While it may not be a brand new car, Ford’s SHO version of the Taurus is a solid machine to consider if you don’t want to pay through the nose for a luxury sedan or for a V8-equipped car that has the efficiency rating of an old school bus. It may look a lot like a standard commuter sedan, but believe that this puppy is packing some power along with some of the best brakes, suspension, and automatic gears money can buy if you want to have something turbocharged and American.
This car is a perfect example of one of those “Sleepers” that we’ve talked about, as the 2015 Ford Taurus SHO is basically a performance version of the regular model. However, it does away with a massive wing, a loud exhaust, or an aero package, instead featuring a subtle decklid spoiler, double-walled chrome exhaust tips, and a piano black mesh grill sitting between exclusive HID headlamps, and way more power than one might expect.
Critics may whine about the SHO’s lumbering stance, or how it prefers poshness over performance, but for every negative review you read online about this latest generation of sport sedan there is an equal amount of praise from other critics, as Kelley Blue Book and Consumer Guide absolutely love this often-overlooked Ford. While it has gone virtually unchanged for half a decade, this car continues to deliver the goods on almost every level, as it offers an amazing balance between power, handling, luxury, safety, and value.
Starting around $40,000, the 2015 model gets upgraded via far fewer hard interior surfaces, better materials on both the instrument panel and center console, more sound deadening everywhere, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and woven aluminum trim and pedals. The interior also gets a slew of eco-friendlier materials for everything from cloth surfaces and headliners to sound dampening materials and soy-based foam. Even the seats can biodegrade safely one day.
Another thing that makes the latest Taurus SHO a cut above previous models is that it has received a handful of efficiency boosts, including a smart battery management system, a beefier fuel shutoff system for deceleration, an air conditioning compressor that works smarter and not harder, and special lubricants that keep friction to a minimum. Ford claims that while these upgrades may be minor by themselves, together they’ll give a bigger boost in fuel efficiency and reliability. But that’s just an added perk and shouldn’t be the primary reason why a SHO stands out to you; when it comes to being loaded, well, this bad boy is about as stuffed to the gills as it gets.
Let’s begin our virtual tour with the non-performance side of the coin. If you like options, then the SHO is the best way to go — it has everything the Limited enjoys, but with even more. A few of the nicer features include the MyFord Touch interface, rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry, ambient LED lighting, perforated leather upholstery, heated/ventilated 10-way power front seats with driver-seat memory functions, and a power adjustable steering wheel. Mix that with all-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension and steering, paddle shifters, adjustable aluminum pedals, xenon headlamps, and some SHO-specific upholstery, and you’ve got a pretty sharp looking Cadillac challenger.
Safety-wise, the SHO has a lot of the options you would expect; things like integrated blind spot mirrors, a rear-view camera and parking sensors, and a pre-collision warning system that utilizes automatic brake intervention for adaptive cruise control. It also comes with lane assist and a blind-spot warning system that doubles as a cross-traffic warning system. The 2015 SHO also gets a larger brake master cylinder for improved pedal feel, and it has redesigned brake pads that fight fade and boost stopping power when it’s time to grip the Taurus’s oversized specialty rotors.
Speaking of boost, maybe it is time to hop under the hood and talk for a minute about the SHO’s twin-turbo, 365-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and what makes it so special. This is a huge bump in the power department over the previous generation of SHO, which only had 235 horsepower. The new version has two turbochargers and can crank out 350 pound-feet of torque using smaller turbos that eliminate inertia and thus negating turbo lag. This gives the direct injection V6 better throttle response and increased fuel economy, which hovers around 17 in the city and 25 on the highway if you aren’t constantly spanking the tires.
While these numbers may not sound great in today’s day and age, it’s important to remember that this is a performance-oriented Taurus, which is a pretty heavy car even in lesser trim. It also has torque-sensing all-wheel-drive, which is fantastic for performance and safety, but gobbles-up the gallons far faster than a two-wheel drive model, even when its clever six-speed transmission and 2.77 to 1 final drive are working in overtime. But once you take-over the gearbox with paddle-controlled rev-matched downshifts, manually selected gears are yours for as long as you like, making 60 in under six seconds totally doable.
For those who need more glide in their stride, Ford offers the SHO Performance Package, which comes complete with tuned dampers and springs, sharper brake pads that have been stuffed inside fatter calipers, an overhauled steering rack for quicker turn-in times, a stability control disengage function, one tough 3.16 final drive gear for even more acceleration, a hardcore cooling system, 20-inch machined wheels, and some sticky high-performance summer tires. Mix that with the SHO’s ability to best its competition in the MPG game and you’ve suddenly got a turbocharged sedan that doesn’t suck.