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...
Is the 1998 Ford Taurus a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 1998 Ford Taurus and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 1998 Taurus featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 1998 Ford Taurus? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 1998 Ford Taurus and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 1998 Taurus 3.8 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 1998 Taurus.
Review I have purchased my car in 2002 with 72,000 miles on it. Now car has 131,000 miles and mechanically sounds perfectly. Had no major problems with the car at all. Since 2002 I had to change battery, the timing belt (at around 110,000 miles which is expected), belt tensioner, braking pads, boots and front rotors, turn signal switch, fuel filter, air filter, spark plugs, stabilizing link bars, 5 times changed expansion tank for cooling liquid, cabin and turning signal light bulbs, and, of course, tires. As you can see the most of the replacements are related to the routine maintenance. No problems with transmission and engine. This car become our family member.
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What options are available on the 1998 Ford Taurus?
Available Ford Taurus 1998 Submodel Types: Sedan, SHO, Wagon
Available Trims: SEL, Limited, SE, SHO, SES, SE Fleet, SES Deluxe, LX, GL, SEL Fleet
Exterior Colors: Ingot Silver Metallic, Tuxedo Black Metallic, Magnetic Metallic, Shadow Black, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Oxford White, Blue Jeans Metallic, Sterling Gray Metallic, Smoked Quartz Tinted Clearcoat Metallic, Ebony Black, Silver Frost Clearcoat Metallic, Merlot Clearcoat Metallic, Tuxedo Black Clearcoat Metallic, White Gold Metallic, Bordeaux Reserve Red Metallic, Candy Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Steel Blue Metallic, Arizona Beige Clearcoat Metallic, Vibrant White Clearcoat, Caribou Metallic, Gold Ash Clearcoat Metallic, Medium Royal Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Windveil Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Black Clearcoat, Dark Side Metallic, Deep Impact Blue, Light Ice Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat, Red Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, White Suede, Bronze Fire Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Kodiak Brown Metallic, Matador Red Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede Clearcoat, Deep Impact Blue Metallic, Graphite Blue Metallic, Kona Blue Metallic, Spruce Green Clearcoat Metallic, True Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Alloy Clearcoat Metallic, Bright Calypso Green Metallic, Brilliant Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Chestnut Clearcoat Metallic, Cinnamon Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Ink Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Gold Leaf Metallic, Green Gem Metallic, Guard Metallic, Harvest Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Smokestone Clearcoat Metallic, Sunset Metallic, Toreador Red Clearcoat Metallic
Interior Colors: Charcoal Black premium leather, Charcoal Black leather, Dune cloth, Charcoal Black cloth, Dune premium leather, Charcoal Black leather/sueded microfiber, Charcoal Black/Mayan Gray leather/sueded microfiber, Light Stone leather, Light Stone premium cloth, Light Stone premium leather, Charcoal Black premium cloth, Dune leather, Medium Graphite, Medium Parchment, Light Stone cloth, Black leather, Medium/Dark Pebble leather, Camel leather, Charcoal Black/Mayan Gray premium leather, Ebony Black leather, Medium Light Stone cloth, Medium/Dark Flint leather
Popular Features: Rear Bench Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Power Driver Seat, Trip Computer, 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, Navigation, Sunroof/Moonroof, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Blind Spot Monitoring, Upgraded Headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Upgraded Stereo, Upgraded Engine, Third-row seating