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2013 Ford Taurus SHO Review
More dynamic, but more desirable?
By Nauman Farooq, Photography by Ford, May. 22, 2012

Most people think that the Ford Taurus SHO story started back in the 1980s, but in a way it can be traced much further back than that.

FAST FACTS

1. 2013 SHO models get updated styling updates including a more aggressive front fascia with a mesh grille and larger splitter, plus 19-inch wheels, LED taillights and a decklid spoiler

2. A new Performance Package adds 20-inch wheels with high performance tires, an improved cooling system, performance brake pads, a tighter steering ratio a true traction control off mode and a 3.16 final drive ratio for better acceleration.

3. Powered a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and using AWD, the SHO makes 365 hp and can hit 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

4. SHO models start from $39,200.

In the 1960s, after a botched attempt to buy Ferrari, Ford management asked its engineers to design and build a racing car that could beat Ferrari, particularly at Le Mans. This gave birth to the original GT40, a car that ended up winning the 24-hours of Le Mans endurance race a total of four-times, consecutively, starting in 1966.

Ford laid low for two decades only to then look into the idea of making a mid-engined sports car for the road to compete with cars like the Ferrari 308 and the Porsche 911. This project, which was internally known as GN34, was to use a 60-degree, 3.0-liter, V6 engine that was developed by Yamaha.

Sadly, the mid-engined sports car project was killed off, however, Ford had made a deal with Yamaha to produce a certain number of engines and there was no way to back out of that contract. Now Ford needed to find a home for these 220-hp motors and rather than stick this engine in a Mustang or Thunderbird, someone at Ford came up with the idea of turning the hugely successful Taurus into a sports sedan. Everyone at Ford backed the idea and hence gave birth to the 1989 Taurus SHO (Super High Output). It might have been a last minute idea to salvage a large number of high performance engines, but it worked.

Even when Ford stopped producing the SHO version of the Taurus between 2000 to 2009, the SHO cars still had a strong following, which was hard for Ford to ignore. So when Ford got to work on a new Taurus for the 2010 model year, a Taurus that was to get a high-output, twin-turbo, V6 motor, it was time to bring the SHO back. Upon its return, the SHO has done quite well; well-enough to keep the project going.

NEW-ISH LOOK

 

2013 Taurus SHO front driving rain

 

So with the arrival of an updated Taurus for the 2013 model year comes a new Taurus SHO. But is the new car worthy of the SHO badge or is it just a marketing scheme, playing more on emotion than engineering? We were invited by Ford to see for ourselves if this is a true performance sedan, or just pretender.

2013 Taurus SHO back lake

First thing you should know is that the 2013 Taurus SHO is not an all-new car. It shares its underpinnings and most of the body and interior with the 2010-2012 model year car. But there are quite a few changes on hand also.

From the outside, you’ll find a new, much more aggressive nose with a mesh grille (instead of the horizontal bars on the previous model) and a more pronounced splitter.From the side, you cannot ignore the new 19-inch alloy wheels (standard), which trust us, look much better in person than they ever do in pictures.

Around the back you’ll find new LED taillights and a sleeker rear spoiler. To be able to see better while backing up there is a new reversing camera, which now shows graphics based on your steering angle, rather than just straight lines.

2013 Taurus SHO interior

Climb inside and you’ll find that the interior volume has remained exactly the same, but the finishing is a bit nicer. There’s an updated infotainment system, plus all the old buttons and knobs have now been replaced by a soft touch panel which controls your HVAC and stereo system. This looks very impressive, but is not as satisfying to use.

 

ADDED PERFORMANCE

 

2013 Taurus SHO lake

Pick the SHO Performance Package from the options list and you get an Alcantara suede wrapped steering wheel and on the outside are added even nicer 20-inch alloy wheels with black painted spokes wearing summer performance tires. Also included are upgraded performance brake pads with larger brake rotors both front and back. Gone, however, is a spare tire. Instead there’s a kit to help seal a puncture.

2013 Taurus SHO back driving rain

But wait, there’s more! You now also get sport calibrated steering for better feel, stiffer springs, tuned shocks and stiffer stabilizer bars to give you a more connected feel with the road, plus the AdvanceTrac traction and stability control device now also gets a “Track Mode” with a “True Off” setting, for when you’re feeling a bit naughty.

Not to worry about over-heating when you’re having fun, the package also adds an upgraded cooling system. Plus now you get a 3.16 final drive ratio for quicker off the line acceleration. Our test car had the ‘Performance Package’ option and trust us when we tell you, it makes a world of difference.

The acceleration off the line is truly stunning thanks mostly to the 3.5-liter, twin-turbo, V6 (EcoBoost) motor, which produces 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered to all-wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters plus with the new final drive ratio it now delivers a seriously impressive 0-60 time of just 5.2 seconds.

But more than anything the area the new SHO will outshine its predecessor is on a handling circuit. Standard on all new Taurus models is Ford’s ‘Curve Control’ and ‘Torque Vectoring’ system which will not only slow the car down if its going too fast for a corner, but will also balance the car by braking and transferring power to the wheels that can best use it. Both systems work quietly in the background making you feel like a pro.

2013 Taurus SHO fast wet

One thing we complained about on the regular 2013 Taurus was a lack of steering feel, as the front wheels are too disconnected to give positive feedback. The SHO model with its sport calibrated steering does go a long way to improve this, while the larger wheels with summer tires on the ‘Performance Package’ also help.

Still, this isn’t the kind of car you feel like chucking through the corners just for fun, due mostly to its size. The 2013 SHO is a big car (202.9-inches in length) and it doesn’t feel like it shrinks around as you increase the pace.

THE VERDICT

 

We like the new Taurus SHO. It looks better than ever now and it’s packed with technology. However, we do wish it was more special than it actually is. You see, what set the original SHO model apart was its unique engine. As good as the 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V6 is, it can be found in a variety of other Ford and Lincoln products.

2013 Taurus SHO big splash

 

For a starting MSRP of $39,200 the SHO is quite a lot of car for the money, and will for most people be a very satisfying car to own. But while the new SHO can fulfill the needs of many, we don’t desire one, like we desired the original.

LOVE IT
  • New Styling
  • Performance package
  • Clever drivers aids
LEAVE IT
  • Too big to feel sporty
  • Soft touch buttons on dashboard
  • SHO should get more unique engine