2012 Ford Taurus SHO Review and Prices
The 2012 Ford Taurus SHO is the best full-size sedan for you if you want a 21st century muscle car with good fuel economy, a bevy of high-tech features, and a reasonable price.
The 2012 Ford Taurus SHO continues unchanged in preparation for a midcycle refresh coming in spring 2012. That refresh will launch the 2013 Taurus SHO with modestly updated styling and enhanced performance. The 2012 SHO is the performance-tuned version of the mainstream 2012 Ford Taurus and battles big-V-8 rivals such as the Dodge Charger by calling on Ford’s high-tech 365-horsepower twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, standard all-wheel drive, and handling-tuned suspension.
Should you buy the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO or wait for the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO? Wait for the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO; it promises just enough in the way of performance-oriented upgrades to make it worth your while. And the freshened styling will keep it looking current until Taurus’s next full redesign, expected around model-year 2015 or ‘16.
2012 Ford Taurus SHO Changes back to top
Styling: The 2012 Ford Taurus SHO is visually unchanged, with the exception of a new exterior color choice, Ginger Ale Metallic. This full-size sedan remains a mature-looking, even understated performance car, with a long hood, low roofline, and tall rear deck. As before, it’s distinguished from the rest of the Taurus line by subtle styling cues that include a specific grille treatment, a rear spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips, and unique aluminum wheels with low-profile performance tires.
The 2012 Taurus SHO’s shares its basic cabin design with other Taurus models but steps out with several exclusive touches, including specific 10-way power adjustable leather-trimmed front seats with suede inserts, a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum accelerator and brake pedals, aluminum dashboard trim, and SHO-logo floormats.
Like every Taurus, the SHO’s generous exterior dimensions are at odd with a somewhat cramped interior. This sedan’s beltline -- the edge of the body that meets the windows -- is rather high and can make shorter drivers feel as if they’re riding too low. And the relatively low roofline can cheat taller riders out of needed headroom. Plus, back-seat legroom isn’t as generous as one might expect in a car of this size. The trunk is huge – at 20.1 cubic feet, it leads the class -- but a narrow cargo opening limits loading taller objects.
Mechanical: The 2012 Taurus SHO is a modern-day muscle car. While automakers once followed a formula that dictated fitting a car of this size with the largest V-8 engine they had available, that paradigm has shifted, at least at Ford. Thus, the SHO comes instead with a twin-turbocharged and direct-injected 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6.
This engine is also available in the 2012 Ford Flex crossover and in assorted Lincoln models. It’s most powerful incarnation is in the Taurus SHO, where it generates 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, some 100 horses and 100 pound-feet more than the conventional 3.5-liter V-6 in other 2012 Ford Taurus models.
The 2012 Taurus SHO delivers V-8-like thrust yet has the same fuel economy ratings as an all-wheel-drive Taurus with the non-turbo 3.5-liter V-6. The 2012 Taurus SHO further includes a specially calibrated six-speed automatic transmission that includes steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for manual gear changes.
Ford offers all-wheel drive (AWD) on mainstream Taurus models as wet-road traction-enhancing alternative to front-wheel drive. On the Taurus SHO, AWD is standard and is specially calibrated to boost both wet-road traction and dry-pavement performance. Plus, it effectively negates torque steer, which is the annoying tendency of a powerful front-wheel-drive car to pull to one side under heavy acceleration. (This is one reason most sports cars and luxury cars come with rear-wheel-drive, which is geometrically immune to torque steer.)
In addition, the 2012 SHO has quicker electric power steering and tauter suspension tuning than other Taurus models. The result is more precise handling, albeit at the expense of a slightly harsher ride. Aggressive SHO drivers can delay intervention from Ford’s standard AdvanceTrak Electronic Stability Control system at the push of a button to allow a degree of wheel slippage through the turns. The system will, however, still help prevent the SHO from fishtailing out of control if necessary.
