2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO. Click image to enlarge
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By Grant Yoxon; photos by Grant Yoxon and Chris Chase

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2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Chicago, Illinois – The drive from Ottawa, Ontario to Chicago, Illinois is just over 1,300 kilometres. On a good day, one can do it in about 13 hours, including fuel stops and bio-breaks, because the two cities are connected by North America’s network of 400-series and interstate highways.

But in February it is nearly impossible to drive 1,300 kilometres without running into bad weather somewhere. So I expected the trip would take longer than 13 hours and left early, expecting to arrive late in Chicago.

For this road trip, to attend the Chicago auto show, Ford provided me with the latest version of its redesigned 2010 Taurus, the high-performance SHO (Super High Output).

2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO. Click image to enlarge

With standard all-wheel drive, the SHO would seem to be the perfect vehicle for a long winter drive, but when I realized it was equipped with all season tires, I became a bit concerned. The SHO has a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 that produces 365 horsepower and 350 ft.-lbs. of torque. Too much power, coupled with the wrong tires in bad weather, can spell trouble. But it was too late to change plans and despite my trepidation about the tires, I set off for Chicago on a beautiful sunny winter day.

The SHO’s 3.5-litre engine is the most powerful in Ford’s family of EcoBoost engines, which feature direct injection to improve power and torque while reducing fuel consumption. Fuel is injected directly into the cylinder, rather than into the intake manifold. As a result, fuel vaporization during the intake stroke cools the incoming air, improves volumetric efficiency and enables a higher compression ratio. Add on two turbochargers and the V6 feels more like a V8, with tons of power between 3,500 and 5,500 rpm.

With clear roads and light traffic, satellite radio and a 390-watt 12-speaker surround audio system, time passed quickly and I reached the feeder lanes of Toronto’s 401 in a few minutes over four hours. Three and a half hours later I had reached the border at Sarnia. The Taurus SHO’s six-speed automatic transmission has a 2.77 to 1 final drive ratio, providing low rpm, quiet cruising at speed with decent fuel economy. Filling up near Toronto, fuel consumption was just shade under 10 litres/100 km.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO. Click image to enlarge

The fuel consumption surprised me because the Taurus is a fairly heavy car – 1981 kg or 4,368 lbs. I’ve driven many cars and SUVs that weighed less, but couldn’t match the Taurus for fuel economy, and guaranteed they didn’t match the power that the SHO held in reserve.

Most of the time, you’re not aware that the SHO has this untapped well of power beneath your foot. The top of the accelerator is for everyday driving, providing enough energy to easily move the big car away from a stop light or rapidly accelerate down an on-ramp to the freeway. But step hard into the pedal and the SHO will respond with a deep throated roar and a fury that will keep both hands firmly gripping the wheel and the AWD system searching for the best tire to push. It can take you by surprise if you’re not ready for the rush.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO. Click image to enlarge

As the miles passed by, I came to appreciate the range of equipment that is standard in the Taurus SHO. For $48,199, the SHO includes features that many luxury manufacturers reserve for their top models. Leather is standard of course and both front and rear seats are heated. The front seats are also ventilated and both have 10-way power adjustment. There is a dual memory for the power driver’s seat which also keeps the side mirrors and power adjustable pedals in the right position. The seat surfaces are suede, which I found more comfortable than leather on a long trip. But when the miles really start to wear on your backside, there is the massage button. Yes, that’s right, massage. Push the button on the side of the seat and the seat cushion starts to do the wave, back and forth, kneading your butt, easing the pressure of eight and a half hours in the saddle. It’s standard for the passenger side too. Nice touch.

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