WHAT IS A "SHO"?
The 1989 Taurus SHO [Super High Output]
was a successful accident in which Ford accidentally
gave customers exactly what they wanted.
The car came about when Ford decided to use up leftover Yamaha
V6 engines in a few spare Taurus’s. The resulting Taurus SHO had slightly altered body cladding, air dams, fog lights and bumper molds than the regular Taurus and came with a manual transmission.
Though the SHO was originally supposed to be a limited edition model, its popularity – selling over 15,000 units in its first year – caused Ford to continue it for the next decade. The SHO gave owners a popular car, with powerful performance and the ever involving feeling of a manual tranny - things some people desire in their cars to this day. SHO was reintroduced in 2009
weighing slightly over 1000 pounds more than the original, but, boasting the “Ecoboost”: a twin turbo V6 engine that offered 365HP, all wheel drive and a cohesive infotainment system. Thanks to a hefty premium over the regular Taurus, roughly 10% of all Taurus sales are SHO models. SHO faces significant competition from buyers of BMW, Audi, Chrysler and now…Hyundai sedans. The latter two companies offer full sized cars that outperform the SHO and cost less. For 2013, SHO undergoes minimal exterior improvements and significant interior upgrades hoping to improve sales. INTERIOR/EXTERIOR
The exterior of the refreshed SHO offers a black mesh grill which replaces the outgoing model’s “Braun razor” style. There’s also a softer contoured hood, redesigned LCD taillights, thicker tires, aggressive looking rims and an optional spoiler to add even more bulk to the car’s boat-like deck lid. It hasn’t undergone any major sheetmetal modifications like the 2013 Lincoln MKS
, but, nonetheless carries a sturdy “American” physique that’s unmistakably Ford. It looks like something Robocop would drive. The same problems I had with the original SHO and MKS remain
The beltline is very high, the center tunnel and bulky plastic armrest protrusions meant to invoke a “cockpit” theme effectively rob the interior of space and the steering wheel does not telescope far enough.
The seats are very supportive and firm enough to keep your back from fatiguing over a long drive. If the heating and cooling functions in the seat aren’t enough, the “massage” pads in the “multicontour”” seat option will exercise the buttocks and lower lumbar. My only problem was that the driver’s seat rides considerably higher than the passenger seat which, combined with the short steering wheel, made this a car I could never consider for myself.
The SHO’s interior benefits from a higher end center console design and the addition of more soft touch surfaces, but, the real improvements can be found in the gauge cluster.
There is only one traditional gauge: the speedometer. It is flanked by two vivid LCD panels which show you everything from radio information to the car’s system status. This system, “MyFord Touch” is beautiful and easy to use – thanks to the cleverly laid D-pads on the steering wheel. Other functions such as cruise control distance are easy to toggle. Unfortunately, the steering wheel is the only simple way to change the volume or station of the radio.
SYNC continues to be one of the best navigation/infotainment systems on the market. This unit allows you to connect a smartphone and acts as a mobile hotspot so other passengers can browse the internet on its data connection. Incoming calls show the picture of the person who’s calling before you answer them. Movie theater timetables, weather reports, nearby gas stations/prices, sports scores and directions to new locations are accessible at the touch of a button. There is also an RCA connector which allows you to play video game consoles through the center screen. Hear a song you like? Well… Tap a button and you can purchase it later via iTunes.
The Taurus’ premium sound package comes with a SONY labeled touch panel powering 12 speakers that share 390 maximum watts. Sound fills the cabin evenly. Bass performance is loud and deep, but, the system could benefit from a mono subwoofer amplifier and at least one 10” or 12” driver.
The only disappointment I had was the same one I had in the 2013 Lincoln MKS: the plastic touch panel takes getting used to and isn’t as responsive as it should be. Tapping the panel doesn’t always produce desired results and I found it easier to use the steering wheel buttons. The touchscreen works nearly perfectly, but, isn’t as well laid out as the user interface in Chrysler’s Uconnect Touch.
Naturally, the navigation panel doubles as a rearview monitor whilst backing into parking spots. My SHO was equipped with the parking assist unit and it performed flawlessly – acquiring large enough spaces and getting the behemoth into them with only soft taps on the brake.
Unfortunately, the SHO doesn’t offer the MKS’ dual pane moonroof. DRIVING THE SHO
The standard engine is a 3.5-Liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic which generates 290 HP and 263 pounds of torque. Thanks to the addition of twin independent variable camshaft timing, power has been increased from the outgoing model’s 263 horses. Fuel economy is pegged at 19 mpg city/ 29 highway, but, you can realistically see 23 mpg combined on the Front Wheel Drive model. Economy drops roughly 2 mpg for the AWD version. The 2013 Taurus can be purchased with a new 2.0-Liter 4 cylinder “Ecoboost” engine that generates 237 HP and 250 pounds of torque. It is the smallest engine of the bunch, but, returns the highest fuel economy (22 city/ 32 Highway). The 3.5-liter is a decent engine, but, at over 4300 pounds, the Taurus struggles to highway speeds from a standstill. 0-60 comes in at slightly over 8 seconds. The “SHO” trim is the model you buy when you want this big car to feel quicker.