An optional 2012 Taurus SHO Performance Package includes additional steering, suspension, and transmission tweaks, and replaces the standard 19-inch all-season tires with 20-inch summer performance tires on specific alloy wheels. The package also adds a mode to disable the antiskid system altogether to afford a greater degree of “drift” through the curves. Overall, the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO remains an entertaining ride, with plenty of acceleration on demand and quick and secure handling.
Features: As befits a top-of-the-line ride, the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO is jam-packed with standard comfort and convenience features. These include Ford’s Sync multimedia control system that affords voice-command control of various systems, full connectivity with iPods and mobile phones, and real-time traffic and weather information.
An HD Radio system is optional for receiving higher sound-quality broadcasts (where available). It also allows a user to “tag” songs, which saves artist and title information of tunes on a connected iPod or iPhone for later retrieval and/or purchase via the online iTunes music store.
Assorted top-shelf amenities are optional on the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO, including a voice-activated navigation system, rear backup camera, xenon headlamps, power moonroof, heated and cooled front seats with an added massaging function, and a multicolor ambient interior lighting array.
Also available is Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support, which alerts the driver with aural and visual cues if the system feels an impact is inevitable and primes the brakes to full force in anticipation of a panic stop. Ford’s optional Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS) warns of vehicles sitting outside the driver’s field of vision during lane changes or when backing out of a parking space or garage.
2012 Ford Taurus SHO Prices back to top
The 2012 Taurus SHO comes in a single trim level with a base price of $38,950. That’s a premium of roughly $4,000 over the next-costliest model in the 2012 Taurus line, the Limited with AWD. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2012 Taurus SHO is $795.)
Among 2012 Taurus SHO options is a $2,000 package that includes a sunroof, audio system upgrade, and heated/cooled front seats. Adding heated rear seats, power adjustable pedals, a rearview camera system, power rear sunshade, and BLIS brings the package price to $3,100.
Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support safety system comes bundled with adaptive cruise control and sells for $1,195, though acquiring it also requires buying one of the above-mentioned equipment packages. So does acquiring the $1,850 navigation system and $595 massaging front seat options. The SHO Performance Package is priced $995 as a standalone item.
2012 Ford Taurus SHO Fuel Economy back to top
EPA mileage ratings for the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO are unchanged at 17/25 mpg city/highway and a combined 20 mpg city/highway.
For those keeping score, that’s the same rating as a regular Taurus with AWD and the 263-horsepower version of this 3.5-liter V-6. That’s impressive considering EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 delivers V-8-like thrust.
Clearly this is the future of higher-performance automobile engines – be they four-, six, or even eight cylinders. Such technology as turbocharging and direct fuel injection can get more power out of smaller engines with minimal penalty at the pump for the added acceleration. Nothing’s free, however: Ford recommends premium-grade 91-octane fuel for the SHO if you want to extract optimal performance. Ford concedes the turbo V-6 will run adequately on less-expensive 87-octane regular fuel, however.
2012 Ford Taurus SHO Release Date back to top
The 2012 Ford Taurus should go on sale by the end of summer 2011.
What's next for the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO back to top
Ford introduced the current-generation Taurus and Taurus SHO for model-year 2010 and likely will launch the fully redesigned next-generation versions for model-year 2015 or 2016. Typical of midcycle updates, the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO will likely get mild exterior styling enhancements, a revised interior with higher-quality materials, added features and assorted performance upgrades.
While the model year 2012 version’s EcoBoost V-6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission and AWD will carry-over, the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO promises a more enthusiastic driving experience, with a recalibrated electric power steering system for improved response, larger brakes for added stopping power, and a new torque-vectoring control system. The last automatically places a slight amount of braking force on the outside front wheel when accelerating through a corner to help improve handling. A revised version of the 2012 model’s SHO Performance Package will also be offered that promises added handling responsiveness and power, and increased durability when the car is driven aggressively.
