2011 Ford Taurus SHO Review

Front 3/4 view of red 2011 Ford Taurus driving around a building

Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear...before (well okay, just as) midsize muscle cars were coming on the scene...when a big car with a big engine was the hot ticket.

In Ford's case, we're talking about 1965:

Period magazine ad for Ford Galaxie 427

Yes, they called it "The Velvet Brute"...a Galaxie 500 with a 425-horsepower 427 cubic inch V8 stuffed under the hood. You could even get it with a manual transmission. Well, full-size powerhouses didn't last much longer and if it hadn't been for Chrysler's 300C, Ford might never have tried the new Taurus SHO, but we're sure glad they did.

Oh, sure there were SHOs in the early 90s, but that was a smaller car...the Taurus' mission in life is to be the BIG Ford...so the SHO has a lot more in common with 7-Liter Galaxies in our book. And that's a good thing.

Rear 3/4 view of red 2011 Ford Taurus SHO driving around a building

The Taurus SHO looks and feels special. The 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 is a serious engine...and the SHO keeps the serious stuff coming...with a six-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters), all-wheel drive, a sport tuned suspension, Advancetrac with electronic stability control, high intensity projector headlamps and more.

Interior shot of 2011 Ford Taurus SHO

And the interior kicks things up several notches too...possibly the best big American sedan interior I've been in for years, if not decades.

The SHO is even defensible on green grounds...getting an EPA estimated 17 city/25 highway miles per gallon...not that far off the base Taurus SE's 18/28.  And the safety aspect? Not to worry. Five-star crash ratings all around (four for rollover).

Where the difference comes in is the price tag. There's no question you get every penny's worth, but the still sobering fact is that the base price of a Taurus SHO ($38,020) is $12,600 more than the Taurus SE.  And when equipped like our tester (heated and cooled front seats, power moonroof, upgraded Sony audio system, heated rear seats, power sunshade, blind spot monitoring, rain sensing wipers and automatic high beam headlights, adjustable pedals, red candy metallic tinted paint, adaptive cruise control with collision warning, voice-activated navigation, multi-contoured seats and delivery charge), it'll crack $46,000 before package discounts (which whittles the tab down to about $45,600). You can't load an SE beyond $27,466 even if you check every single option box.

So, loaded, we're talking about an $18,000 difference in price tag. Don't get us wrong. We love the SHO. We'd gladly own one. We could even make the case for the price based on what you get. But this is America, where the "deal" moves cars more than merit or features...and where perceived value is a major factor, especially in a down economy.

Is there a sufficient market for a $45,000-plus Ford Taurus? Sure hope so, because it's one heckuva car.

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