When we drove the 1998 Ford Taurus SHO, we were expecting to write a farewell story about this performance-oriented family sedan. Pundits were securing the last nails in the SHO's coffin, and we were fully expecting the car to be extinct by 1999.
But wait! It's still breathing! We have a pulse! Stop the funeral, folks. The Taurus Super High Output ain't dead. The SHO must go on. Just barely.
Two years ago, when the Taurus was redesigned to its current egg shape, we drove the SHO - equipped with a Yamaha V8 - for the first time. We were not very impressed. The odd new shape of the car, combined with a somewhat sluggish motor and lack of sporty manual transmission, confirmed our worst fears: Ford was letting their sports sedan wither.
Since then, the Taurus has changed very little, unless you count the NASCAR Taurus lookalike that replaced the extinct Thunderbird in Winston Cup racing. But that's just marketing. Real changes to the car itself have been on hold since '96.
This year's Taurus line received a minor facelift, and the equipment levels and trim names have been altered over the past two years, but the recipe is still the same. For the SHO, all the equipment that was optional in 1996 is standard in 1998. Most SHO buyers were opting for the CD changer, moonroof and leather seats anyway, so that equipment was simply added to the package, and voila! The price is just about the same. In fact, our most recent test car, equipped the same as the car we tested two years ago, is actually $40 less For starters, the 3.4-liter 32-valve DOHC V8 is a nice motor. Its output is high, with 235 horsepower at 6100 rpm and 230 foot-pounds of torque at 4800 rpm, but not what we'd term "Super High." After all, the newcomer LH-series sedans from Chrysler output 18 more horsepower and 25 more foot-pounds of torque from a six cylinder (albeit larger displacement) motor. And the Chrysler sedans don't mention anything about power in their names. .
This time, we spent a more extended period of time behind the wheel, going cross-country on a pair of 18- hour drives. Our feelings about the car are the same as ever: it's fast but not quick, it's comfortable but not roomy, and it's priced fairly but not competitively.
The premium fuel-sucking V8 of the SHO does sound impressive, but sedan buyers these days are more interested in performance than audible annoyances. On our mostly highway commuting, we picked up an average of 22.5 mpg. Not bad, considering how lead-footed we like to drive. But from starts, the SHO is not a tire shredder.
It's on the open highway that this car likes to stretch its legs, which incidentally is perfect for long commutes. The firm suspension of the SHO is much better at stabilizing lateral motion than the other Taurus sedans, but even the SHO is not made for slaloms.
Styling is the sticking point with this car: you either love it or you hate it at first glance. But after time - after days and days seated in the power-adjustable driver's seat - the Taurus's looks have grown on this writer. The spoiler still looks horribly tacked on, and the interior is in immediate need of a redesign, but the exterior is quite full of character and charm. The first day driving our test car, someone actually stopped us to compliment the car's striking good looks.
"Hey! That's great! What a gorgeous car!"
I couldn't tell if the guy was being serious or not, so I replied, "Yeah, too bad it's not mine."
"Well, you've got the keys, so that's close enough," he said. "I really like that styling." The crazy bugger was staring directly at the SHO's bizarre rear spoiler, so we concluded he must have been on some sort of medication.
From the time we spent locked inside this interstate gobbler, we can come up with few nice things to say about its ergonomics. The seats were never uncomfortable unless you happened to be seated in the back - in which case the ceiling is far too low and the legroom is cramped. Driver controls are intuitive except for the radio and climate control buttons, which should only be operated by the front passenger -- for safety's sake. Even after a week behind the wheel, we never could get the hang of the center console's oblong-distorted arrangement.
Ford needs to get back to the basics in regard to the SHO. This sedan should have an available manual transmission, or, failing that, at least an automanual transmission, like Chrysler's AutoStick. It should come with an integrated spoiler or none at all. It should have more logic behind its interior design. And Ford should hurry up with it all, or the SHO will become extinct by virtue of its failure to adapt to the competition.
Sportier and more fun-to-drive sedans can be found at Acura, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Lexus, Mercedes, Nissan, Pontiac, Volkswagen and Volvo. In the race to be the best sports sedan, NASCAR can only keep up appearances until the Thunderbird is redesigned...
What's a good price on a used 1998 Ford Taurus ?
Price comparisons for used 1998 Ford Taurus trim styles:
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What options are available on the 1998 Ford Taurus?
Available Ford Taurus 1998 Submodel Types: SHO, Sedan, Wagon
Available Ford Taurus 1998 Trims: SEL, Limited, SHO, SES, SE Fleet, SES Deluxe, LX, GL, SE, SEL Fleet
Exterior Colors: Tuxedo Black Metallic, Ingot Silver Metallic, Shadow Black, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Magnetic Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Silver Frost Clearcoat Metallic, Sterling Gray Metallic, Merlot Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White, Blue Metallic, White Gold Metallic, Ebony Black, Candy Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Tuxedo Black Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede, Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Black Clearcoat, Medium Royal Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat, Burgundy Velvet Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Caribou Metallic, Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Smoked Quartz Tinted Clearcoat Metallic, Deep Impact Blue, Graphite Blue Metallic, Light Ice Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Steel Blue Metallic, Vibrant White Clearcoat, Windveil Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Blue Jeans Metallic, Bordeaux Reserve Red Metallic, Dark Ink Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Gold Ash Clearcoat Metallic, Kodiak Brown Metallic, Red Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Spruce Green Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede Clearcoat, Dark Side Metallic, Gold Leaf Metallic, Guard Metallic, Kona Blue Metallic, Alloy Clearcoat Metallic, Aztec Gold Metallic, Bronze Fire Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Cinnamon Clearcoat Metallic, Deep Impact Blue Metallic, Green Gem Metallic, Harvest Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Matador Red Clearcoat Metallic, Sangria Red Clearcoat Metallic, Smokestone Clearcoat Metallic, Sunset Metallic, Titanium Green Clearcoat Metallic, Toreador Red Clearcoat Metallic, True Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Tungsten Clearcoat Metallic, Tuxedo Black Clearcaot Metallic
Interior Colors: Charcoal Black premium leather, Dune cloth, Charcoal Black leather, Charcoal Black cloth, Dune premium leather, Charcoal Black leather/sueded microfiber, Charcoal Black premium cloth, Charcoal Black/Mayan Gray leather/sueded microfiber, Dune leather, Light Stone leather, Light Stone premium cloth, Light Stone cloth, Medium Graphite, Medium Parchment, Black leather, Light Stone premium leather, Camel leather, Medium/Dark Flint, Charcoal Black/Mayan Gray premium leather, Ebony Black leather, Medium Light Stone leather, Medium/Dark Flint leather, Medium/Dark Pebble cloth, Medium/Dark Pebble leather
Popular Features: Rear Bench Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Trip Computer, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Power Driver Seat, Tire Pressure Warning, Post-collision safety system, Stability Control, Auto Climate Control, Alarm, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Back-up camera, Aux Audio Inputs, Parking sensors, Remote Start, Leather Seats, Heated seats, Mobile Internet, Cooled Seats, AWD/4WD, Keyless Entry/Start, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Upgraded Headlights, Blind Spot Monitoring, Navigation, Sunroof/Moonroof, Upgraded Stereo, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Upgraded Engine, Third-row seating
The used 1998 Ford Taurus is offered in the following submodels: SHO, Wagon, Sedan. Available styles include SE 4dr Wagon, LX 4dr Sedan, and SE 4dr Sedan. Pre-owned Taurus models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 145 hp, depending on engine type. The used 1998 Taurus comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.