The 2012 Taurus SHO will also get the automaker’s MyFord Touch programmable operating interface that debuted in the 2011 Ford Edge crossover SUV. Developed in conjunction with Sony, the system swaps conventional buttons and readouts for a single large display panel that incorporates displays and touch-screen controls that can be customized according to functions and preferences. Ford has fielded deserved complaints that the system is too difficult to operate and is distracting even when mastered; it remains to be seen how the software might be revised for model-year 2013.
MyFord Touch piggybacks on Ford’s Sync multimedia system, which itself is slated for a model-year 2013 update. This probably will add the ability to stream music and other content from Internet-enabled smartphones via the car’s Bluetooth interface. For example, SHO drivers will be able to play music from the web-based Pandora Internet radio service and have title and artist information shown on the audio system’s display. The latest version of Sync will also connect to the Twitter website via a SHO driver’s smartphone and read aloud “tweets” (short text messages) via a synthesized voice.
Beyond the model-year 2013 refresh, Ford will largely leave the Taurus line alone until its next major redesign. That should come for model-year 2015 or in the first quarter of calendar 2015 for release as early 2016 models).
This redesign could well introduce a next-generation Taurus platform and a revised powertrain for the Taurus SHO. Ford spreads Taurus’s basic engineering among several other models, and similar changes likely await the Lincoln MKS luxury sedan. Same goes for the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossover SUVs -- assuming they remain part of a future Ford Motor Co. model line.
2012 Ford Taurus SHO Competition back to top
2012 Dodge Charger R/T and SRT8: Redesigned for model-year 2011, these full-size performance sedans are proudly a bit more old-school than the Ford Taurus SHO. They come with rear-wheel drive and V-8 engines, though the R/T offers optional AWD. The Hemi V-8 in the R/T at around 300 horsepower should be quick enough to satisfy most buyers, but for those willing to pay several thousand dollars more than the SHO for bragging rights, the 2012 SRT8 will generate around 465 horsepower, albeit with gas-guzzling fuel economy. It’s not clear how one or both of the V-8s will fit into the Charger’s plans long term, with stricter corporate fuel economy regulations coming by 2016. While 2012 fuel economy ratings and prices weren’t announced in time for this review, expect the Charger to be rated at around 15/25/19 with the Hemi and 14/22/16 as the SRT8, with a base price range of around $30,500-$38,000.
2012 Chrysler 300C and 300C SRT8: These are essentially higher-end versions of the Charger R/T and SRT8 with added luxury and sticker prices that run several thousand dollars over their corporate counterparts. A model-year 2011 redesign enlivened their styling somewhat, with the stately looking 300C taking on an even more Bentley-like profile. Expect the SRT8 model to show some additional performance cues, but should continue to eschew excess exterior gimmickry. As with the Charger, it’s not clear how the V-8s will fare in future Chrysler 300s now that the company is under management of Italy’s Fiat and with higher federal fuel-economy mandates coming. Expect fuel economy ratings at around 15/25/19 with the Hemi and 14/22/16 with the SRT8, and base prices that range from about $39,000-$45,000.
2012 Acura TL SH-AWD: Competition among moderately priced large sporty sedans is thin, especially when so many automakers are emphasizing fuel economy over sheer performance these days. One model--albeit a costlier midsize import--that bears comparison to the Taurus SHO is the top version of Acura’s TL. Refreshed for 2012 will less-polarizing exterior styling and a new six-speed automatic transmission--a six-speed manual remains available--the SH-AWD (it stands for Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive) lives up to its name with athletic cornering abilities to go along with strong, though not necessarily SHO levels of acceleration from its V-6 engine. Still, with 305 horsepower and at around 350 pounds lighter it goes fast, handles well, includes many high-tech items, and can accommodate five passengers in comfort. The TL SH-AWD’s fuel economy is rated at 17/25/20, with a base price of $31,490.