Fast and Firm
I once owned a Taurus wagon. It was the mid-'90s and my new ride was a 1994 version of Ford’s exceptionally popular full-size Taurus. Back then, the Taurus was considered quite advanced for a modestly priced, domestic product.
My ‘94 was equipped with a fuel-injected V6 engine, fully independent suspension and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes. It also had traction control and front-wheel drive. Moreover, the Taurus was somewhat futuristic in appearance, making it quite distinct from the typical sheet metal of the era.
I think it’s fair to say that since launching in 1986, the Taurus has been an innovative, milestone vehicle for Ford that has also greatly influenced the domestic mid- and full-size segments, leading to vastly improved products. The prodigy is maintained in the latest generation, and further emphasized in the muscular SHO version.
Mid-cycle refresh for 2013
While the SHO (Super High Output) version of Ford’s 2013 Taurus largely retains its stealthiness, it’s now more easily recognized thanks to its blacked-out grille, series-specific high-intensity discharge headlamps and painted, machined-alloy wheels.
I find the distinction between the regular Taurus and its “bad boy” SHO alter ego to be just about perfect. Those “in the know” recognize an SHO from blocks away, while those less SHO-aware see it as a hot-looking, full-size sedan. I can assure you of this: Regardless of which group the admirer belongs, they’ll want to know more about the car. So here goes.
SHO delivers astounding performance
The core of a Taurus SHO is its firepower, which comes in the form of Ford’s much lauded DOHC V6 EcoBoost powerplant. It displaces 3.5 litres while generating 365 hp at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm, thanks largely to its twin turbochargers.
Those would be impressive figures for a high-output V8 engine, so it’s even more sensational to see a V6 hitting such benchmarks. The next best set of numbers apply to fuel economy. It’s posted as 8.1L and 12.4L/100km of city and highway driving respectively.
My daily city-based SHO sojourns failed to reach those economy thresholds, as I found myself regularly in the 14L/100km range. I’m sure that my use of the shift paddles to control the 6-speed automatic transmission contributed, in part, to the less-than-posted results; however, really, a 365-horsepower Taurus SHO isn’t the sort of vehicle you hypermile (save that for the Prius).
Much of the delight in driving the Taurus SHO is found beneath the right foot, where power is in abundance both off the line and in the passing lane. And it’s in the left lane where the SHO really shows its mettle. Passing performance is outstanding and a real attribute of this vehicle, but certainly not the only one.
The Taurus SHO is also remarkably stable, regardless of road or weather conditions, thanks to its all-wheel drive (AWD) configuration and 19” or optional 20” wheels. Ford beefed up the brakes as well by revising booster tuning and increasing the size of the front rotors.
They’ve also incorporated torque vectoring control to augment the torque-sensing AWD system on the Taurus SHO. Torque-vectoring control applies subtle, wheel-specific braking to optimize the performance of the SHO’s limited-slip differential.
Ford also improved the SHO’s electrically assisted power steering for 2013 to enhance road feel and responsiveness. And frankly, the car excels in this regard. It devours corners with levels of composure and control that completely belie its size and considerable bulk; but there’s a price to pay for such exceptional handling capability.
Ride quality may be too firm for some and the MSRP too steep for others
The Taurus SHO would benefit from an adaptive, or driver-selectable, suspension setup. It’s a firm-riding car that some may find too rigid for everyday city driving. Yes, the sport-tuned underpinnings are ideal on the highway and on twisty secondary roads, but not so much in the city if comfort is a priority.
Of course, adaptive/adjustable suspension systems are costly and I don’t imagine Ford wants to go there; the 2013 Taurus SHO is already a pricey domestic. My tester was pegged at $52,099 before destination and delivery charges.
In fairness, though, it’s considerably less expensive than the Audi A6 quattro, and puts more power to the pavement than the German competitor.
Taurus SHO wrap-up
The 2013 Taurus SHO is without doubt a great looking performance sedan that’s loaded to the gills with hi-tech content, cutting-edge safety, and plenty of occupant protection. It’s a large, spacious, highly responsive “driver’s car.” Could it be better? I think so.
While the sport-tuned SHO suspension keeps the car flat and tenacious in corners, it tends to deliver too much abruptness to the vehicle’s cabin. A more sophisticated setup capable of better road-degradation absorption without compromising the exceptional handling dynamics would enhance this car’s day-to-day livability and, by extension, its overall appeal.
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