A real SHO-stopper In 1986, Ford came out with the front-wheel-drive Taurus sedan as an efficient family-friendly alternative to the full-size land yachts that the Big Three were then known for.
In 1986, Ford came out with the front-wheel-drive Taurus sedan as an efficient family-friendly alternative to the full-size land yachts that the Big Three were then known for. Shortly thereafter, for model year 1989, they introduced a performance version known as the “Super High Output” Taurus. Production of the SHO stopped in 1999 as the Taurus became less family-friendly and more Hertz-friendly. With the second coming of the Taurus with the all-new 2010 model, the SHO made its return, and I was given the keys to a 2012 Ford Taurus SHO to play with for a week.
The first thing that stood out to me about current SHO is the sheer size of it. At 202.9 inches, this Taurus is absolutely massive. It’s not just the length; the driving position, the beltline, and everything about this car is a McDonald’s size XL. It’s not that it’s a bad looking car, because it really isn’t. It’s an elegantly-styled sedan that’s a tad overweight. A stripped-out, cheaper version of this car (with this powerplant) would be a phenomenal successor to the Crown Victoria as a police/taxi fleet car.
Ford has been actively promoting their new “EcoBoost” engine technology. It’s two turbochargers bolted to the engine, and completely compatible with 87-Octane fuel. This Taurus SHO is powered by a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 pumping out 365-horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with an all-wheel-drive system, the SHO was observed to do 0-60 in 5.2 seconds and sprinted through the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds. Perhaps on the next-generation model, Ford can actually complete this monumental amount of power with some competent brakes to actually stop the car.
While the numbers on the Taurus are superb, I can’t help but take a moment to bring up a small niggle I had during my week with it. When I hop into a car that’s hyped up to be absurdly quick, especially from a manufacturer reputed for making legendary American muscle, I expect it to sound and feel fast. Even in the modern-age of technology and forced-induction, when I hit a tunnel with the SHO, I rolled down the windows and stepped on it, expecting to hear the classic “roar” that big Fords are famous for. Instead, I heard absolutely nothing. Is the car too quiet, or is it time for my opinion to modernize with the times?
This new SHO comes packed with technology, and with an as-tested price just north of $53,000, you’d expect it to. The dashboard and controls are standard-issue Ford. The Microsoft Sync and Sony sound system are no different than in nearly anything else Ford currently has. It’s a clean system and certainly offers a lot of value for what you actually pay for it, even if it is a bit slow and sluggish to operate. The air-conditioned seats are a godsend in Toronto’s current heatwave, and the massagers on the front seats are a welcome addition to the car as well.
My personal favourite feature on the Taurus is Ford’s new Active Park Assist system. Unlike Lexus‘ absurdly complicated and elaborate system, the Ford system is seemingly flawless, with only one button. You simply push the ” |P| ” button, and begin to drive slowly. The car automatically detects a space, tells you to stop and put it into reverse, and it will automatically parallel park it for you. While I did discover that in order for it to park perfectly, the curb and the cars in between you wish to park must be absolutely straight, it is still an impressive system nonetheless.
Overall, I certainly like the new SHO. In my opinion, it blows the current Chrysler 300C right out of the running. However, there are a few things Ford can do to make sure that the car stays at the top of its game. For one, please add some competent brakes onto the car. Stopping efficiently and safely is just as important as getting there quickly. Also, an exhaust that isn’t so quiet might open up the sound. It’d be nice to hear that power coming out as you actually step on it. Lastly, the SYNC system does need to be updated a tiny bit. It definitely feels like a Pentium II powering everything in the car.
All in all, I certainly do recommend the SHO for those looking to have a competent, ‘over the top’ family car that gets significantly better mileage than its Chrysler counterparts. It’s certainly a shame that GM killed off the Pontiac G8 though; in V8 trim that car would truly have met its match with this SHO.