The Taurus SHO, like the Lincoln MKS, comes with an 365 Horsepower Ecoboost engine that generates 350 pound feet of torque. Power in the SHO is relatively unchanged from the outgoing trim - so the majority of my impressions with the original remain the same. Acceleration is considerably fast for such a big car. The turbochargers are nearly lagless and kick in as low as 1500 RPM – holding power till around 5000 RPM. 0 -60 times are reduced to just over 5 seconds.
Unfortunately, the SHO is no enthusiast car. Revving the engine doesn’t produce the same growl or thrash you get from the SRT8 sedans. Instead, you just get a V6 whine like that in the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec until you get the car in motion to whirl the turbos. The seats look sporty, but, lack aggressive bolstering. The panel trims in the car have a carbon appearance with a “dark” theme, but, the shift paddles are still flimsy plastic. I’ve also noticed that in most performance cars you sit nearer to the ground. The SHO’s driving position is very upright and elevated.
The “eco” in “Ecoboost” can be noticed in the relatively high gas mileage this car returns for its size. In highway traffic, I could easily achieve slightly over 20 mpg. If you drive more aggressively or in bumper-to-bumper traffic, mileage can drop lower than 15. When I first got my hands on the car, the computer stated mileage was “12.3”. Maximum power can be gained with Premium fuel. Unfortunately, though you are allowed to use regular unleaded, you aren’t allowed to use E85 which currently retails for around 75% the cost of 87 octane in my city.
The Taurus and the MKS offer very quiet rides with excellent composure and rebound over bumps and bad road. While the MKS’ suspension is biased in favor of ride quality, the SHO has slightly stiffer springs and is biased towards sporty driving. Unfortunately, with its heft and physical size, it is no sports sedan. SHO feels more like a crossover masquerading as a drag racer.
The SHO offers a variation of the new AWD improvements in the MKS. The electric steering is dead on-center, but, starts to sharpen as speed increases. There’s also a redesigned traction control that lets you turn it completely off if you dare. While a rear wheel drive car (like the 300c) allows sharper steering and into and out of turns, the AWD-only SHO requires torque vectoring to mitigate understeer if you like to take highway curves aggressively. This system also helps reduce torque steer under hard acceleration. This car also included a performance package with upgraded brakes and 245/45/R20 performance tires. It feels considerably better than the previous model and makes a strong case for the $7000 upgrade over the Taurus Limited. PRICING and COMPETITION
The base Taurus SE starts at roughly $27,000. The next step up is the $28,800 SEL which upgrades the cabin with dual zone HVAC, keyless entry, remote start, XM radio and the “MyFord Touch” system. AWD is available in the SEL for $30,650. The $$33,000 Taurus gives you everything in the SEL – plus ultrasonic parking sensors, rearview camera and premium 10-way power seats. AWD can be added for $1850. The SHO upgrades you to the Ecoboost V6, HID headlamps, push button start and the sport suspension. SHO also includes special keys that may limit the car’s top speed – just in case you’re worried about your kid borrowing it and drag racing. SHO includes all the goodies from the lower trims and for $3000 you can upgrade it with heated/cooled seats, blind spot/cross traffic sensors, automatic highbeams/wipers and the SONY premium audio system. A moonroof still adds $1000, the radar guided cruise control adds $1200 and the multicontour seats add $600. The sticker on my SHO was $46,000.
The Dodge Charger SRT8
and Chrysler 300c SRT8
are much higher performance cars than the SHO. With RWD and 470HP V8 engines, they are in a completely different class – built specifically for street racing. The Charger costs roughly $5000 more than a fully equipped SHO while the 300 is about $10,000 more.
The Chrysler 300c AWD
, similarly equipped, offers a naturally aspirated 363HP V8 that is more powerful than the SHO for about $2000 less at $43,200. The 300cAWD does not offer multicontour chairs (yet), but, it can be purchased with a dual panel moonroof and without AWD (-$2350). The Chrysler 300 does not truly want to compete with the Taurus. It wants to compete with the MKS, but, its interior materials haven’t reached MKS’ level (yet). It’s power and handling characteristics make it a better “driver’s car”, but, the Taurus beats it in terms of fuel economy and rear seat space.
The closest competitor - in terms of performance, size and price - is actually the Hyundai Genesis. A similarly equipped V6 Genesis ($43,000) comes standard with a naturally-aspirated V6 engine, but can be purchased, with a 4.6-liter V8, for about $45,000. Genesis can also be purchased with Hyundai’s new 5.0-liter V8. This $47,000 “R-Spec”
offers 426 Horsepower and 376 pounds of torque. The Genesis cabin feels slightly higher in quality than the Taurus’, but, the Taurus’ SYNC system is far superior to the Genesis’ tech suite. Neither car caters to the enthusiasts, but, both offer powerful straight line performance and interior space. OVERALL
The upgrades to this year’s Taurus are fantastic and the interior, although still Rubbermaid grade in some spots, is worthy of its $46,000
price tag. For reasons I’ve stated, I’m not interested in this car for myself. The cabin is completely unwelcoming to my body, I found the touch panels annoying to use, and would rather have the physical buttons of the base model. Buying this car will come down to personal preference because it’s a physically imposing car with an interior as polarizing as its exterior.
I see no reason to spend an additional $13,000 for the 2013 Lincoln MKS Ecoboost
when you could get this instead.
Amount Paid (US$):
Model and Options:
all equipment included