2011 Ford Taurus SHO Review and Prices
The 2011 Ford Taurus SHO is the best car for you if you want a big, fast, tech-rich sedan at an attainable price.
The 2011 Ford Taurus SHO carries over unchanged from the 2010 Taurus SHO, save for introduction of two new exterior colors, Kona Blue Metallic and Sterling Gray Metallic. SHO stands for Super High Output and identifies the high-performance version of Ford’s full-size 2011 Taurus sedan. Highlights include a robust 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6, responsive six-speed automatic transmission, and standard all-wheel drive (AWD).
Should you buy the 2011 Ford Taurus SHO or wait for the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO? Wait for the 2012 Taurus SHO if you crave the latest styling and gadgetry because Ford’s likely to freshen the SHO’s appearance and amp up its techno profile with the reconfigurable MyFord Touch operating system and updates to the Sync multimedia software. Buy the 2011 Taurus SHO if you realize the styling changes for 2012 will be subtle and you’re not a hard-core technophile. And remember that with car sales in general regaining some health, good deals could be harder to find by the time the 2012 models hit showrooms.
2011 Ford Taurus SHO Changes back to top
Styling: There are no appearance changes for the 2011 Taurus SHO coming off its model-year 2010 revamp. The 2011 SHO continues as a strategically spruced-up edition of the mainstream Taurus. Ford avoids adolescent add-ons like hood scoops or a big rear wing. Instead, it visually distinguishes the SHO from the mainstream Taurus with subtle touches, such as small badges, chrome-tipped dual exhausts, and a modest trunk-lid spoiler. The SHO comes with the same 19-inch wheel and tires size available on other Taurus models, though it has exclusive rights to a Performance Package with 20s on unique alloys. Inside, SHO shares the standard Taurus cabin design with its Mustang-inspired instrument panel and center console with floor shift. Some dashboard trim is unique, however, the pedals have aluminum detailing, and door panels and seats get SHO-exclusive inserts. Taurus is among the largest sedans on the road, but a lowish roofline denies it the headroom you might expect. And rear-seat leg-room isn’t as generous as it ought to be in a car this size.
Mechanical: Here’s where the 2011 SHO really parts ways with the tamer Taurus. Its engine is the EcoBoost version of the mainstream models’ 3.5-liter V-6. The SHO adds two turbochargers and high-pressure direct fuel injection to pump out 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque versus 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet in other Taurus models. Like every Taurus, the SHO has a six-speed automatic transmission. And as in the top version of the regular Taurus, it comes with steering-wheel paddles to give the driver greater control over gear selection. But the SHO’s transmission is specially calibrated to provide crisper shifts and, unlike in its lesser brethren, its manual mode lets the engine rev clear to the redline: the SHO relies on the driver to decide when to upshift. Similarly, the Taurus SHO comes standard with the all-wheel drive system that’s optional on two of the three mainstream Taurus models. Again, it’s adjusted to suit SHO’s performance requirements for quick acceleration and sharper handling. SHO also has higher effort steering -- with electric rather than hydraulic assist – and tauter suspension tuning. It includes a button that allows the driver to delay antiskid intervention from Ford’s AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control system, which is standard. Overall, SHO delivers on its performance promise. It isn’t small-car agile and stopping power is nothing special, but road holding and high-speed control is never in doubt. And the EcoBoost powertrain more than lives up to its billing, delivering robust V-8 performance with V-6 fuel economy.
Features: The 2011 Taurus SHO is no stripped-down hot-rodder version of the regular Taurus. It’s a performance-luxury flagship, boasting standard leather upholstery with SHO-only suede inserts. Xenon headlamps are standard, and it’s the only Taurus model available with a rearview camera that displays on the inside mirror. No other Taurus is eligible for the SHO Performance Package option that includes quicker-still steering and stiffer-still suspension tuning. The package also includes a mode to disable the antiskid system altogether, an acceleration-enhancing final drive ratio, and the 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires. SHO buyers can also pick from the regular Taurus options list. Items of note include Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support, which warns of an impending impact and slows the car if the driver fails to respond. Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS) is an option that warns of unseen vehicles during lane changes or when backing from a parking space. A power sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, massaging front seats, heated rear seats, and multicolored ambient cabin lighting are other extra-cost SHO items. So is a voice-activated navigation system with rearview camera. Standard on the 2011 SHO is Bluetooth phone connectivity, a USB iPod interface, and Ford’s Microsoft-developed Sync system that provides real-time traffic, weather, and turn-by-turn directions via audio and dashboard-screen readouts.
