“It’s not for that,” exclaimed one Ford spokesperson. “It was designed as a subtle sports sedan – a sophisticated machine, with performance to spare.”
|1. The 2010 Taurus SHO is the first new one in more than a decade.
2. The 365-hp EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 is shared with Lincoln MKS and MKT but makes 10 more horsepower in this application.
3. The SHO is offered exclusively with AWD starting from $37,995.
4. A $995 performance package adds stiffer suspension, tighter steering, shorter 3.17:1 final drive ratio and 20-inch wheels and tires.
Perhaps, but when you’ve got 365 horsepower and twin turbochargers whooshing under the hood, it’s kind of hard to do anything subtle at all.
Ford is making a huge play on the 2010 Taurus SHO and much like its predecessors a lot of that has to do with the engine. See, this is the company’s first real-world application of its much-touted EcoBoost powerplant, a 3.5-liter, direct-injection V6 with the aforementioned dual hairdryers.
Compared to the standard Taurus, it’s got some grunt. Mash the electronically controlled throttle, and the motor responds enthusiastically. Turbo lag is barely noticeable with plenty of pull from any speed. The power is literally, quite endless, as the engine revs and revs and just keeps going. The only issue you’re likely to have with this engine is its speed. You’ve got to keep looking at the speedometer as much as possible, because if you don’t, you’ll be seeing cherries in the rear view mirror.
Many V6s are quite course when put under load. This one is a lot better than most and thanks the direct injection and turbos, it’s also got a lot of low end grunt – try 350 ft-lbs – more than a contemporary Mustang GT.
Ford and Bosch literally spent months working on the air and fuel systems for this engine and along with the exhaust plumbing, which features a nice big Y-pipe branching out into duals. The results, quite frankly, speak for themselves with 300 ft-lbs of torque available from a diesel-like 1500 rpm all the way to five grand.
After driving the regular Taurus, we didn’t have high hopes for the manual shift feature on the six-speed slushbox, but like the rest of the SHO, it’s calibrated differently. Move the shifter for the six-speed transaxle from D to M and you’ll find that the steering wheel buttons really add extra spice to the mix. They’re much, much faster than those in the SEL or Limited and the more you use them, the better they become. That said, Ford still needs to work out some ergonomic issues – both buttons shift up and down, and the fact they’re attached to the steering wheel means they’re a pain on switchback roads, which surprisingly, we found ourselves on, during our North Carolina test route.
Part of the original SHO’s mantra back in 1989, was that it not only went reasonably fast in a straight line, but it could corner pretty well too. The regular 2010 Taurus is far from a shabby handler and so it comes no surprise that the SHO is even better. Chief engineer Pete Reyes and his team paid special attention to the suspension and chassis tuning. The dampers are firmer and the springs feature specific rates, which along with unique front and rear sway bars and bushings, result in a tauter rider than the regular Taurus, but also in a car that will enthusiastically go deeper, harder and faster into the corners. Helping the cause is the standard torque sensing AWD system and massive 20-inch wheels and tires.
Combined with specifically calibrated steering, which is rather precise and also faster than its siblings, the SHO must rank as one of the most tossable large cars in recent memory. Yes, you can feel the big Ford’s 4,300 lb curb weight, but my golly, can you put this thing through its paces. Understeer is present, but the car just tucks in to sharp, fast corners; the AWD system using its ability to nicely control the torque split.
As a result you never feel wanting for grip, at least in either the dry or rain (we’ve yet to test the car on snow). And the more times you try bend bashing the more comfortable the SHO becomes, it almost as if it’s pointing a middle finger at gravity (remember it’s about as physically large as a Crown Vic).
With massive four-wheel vented discs at each corner and four-channel ABS – the big SHO has some bite to it as well when it comes to stopping. Dive is fairly minimal for such a large car and during our flogging there was no sign of fading – though the ABS is fairly aggressive when you stomp on the pedal at middling to high speeds. But the best part about the brakes? Like the steering they have a real feel to them, which is something that can’t be said about the majority of sedans we’ve driven in the last decade.
The marketing folks at Ford may go on about the 2010 turbocharged Taurus being sophisticated and subtle, but after just one stint driving it, it’s hard to stop SHOwing off.