2010 Ford Taurus SHO Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 1, 2011

Pros

  • High performance suitable for adult audiences
  • Fast on the straights, capable in the curves
  • All-weather security of all-wheel drive

Cons

  • Is the styling too subtle?
  • Not as spacious as you'd expect
  • Where's that redline?

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2010 Ford Taurus SHO Buying Advice

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO is the best car for you if you want an all-American performance sedan – and want it supersized. 

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO is the juiced-up version of the reinvigorated 2010 Ford Taurus. It resurrects the “Super High Output” theme last seen in the 1999 Taurus lineup. The 2010 Taurus SHO has a 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 – a whopping 102 horsepower more than the V-6 in the mainstream 2010 Taurus – plus a fortified suspension and all-wheel drive (AWD).

Should you buy a 2010 Ford Taurus SHO or wait for the 2011 Ford Taurus SHO? Go for the 2010 Taurus SHO. The 2011 SHO isn’t likely to change in any significant way, and Taurus could get a facelift as soon as model-year 2012. Buying a 2011 SHO means your car would look dated sooner than a 2010. And you might miss out on incentives buyers of 2010 models are enjoying.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Changes back to top

Styling: The three previous-generation Taurus SHOs were offered in model-years 1989-91, 1992-95, and 1996-99. Ford’s philosophy was always to concentrate on the go, not the show, and so it is with the 2010 Taurus SHO. It has only subtle cues to differentiate it from a run-of-the-mill 2010 Taurus. Moreover, it’s devoid of boy-racer scoops, flairs, or blacked-out trim. No casual onlooker would guess it goes 0-60 mph as quickly as a Dodge Challenger R/T with a Hemi V-8. The 2010 Taurus SHO is based on the re-engineered 2010 Taurus. Ford’s full-size sedan gets a revamped chassis and all-new styling inside and out for 2010. But it retains the basic dimensions of the car that was known from 2005-07 as the Ford Five Hundred and from 2008-09 as the Taurus. Distinguishing the 2010 Taurus SHO from more-basic Taurus models are a few small “SHO/EcoBoost” badges, plus true dual exhausts with chrome tips instead of a double-tipped single outlet. The SHO’s outside mirrors are body colored rather than black or chrome, and its brake calipers are finished in black rather than painted. Finally, the SHO wears a discreet trunk-lid spoiler. Standard are 19-inch alloy wheels with 255/45VR19 all-season tires. This wheel design and tires size is available on other Taurus models, but the SHO’s wheels have a “luster nickel” finish rather than “sparkle silver,” and its tires are rated for higher speeds. Exclusive to the SHO is a Performance Package option that includes unique 20-inch alloys and sticky 245/45ZR20 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar summer-compound tires. The SHO uses the standard Taurus interior layout but with different trim and materials. For example, leather upholstery is standard on the SHO and its seats have perforated, contrasting-color inserts made from Miko suede, basically recycled yarns. Door panels are colored to match. The brake and accelerator pedals are sheathed in aluminum on the SHO, and some dashboard and console trim is piano-black plastic instead of faux wood or metal-finish.       

Mechanical: The heart of the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO is Ford’s new EcoBoost V-6, the first of a family of four- and six-cylinder engines that uses turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and other technology to develop extra power without using extra gas. With 365 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 350 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm, Ford says this 3.5-liiter EcoBoost V-6 has eight-cylinder power and six-cylinder fuel economy. The other 2010 Taurus models also have a 3.5-liter V-6 but without the SHO’s direct injection, turbocharging, or various internal modifications. Direct injection delivers fuel precisely and at high pressure for more efficient combustion, more power, and lower emissions. Two small turbochargers are used because they spool up more quickly than a single, larger one. The aim is less lag and better throttle response. The turbos are water-cooled for durability, and Ford projects a maintenance-free service life of at least 10 years or 150,000 miles for the system. A 355-horsepower version of this EcoBoost V-6 is available in other vehicles built on this platform – the Lincoln MKS sedan and the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossover SUVs. Like other Taurus models, the SHO uses Ford’s SelectShift six-speed automatic transmission, but here it’s modified for strength and quicker shifts. Steering-wheel paddles are provided for manual-type gear changes. The SHO also comes standard with the AWD system that’s optional on other Taurus models. It defaults to front-wheel drive in normal conditions but can send up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels if the front tires slip. The system is specially calibrated for the SHO, and the power steering assist is electric rather than hydraulic for greater heft and more sharpness. SHO-exclusive suspension tuning is part of the program, and Ford adds a sport mode to Taurus’s standard AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control so the SHO driver can delay antiskid intervention – a move that allows the car to drift a bit through corners without automatically cutting engine power or inducing braking. The SHO comes with the same four-wheel antilock braking system used on other 2010 Taurus models.

