Taurus charges into the arena with the 1997 SHO
Saturday, February 22, 1997
Ford Taurus SHO
Base price: $26,460
Price as tested: $30,005
Mileage: 17 mpg/city
By ANN M. JOB
The Associated Press
The Ford Taurus brings to mind a practical family sedan
made by a solid domestic car company. It's also the top-selling
car in the country.
But there's a decidedly livelier Taurus.
The 1997 Taurus SHO, which starts at $27,010 with delivery,
has a much edgier personality. It growls through dual exhaust
pipes at start-up and acceleration. Its V-8 engine -- a new
235-horsepower V-8 -- has ample pull and a show-off cockiness.
The suspension is as firm as some on European touring sedans.
That's not all. The SHO has sporty front bucket seats, with
bigger bolsters for more lateral support. Numbers crowd into the
circular 150-mph analog speedometer, and the steering wheel is
wrapped in leather.
Ford calls the SHO the most affordable front-wheel-drive V-8
performance sedan on the market.
It definitely is different from other popularly priced Taurus
models, which start at $18,545, including destination charge.
The SHO concept (SHO stands for "super high
output") began in 1982 when Don Petersen, then Ford's
president, attended the Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance
Driving and a specially equipped family sedan was built for him.
When the Taurus SHO was put on the market in 1989, consumers
found a firm, responsive performance sedan with room for a
family. Ford introduced an automatic transmission in the
1993-model year. Then, in the middle of the 1996- model year, it
changed from a V-6 engine to a V-8.
The model is basically the same for 1997. And with the price
little changed since the 1995-model year, the SHO is competitive
with other performance sedans. The rear-drive BMW 5-Series
starts at $50,470, including delivery charge. The front-drive
Pontiac Grand Prix GT, with a 240-hp supercharged V-6, starts at
In terms of purity of purpose, the 1997 SHO is one of the
best-packaged domestic sedans.
Important attributes needed for a serious performance car are
evident: smooth V-8 power, tight feel, precise steering, and
newly bolstered anti-lock brakes. Better still, there are few of
the gimmicks and obvious compromises that tend to creep in when
U.S. carmakers set their sights on building a family sedan with
a performance personality.
I might quibble with the spoiler on the SHO trunk lid and the
150-mph mark on the speedometer, since the car is
governor-limited to 143 mph.
Traction control seems a natural option on a midsize
performance sedan. It is standard on the Grand Prix and BMW
5-Series, but Ford spokesman Dan Bedore says past sales show
little buyer interest in it.
Still, I love the throaty V-8 sound, and I often drove with
the radio off just to hear it. It's a civilized, confident
sound, not at all like a teenager's car tearing down the street.
This 3.4-liter double overhead cam V-8 is a derivative of
Ford's 2.5-liter Duratec V-6. Bedore says the SHO is the only
Ford vehicle to have it.
The engine easily reacts, putting you ahead of the pack
whether on the highway or leaving a stoplight on a city street.
Zero to 60 mph is rated between 7.9 seconds and 8.2 seconds.
Recommended fuel is premium.
The SHO's suspension, with computer-controlled, two-position
shock absorbers, provides a cushioned but firm ride. With more
aggressive tires than on other Taurus models, the SHO capably
sets itself and tracks precisely in tight turns and curves.
There is some harshness, however. On some highway expansion
cracks and sizable potholes, the SHO thumped noisily, and the
whole body seemed to shudder a bit.
Inside, the SHO has the same interior roominess for five as
other Taurus models, and the trunk is a healthy 15.8 square
feet. That's important, because 80 percent of SHO buyers are
Eighty-five percent of the buyers are men, with a median age
of 45. Household income is about $80,000, up from $60,000 for
other Taurus models.
The company aims to sell between 10,000 and 12,000 SHOs in
1997, Bedore says.
Consumer Reports magazine rates Taurus cars as having average
© 1997 Bergen Record Corp.