Used 1998 Ford Taurus SHO Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1998

A mild facelift, revised trim levels and fewer options are the only changes to Ford's midsize sedan.

Vehicle overview

After 1996's dramatic redesign, Ford is playing it safe with the Taurus, trying to keep costs down as their top-selling car faces sharp criticism from the press and closed checkbooks of potential buyers, who are less than captivated by this vehicle's startling new shape. Softening the Taurus's front end and simplifying the option procedure are the main ways that Ford executives hope to get more customers into the showrooms.

We have been able to spend some time with the Taurus and its stablemate the Mercury Sable and have found ourselves won over by this odd-looking family sedan and wagon. If you can get past the strange curves and odd snout, the Taurus still offers a lot of car for the money. Upon settling into the Taurus's cockpit, the first thing most drivers notice is the logical placement of the controls and the great outward visibility. Unlike the previous Taurus, which had an unpleasant dashboard and bad blind spots created by the C-pillars, this new model is easy to get acquainted with. The integrated control panel, which combines stereo and climate control functions, is a joy to behold when compared to the diminutive controls of its predecessor. Interior room in the Taurus is great, offering comfortable seating for five full-size adults and their cargo. The Taurus has comfortable seats, a plethora of cupholders and ashtrays, nicely integrated armrests and optional rear-passenger airconditioning controls.

Not many people buy midsized sedans for their outstanding handling characteristics, and for the most part the Taurus does not address these people's concerns. Nonetheless, the Taurus is not a bad driver, offering capable acceleration and decent handling. Unfortunately, the redesigned Taurus SHO is a bit of a disappointment. Sure it has a V8, the first one ever squeezed into a Taurus, but its lack of a manual transmission and slower acceleration times are a poor substitute for the car that basically defined the American sports sedan segment in its original iteration.

The Taurus still offers plenty of car, definitely our choice over the less-than-sophisticated Chevrolet Lumina or plain-Jane Buick Century. There are, however, a number of great choices from Europe, Japan and the United States that are threatening the Taurus. People who want to buy American should definitely put this near the top of their list, but people who are turned-off by its exterior styling may find comfort in the new Honda Accord or redesigned Toyota Camry being sold down the road.

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.