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2013 Ford Taurus SHO Quick Drive

The 2013 Ford Taurus SHO attempts to put a premium spin on the full size sedan. Does it succeed?

The 2013 Ford Taurus SHO is indicative of just how far Ford has come in recent years; The historic automaker seemed to have lost its mojo some years ago, and its lineup was evidence enough. But Americans -- ever so fond of a comeback -- are witnessing one in the storied Detroit automaker. If you haven't seen a Ford Taurus lately, the 2013 SHO model will shock you: large, commanding, and with an attractive, plush interior, a lot has changed. But the Taurus faces no shortage of competition. The 2014 Chevrolet Impala has been restyled to impress, and the Hyundai Azera is an attractive option as well. The Dodge Charger has plenty of American muscle car appeal, and the Chrysler 300 is at least every bit as commanding as anything in the segment. With a bevy of literal heavyweights, how does the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO fare? We spent a week driving Ford's full size sedan to find out.

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Model and Price

The Ford Taurus is available in four select trims, with the entry-level SE model starting at $27,495 after delivery. Even the most basic Taurus comes equipped with 17-inch wheels, LED taillights, a power driver's seat, and more. The SEL, Limited, and SHO models each add equipment and features, with the top of the line SHO starting at $39,995 after delivery.

We tested the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO model, priced at $45,785. The SHO counts on a host of standard equipment befitting a top of the line trim, such as: 19-inch wheels; HID headlights and LED taillights; 10-way power front seats; a leather wrapped steering wheel; and Sync with MyFord Touch. Our model also added the 402A package -- Ford should investigate renaming these -- which includes: HD radio; heated and cooled seats; premium Sony audio; active park assist; rain sensing wipers; a blind spot monitoring system; heated steering wheel, and impressively and to the delight of your passengers, heated rear seats. Our model also upgraded the regular SHO wheels to 20-inch painted aluminum wheels, voice activated navigation, and an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.

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Safety and Key Features

The Ford Taurus SHO comes equipped with front and side airbags, antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, a blind spot monitoring system, backup camera, and a post-crash alert system. In government crash testing, the Taurus was given an overall rating of five stars, the highest possible rating. The Taurus received the highest mark possible in front and side crash tests, and four out of five stars in rollover protection. The IIHS awarded the Taurus a Top Safety Pick designation, achieving a "good" rating -- the highest possible -- in all tests.

While much of the competition opts for a V-8 engine here, Ford has decided to employ an enhanced version of its turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, capable of producing 365 hp, with a generous amount of that power applied on the low end. But while the initial goal may have been to achieve better fuel economy, our staff saw low-teens combined mpg, essentially what we would have gotten with a V-8.

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Family Friendliness and Utility

The Ford Taurus SHO has LATCH point anchors to secure a child seat, and you can fit two in back with relative ease. But while the Taurus may look tall and wide, the interior isn't as roomy as the exterior bulk suggests. Where the Taurus excels however, is in its trunk cargo room. The trunk is easy to access, and cavernous, to say the least. With the rear seatbacks folded, you may be able to leave the F-150 parked in the garage for smaller jobs.

Comfort and Quality

The 2013 Ford Taurus SHO is an able freeway or city cruiser. While it has plenty of oomph and surprising handling -- thanks in part to its all-wheel-drive system -- the Taurus is also relatively comfy and quiet, attributes that are very important to those shopping the segment. But a couple of our editors did take issue with the seats, saying they are "flat and gripless," and lack "thigh support." Rear legroom -- while sufficient -- also lags behind the competition. On the bright side -- literally -- our model was equipped with attractive ambient lighting that reality added a premium feel to the vehicle at night.

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How it Drives

The SHO is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine, tuned to 365 hp compared to the non-turbo 290 hp engine of the same size that's featured in the lower trims. But that premium in power comes at a price: fuel efficiency, which averaged something closer to V-8 mpg. But the SHO's V-6 offered great acceleration, and managed road imperfections fairly well. The all-wheel-drive system provided excellent grip, and controlled the heft of the Taurus. Yet while we found the Taurus quick, it still felt unnecessarily bulky and heavy, and one editor noted the "terrible rearward visibility." The SHO's suspension has been tightened for a sportier ride, but this Taurus suffers from a confused identity; Its neither wholly geared towards comfort, nor is it exceptionally sporty, finding itself instead somewhere in between.

Summary

The 2013 Ford Taurus SHO is the automaker's top-of-the-line full-size sedan. The SHO is undoubtedly the sporty end of the Taurus range, but we're not sure it matches the sporty prowess of the Dodge Charger R/T, nor does it boast the comfort of the Chevrolet Impala, the Hyundai Azera, or even the Hyundai Genesis, which does a better job at managing comfort and sport, while offering lots of content for far less money. The Ford Taurus features a premium interior, and is a dramatic leap forward in terms of design and appeal from the previous generation. But it lacks the interior room and comfort of the old Taurus, and at nearly $46,000, finds itself on the pricier end of the segment.

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Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $45,785
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Highway: 25 mpg
EPA Combined: 20 mpg
Cargo Space: At the top of the class, with a cavernous trunk
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Easy to Install, Excellent rating.
Estimated Combined Range: 380 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: N/A for SHO model.

Notebook Quotes

"While the SHO's acceleration was impressive, the rest of the vehicle felt awkward, almost like trying to walk around in your father's size 13 shoes a kid. It's just too big for its original intended function" -Trevor Dorchies, Associate Editor
"The car feels like it was built to withstand a tornado. Everything has heft to it and a quality feel. But as massive as the car is, its interior is no bigger than a midsizer's. That said, this thing hauls, I love the EcoBoost engine." -Jacob Brown, Associate Editor
"I don't get this car. It costs too much for the performance you get, it's not very big inside, and even at nearly $46,000 this model actually left some features off the options list. If I'm laying out this kind of money, I'd get a Dodge Charger SRT8. With a 470-hp 6.4-liter V-8 engine, at least I'd be able to explain away the lousy fuel economy." -Keith Buglewicz, News Director

4 comments
Dean Swiatek
Dean Swiatek

The Buick Lacrosse has more room and offers an engine with better low end power. Additionally the interior quality is vastly superior. If you're short enough where the tilted headrest doesn't give you a headache, there's really nothing that isn't superior about the Lacrosse, interior, exterior quality, steering , acceleration below 6000rpm...

Also the Altima and Maximas have better interior quality too and feel like much larger cars

Dean Swiatek
Dean Swiatek

This car is a piece of shit. My head hits the roof, and my right leg sits on the excessively wide console. Why make a large car with less room than the Focus?

Igor Magun
Igor Magun

If you have to ask... this really isn't the car for you.

Vang Yang
Vang Yang

For $46,000, I rather get Acura TL. What is up with the high horsepower when gas price is going up?

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