2011 Ford Taurus SHO Prices back to top
Base price for the 2011 Ford Taurus SHO is $38,585, roughly on a par with 2010 SHO and again a nearly a $4,000 premium over the top-of-the-line regular 2011 Taurus, the Limited model with AWD. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Ford fee for the 2011 Taurus SHO is $825.)
Options prices for the 2011 Taurus SHO remain stable, as well. The popular option package that bundles the sunroof, a 390-watt Sony audio system, and heated and cooled front seats costs $2,000. The package that includes those features, plus the BLIS system, the mirror-mounted rearview camera, heated rear seats, power adjustable pedals, and a power rear sunshade is priced at $2,800.
Collision Warning with Brake Support costs $1,195 and includes adaptive cruise control, but to obtain it requires that you also order one of the aforementioned option groups. The $1,995 navigation system and $595 massaging front seats come with the same caveat. Fortunately the $995 SHO Performance Package has been made a stand-alone option on the 2011 model.
2011 Ford Taurus SHO Fuel Economy back to top
The 2011 Ford Taurus SHO has laudable fuel-economy ratings for a car of its size and performance. In fact, its EPA ratings of 17/25 mpg city/highway are the same as for a regular 2011 Taurus with AWD and 263-horsepower version of this V-6. That non-turbo engine, however, is tuned for 87-octane regular-grade gas. Ford says the SHO’s EcoBoost will run fine on 87 octane but recommends higher-priced premium-grade 91-octane or above to extract its full performance.
2011 Ford Taurus SHO Release Date back to top
The 2011 Ford Taurus SHO went on sale in August 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Ford Taurus SHO back to top
Along with the mainline 2012 Taurus, the 2012 Taurus SHO is due a styling update. Both branches of the Taurus family were restyled and re-engineered for model-year 2010, and the model-year 2012 changes would constitute a midcycle freshening. Such updates typically involve revisions to nose and tail but don’t alter other body panels or include major mechanical updates.
The 2012 Taurus SHO, however, could get special attention. SHO sales haven’t set the world on fire, and Ford may have come to the conclusion that potential buyers are unwilling to shell out a premium for a beefed-up car that looks too much like any other Taurus. If so, the 2012 SHO could see the wick turned up on its looks more than Ford significantly than the base models. Ford can’t risk having this important performance and technology showcase languish.
The timing of the midcycle freshening is predicated on possible model-year 2015 or 2016 changes that would be more far-reaching and possibly signal the introduction of the all-new, next-generation version of the Taurus platform.
Incidentally, the basic architecture that underpins the Taurus family is also used by the 2011 Ford Flex crossover SUV, by the Lincoln MKS luxury sedan, and by Lincoln’s premium version of the Flex, the MKT. All those vehicles also offer a version of the EcoBoost V-6 but only the Taurus SHO is positioned as a true high-performance vehicle.
2011 Ford Taurus SHO Competition back to top
2011 Dodge Charger R/T: Nothing subtle about the muscle versions of this full-size sedan, which gets a full redesign for model-year 2011. The all-new Charger performance versions will follow a familiar formula that relies on the famed Hemi V-8. The 2011 Dodge Charger R/T will pack around 370 horsepower, come with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and be priced a few thousand dollars below the Taurus SHO. The all-new version of the even higher-performance Charger SRT8 might bow as a 2012 model and remain priced a few thousand above the SHO. The SRT8 should continue as rear-drive but with a 400-plus-horsepower Hemi V-8.
2011 Chrysler 300C and 300C SRT8: The Dodge Charger’s upmarket platform-mate likewise gets a full redesign for model-year 2011. The 300C is the V-8 version of this Chrysler flagship sedan and should again be a counterpart of the Charger R/T. The Charger SRT8’s general performance credentials will translate to Chrysler, as well. The 300C and 300C SRT8 will have different but hardly less-bold new styling than the redesigned Charger. They’ll aim upscale, however, to take on import-brand performance sedans as well as the EcoBoost-V-6-equipped Lincoln MKS. The Chryslers should carry at least a $4,000 premium over their Dodge counterparts.
2011 Acura TL SH-AWD: It isn’t a domestic car, it’s priced around $44,000, and it’s more properly considered a midsize sedan compared to Taurus’s full-size dimensions. But the TL Super Handling-All Wheel Drive accommodates four adults as well as the SHO -- and maybe better if you consider Acura’s superior-quality interior materials. The TL SH-AWD’s V-6 is down some 60 horsepower from the SHO’s, but it’s carting around some 350 pounds less curb weight and is working through a very sophisticated AWD system. Bottom line: both the SHO and TL SH-AWD have all the performance you could want for the public road, and both aim to put a special blend of speed and technology in your driveway.
UPDATED BY JIM GORZELANY