The changes work exactly as advertised; it's not especially strong off the line, but a very sharp throttle calibration and a rather low first gear makes it feel so; the engine feels especially strong in the low to mid revs, exactly where the revs are going to land in a full-throttle upshift, amplifying the feeling of quickness. The SHO again gets a 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, with turbocharging and direct injection, and making a fat 350 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm (all the way up to 5,000 rpm). Zero-to-60 times for the SHO will be as short as the low-five-second range—so faster than a V-8-powered Chrysler 300C but not quite as quick as an SRT8. Thanks to the wonders of turbo boost, the SHO's rocket-like thrust isn't interrupted by upshifts, and there's seemingly no let-up as you head toward triple digits.
A front-wheel-drive Taurus 2.0T model with an EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is on the way later this year, and that's really the big news, as it should perform nearly as well as last year's V-6 while returning 31 mpg or more on the highway. But at the time that V-6 models hit the market, this model hasn't yet been launched.
In the corners, don't expect the SHO, or any of these all of these AWD Taurus models, to drive like a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan; they handle like large, front-wheel-drive cars, with the system only sending power to the rear wheels when there's measurable slip and the need for more grip, and there's a feeling of stoicism in the way they rarely seem challenged for traction.
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. Road manners for standard Taurus models are quite impressive, too. They ride 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.
For 2013, the electric steering rack is now hard-mounted (to the subframe), which helps tremendously with steering feel on and just off center. Now, the system loads nicely, and as we noticed when especially pushing the Taurus SHO hard on tight corners on mountain roads, you do now feel just a bit of bite and feedback through the wheel. Brakes have been substantially upgraded across the line, and pedal feel is more confident.