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

Incendiary Statement of the Day: American automakers haven't made many good sport sedans. It isn't because we can't build 'em – it's just that for one reason or another, U.S. automakers have historically refused to take the segment seriously, all but ceding it to the Europeans and the Japanese.

Thankfully, the Detroit 3 have produced some models that buck the trend, and even better for us, most of them are recent offerings. Cadillac's stonking new CTS-V isn't just a sport sedan – dollar-for-dollar, it may very well be the best in the world. Pontiac's G8 GT and GXP are two excellent examples, and Chrysler's 300C SRT8 and Charger SRT8 make decent cases for themselves, although they're arguably more muscle cars in sedan wrappers than four-door barnstormers. What else is there? In the last 25 years or so, not a whole lot. Once you get past the first-gen CTS and perhaps the Lincoln LS, you're dealing with short-lived, small-volume factory skunkworks models like the Dodge Spirit R/T and SRT4, as well as the Ford Contour SVT. In fact, you're skating on thin (sport compact) ice... until you get to the first- and second-generation Taurus SHO of the late-Eighties to mid-Nineties.

Ah, the Taurus SHO. While it's probably true that the fog of time has conspired to give us a rosier view of the 1989-1991 SHO and the 1992-1995 model that followed the original, few would deny that its spirited 220-horsepower Yamaha-sourced 3.0-liter V6 was anything less than a wondrous engine, or that the standard Taurus' revolutionary slipstream bodywork and tidy dimensions lent itself well to the genre's ethos. Further, for an American mid-size sport sedan, it was the only game in town, yet it acquitted itself handsomely against contemporary Nissan Maximas, and pricier competitors like the BMW 3-Series.

The SHO took a wrong turn (as did the entire Taurus franchise) with the softer V8-powered 1996 third-generation model, and slow sales saw the model expire by 1999. A decade has passed since that car went off to the Great Crusher in the Sky, and now Ford has returned with an altogether different SHO for 2010. Does it live up to the original, or is it more in keeping with the underwhelming model that preceded it so long ago? Let's find out.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Chris Paukert / Weblogs, Inc.

As we told you in our review of an SEL model, the new Taurus is all grown-up. Stretching a massive 202.9-inches overall with a wingspan of 76.9-inches, this new model is a very big boy indeed. In fact, thanks in part to the weight of the standard front-biased Haldex all-wheel drive system, obscene levels of comfort and safety equipment, and more sound deadening than a top-flight recording studio, this new SHO buries the needle on the scale at 4,368 pounds. Weight and outsized dimensions being the enemy of performance, this isn't exactly a good start.

What is good news, however, is the inclusion of Ford's excellent 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which features direct injection and a pair of turbochargers to yield 365 horsepower (a fresh pony for every day of the year!) at 5,500 rpm and 350 pound feet of torque when nourished with premium fuel. Coupled to the standard all-wheel drive and the same six-speed SelectShift automatic found in garden-variety Tauruses, Ford says the SHO is good for a 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds. That's in the mix with more expensive V8-powered cars like the Chrysler 300C SRT8 and BMW 550i.

Most importantly, the Ecoboost is an epically flexible engine, a powerplant for which "torque curve" is an ill-fitting metric – this mill has a torque shelf, with peak twist available from 1,500 rpm on through 5,250 rpm before the engine tapers off at its unmarked 6,200 rpm redline. Better still, fuel economy rings up at 17 miles-per-gallon city and 25 on the highway, which is just a sliver off the standard Taurus' 18/28 ratings. Credit for the EcoBoost's stout performance can be traced to its higher-alloyed crank and connecting rods that allow for higher boost pressures.

As we soon found out, the SHO picks up its avoirdupois and runs to illegal speeds with no discernable turbo lag, shift hiccups, or tire squeal. Hell, it doesn't even squat that much – it just goes. While we don't miss any of the aforementioned events, we would like a nice exhaust burble or some sense of mechanical mayhem under the hood. The SHO is too quiet for its own good.

