Click above for high-res image gallery of the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

We've just dashed back to the media center from the first press conference of the 2009 Chicago Auto Show where Ford unveiled the new 2010 Taurus SHO to the whoops and cries of SHO enthusiasts. We sat directly in front of a group of identically SHO-shirted "inner circle" faithful that Ford had brought from 11 different states to mark the occasion, and we were privy to more than a few honest-sounding gasps and slack jaws when the horsepower figure (365) was officially announced ("Jesus. Rock #$%@ing on!").

In the metal, the Blue Oval's highest-performance SHO builds very discretely on the standard Taurus's muscular new bodywork, with a unique dark-gray grille and matching 19- or 20-inch alloys, along with distinct parking lamp bezels, a modest decklid spoiler and obligatory badging. Much to our editor-in-chief's chagrin, Ford chose to roll out the new model in maroon and silver, oddly foregoing the SHO-only Atlantis Green hue, but both examples looked attractive in their respective paints.

If Ford has missed an obvious aesthetic trick with the SHO, it's with the engine, which is hidden under an innocuous black plastic cover. SHO enthusiasts have practically made scale jewelry out of the first- and second-generation Taurus SHO's Yamaha V-6 engine and its prominent intake runners, and the new Ecoboost engine looks utterly undistinguished. Thankfully, the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 should provide enough performance to win over the diehards.

Given how many Tauruses (Taurii?) are likely to populate America's roads over the next few years, the SHO is likely to be a first-class sleeper, so subtle are its visual modifications. In any case, Ford isn't shying away from comparing their new baby with flashier, more expensive cars, casually noting that the car's performance figures should compare favorably with BMW's 5-Series and Chrysler's 300C all-wheel drive, the latter of which marketing and communications vice-president, Jim Farley, proudly notes is $900 pricier. Check out our gallery of live shots below, and then jump back to our Officially Official information post by clicking here.

Live photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

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