Having a brand new Taurus is a great step forward for Ford. The 2010 model is a fresh start, and has garnered a lot of positive attention. Bringing back the SHO model, though, is even better.
SHO stands for Super High Output. This was the reason for the existence of the first SHO, which debuted in 1989. Its 220-horsepower Yamaha V6 made the Taurus a “sleeper” car—a discreet performance sedan--not heavily emblazoned with “go-fast” styling, but with enough extra oomph to embarrass lesser cars at the stoplight grand prix.
After selling more than 100,000 SHOs during the 1990’s and winning kudos from buff magazines like Car and Driver, Ford retired the SHO model when the new millennium arrived. SHO enthusiasts, as vociferous as Mustang fans, didn’t sit quietly by. They formed an active club and created the www.bringbackthesho.com Website to push Ford to restore their favorite ride. For 2010, the more than 1,000 club members can cheer, because the SHO is back. Go to the Website and you’ll be greeted with a “Mission Accomplished” banner.
True to its roots, the heart of the new Taurus SHO is the 365-horsepower Ecoboost V6. This 3.5-liter high-tech mill uses twin turbochargers to minimize turbo lag, and features gasoline direct injection for improved throttle response, reduced cold start emissions and higher fuel economy.
Part of the goal of Ecoboost technology in the SHO is to provide V8 power with V6 fuel economy. The EPA rates this 4,368-pound car at 17 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway, and I averaged 18.5 mpg. The EPA’s green vehicle guide awards a 7 for Air Pollution and 5 for Greenhouse Gas scores. (E)mission accomplished.
I tested the “regular” 2010 Taurus last year and was impressed by its build quality, roomy and comfortable interior and unquestionable curb appeal. The SHO adds subtle styling cues. Although generous 19-inch painted alloys are standard, my tester flaunted the optional five-spoke 20’s ($695 and worth it). You could almost miss the rear spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips and slightly revised grille treatment. It’s a stealth rocket, remember?
It’s not that stealthy to be covered in Red Candy Metallic paint ($295), but what a stunning color! For something evocative of the early SHO, you can order Atlantis Green Metallic, a unique SHO shade inspired by the iconic Emerald Green of 1992.
Inside, the leather-trimmed seats make a nod to today’s environmental concerns by using grippy Miko Suede inserts. They’re made from recycled post-consumer yarns from plastic soft drink bottles. The real aluminum trim on the dash looks great and the metal on the pedals is genuine, too.
The sweeping center console gives drivers the feeling of flying a plane or sitting on the flight deck of the Enterprise. The shift paddles on the steering wheel allow instant shifts of the six-speed automatic. The clear, 8-inch display screen displays the full song titles when you play satellite radio—not sliced off at 16 characters.
The car’s loaded before you start adding options. Besides the expected power stuff and air conditioning, you also get several interesting features standard:
Intelligent Access with Push Button Start lets you carry the key fob in your pocket and enter the car and start the engine without taking it out.
MyKey™ lets you restrict the car’s driving mode to keep your kids out of trouble, with a top speed limit of 80 mph, seatbelt warnings, audio system volume restriction, a low-fuel warning that kicks in earlier, and AdvanceTrac® stability control that can’t be disengaged. Sorry, kid.
With the Easy Fuel™ Capless Fuel Filler System you just flip open the door and insert the fuel hose. When you’re done, hang up the hose and close the fuel door—it seals itself.
Ford SYNC® is a fully integrated, in-vehicle voice-activated communications and entertainment system. I’m sure it grows on you as you learn its features and live with it for awhile. Using voice commands is a safety feature and is a fun, futuristic activity. The problem arises when the system doesn’t understand you—just as irritating as when it’s your spouse.
The Ambient Lighting System with MyColor™ lets you program interior lighting from a choice of five colors. This seems more suited to a Scion, but maybe I’m just getting old and cranky.
Prices for the SHO start at $37,995, including shipping. My tester, with several appealing options, came to $44,275.
Despite a rash of negative publicity for American car manufacturers, Ford is doing well, and the Taurus makes you proud to be part of the red, white and blue. It shows what a company can do if it makes a commitment to building it right. Assembled in Chicago, Illinois, the Taurus SHO makes you feel good driving it and, I expect, owning it too.