In fact, the engine is so subdued that Ford realized it had to dial some sound back into the car, so they added a speaker-like sound generator on the intake that pushes engine noise back toward the cabin. It helps, but it isn't nearly enough if they're going for a sports sedan vibe. During a stop on our test run around Asheville, North Carolina, Ford furnished us with a Chrysler 300 AWD for comparison's sake, and while we preferred virtually every aspect of the Blue Oval including its interior, ride, and power delivery, we wanted to bottle the Hemi's sound and hand it to Ford's engineers as a starting point.

Similarly muted is the SHO's exterior styling, which builds on the garden-variety Taurus' confident looks with a bare minimum of changes. The most noticeable differences include a modest decklid spoiler, 19-inch "Luster Nickel" wheels, a pair of body colored mirrors, HID headlamps, and a set of dual chrome-finish exhausts. Naturally, there's the requisite special badging and minor details like black brake calipers, a darker three-bar grille and model-specific parking lamp bezels, but by and large, the word here is "understatement." If the old SHOs were sleepers, this new model is a Michael Jackson-spec hyperbaric chamber.

Inside, there are additional SHO-specific flourishes, including aluminum IP trim, leather seats with "Miko Suede" inserts, aluminum pedal pads, branded sill plates and floor mats, and perforated sections on the leather-wrapped wheel. As with the SEL model we tested the day previous, our SHO possessed a beautiful interior with a scarcely believable amount of tech goodies, but we would have traded those suede inserts for a bit of additional bolstering and some of the electronic gewgaws for a driver-selectable sport shift program.

Naturally, in order to best manage all of the EcoBoost's additional chutzpah, Ford has stiffened up the suspension's shocks, springs and strut bushings, added thicker anti-roll bars, and interestingly, it has substituted electric power assist steering for the standard car's hydraulic setup. Generally speaking, these systems aren't known for the quality of feedback they deliver. That's the case here as well, although the steering is no less communicative than the unit fitted to other Taurus models. Perhaps some of the blame should be shared with the 19-inch 255/45 Goodyear Eagle RS-A radials our tester was shod with. They're part of the reason the SHO has such a composed ride, but they aren't terribly athletic shoes, and we found they protested too early and too often when pushed hard into corners.

To be fair, if we had nearly 4,400 pounds of metal bearing down on a few square inches of our contact patches, we'd probably take to howling with a quickness, too. Simply put, retuned suspension or no, uprated tires or no, the SHO simply possesses too much mass to feel tossable, too much heft for sporting drivers to want to grab it by the scruff and chuck it into a corner willy-nilly. The car's all-wheel drive system is a great safety net and pulls it through corners faithfully when carrying inadvisable amounts of speed, but we couldn't find much joy carving up the otherwise inviting roads that spaghetti around the Great Smoky Mountains.

Ford's suspension tuners are among the best in the business, but they aren't magicians, and they can't suspend the laws of physics. Maybe Dearborn's SVT team could've exacted some more engaging behavior out of the suspension (they were not a part of the SHO's development), but even that's a stretch. The bottom line is the SHO weighs more than a Mercury Grand Marquis (with 60% of the burden looming on the tires that steer) and combined with a front-biased all-wheel drive system, well... it's a recipe for push, not entertainment.

Perhaps we should have waited for a tester with the optional SHO Performance Package, but we couldn't get hold of one to sample. That options group includes a more aggressively tuned electronic power steering unit, a shorter final drive ratio (3.16:1 versus 2.77:1), a sport mode and defeat switch for the electronic stability control, and 20-inch 245/45 Goodyear F1 summer tires. It also includes a much-needed set of performance brake pads. The braking system is unchanged from the standard Taurus, and we detected some fade while pushing harder on some downhill mountain runs. From where we sit, the Performance Package ought to include a higher top speed as well (the SHO is governed to a miserly 131 mph), but it doesn't. We'd be willing to pay the extra $995 for all of this, but on top of the not-inconsiderable $37,995 base price ($37,170 + $825 delivery), we're not sure why it isn't standard. After all, isn't this the performance model?

