Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 3.5L V6
Power:
365 HP / 360 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Automatic
0-60 Time:
5.1 Seconds
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,343 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
20.1 CU-FT
MPG:
17 City / 25 HWY
The Most Fun You Can Have In A Full-Size, All-Weather American



The American full-size segment isn't an overly welcoming place for those of us who worship at the altar of skinny-pedal antics. While European automakers are happy to deliver their customers a raft of monolithic luxury barges with Saturn V levels of thrust, We The People have been largely left with coma-inducing hardware like the Cadillac DTS, Chevrolet Impala and Lincoln MKS. Meanwhile, bruisers like the Mercedes-Benz E550 4Matic, BMW 550i xDrive and Audi A6 all boast all-wheel drive capability with sports-car besting performance cocooned in the threads of a tailored three-piece suit. These days, if you want serious big-car, bad-weather go with a domestic badge on the hood, you have just a few options, including the 2013 Taurus SHO.

So far, Ford says it hasn't had any trouble convincing buyers to abandon traditional big-boned performance vehicles for the SHO resurrection. Around 10 percent of all Taurus sales leave the showroom with a SHO badge on the fender, and half of the performance sedan's sales have been conquest buyers sniped from brands like BMW and Audi. For 2013, this D-class athlete boasts a slew of mid-cycle changes to keep the model fresh. If, like us, you have a hard time imagining a buyer skipping the 5 Series for a Taurus, a few new exterior tweaks, a more aggressive brake system, a reworked version of MyFord Touch and a new track performance package are all designed to help change your mind.
2013 Ford Taurus SHO side view2013 Ford Taurus SHO front view2013 Ford Taurus SHO rear view

Chief among those changes is an all-new front end. Designers have bolted on a new hood, complete with a reworked fascia and scowling headlights to match. A massive single-inlet grille replaces the old design to give the SHO a somewhat sportier countenance. With a black mesh background and chrome framing, the grille drops all the way down into the lower fascia to mingle with a set of LED fog lights. The look is fresh and helps set the SHO even farther apart from its more pedestrian siblings. Slip to the sedan's side, and it's easy to spot the SHO-specific black side-view mirrors and subtle badging laid into the front fenders.

Designers have bolted on a new hood, complete with a reworked fascia and scowling headlights to match.

Ford has also rolled out a new 20-inch wheel design, and while the geometric spokes certainly won't be for everyone, we love the combination of black paint and raw alloy. Throw in details like the SHO emblem laid into the rim and we're suitably taken. The 2013 SHO offers fewer changes out back, though a trim-specific deck lid spoiler is part of the package.

We remain disappointed to see the unattractive black plastic cladding draped along the lower body stay on for another year. Ford made a smart move with the 2013 Mustang by deleting similar trim work in favor of painted body panels – a decision that always does much to improve exterior aesthetics of a vehicle. While we don't mind the trim on the base Taurus, we think it has no business hanging around a model designed to lure buyers out of BMW showrooms.

2013 Ford Taurus SHO grille2013 Ford Taurus SHO badge2013 Ford Taurus SHO wheel2013 Ford Taurus SHO taillight

Inside, the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO continues to offer a refined and attractive cabin with a few small tweaks. The vehicle's pillars are now wrapped in cloth, and the center console features a soft-touch cover in place of the Rubbermaid materials of the outgoing model. Ford has worked to better differentiate the SHO from its lesser siblings with new dash appliques, and the textured metal finish looks and feels excellent. The center stack is dominated by a large touchscreen interface for the recently improved MyFord Touch system. With new virtual buttons that are easy to see, the graphics are big step forward, though our brief time with the gear was too short to form an opinion on whether or not the voice-activated functionality and general speed is any better than previous iterations.

The cabin almost can't help but feel small for the segment.

Designers have also bolted in seats with a bit more support and reworked foam for more comfort, though the buckets are still far from worth writing home about. With only the faintest pretense of bolstering, they left us pining for the seats in even a base 535i. That's a shame, because the workmanship is well executed. With handsome stitching, contrasting faux-suede inserts and brazen SHO emblems embroidered across the seatback, the pieces are nicely finished, but their broad acreage made us feel like they'd be just as happy in an Econoline.

There is no arguing that the Taurus is anything but a massive vehicle. With a sprawling 112.9-inch wheelbase and a total length of 202.9 inches, this sedan fills parking spaces with the ease of a fat man in a little coat. Unfortunately, that girth doesn't translate to wide open spaces indoors. The cabin almost can't help but feel small for the segment. With 41.9 and 38.1 inches of front- and rear legroom, respectively, the Taurus finds itself in the company of mid-size creations like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagen Passat. Even the Ford Fusion delivers nearly half an inch more room up front.

