The 2010 Taurus SHO is so American it should be sold only in red, white and blue.
It's slightly overweight, has more high-tech gadgets strapped to its hip than a Japanese tourist and touts its green street cred with a 365-horsepower turbocharged direct-injection V-6.
SHO, which stands for Super High Output, is a fantastic car, though it never felt like the complete package.
Now, I'm not poking fun at Americans or the Taurus SHO, for that matter. I'm merely acknowledging out loud what we all quietly know.
Subtle has never been the American way. We are a people who say "look at me" as often as we can. We dance in the end zone, then tweet about it in case someone didn't see it. We're brash, we break stuff and then snarl about it. Just watch the Super Bowl on Sunday and count how many times players quietly return to their position after a big play.
The Taurus SHO should be taking notes.
It tries too hard to act normal, when it should grab a little more attitude. This is 2010, not 1932 -- though there are similarities.
If you've got direct-injection and two turbos attached to your 3.5-liter V-6, let people know it. Turn off the electronic stability control and smoke all four tires in that standard all-wheel-drive. Wave an arm out the window, signal a first down and see if 350 pound-feet of torque can dislocate a shoulder.
A little smack talk, please. Anything less would just be un-American.
The performance brother to Ford's flagship, the SHO holds a special place for the Blue Oval. It was introduced in 1989 as a limited-production vehicle; though after selling 15,000 the first year, Ford kept it around for 10 more. Wolf in sheep's clothing
The new model maintains the Taurus SHO tradition of understated looks. The car was specifically designed to resemble a sleeper but act like a racer, according to Ford.
The suspension and steering are dialed in perfectly for such a big sedan -- the original Taurus SHO was built as a midsize car. The new SHO sports big slabs of sheet metal and high beltline.
The optional SHO Performance Package provides an even tighter ride, practically eliminating body roll through hard corners and comes with bigger brakes, which this car could use on the regular version, too. There's even a sports mode that will clamp down the ride.
The electric power-assist steering feels well-weighted through turns. Even on more subdued driving on the highway, the Taurus SHO provides a solid, quiet, smooth ride.
It may have tons of power at the ready, but for the most part you forget you're in a monster machine when you're driving. It feels a little heavy on the road -- it weighs 4,368 pounds -- but in a well-built sort of way; call it Super Husky Optimization. Hitting 90 mph in this car is as easy as breathing.
Its gas mileage, however, suffers from all of that weight and power. While the EPA has come out and said the SHO can hit 17 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway, my unofficial testing put my combined mileage around 15 mpg. In fairness to Ford, I was not driving the SHO like an EPA tester. I tended to emphasize the "Boost" part of this particular engine's name more than the "Eco" prefix.
This car has all of the attributes of something special. Most people won't know that when you drive up, though.
There are few differences between the SHO and regular Taurus exteriors. Designers gave it specially painted rims and 19- or 20-inch high performance tires, a deck lid spoiler, two chrome exhaust tips and new grille. There are also different parking lamp bezels and some SHO badges sprinkled about the car. But a quick glance won't reveal much.
The SHO should pop a little more when it drives by. Might I suggest glitter and a giant hood scoop? Attitude shift
If people can't tell the SHO is extraordinary, this could lead to years of therapy and self-esteem issues -- which would lock in the car's Americanism. Nowadays everyone is special; the Taurus SHO should embrace it.
That old-school attitude of speak softly and whack people with a big stick just can't work in our narcissistic modern times.
The SHO needs to shout more from the tops of parking garages that it's got paddle shifters, a silky smooth six-speed automatic transmission with downshifting rev matches and can outperform just about any mainstream large sedan on the road. After all, it's true.
What's also true is the interior. While nearly identical to the regular Taurus, the SHO felt less impressive. Like its exterior, there are subtle differences, such as the aluminum pedals and leather-trimmed seats with Miko suede inserts.
Some of the silver trim, especially around the instrument cluster and on the passenger side, felt and looked cheap. It's a strange phenomenon: When you peer into the cabin it looks great; when you sit in it, it doesn't. SHOing promise
But there's no denying the comfort it provides. The roominess makes it an excellent choice for someone who has to carry around five American-size adults.
Technology-wise, the Taurus SHO offers a buffet of gizmos and gadgets. From the upgraded Sync to blind-spot detection, this Taurus SHO lets drivers keep their eyes on the road.
There's also adaptive cruise control, which adjusts the car's speed to those in front of it; Ford's capless fuel cap -- it's a fuel cap with a hole in it; and lots of other features that do everything from swivel the headlights, watch for traffic as you back up and rub your derriere as you drive.
If that's not showing off, I don't know what is. And that's what I like to see: brazen confidence ready to take on the world. Don't hide under the Taurus name, be yourself, be the king of the road.
Go on, SHO me.
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