Features: The 2010 Taurus SHO incorporates all the basic Taurus safety and convenience items, and adds a few exclusive features of its own. It comes with xenon headlamps and is available with a rearview camera that projects its image in the inside rearview mirror; both are features unavailable on other Taurus models. It also has exclusive rights to the SHO Performance Package. This includes special brake pads; even quicker electric steering; a button that shuts off the antiskid system; a 3.16:1 final-drive ratio for faster acceleration than the standard 2.77:1 ratio; stiffer suspension tuning; and the 20-inch wheels with summer-compound tires. Options shared with the rest of the 2010 Taurus line include Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support. If the car is in danger of rear-ending another vehicle it sounds a warning and begins to active the brakes. Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS) is available to warn of unseen vehicles driving in adjacent lanes or to the sides when backing from a parking space. Power sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, massaging front seats, heated rear seats, and multicolored ambient cabin lighting are optional. So is a 390-watt Sony audio system. Bluetooth phone and USB iPod connectivity, and Ford’s Sync system are standard on the 2010 SHO. Developed with Microsoft, Sync delivers real-time traffic, weather, and other information and can provide turn-by-turn directions via voice and dashboard screen. Available in addition to Sync is a voice-activated navigation system, which supplants the standard dashboard screen with a larger monitor that includes a rearview camera projection of its own. The nav system incorporates 10 gigabytes of music storage and can play DVDs on its screen when the transmission is in park.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Test Drive back to top

From behind the wheel:  With a base curb weight of 4,388 pounds, the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO is more than 200 pounds heavier than any car that can reasonably be considered a competitor. Yet, it launches from a stop with gusto and surges to pass or merge with lag-free thrust. Ford’s not fibbing: the EcoBoost V-6 acts much like a well-tuned V-8 – better, in some respects, when you experience its ability to scoot from midrange speeds without requiring the transmission to downshift. Tests show 0-60 mph in a brisk 5.2 seconds.

Alas, this six-speed automatic can be hesitant to hold a lower gear when you might want it to, such as threading through corners or ascending a long grade. You can exert a fair degree of manual control via the steering-wheel paddles. The SHO in fact won’t upshift in manual mode without your consent.  

Nimble it isn’t – not at this size and weight – but the SHO feels planted and balanced in changes of direction, even in bumpy turns. The electric steering is meaty and direct, the AWD grip confidence-inspiring. The SHO is locomotive-stable on straight stretches, too, with no untoward bound or float on wavy surfaces. Brake-pedal modulation is good, though not great, and stopping ability doesn’t quite feel on par with SHO’s ability to summon speed.  

Dashboard and controls:  The 2010 Taurus’s double-brow dashboard creates separate driver and passenger zones bisected by a broad center console. It’s a close-coupled cockpit feel and perfect for a sedan that’s serious about being sporty. Main gauges are unobstructed and crisply illuminated – as is every instrument and control – but Ford neglects to mark the tachometer with a redline. That’s a sin of omission in machine with performance credentials, even one with automatic transmission, but especially troubling in a car you must upshift in manual mode. Speaking of which, doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to push a paddle forward to downshift (decelerate), but rein it rearward to upshift (accelerate)? Not to Ford.

Buttons, knobs, and vents are easily accessible and move without binding. Most are high enough to operate with the road in your field of vision. Same for the message and navigation screens. Sync is a champ, especially when combined with the thorough navigation system. However, relying on Sync for turn-by-turn coaching in test cars provided by Ford was a little dicey because it tended to wait until the moment of no return before delivering the next instruction.

The sense of purpose evident in Taurus’s dashboard design is also apparent in the choice of materials lining the SHO’s passenger compartment. Nothing rings hollow to the touch, and most surfaces are padded or attractively grained. Attention to detail? The small doors covering the console cupholders and storage bins are double-walled panels that open with damped precision.

Room, comfort, and utility:  Ford was surprised prospective Taurus buyers didn’t associate this sizable sedan with notions of “practicality” and “family car” but with images of “style” and “technology.” Add “performance” and you have the SHO. That’s important, because the SHO’s ability to deliver sporty thrills lets it off the hook for some compromises in family-car practicality.

The 20.1-cubic-foot trunk is big enough to swallow the detritus of a U-Store-It cubical. And cabin bins and pockets abound. But truth be told, no 2010 Taurus has the voluminous headroom and limousine-grade leg room you’d expect of car 5 feet tall and 17 feet long. Four adults can ride in good comfort, and three fit shoulder-to-shoulder on the back bench. But nowhere is stretch-out space part of the deal. Thank the front seats’ shape for holding you in place during fast cornering; the SHO’s decorative suede inserts are too slick to contribute noticeably.

The SHO reacts decisively to bumps, feeling a piece as it traverses potholes and tar strips without reverberation. This taut suspension is part of its personality. In the same vein, Ford could have allowed this muscular V-6 to purr a bit louder, the exhaust to growl more. Wind noise is muffled to a distant whisper, too. There’s some road rumble with the 20-inch tires, but taking into account its performance bent, the SHO is maybe too quiet a riot.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Prices back to top

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO pricing starts at $37,995, including Ford’s mandated $825 destination fee. The 2010 SHO is priced similarly to the only other domestic-brand cars with this kind of size and power, the Dodge Charger R/T and SRT8 and its corporate cousin, the Chrysler 300C. And 2010 SHO pricing isn’t far off some tempting import sedans that have less power but still carry four adults in comfort, such as the Acura TL SH-AWD.  

