2015 Ford Taurus SHO

The Taurus SHO is the quickest, best-handling and most technology-packed member of Ford's full-size Taurus sedan family. It boasts a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 along with a sure-footed all-wheel-drive system and loads of luxury features.

Overview
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 pre-facelift model, Ford did recently upgrade 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 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 SHO comes standard with SYNC, Ford's Bluetooth-based connectivity system that allows smartphone users to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.

Also on the standard equipment list is MyFord Touch, an infotainment system that builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyFord Touch also replaces conventional sound system knobs and buttons with a center-mounted eight-inch touchscreen, dual 4.2-inch displays in the instrument cluster and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the Taurus SHO are advised to try before they buy.

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 uses twin turbochargers, as opposed to a single unit. The reduced size of each turbocharger results in diminished 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 recently received 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 steering system, 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
The Taurus SHO benefits from electronic torque vectoring, a technology that 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.

The Taurus SHO also features 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 heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control a remote start system, a rear view camera, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with an auxiliary input jack, SYNC with MyFord Touch, heated, power-adjustable exterior mirrors, power-adjustable pedals and 19-inch painted aluminum wheels.

Those looking for even more features can chose from two options packages and numerous stand-alone extras.

The Group 401A Package adds a 12 speaker, 390-watt Sony sound system with HD radio, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a Blind Sport Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert.

The Driver Assist Package brings adaptive cruise control, Collision Warning with Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning and Active Park Assist.

Individual options include a moonroof, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, a voice-activated navigation system and multicontour seats with built-in massagers to help keep the driver and front passenger alert and comfortable on long drives.

Occupant Safety
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.

Options include Collision Warning with Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning and a Blind Spot Information System.

Key Competitors
The Taurus SHO's closest competition comes from the Dodge Charger lineup. The AWD, HEMI V8-equipped Charger is similar in price and performance to the entry-level SHO; if you're looking to spend more, the impressively powerful Charger SRT8 can be had for nearly the same MSRP as a loaded SHO.

Though its RWD configuration can't foster the same sense of foul-weather confidence as the SHO's AWD system, the Charger SRT8 counters with a 470 horsepower motor that provides significantly more rapid acceleration.