By Gary Chan
- Engine – Smooth as silk
- Quiet interior (for a performance car)
- Ride quality rivals a European full-size sedan
- Microsoft SYNC
- Sometimes bigger isn’t always better
- 10-way power adjustable Multi-Contour front seats didn’t make my backside happy
- Luxury car price for a (very nice) Ford sedan
I was in college when the first Ford Taurus SHO came out with the Yamaha-built V-6. Back in the day before the Internet became a big funnel of information and porn, I remember reading all the car-buff mags and drooling over its awesome 220-horsepower. It was with great interest that I wanted to drive this new Ford Taurus SHO with the cool redesign that possessed a very sporty and European-look. The fact that it was painted Candy Red Metallic surely didn’t help matters (*grin*) … where are the keys!
Our Taurus SHO tester was fully loaded with most of the available options from the Rapid Spec 402A package ($3300): metallic red paint ($300), the 20″ 5-spoke aluminum rims ($700), navigation ($1700), and the multi-contour seats ($600). Scanning down the long list of options, the Rapid Spec package included a lot of fancy features that move this high-powered sedan into the near-luxury category — rear seat heaters, blind spot detection, rain sensor and auto-high beam, rear camera, adjustable pedals, power moon roof, Sony 12-speaker audio system, and heated AND cooled front seats.
The first thing I noticed is that it’s a big car. Get in and back it up out of a parking space or try parking it into one and you are immediately aware of its immense size. Thank goodness for the back-up camera. I came to rely upon it all the time to park or to back out of parking spaces, and found it quite useful in small parking lots. The high rear makes it difficult to see easily see out of the rear or the rear side windows. However, on the open road, it’s a different story. The interior is hushed and devoid of wind and road noise. Attributes that you’d expect from cars of a higher class. At lower speeds, the steering seems a tad boosted, but at speed, it’s well-weighted and provides responsive feedback. I have to admit that while driving the SHO, I reminded myself that this was a “Ford” appreciating the fact that the Chief Engineer (Pete Reyes) did his homework and produced a car worthy to compete with the European and Japanese competition. Having driven several cars with blind spot systems, the Ford’s implementation with a small round LED that illuminates in either side-view mirror proved to be useful and non-intrusive.
The suspension is firm providing responsive handling, but also absorbing road bumps and irregularities. As I sped over the speed bumps at the office, all I heard was a muted “thump-thump” with no cabin bounce at all. Regardless of the speed traveled, I was treated to a smooth ride that included long stretches of straight highway, curvy mountain roads, and dirt fire roads.
Unlike most paddle shifting cars, Ford uses thumb-shifters above each left and right 10 and 2-o’clock steering wheel spoke. I used the paddle shifters for a bit, but found the action of pushing with my thumbs a bit abnormal after a while and returned to the automatic transmission. Trigger thumb-shifters aside, the SelectShift automatic transmission shifts smoothly and downshifts rapidly when pushed. I chose to leave it in “auto” for the majority of the test because I could trust it to give me the correct gear when needed.
As the first car I’ve driven with a capless-filler system, it’s pretty cool. I just opened the gas door, inserted the gas nozzle and didn’t have to remove (or forget) anything. Why wasn’t this thought of before?