Among 2010 Taurus SHO add-ons is a $2,000 option package that bundles the sunroof, the 390-watt Sony audio, and heated and cooled front seats. A $3,000 option group includes those features and adds a power rear sunshade, heated rear seats, power adjustable pedals with memory, rain-sensing wipers, the BLIS system, and the mirror-mounted rearview camera.

Collision Warning with Brake Support costs $1,195 but must be ordered with one of the above-mentioned options groups; same for the $1,995 navigation system and the $595 massaging front seats.

The SHO Performance Package is a $995 add-on, but must be ordered with the $2,000 sunroof/Sony/heated seat group.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Fuel Economy back to top

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 17/25 mpg (city/highway). Remarkably, that’s the same rating as the mainstream 263-horspower AWD Taurus and helps put the “eco” in EcoBoost. While the base 3.5 V-6 is tuned to run on 87-octane gas, however, Ford recommends the more-expensive 91-octane or higher premium-grade for the SHO.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Safety and Reliability back to top

At the time of this review, the 2010 Ford Taurus and 2010 Taurus SHO had yet to undergo government crash tests that award a maximum five stars for occupant protection (safecar.gov). Ford engineers, however, are confident the 2010 Taurus will repeat the 2009 model’s five-star rating for driver and passenger protection in both frontal and side collisions. That should hold for the 2010 Taurus SHO, as well. 

The Ford brand ranked slightly above average for initial overall quality in ratings compiled by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm (jdpower.com). The 2010 Ford Taurus was too new to be included in the latest quality surveys, but J.D. Power rated the 2009 Taurus about average for overall initial quality.

J.D. Power rates the Ford brand about average for overall reliability. Again, the 2010 Taurus was too new to be included in surveys that measure problems reported by owners of three-year-old models. The most-recently rated of its predecessors, the 2006 Ford Five Hundred, ranked above average for overall dependability after three years.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Release Date back to top

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO went on sale in August 2009.

What's next for the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO back to top

The Taurus SHO will march in lockstep with major changes made to the mainstream Taurus lineup. That suggests no significant alterations for model-year 2011. Some reports say  Ford could facelift the Taurus for model-year 2012 -- model-year 2013 at the latest – and could fully re-engineer or redesign the car for model-year 2015.

For the SHO, that timetable would mean 2012 or 2013 revamps that incorporate most styling changes made to the mainstream line. But if Ford determines the buying public isn’t responding to the SHO because it doesn’t look hot enough or different enough from other Taurus models, it could tart things up with visual cues that shout “performance” rather than whisper it. Those sorts of tweaks could come as early as model-year 2011.

In any event, painting a redline on the tachometer and perhaps rethinking the push/pull paddle-shifter logic would be welcome. More power, of course, is always possible if Ford thinks it can be provided with no effect on fuel economy.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Competition back to top

2010 Dodge Charger R/T and SRT8: With 415-horespower and a $38,000 base price, the rough-and-tumble rear-wheel-drive Pontiac G8 GXP sedan would have been a wonderful foil for the 2010 Taurus SHO. It’s a pity the roomy Pontiac died after model-year 2009. Happily, the Dodge Charger is still around, aging to be sure, but still a persuasive SHO alternative. The R/T model has a 370-horsepower Hemi V-8 and starts around $33,000 with rear drive and around $35,000 with AWD; both rate 16/24 mpg. The rear-drive-only Charger SRT8 has a 425-horsepower Hemi (13/18) and begins around $40,000. The Taurus SHO has better steering and feels more stable at speed than these Chargers, but doesn’t match their rumbling muscle-car vibe. Look for Charger to be restyled and possibly get major mechanical updates for model-year 2012.

2010 Chrysler 300C and 300C SRT: Same sort of feel as the Dodge Charger, with which this Chrysler shares its underskin mechanical design. The Chrysler version aims upscale of the Dodge, and has slightly higher prices. The extroverted 300C gets a 359-horsepower Hemi V-8 and rates 16/24 mpg with both rear- and all-wheel drive. It’s priced in the $37,600-$39,700 range. The 300C SRT8 mimics the Charger SRT8 specs and starts around $44,700. The 300C is also due a serious revamp for model-year 2012.

2010 Acura TL SH-AWD: Thinking of an expressively styled sedan that says, “I’m-buying it for me – the-family-can ride in the SUV?” Think outside the (big) SHO box, and this four-door from Honda’s upscale division comes into focus. The TL “Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive” is smaller than the Taurus, but holds four adults in similar comfort and is built with better interior materials. A smooth 305-horsepower V-6 works through a six-speed manual or a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic. Zero-60 is around 6.0 seconds – still plenty fast on any road -- and saddled with 350 pounds less curb weight, TL SH-AWD feels more agile than the SHO. Fuel economy is 17/25 mpg. The Acura prices out around $43,000, only a couple grand more than you’d pay for a similarly equipped 2010 SHO. The TL was all-new for model-year 2009. No major changes are planned for the next couple of years.