If we are beginning to sound a bit disappointed, well, we are. But perhaps it's our fault. By fixating on the "SHO" badge glued to the trunk lid, we duped ourselves us into thinking that this car would be different than what it turned out to be – despite the fact that we already understood that the regular-strength 2010 model intentionally orbits a wholly different planet than it did in the Eighties and Nineties. We thought we were getting something emotional – a genuine sport sedan. But real sport sedans respond to quick changes in direction like an Olympic gymnast. Real sports sedans ferret out corners like washing machines seek out pocket change. Real sport sedans are drawn to a pointed edge. But this SHO is safe-as-houses – it's all smoothed-off curves.

Don't get us wrong, Blue Oval faithful. There's plenty of meat here to get worked up over, but there's just not enough flavor to slake our red-meat enthusiast side. What Ford has wrought with the SHO isn't really a sports sedan at all – it's a four-door cruiser with sporty undertones. It's an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to high performance. And while this big bull generates some pretty handsome numbers, it fails to inspire drivers to push harder, something that we desperately hoped it would do.

In the end, we prefer to think of Ford's highest-spec Taurus as a compellingly priced full-size luxury car for those who aren't hung up on expensive labels. It's an exceptional executive express, and it'd surely be a monumental partner on a transcontinental journey. It's even a great sleeper in the grand tradition. But it isn't a sport sedan. And to us, at least... that means it isn't really a SHO.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Chris Paukert / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sorry Charlie, the Infinity optioned to the level of the Taurus is *NOT* less expensive and far from "much less expensive".

      Additionally, your lighter, more expensive Infinity will be looking at the tail lights of this Taurus.

      • 6 Years Ago
      You're right, a sedan that sprints 0-60 in 5.2 (5.4 in some articles) and will hit 100 in the 1/4 just aren't sport sedans.

      Never mind that it will carve up roads faster than most are legally allowed to drive them without a hint of body roll...

      Never mind that it is better equipped than nearly all of its German or Japanese Luxury Sport Sedans for far less money...

      In fact, forget that it is amazingly quiet which most sport sedan commuters would love...

      Just because it has an SHO badge, and you have a preconceived notion that SHO = Raw, The fact that this sedan is cooked well done, you don't like it.

      Get over it, Ford went at the Taurus line to show what the company is capable of, not to show what it used to do. This is a new spin on an old classic. The Taurus and the Taurus SHO in the early 90s were fine examples in case studies of building a better car than anyone was anticipating. Welcome to the 2009 redux.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I thought this was a blog for cars. Enthusiast blogs wouldn't have any news on mileage logs and design updates on the Prius. Most of us here are enthusiasts, but the blog is written for John Q.

        I think plenty of people will buy the SHO and though it probably won't be a resounding success, our over-saturated auto market pretty much guarantees that only a few models will be grand-slams.

        I'm impressed though, my 3300lb rear-driver with only 215hp and 218lb/ft gets the same gas mileage as this honkin beast and it's slower, too. Looks faster, is slower. Time to drill some holes in the engine block for some injectors and find me a pair of turbos, I guess.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Perfectly said.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Any car that is simply appliance-like will never have a place in my garage. This is a blog for car enthusiasts, and this car offers nothing to enthusiasts, while still being a respectable design.

        Is that wrong? Not really. But it doesn't make a lot of sense to design a car for people that are not passionate about cars. If they don't care, they don't care. I've never heard anyone complain about a car having too much steering feel.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It isn't a question of raw versus refined.

        It's a question of good brakes versus not good brakes.
        It's a question of plow understeer due to an FWD system with part-time rear drive versus center-diff AWD or RWD.

        The car basically comes off as an Impala SS done right. That is a car with too much bulk and too much motor that is pretending to be a sporty car but doesn't pull it off.
        • 6 Years Ago

        Truth be told, a buyer who wants a "raw" performance car would go for an Evolution or something. The buyers of the Taurus are probably grown up now (I'm guessing at least 40's an up) and Ford is probably right in giving them a more "grown up" car--some lux to go with their "go".

