First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Don Sherman
Jim Fets
#Ford, #Ford

We clocked the new SHO's run to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and the quarter mile at 14.2 seconds with a trap speed of 101 mph. Those results are very similar to those of the aforementioned rivals, as well as BMW's 550i. That said, the wheeze of this pressurized V-6 holds no candle to the guttural snarl of a hairy V-8.

Moving the SHO's T-handled shifter to its M (manual) position places two steering-wheel-mounted paddles in charge of gear changes. A yank back on either paddle cues the next higher ratio while thumbing a paddle forward orders a downshift. Unfortunately, the actual gear changes are far too polite for a sport sedan of the SHO's caliber.

The $995 Performance Package adds twenty-inch wheels and tires, sport-tuned steering, a numerically higher final-drive ratio, performance brake pads, and two extra modes for the electronic stability system. The suspension fortifications standard on all SHOs do an excellent job of limiting body roll, but there's too much dive during hard braking and hints of torque steer while accelerating aggressively out of tight bends.

Steering effort builds linearly off center and cornering limits are in the competitive mix, although the fashionable twenty-inch tires are harsh over expansion joints and textured pavement. Skip them if a plush ride is your preference. While the performance package's stouter brake pads are a good start, what any car this heavy and speedy needs to stop smartly are massive brake rotors gripped by opposed-piston calipers. They're missing.

Other lumps baked into the SHO's batter are what keep this Ford from posing any threat to BMW. The 7000-rpm tach has no redline, and a governor stops the speedometer needle at a Hyundai-esque 131 mph. The bucket seats' lower cushions provide minimal support, and their hard-plastic sides grate your behind during entry and exit. Your foot howls oatmeal every time it presses the brake pedal.

Note to Ford engineers: Get back to work on the SHO. With the right care and feeding, this car has the potential to fulfill its critical mission.

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