The Taurus SHO is the quickest, best-handling and most technology-packed member of Ford's full-size Taurus sedan family. For the latest model year the Taurus SHO benefits from revised exterior styling, a quieter and better-furnished interior and several performance upgrades.
As with other Taurus models, the latest SHO features a more aggressive front fascia and hexagonal grille design. SHO-specific touches include mesh grille trim, unique high-intensity discharge headlamps, stylish 19-inch wheels and a rear lip spoiler. Fender-mounted scallops containing the SHO badge signal the car's sporting intentions.
Though the dual-cowl layout of the dashboard carries over from the old car, Ford did update the cabin with by reducing the number of hard surfaces and upgrading the materials across the instrument panel and center console. Sound levels are reduced thanks to new A-pillar and cowl baffles, as well as sound absorbing liners for the wheel-wells. A perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and seats along with woven aluminum trim and aluminum pedals are unique to the cabin of the SHO.
The interior also benefits from a combination of eco-minded materials and advanced technology. Recycled materials are used in the cloth surfaces and headliner and also for sound dampening materials found under carpets and attached to panels. The Taurus' seats also use soy-based foam in place of petroleum-derived materials, which helps reduce dependence on oil and leaves a more eco-friendly byproduct when the seats reach the end of their service lives.
The Taurus features Ford's latest telematics system, MyFord Touch, and also retains the entry-level Sync system as an option as well. For the Taurus, Sync MyFord Touch uses an eight-inch display screen that is touch sensitive to allow occupants to control many functions of the vehicle ranging from stereo controls to seat warmers.
Super High Output
The foundation of the Taurus SHO continues to be a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine, which delivers 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. Clearly, the definition of "Super High Output" has changed over the years -- the last SHO had just 235 horsepower, while its predecessor made do with 220 ponies.
The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 also uses twin turbochargers, as opposed to a single unit. The reduced size of each turbocharger results in reduced internal inertia, allowing this advanced engine to avoid the "turbo lag" often prevalent in earlier-generation turbocharged vehicles. Meanwhile, direct injection delivers smoother engine response and increased fuel economy, which is rated by the EPA at 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
To complement powerful motor, the Taurus SHO now features a larger brake master cylinder with improved booster tuning that results in a shorter pedal ratio and improved braking feel. The braking materials themselves are upgraded for reduced fade and improved stopping power, and the rotors are also upsized for SHO duty.
The Taurus SHO driveline combines a six-speed 6F55 SelectShift transmission with standard torque-sensing all-wheel-drive. The six-speed transmission offers a wide array of gears to enable quick acceleration, yet comfortable high-speed cruising, through a 2.77 to 1 final drive ratio. SelectShift provides conventional automatic operation or a manual shift mode that gives the driver complete control via paddle shifters. For performance-minded drivers, paddle controls allow "rev-match" downshifts and will hold manually selected gears for precise control.
As with other Taurus models, the latest Taurus SHO benefits from a number of minor efficiency improvements including a low-tension front end accessory drive belt, a smart battery management system, more aggressive fuel shutoff during deceleration, variable-displacement air conditioning compressor and reduced friction lubricants throughout the powertrain. While individually these changes may only contribute a fraction of a percent of improvement, Ford says the overall effect can equate to measurable improvements.
SHO Performance Package
For the discriminating automotive enthusiast, Ford offers the SHO Performance Package, which offers package-specific tuning to the suspension - including unique dampers and springs - that goes above and beyond the standard SHO. Other upgrades are even stronger brake pads and track-tuned calipers, a re-calibrated EPAS configuration, the ability to completely disable stability control, a 3.16 final drive ratio for improved acceleration, extreme-duty cooling, 20-inch machined and painted wheels and 245/YR20 performance summer tires.
Let's Talk Tech
Also new for the entire Taurus lineup is the addition of EPAS, or Electric Power Assist Steering for those not quite hip on the acronyms used by the Blue Oval engineers these days. EPAS helps provide additional tune-ability for steering feel for each model, and also reduces parasitic loss on the engine.
Continuing the story of improved driving dynamics begun with the addition of EPAS, the suspension features revised springs and dampers to improve handling and ride quality. The Taurus SHO also benefits from electronic torque vectoring, which was recently introduced in the Ford Focus. This technology is intended to replicate the effects of a true limited-slip differential without the added components thanks to computer-aided selective braking applied to inside wheels while navigating turns.
Borrowing from the utility side of Ford's lineup, the Taurus SHO also gains curve control, another Ford-developed braking system that helps drivers who enter turns with too much speed to safely navigate the turn by properly slowing wheels individually in a way no driver could ever replicate on their own. The net result is a reduced turning radius, and hopefully, keeping the vehicle on the pavement in a moment of misjudgment.
Standard and Optional Features
As Ford's most expensive vehicle, the Taurus SHO is fitted with a healthy amount of standard equipment, including leather upholstery with suede inserts, power-adjustable front seats, a remote start system, a rear view camera, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system and an auxiliary input jack, SYNC with MyFord Touch and heated, power-adjustable exterior mirrors.
Options include radar-based adaptive cruise control, blind spot alert, Cross Traffic Alert (for reversing into traffic), massaging seats, heated and ventilated front-row seats, a heated steering wheel voice-activated navigation, and a 12 speaker 390-watt Sony sound system.
Every Taurus SHO comes standard with dual front and side airbags along with dual front and rear head airbags. Other safety features include traction and stability control systems and electronic brakeforce distribution.
The Taurus SHO's main rivals are the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec and the Dodge Charger SRT8, both of which are a good deal more expensive but offer more and the handling purity of rear-wheel-drive. Those looking for an alternative full size sedan with all-wheel-drive and similar levels of power would need to step up to a much pricier luxury sedan like the BMW 5-Series.