        It's a stellar car, but a different kind of Taurus SHO, in a different era, for a different demographic. Times change!
      • 6 Years Ago

      "This is the way I see it when it comes to full-size sedans for around $40,000:
      If you want an overpriced and overweight Accord, go for the TL.
      If you need an Elantra with a V8 then get yourself the Genesis V8.
      When you need handling and speed and a 6speed, get the G8 GXP.
      If you want quite, comfort and speed, looks like the Taurus SHO will give you that."

      Dude, you are WAYY underrating the Genesis. My friends owns one, and it makes every other car I've driven (including a CTS and 5 series) feel directly inferior to it, in terms of quietness, ride quality and even handling (okay, 5 series beats Genesis on the last one, but who cares)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Would be nice to see the same Autoblog testers trying out the Aussie Falcon XR6 Turbo for comparison. Aussie cars have very different suspension setups to their US counterparts usually (the reason the Falcon diverged from the US model in the first place way back in the 60s was the requirement for extra durability over very rough roads) It's no baby (think Crown Victoria), but weighs less and has more power (270kw up to 310kw for the F6 model) and is a very entertaining drive, happy to flick out the back end at a moment's notice, and equally happy to straighten up when you tell it to. Ride is a bit harsh but there's the more expensive and luxurious G6E Turbo if that's what you prefer.
      • 6 Years Ago
      /waiting for model year '12 comparo of lightened SVT SHO vs manual-tranny-equipped Nissan Maxima...

      I'm surprised nobody's mentioned (what's supposed to be) the quintessential 4DSC.

      As of '10 however, both the Nissan 4DSC and the SHO are claiming to give more of a thrill than they can actually deliver.
        • 6 Years Ago

        1. ll why is it fair for the maxiuma to have a manual? they both have automatics now with maunal mode. so its even.
        2. for 2010 sho: 365hp 0-60 5.2 secs 13.6 quartermile maxima 305 6.4 0-60 14.7 in quarter, whos the one that needs to loose weight? or yet get more power.. there is noooo way a front drive 4 door car is ever getting close to that without being over 44k. name the last fwd drive to hit 5,2 stock? prolly none.
        3. ford tested this sho around the ford proving ground. i saw a video about it. trust me it handles around a track. this is just a first drive. this sites doesnt give u any spec or perfomance data at all.
        4. nissan has no awd to carry..
        5. nissan cant touch this car in terms of fit finish, standard options, available optiions and as so far the past 3 years ford is more reliable as a whole company. ie less prioblems per 1000 vehicles.
        6. ford 2012 sho will have 415hp plus. no maxia will ever touch it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Alright....you boy racer types have got to quit doing reviews! It is not a Sports Car!!! It is a sports sedan!!!! I refer to my write up on the SEL yesterday. NO. You do not want a lot of engine noise in the cabin. That is like all the idiots who buy Harley's and then (modify) their exhaust systems!!! I do not want everyone and his bother to hear me coming!!! This car is about Stealth!!! It is about blending in and taking on a M5 and being able to keep up with it for less than HALF the price. NO it will not handle like a Vette, 5 Series, or other sporty sedans. It is a luxury Sedan that is a sleeper. People do not instantly know it is an SHO until they are staring at the trunk!!!! Is there anything this size to compare it to other than a 7-Series that will move through the corners any better??? This car does a lot and fills a gap that is not even there for most marketing types. I do believe that I would rather have this than an AUDI. The AUDI is so small in comparison that it is a joke to put a real (read family of four all being at or over 6 feet) American family in and drive it anywhere with any comfort. This car is about a family guy who has not given up his sporting pretensions and when the family is out of the car he can cut up or cruise luxuriously down the Interstate. It is not about the stiffest suspension that jars your molars out of your head like you were driving some teeny bop car!!! IT is Luxury and Performance. It does not have to out do every thing on the road...just most vehicles on the road, and it needs to do this Stealthily...just like the original SHO. Now if we could only get a 6-or-8 speed manual!!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. Stop trying to make this car into something it isn't. It's a very nice sedan that happens to go like a bat out of hell.

        In fact, I don't like this:
        "they added a speaker-like sound generator on the intake that pushes engine noise back toward the cabin"

        I want my power to be smooth and quiet. Don't artificially add noise.

