Used 1996 Ford Taurus SHO Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

All-new Taurus debuts in sedan and wagon format, available in GL, LX and SHO trim levels. New or substantially revised engines and suspensions improve the performance of the Taurus, while several functional innovations make the car easier and more enjoyable to drive.

Vehicle overview

The biggest automotive story for 1996 is the total redesign of the Ford Taurus. Longer, wider and larger inside than the old Taurus, the 1996 model sports sleek and modern styling; almost as unconventional as that of the original Taurus, which debuted to much fanfare and acclaim in 1986. Four trim levels, G, GL, LX and SHO, are available as well as two body styles. Wagons can be had in GL or LX trim only.

Ford claims that the new Taurus sports 87 percent greater torsional stiffness. Part of this increase is directly attributable to the fact that the entire side of the new Taurus is a single stamped section of steel, except for the doors, of course. Glass area is up 28 percent lending the Taurus a lighter, more airy feel than its predecessor. MacPherson struts hold up the front of the new Taurus, while a quadralink rear suspension, similar to that found on the 1995 Lincoln Continental, keeps the rear of the car in line. Standard tire size on GL and LX models is P205/65 R15.

An improved Vulcan 3.0-liter V6 powers the G and GL models, pumping out 145 horsepower. Order LX trim and get an all-aluminum twin-cam 3.0-liter Duratec V6 good for 200 healthy ponies. SHO models will be infused with 240 Yamaha-built horses produced by eight cylinders; it will be the first time a V8 will be offered on the Taurus. LX models run to 60 mph in about eight seconds.

Front disc and rear drum brakes are standard. Anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes are optional on G, GL and LX; standard on SHO. Sporting the same steering rack as the Lincoln Continental, Ford says that steering feel and response is much improved over the old version.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, five-mph bumpers, dual power heated mirrors, rear seat heat ducts, split-fold rear seats and a battery saver system. Innovations on the 1996 Taurus include an Integrated Control Panel which combines stereo and climate controls in one easy-to-use pod. Stereo componentry has been relocated to the trunk. A patented three-way flip-fold console is available in cars equipped with six-passenger seating. In its upright position, the console is a seating position. Flip it down, and it's an armrest. Flip it once more, and it turns into a handy storage bin with cupholders and room for audio cassettes. Optional on Taurus Wagon is an integrated child seat.

We must admit that we're a bit skeptical about the fishy-faced styling of the new car, but our initial shock has diminished to a vague distaste. In time, we'll likely find it to be quite attractive. Preliminary reports indicate that the Taurus is indeed a much improved sedan, ready to go head-to-head with the best in this class. Time, and a test drive, will tell.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.