I tested a Taurus SHO and an all-wheel-drive SEL at a media preview. We later drove a front-drive Taurus SEL with the turbo four-cylinder.
Decent Power With Any Engine
Thanks to punchy midrange torque, the turbo four-cylinder lends energetic passing power. Editors found it a bit pokey off the line, but prompt accelerator response helps the car hustle when needed. EPA mileage totals a good 22/32 mpg city/highway — the best among its conventional gasoline competitors, if just by a hair. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid and 2014 Chevrolet Impala eAssist get better mileage still, but both combine gasoline and electric power.
Enhanced this year with the same valve technology as the Mustang V-6, the Taurus V-6 has 288 horsepower , which is 25 hp more than the 2012. It moves well enough from a stop and pulls energetically at higher revs, with a muscular exhaust note as you take on more speed. Front-drive V-6 cars weigh 214 pounds less than all-wheel-drive versions, which should increase acceleration off the line.
In either car, the standard six-speed automatic transmission needs grooming: It holds higher gears coming into corners, delaying needed downshifts until moments too late, and hunts through gears on hilly roads. Step into the gas to pass and the transmission stair-steps down through multiple gears. A Sport mode does little to change the behavior.
The Taurus SHO automatic's reactions feel quicker, with faster shifts and less indecision. The turbocharged V-6 scampers from a stop, hustling to higher speeds with the punchiness of a V-8. Indeed, our friends at "MotorWeek" hit 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds in their 2010 SHO. That's more than half a second quicker than a V-8-powered, all-wheel-drive Chrysler 300C that "MotorWeek" tested. The SHO weighs 4,341 pounds — lighter than the 300C but much heavier than front-drive competitors from Hyundai, Toyota, Chevrolet and Nissan. For such a portly car, this Ford flies.
In keeping with other full-size sedans, ride quality is very good. The Taurus SHO's sport-tuned suspension picks up a little more chop over bumps, but on high-speed stretches it isolates the cabin as well as its comfort-tuned counterpart. A SHO Performance Package adds even firmer shocks and springs, retuned steering, up-rated cooling hardware and a 3.16:1 final drive ratio for quicker acceleration but lower gas mileage. Our SHO didn't have this package — leaving us a 2.77 final drive instead — but Taurus engineer Carl Widmann says the package removes a lot of the SHO's ride comfort for the sort of buyer "who takes his car to the track every once in a while or just wants to drive like a maniac all the time."