        If I was shopping in the $40K range, this car would be at the top of my list. It does everything well.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Exactly what I would have said. Thank you.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thank you and the few other people who get this car. It's not meant for a guy in his late teens or early 20s (like me). It's meant for someone who has a family that wants a big saloon with a good amount of power. This offers import quality (if not better) for a lower price (compared to the vehicles in the same class and size range). This car is after the Benz S class (I may be wrong im not 100% sure with Benz), the BMW 7 series, and the Audi A8.

        S Class: starts at nearly $90,000 and weighs a whopping 4,465 lbs
        7 Series: starts at just over $80,000 and weighs 4564 lbs
        A8: Starts at $74,000 and weighs 4409 lbs
        SHO: Starts at just over $37,000 and weighs 4,368 lbs

        (Yes I do know the German cars are just the base models for that series and the SHO is the upscale trim for the Tarsus. But that is what the SHO can be compared to)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Will, you nailed it.

        The folks who complain about the 40K Ford SHO either can't afford it, aren't in the target market for it, or can't get past their import myopia to consider it.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Well...once again Ford did it all wrong.

      For starters it is WAY overpriced...which means the Lincoln rebadge is so outragesouly priced, that it won't sell any.

      Second, it drinks fuel like a fish...which isn't a bad thing, until you realize that Ford's 3.5 V6 drinks fuel like Hyundai's 375 HP 4.6 V8.

      Third, the interior is nothing special...very bland.

      Fourth, it is wrong wheel drive.

      Fifth, did I mention it was priced all wrong?

      Sixth, the exterior will put you to sleep that's how boring it is.

      Seventh, it is FAR too porky. It is like a sedan on an SUV chassis.

      Eighth, the name is all wrong. The Taurus brand is severely damaged...this will hurt it's sales.

      Ninth, it is slower than the original.

      Tenth, no manual...instead flappy paddles that are all wrong.

        • 6 Years Ago
        You have your facts wrong, and it's people like you that post incorrect information that bother me.

        First off, in 99 The SHO cost right arounf $32K...now it's a bigger and better car, for JUST around $40k? that's not overpriced.

        17/27 is DRINKING fuel? yeah it's an AWD 4k pound car....it's not your neighbors Prius.

        Styling is a personal opinion, but hold judgement until YOU actually sit in one.

        While RWD would be nice. Where I live I rather have front/AWD, once again personal preference.

        the exterior puts you to sleep? Are you blind? It is the best looking Taurus Ford has ever designed.

        Also it is the FASTEST stock taurus to date. Please get your facts straight.

        • 6 Years Ago
        @matt: A top speed of 131 versus 141, its all the same at 80 on the highway.

        Sure it's expensive, it's a Halo car, they'll sell plenty of regular Taurii... And the exterior styling is fantastic. I deemed as car of the show at Detroit this year and it was all the 4 guys in the car talked about heading home. Like I said in an earlier post, it's not a show stopper, but very rarely is a large 4 door family sedan the star of the show.

        Two of the guys at the Detroit show with me get company cars, they are both jonesing for the Taurus to hit dealer lots.

        Not all successes require Corvette and Bimmer lovers' approval.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Your points are off a bit. You act as if AWD shouldn't affect value, performance, or gas mileage.

        to your point on power and fuel consumption, the Ford develops 10 less HP, but motivates two extra wheels and gets the same mileage, that's not bad considering AWD is quite less efficient.

        The interior is much better in person, the touch and feel of the materials can't be shown in pictures.

        The AWD system can provide full 100% to the rear. And with all 4 wheels driving it is still wrong wheel drive? Not for most people, and certainly not for people in snowy areas that many times will not even consider rear-wheel drive vehicles...

        You clearly haven't been paying attention if you think the exterior is boring. Wait until you see it in person. It is as much of a show stopper as a four-door family sedan can be. And it's strange that you gravitate towards the Hyundai when in this comparison, but avoid discussing the styling of that vanilla-mobile, I have yet to notice one on the road, sure I've seen them, but I don't notice them.

