2011 Ford Taurus Performance

7.0
Performance
The 2011 Ford Taurus moves off the line smartly with its 3.5-liter V-6, making 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is smooth and plentiful at all sane speeds, and the six-speed automatic's a smooth operator, but paddle shifters (on SEL and Limited versions) feel a little gimmicky in a big sedan like this.

The Taurus SHO benefits from a lot more power, but it's a little less transformational than in past SHO Taurus sedans—in part because the SHO puts the power to the road with such stoicism and a lack of pulse-raising excitement. The new car's 365-horsepower, turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 version of the same engine breathes easily but not as dramatically as expected. Ford quotes a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 6.0 seconds for the new SHO; the curb weight of 4,368 pounds must mask some of its strength.

As with the other paddle-shifted Taurus sedans, you can leave the SHO Taurus in manual mode and click off shifts as you please, with electronic backup in case your gear choices harm the engine and gearbox. The SHO suspension is tuned for handling, with stiffer shocks and springs, thicker anti-roll bars, and new suspension mounts, and it pays off with crisp turn-in and nicely balanced handling. Hustle it through corners, and the SHO leans a little before it takes a good set and grips the pavement as well as any competitor, save for the Nissan Altima, the handling standout in the class.

The 2011 Ford Taurus and SHO are fast and smooth, and the SHO especially can be hustled along, but they're both too stoic.

Road manners for standard Taurus models are quite impressive; the 2011 Taurus rides more firmly than you might expect from such a big sedan, taut but not high-strung, with a smooth ride and some natural body roll. The steering is direct and precise, and it provides plenty of feedback, a notable accomplishment since it's electronically dialed in, rather than hydraulically assisted. At the same time, you won't forget that the Taurus is a hefty car; it's far from nimble.

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