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New car reviews

2011 Ford Taurus

Christina DesMarais, Fri, 07 Jan 2011 03:29:31 PST

My friend, Julie, is gorgeous. She has thick blond hair, an overachieving fashion sense and a figure that contradicts her middle age. When she announced that her husband had just driven a Ford Taurus SHO and wanted to buy it for her, another friend chimed in, "For you? I just can't see you driving a Taurus."

Julie had other ideas. Ms. Fashionista saw herself in a 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport. Which car would win the competition to become Julie's favorite accessory?

The CC, or the Taurus SHO?

Julie-as cool as she might be-hadn't a clue that the SHO (which stands for Super High Output) boasts a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 365 hp and 350 ft. lb. of torque, whereas the CC's 3.6-liter V6 offers a mere 280hp and 265 ft-lbs of torque.

In fact, when I recently drove the SHO outside of Chicago I got into trouble with my husband because of its performance. As a car reviewer, I need to "get on" a car to see what it's got, right? So, after thankfully leaving the cheap hotel we rented-waffle smoke and all-we strapped ourselves in and headed for the interstate.

Getting into the fast lane, I pounded the gas pedal to test out the Taurus' acceleration. No problem there. We were thrown back in our seats and within seconds were significantly over the speed limit.

"If a cop catches you going this fast, you're going to jail," said my cranky husband. Rolling my eyes at him, I backed off. Kill joy, I thought about my hypocritical spouse who just the other week got an expensive ticket doing 20 mph over the limit.

"Fine," I said, pulling off at the next exit to find some decent coffee. Satisfied that I had proven the SHO's acceleration and speed capabilities, we parked at Starbucks and started playing around with what's inside the car.

Ford let me drive their most pimped-out Taurus, which includes a touch screen on the center stack that can be used to control all sorts of things, such as dual-zone climate settings, navigation or the radio.

Personally, I can't decide whether I like touch screens in a vehicle or not because working them means looking at them, which isn't the best idea when driving. On the other hand, car manufacturers are able to load a plethora of informatics into the processors that lie beneath the touch screen, so you can make seemingly endless adjustments to the cabin environment when safely parked.

If keeping your eyes on the road at all times is important to you, Ford included plenty of regular buttons that your hands can easily find while staying focused on the road. Plus, the SHO has Bluetooth capability so you can make hands-free phone calls using the car's microphone and 12 speakers.

Ford also uses MicroSoft's SYNC service on select models such as the SHO. SYNC automatically calls 911 in case of airbag deployment, gives turn-by-turn navigation, provides news, sports, weather and vehicle diagnostics, alerts a driver about traffic congestion and will search for points of interest using voice commands. When parked, MyFordTouch provides Internet access from a Wi-Fi hot spot or through a connected smart phone.

Other features we found included a CD/DVD player, a jack for hooking up an iPhone or iPod, adjustable pedals, front and rear cup holders and three-count them-power jacks for passengers who might want to charge a laptop or gaming accessory.

I really only had one gripe with sitting in the Taurus: the seats. While they're infinitely adjustable with 10-way power, they just weren't as comfortable as some. A few weeks ago I drove a Dodge Charger RT, another fun powerhouse. Its plush seats actually made me want to spend even more time driving the car.

Lattes in cup holders, we took off to find a nice place to take some photos, hoping to see how the SHO actually performed in stop-and-go traffic and when cornering. The first thing that became apparent-and surprised me, frankly-was that the SHO has an abundance of safety features. After leaving Starbucks I came up too fast on a van and red lights built into the dash flashed, reflecting onto the windshield as if to say, "Watch out, dummy! You're going to rear-end somebody!" At the same time, the song on the radio was replaced with beeping and the brakes precharged to shorten stopping distance in the event I actuallycame close to crashing.

In fact, the SHO's collision warning system makes use of perimeter radar sensors all around the exterior. Because of those sensors, the car is able to detect when another vehicle is in a blind spot. When there is, indicators on the side mirroralight. We also found that the rear window shade retracts when you shift to reverse, in case you want to look over your shoulder the old-fashioned way and not make use of the rear-view video projected onto the touchscreen from a camera mounted on the trunk.

Next, we stopped at a park to admire the SHO's exterior, which is significantly beefier than older models, thanks to a redesign by Ford last year. In fact, there is simply no comparing a 2000 Taurus with a 2011 model. What used to look like a car Mom would drive, the new Taurus looks like a car Julie-in her high heels and skinny jeans-would drive. The Taurus now has less window and more door,making it seem more imposing than previous generations.

We opened the enormous trunk and giggled over the inside release car manufacturers are now installing. You can pull this in the event some psycho puts you in his trunk, which is a good idea no doubt, but also a sad testimony about the state of our society if you ask me.

Three hours after setting off, it was time to give back the key so I spent the last few minutes I had in the SHO taking corners fast and accelerating to the speed limit as quickly as possible (you-know-who reminded me a person can get a ticket for that, too).

In short, the SHO has everything you'd want or need in a sedan: high-tech features, a well-equipped cabin and my favorite, plenty of punch. As for my friend-Julie ended up buying the 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport, admittedly a super-hot-looking car, much like herself. I just wish she knew how hot the new Taurus is.

To help with that, my husband took video of my three hours in the Taurus SHO to show Julie. Spending time behind the wheel in the SHO certainly made me feel sexy. Where she went wrong: she never drove the car. Apples for apples, the SHO has more to offer than the CC, at least in terms of hp and safety features.Her loss, my (three-hour) gain.

 

 


3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 365 hp and 350 ft. lb. of torque


Dashboard packed full of features


10 way adjustable power seats


Gauge cluster

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