Why We Drove It
SHO stands for Super High Output and that is enough reason to drive this 2013 Taurus (view photos). The Ford Taurus SHO is a stealth performance car packaged in a mainstream family sedan with subtle styling clues. We did a complete review of a 2012 SHO last year, but this time we drove the SHO in the dead of winter with road conditions ranging from snow covered, slushy, ponding water from heavy rain, to dry but salt coated. The less than ideal footing allowed Ford’s big performance sedan to show another talent. The latest generation Taurus SHO comes standard with all-wheel-drive and Ford’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability control. This is one performance car that doesn’t need to stay in the garage when conditions aren’t warm and dry.
2013 Ford Taurus SHO Driving Impressions
The twin turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 produces 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 5,250 rpm. That sounds like a handful in a sedan on snowy roads. Yet with all-wheel-drive and traction control, we found that when driven with a reasonably light touch on the accelerator, the SHO was a foul-weather friend. It goes where it is pointed and the traction control works as promised. The AWD system inspires confidence and makes the SHO reassuring to drive.
With 102 more horsepower and 101 more pound-feet of torque than the 3.5-liter V6 that comes in other Taurus models, the EcoBoost SHO engine is impressive yet very controllable. The twin turbo design allowed Ford engineers to provide boost at both low and high rpm. As noted, the torque peaks at just 1,500 rpm and continues all the way up to 5,250 rpm. That’s important because the Taurus SHO is a big, heavy car. It tips the scales at 4,361 pounds. Still, the SHO has serious power and traction; it will sprint from 0-60 mph in just 5.2 seconds.
The six-speed automatic transmission offers a manual shift mode and there are up-and-down paddle shifters at 10 and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel. Manual shifting is fun, but for the slippery conditions we primarily left the shifter in “D” and practiced our best winter driving techniques with good results.
EPA rates the Taurus SHO at 17 mpg for the city cycle and 25 mpg on the highway. From our observations those numbers are reasonably accurate. Cold weather has a negative effect on fuel economy and we averaged between 20 to 22 mpg on most trips. A steady 65 mph cruise on the highway allows the SHO to loaf along in sixth gear and deliver 28-29 mpg. Of course, if you have a heavy right foot, mileage will suffer, especially around town.
With it cold and nasty outside, the spacious interior of the Taurus SHO is a welcome place. The optional heated and cooled front seat were on the highest heat setting for much of our driving, providing winter comfort without a heavy coat. The leather seats have tasteful inserts trimmed in perforated Miko suede. A nice touch. Taurus is a five-passenger sedan that can comfortably seat five adults. It has a cavernous trunk too, providing 20.1 cubic feet of cargo space.
The very substantial look and feel of the Taurus SHO was reassuring for the slippery wintery road conditions. Ford didn’t try to mask this car’s bulk with either special styling or tuning. That means that the SHO rides like a big car and feels somewhat heavy on the controls. Many people really like this heavier feel. If you prefer a more nimble feel in a car you can fling around, the Taurus SHO may not be for you. Ford’s advanced electric power-assisted steering system has a nice on-center feel and the car tracks well yet won’t be pushed around by gusty winds. The steering is fairly heavy, but the tuning matches the solid road manners of the car.
Taurus SHO comes with 19-inch alloy wheels with Goodyear Eagle low-profile performance tires. Optional 20-inch wheels with Michelin high performance tires are available. We were surprised how much grip the Goodyear Eagles provided in the snow and slippery conditions of winter. Even with the short sidewalls, the Taurus SHO delivers a very comfortable ride. The suspension is tuned for handling but isn’t harsh like some performance cars.