2013 Ford Taurus SHO interior2013 Ford Taurus SHO seat detail2013 Ford Taurus SHO gauges2013 Ford Taurus SHO multimedia system display

Still, that news likely says as much about the swelling of the mid-sized segment as it does the cozy quarters of the SHO. The BMW 5 Series, for example, serves up half an inch less leg room than the Taurus SHO up front and two inches less out back. Vehicles like the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E550 4Matic fare no better when towed against the bloated mid-sizers.

Engineers addressed one of the largest complaints hurled at the 2012 model: the brakes.

So, what could possibly talk us into forgiving the SHO its foibles? While Ford left the 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 under the hood and its six-speed automatic transmission largely untouched, engineers addressed one of the largest complaints hurled at the 2012 model: the brakes. With a larger master cylinder and brake booster pressing on 13.8-inch front rotors and 13.5-inch rear discs, the 4,343-pound bruiser now sheds speed as quickly and as predictably as it generates momentum. The new pieces are eight-percent larger up front and five-percent beefier in the rear to help the system dissipate heat more effectively and resist fade under heavy abuse.

While the pedal still feels a bit too soft to hold its head high among the rest of the sports sedan segment, the new kit is a massive improvement. Whereas last year's SHO could turn us skittish with enough speed and a quickly approaching apex, the 2013 model is good for surprisingly athletic sprints up or down your favorite mountain. Ford has thrown in brake-based torque vectoring to help keep the sports barge headed in the right direction, and the system intervenes with little to no drama. With the added grip of all-wheel drive, the 2013 SHO feels surprisingly nimble. Get past the notion you're piloting a vehicle approximately the size of a New England county and there's fun to be had behind the wheel.

2013 Ford Taurus SHO

Enough fun to consider regular trips to your favorite track? Ford certainly thinks so. The company has unveiled a new Performance Package for the SHO that includes hardware like springs and dampers with specific tuning rates, a recalibrated power steering system, a more robust cooling system and 20-inch wheels clad in summer rubber. More importantly, the package features a traction control system with a "true off" mode for our kind of hijinks. As fun as those goodies sound, we still aren't really convinced SHO buyers are the kind to regularly don a helmet and send high-dollar summer compound tires to their smoky graves. Ford says the SHO National Owners Club, however, relishes in doing just that. Guys, if you're reading, we'd love to come out for a track day.

We didn't expect a vehicle that tips the scales at well over two tons to feel as well balanced and nimble as the SHO does.

We will admit that the SHO makes for a surprisingly poised performer. With a 15:1 rack coupled to an electronic power steering system, turn-in is initially a bit vague, but sharpens up nicely once the real sawing begins. Honestly, we didn't expect a vehicle that tips the scales at well over two tons to feel as well balanced and nimble as the SHO does.

If you like what you see, Ford will kindly ask for $39,200 for a ticket to ride, plus a $795 freight charge. Our tester, which came equipped with goodies like a voice-activated navigation system, adaptive cruise control and Ruby Red Metallic paint, rings up at $46,075. That kind of cash falls well below what buyers are expected to pay for supposed competitors like the BMW 550i xDrive starting at $64,300 or the less powerful Audi A6 Quattro, which starts at $49,900. Likewise, the Mercedes-Benz E550 4Matic is no easier on the wallet with its $59,790 MSRP.

2013 Ford Taurus SHO rear 3/4 view

With its 365 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque on hand, the 2013 Taurus SHO is capable of an estimated run of 5.1 seconds from standstill to 60 mph. That thrust bests the A6 by about .4 seconds and the big E-Class by a shave, but falls just short of the 4.7 seconds served up by the considerably brawnier 550i xDrive. Surprisingly enough, we'd wager the Taurus would be capable of hanging with those high-brow Europeans even after the track turned twisty. Is the SHO as nice as its Old Country counterparts inside and out? Certainly not, but any deficiencies are quickly made up by the MSRP. At nearly $20,000 less expensive than its closest Euro counterpart, it's no wonder Ford says half of SHO buyers come from luxury brands.

At this point, you're likely wondering why we've avoided the two V8-powered elephants in the room; the Chrysler 300 SRT8 and Dodge Charger SRT8. While it's true the big American bruisers offer big thrust and smart handling, their 470-horsepower 6.4-liter V8 engines put them in a different class altogether, and they can't be had with all-wheel drive.

