First Drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO Page 2

June 18, 2009

2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Through the hills of North Carolina, we charged the SHO up and down twisting ribbons of asphalt. The pavement wasn't perfect, but the even with a sport-calibrated suspension, there wasn't any significant ride harshness from sharp impacts.  Big pavement swells were also easily absorbed. The steering's turn-in feel was spot on, and the electrically-assisted steering system fed just the right amount of information up the steering column to my fingers. Electric steering systems are getting better, and the SHO's is among the best we've driven. (It also provides for very easy turning at parking lot speeds.)

Hustling through a corner, the 2010 Taurus SHO leans a little before it takes a bite into the pavement. Once set, the feeling is balanced. There is a bit of understeer (push) and absolutely no oversteer (the feeling that the car is going to spin out trunk first). When you push really hard, the front tires begin to squeal, a warning Ford engineers designed in as an audible warning that the car is getting close to its limit.

Curiously, the SHO uses the same brakes as the standard Taurus. While we never felt them fade, we did get the brakes hot enough smoke and stink up acres of North Carolina. Heavy duty brake pads are part of the Performance Pack, but aren't part of the standard SHO package.

I'm not usually a fan of paddle shifters, but on the types of road where we were driving, they were a definite positive. The right and left paddles work the same way; pull for an upshift, push for a downshift. The transmission will not upshift, a characteristic we like. It will, however, down shift automatically under certain circumstances. The logic may seem inconsistent, but on the road it works well.

Ford's gearbox shifts quickly, and according to its engineers, it rips off cog-swaps faster than the automatic in a BMW 335i. The sensation during full-throttle shifts is different from other cars. While some powertrains limit or even reduce engine power during upshifts, Ford engineers designed a torque-matching shift algorithm that delivers nearly identical torque after the shift as the engine was putting out immediately before the shift. The result is quick but smooth shifts in most cases. On odd occasions, however, only in light or moderate throttle applications, the transmission would shift awkwardly, as if there were some slack to cinch up in the driveline.

So, this is how the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO drives--very well, if not a pure sports machine.

Cars should start arriving in dealers near you soon. If you like the new Taurus, check out these links from

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