with collision warning – $1195
Voice activated navigation – $1695
Multi-contoured seats – $595
Key options not on vehicle:
SHO performance package – $995
-ESC sport mode and true off
-3.16 final drive ratio
-20 in. painted nickel-aluminum wheels
-Summer performance tires
20 in. painted nickel-aluminum wheels – $695
17 / 25 / 20 mpg
Size: 3.5L twin-turbo DI V-6
Horsepower: 365 hp @ 5550 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 1500-5250 rpm
Weight: 4368 lb
19 in. aluminum-alloy wheels
255/45 all-season performance tires