With its refreshed exterior, interior tweaks and more substantial braking system, the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO is an improvement on a recipe that's been largely abandoned by other domestic automakers. Loaded with technology and easily optioned without breaking the bank, this sedan continues to offer buyers a legitimate alternative to Europe's army of all-weather bruisers.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 263 Comments
      timbrands
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's wrong with someone preferring a big, competent, American sedan? And trading in their Audi/BMW/Merc in on it? I've driven one and it's very impressive. The fit and finish is excellent. I don't care for the new wheels (others are available and there's always the aftermarket) the black cladding is passe I suppose. I had a 95 SHO 5 speed manual years ago, the 13 SHO is a different kind of car......I'm hoping the next Fusion based SHO will be lighter and more space efficient. If I had the $$$ I'd consider it.
      Starkeesha
      • 2 Years Ago
      That spoiler has got to go!
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Its good to see the SHO get good write-ups, but I personally think the restyled front-end looks worse now than it did last year. Also, I am not sure why AB is complaining about the black/dark gray plastic cladding on the lower part of this car's exterior. I actually kind of like the look and it should protect the lower part of the car from getting chipped from rocks. While this size of car is definitely NOT in my taste, I really think if I had to pick a full-size car, I would end up with either a 300 or Charger.
        SCOTTM
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        I have mixed feelings about the black body cladding too; however, I did hear it does serve a dual purpose in lending the illusion of a lighter vehicle while protecting the paint from road debris, from today's softer compound tires.
          SatinSheetMetal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SCOTTM
          If you glance at the first 3 photos in the article you could certainly miss it and just think it is a smaller car.
      StegRacing@youtube
      • 2 Years Ago
      And we're expected to welcome this with open arms when it replaces the Falcon here in a couple of years? I highly doubt it. Certainly not sticking a 3-ton caravan on the back of it with any ease. Or doing 1200 kms with 2 baby seats and 3 adults, or, and this one will make a difference, certainly not taking it bush, or anything even remotely rough. Good car for it's purpose, just not ours. Sold alongside the Falcon, sure. Replacing (and i know it's too late), not good business.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @StegRacing@youtube
        Why would you tow a 3-ton caravan, head into the bush, or tackle rough terrain in a car? That's ridiculous. A proper ute or SUV is clearly more appropriate for anything truly "rough." I've driven in the Australian bush several times, and I picked a Hilux - the proper vehicle for the job. If a Falcon can get through it, it's not rough. In any case, the one you'll see in a few years is going to ride on a different platform - not that it will really matter, because it's a people-hauling sedan, and that's what it should be used for.
          StegRacing@youtube
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          We are talking about the real needs a lot of Aussies have, not that they should simply buy another car. You forget about the majority of people who don't have much money and can only afford/want one car. I have a 99 Falcon and have: *towed over 3 ton (including trailer) and a full passenger tally multiple times over 1000kms, *taken it opal mining through bush (quite 'rough' at times) and over huge stretches of car battering corrugations in and around Lightning Ridge, and bush in country Victoria and NSW, *rallyed it a handful of times but with no mercy and including light jumping, *do/did a lot of burnouts, doughnuts etc. in it (i'm becoming more responsible now, promise), *and have thrashed the beans out of it at a couple of track days at Wakefield Park (youtube.com/stegracing). And I have driven it home EVERYTIME from EVERYTHING and it still purrs like a kitten. In 13yrs and 150,000kms it's had one real issue, 4 months ago it did an oil pump gear something-or-other ($20) while in the driveway. And that was after 6+months of foot to the floor pizza delivery with, now apparent, fairly low oil. I'd like to see your Hilux do all of that, Sir. And with the same level of comfort and economy (i've seen just under 8ltr/100km measured over a whole tank with brisk but logical throttling). Stereo's pretty good too but it ain't stock ;+)
          StegRacing@youtube
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          Here's a summary of my reply: You say, "If a Falcon can get through it, it's not rough." I say, "If you can't get a Falcon through it, you ain't tryin' hard enough!"
      Will
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sounds great but the curb weight makes me weary. I will have to drive one for myself to believe that it is truly as nimble as they say.
      donnieorama
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm thrilled that Ford is making a great full-size sedan. But I'd still rather have a Lincoln Towncar--because it's RWD.
      Matthew Simmons
      • 2 Years Ago
      I LOVE this car but....$46k!!! Whoa that's a big chunk of change.
      - v o c t u s -
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's with the huge low-profile, flower-power rims? SHO is supposed to be a sleeper
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @- v o c t u s -
        It is the "I am not too smart so I think I have my car must be equipped with huge blingy alloy wheels like every other car in suburbia" syndrome. No practical reason whatsoever.
      Drakkon
      • 2 Years Ago
      How soon before this engine ends up in a Mosler, Rossen or some other small volume manufacturer?
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great all round car.
      speed12sil
      • 2 Years Ago
      Still the same tight space up front. No idea how they managed to make that central divide so huge and make the driver feel stuck inside that little space between the door and the divide. Just as bad in the front passenger seat. Sat in the old and the new 5 and E and neither is anywhere as claustrophic feeling as this car. Bleh.
      MechE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Those rims are not an improvement. I actually like the pre-2013 version more. An aftermarket drop will do wonders for the looks.
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