2013 Ford Taurus SHO first drive: Its eager disposition shines through on a dreary day

2013 Ford Taurus SHO

2013 Ford Taurus SHO

Three years into its product cycle, the 2013 Ford Taurus has received a number of refinements, revisions and upgrades designed to make it more appealing to the buyer of a full-size-sedan.

There have been some design revisions — Ford calls them refinements — to give the SE, SEL and Limited models a more athletic appearance.. More extensive changes have been made to the front and back ends of the sportiest SHO model in order to further differentiate it from the other three.

The big news, as is often the case, is under the hood. The standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine has been reworked to increase power and  fuel efficiency, and the Taurus  becomes the first sedan in the company’s line-up to receive the two-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that features direct injection and turbocharging.

With 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, the four-cylinder engine will be competitive with the competition (think Toyota Avalon) and is expected to deliver an estimated 31 miles per gallon of gasoline in highway driving.

The standard V-6 powerplant in the 2013 Ford Taurus generates 288 horsepower, up by 25, and 254 pound-feet of torque, up by 5. Fuel mileage is estimated at 19 mpg city/29 highway. Its increased power and fuel efficiency is the result of (Warning: techno-talk ahead) twin independent variable camshaft timing.

The SHO  retains the twin-turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine that produces 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. It can leap from a stop to 60 miles an hour in under six seconds. Fuel mileage is rated at 17 mpg city/25 highway.

All Tauruses have retuned suspensions, electric power-assisted steering with improved response and all come with six-speed automatic transmissions geared to maximize power and fuel economy from their respective engines. The Taurus SHO gets manual paddle shifters.

Ford Taurus SHO instrument panel

Ford Taurus SHO instrument panel

The electric power steering contributes to improved fuel efficiency, as do such things as reduced friction lubricants, a more efficient air conditioning compressor and more aggressive fuel shutoff during deceleration.

All-wheel drive is optional on the SE, SEL and Limited models with V-6 engines and standard of the SHO Taurus. The 2-liter Taurus comes with front-wheel drive only.

In summarizing the 2013 Ford Taurus, Frank Davis , executive director of North American engineering, noted that, in addition to the engines, the five-passenger flagship sedan has new soft-touch materials inside, improved switchgear and fabrics,  better sound damping and improved steering, body control and braking.