For those in search of a large car with truly exceptional fuel economy, Ford will soon start selling the Taurus with the 2-liter EcoBoost engine employed in its Edge and Escape crossovers. This turbocharged and direct-injected 240-horse four, a $995 option, delivers adequate motivation for this big sedan largely because of its relatively high torque rating (270 pounds/feet).
But its most notable performance is in the EPA mileage ratings, where it earns a 22 m.p.g. estimate for city driving and 32 on the highway. That highway number is pretty remarkable for a vehicle that weighs more than two tons, and as good as it gets in SizableSedanville.
And then there's the Taurus life of the party that I just tested, the fun-loving SHO.
The SHO ("Super High Output") is a hot-rodded version of the Taurus. This performance-minded acronym dates back to the late ‘80s, when Ford put a high-revving, 3-liter, 220-horse Yamaha V-6 in its sedate family sedan. That was followed by a nice-running but somewhat star-crossed Yamaha V-8 (some of them developed expensive problems).
Now, we are back to a V-6, the nifty, 3.5-liter Ford EcoBoost. This engine is a cousin of the 3.5-liter V-6 in the F-150 pickup that has been tuned for performance rather than tugs-of-war. Its twin turbochargers and direct injection conspire in the cloakroom to develop 365 horsepower, which is enough to vault the all-wheel-drive SHO from 0 to 60 in little more than five seconds.
The supporting cast is pretty good, too. The steering is responsive and provides pretty good feel for an electric system. Its new brake system, which the SHO shares with the hefty Flex crossover, is bigger and beefier than it was, affording improved stopping, and less fade during extreme performance driving.
Handling is another plus. The SHO's sport suspension gets it through the twisties with a lot of composure and little body roll. The 20-inch, V-rated Michelin performance tires on the tester helped matters by turning dog-with-a-bone tenacious in the corners.
For those who want an even higher performing car than the standard SHO I tested, there is the $2,000 SHO Performance Package. This hardware, which ranges from high-performance brake pads and stiffer shocks and springs to a larger radiator and oil coolers for the engine and transmission, strikes me as something you'd want for club racing, and little else.
The stylish SHO's wardrobe remains largely unchanged for 2013, with the notable exception of a new, trapezoidal black mesh grille. But it remains a car that gets looks and compliments. ("Oh, I really do like your car," said the smiling young woman who wheeled my wife to the curb after she was treated in the emergency room for a broken ankle.)
The SHO's interior was at once comfortable and roomy. The 10-way power front seats were supportive. The backseats afforded good leg and shoulder room, although folks over six feet would find their heads becoming intimate with the headliner.
The interior design was clean and tasteful, harboring no fake-adoo exotic veneers.
The SHO tester was nicely equipped, as the leather upholstery, reverse sensing and rearview camera might suggest. And this, coupled with the expensive EcoBoost engine and standard all-wheel-drive, is why it is the priciest Taurus of them all with a base sticker of $39,200.
Contact Al Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2013 Ford Taurus SHO
Base Price: $39,200.
As Tested: $44,485 (including shipping).
Standard Equipment: 3.5-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive, and a luxury litany ranging from leather power front seats to alloy wheels and adjustable aluminum pedals with memory.
Options: Include heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, premium sound, active park assist, blind spot monitoring.
Engine Performance: Exhilarating.
The Ben Key: Four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.