SHO: Performance without the constant reminders
We really walked away impressed with the Taurus SHO. In short, it's the sort of sophisticated touring sedan that you could drive rapidly for hundreds of miles a day, enjoying both the Interstates and the 'blue roads,' without a lot of fatigue. It's not a high-involvement car, but that feels like the point: The Taurus SHO has the capability to tenaciously take on a twisty road, and be quite rewarding; it just doesn't remind you of that the other 95 percent of the time, with more noise or vibration, when you'd rather go in comfort.
We also liked the new front-end look most in the Taurus SHO; standard Taurus models get a grille with thin horizontal chrome bars, while the SHO gets a blacked-out metal-mesh grille and lower airdam.
Then comes price. Pricing starts at $27,395, but you'll have to pass the $30k barrier to get MyFord Touch, and to take advantage of all that's offered, you might want the Limited. The entry price for the SHO is $39,995, including destination, and a well-optioned SHO can still land well above $45k—as was ours. That's about the same price as a Volvo S80 T6 AWD, or within a few grand of the starting price for a number of sport sedans like the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E Class, and Audi A6. The Taurus Limited we drove totaled $41,230.
Hemi or EcoBoost?
The SHO's natural competitor, we think, is the Chrysler 300C. Would we rather take a Chrysler 300C or a Taurus SHO? They're about the same price, both with all-wheel drive. And really, it's a hard call, depending on where you are in life; the Chrysler is more straightforward, brash, and edgy, while it's hard to argue with the way the Ford soothes, satisfies, and eats up the miles.
We wish we could say that the collection of changes Ford has given the Taurus for 2013 give it lots more universal appeal, but all said, we're not sure they do. As much as the SHO might hit the mark for a narrow profile of 'comfort-oriented enthusiast,' these two Taurus sedans we drove will still turn away a lot of potential buyers because of their prices, their fuel-economy ratings, or—most likely—their still-oddly-packaged interior.
With the introduction of the four-cylinder EcoBoost Taurus later in the model year, Ford will have its best chance to recast the Taurus for a different kind of shopper; we hope to update you later this year about whether that's the case.