        The Taurus brand has the strongest cache for any Ford sedan. And it was the name that ushered in a new era of Ford in 86. Mulally hopes to do it again in 09-10

        1991 SHO - 6.6 0-60 15.2@92.5 1/4
        2010 SHO - 5.2 0-60 13.7@103 1/4

        Aren't you tired of being wrong?

        • 6 Years Ago
        "First off, in 99 The SHO cost right arounf $32K...now it's a bigger and better car, for JUST around $40k? that's not overpriced."

        And look at how well it sold!! Between 1996 and 1999 Ford sold 20K SHOs. Saying that the new one is NOT overpriced and using the past SHOs as an example is stupid. The old ones were outrageously priced as well. THAT is why they never sold.

        "While RWD would be nice. Where I live I rather have front/AWD, once again personal preference."

        FWD/AWD is for people who don't know how to drive. I live in Minnesota...and if you know what you are doing, RWD is a non-issue.

        "the exterior puts you to sleep? Are you blind? It is the best looking Taurus Ford has ever designed. "

        "Designed" is a bit of an overstatement. From a distance, it looks like a Sonata.

        "Also it is the FASTEST stock taurus to date. Please get your facts straight."

        How is 131 MPH faster than 141 MPH?
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Aren't you tired of being wrong?"

        it's called "trolling." if people wouldn't respond, he'd get bored and go away.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's a great car, but reading reviews from other sites (of the SHO), the other reviewers seem to say the same thing: it's a great cruiser, but it simply isn't tossable and doesn't quite measure up performance-wise like the original SHO did. It's a shame the thing has to weigh as much as it does, because Ford could have easily shaved off quite a few pounds of sound-deadening stuff or whatever and easily improve performance.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sure, they could have done it, but then the auto-rags would have lambasted them for road and engine noise.

        People, you can't have it both ways, anymore. You can't have a FULL-size car that will comfortably carry five adults, plus their golf clubs, give you almost 400 HP, be ridiculously safe, extremely quiet, have insane tech features, and will weigh 2700 LB. Crash testing and people's better sensibilities have erased that prospect, even with exotic materials. Why? For every pound removed from the car, the consumer will demand a feature that more than replaces that pound.

        This car really does pack a large punch, and while it's big and heavy, it also has scores of features that can't be found at this price point.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Good points man, but you know what would happen if they took away the sound deadning materials, etc? The reviewers would say "rough, noisy, crude," etc. There is no satisfying the automotive press.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Anybody wish they could drop this engine into a G8 with a stick? That would be the best dollar for dollar sedan and American company ever sold (if not built on American soil).

      Ford should buy the tooling and put a Ford badge on it.

      The car is just a testament to the fact that big sedans should be rwd. They can't handle so much power so they need awd and when they do, they are heavy as a damned SUV.
        • 6 Years Ago
        No need to buy the G8 tooling, give Ford Australia to money to build the Falcon XR we have here in Australia in left hand drive. Better than the Commodore (G8). Read some reviews on the XR6 Turbo, I love mine :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      To most of you,especially Matt,if GOD himself built you a car to YOUR specs,you would still whine like a little sissy girl and her barbie when her head falls off!!!! Don't buy one,go near one or even look at one on the road.Just keep picking apart most Ford offerings and buying your FOREIGN made junk that continues to shoot the American economy in its already bleeding back!!! WA-WA WA !! Like a little sissy girl !!!!!!!!! Ford is doing good things wether you like it or admit it!!! Mine will be Silver and MINE. Made in USA
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed, he is a troll and will find anything to complain about........... well because he is a whiny overly pick person who has nothing better to do then sit on autoblog and complain and argue with people on the internet.
      • 6 Years Ago
      People need to think of this SHO more as the mature one, it's quick, looks good, has a nice interior, and a nice ride. While not drawing too much attention. It's not the grunting tire smoking 24/7 car it was in the past. American companies need to stop trying to make new old cars all the time. I mean they need to keep a few the same (IE the muscle cars), but stop building the past and start building the future. For what I have read and seen Ford has made a great example of what they can build for the future.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Increased exhaust noise can be fixed with a set of Magnaflows. They are bound to come out with a set for the Taurus SHO.
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