Even more noticeable, though, are the improvements in driving dynamics. EPAS is now standard on all Taurus models, braking has been improved, and the suspension has been completely retuned. This car is comfortable and fun to drive.
In the SHO realm, power output is steady at 365 with a class-leading 25-mpg highway. The wheels are now 19 inches in front and 20 inches in the rear, and the brakes are larger all the way around. The best, though, is the SHO Performance Package. This takes your SHO to the next level with a recalibrated EPAS, sport-tuned suspension, better radiator, retuned stability, 20-inch wheels on all four corners, and a 3.16:1 final drive ratio for more aggressive launches and acceleration.
The crossover craze has become more than just a fad. These car-based, multi-use vehicles have been dominating the SUV market for years now, and truck-based utility has faded. Fuel economy, ease of entry, and driving dynamics give crossovers an advantage over their clumsy cousins.
Ford has a full line of crossover SUVs ranging from the Escape all the way up to the Flex. More than just a fancied-up sedan, the Flex is a direct replacement for large SUVs like the Excursion and minivans. With seating for seven, it can haul the whole family and all the luggage, sports equipment, groceries, or home improvement materials.
The Flex has the highest retention rate of all Ford vehicles. In fact, over two-thirds of its owners go back to Ford to buy another vehicle after owning one. Yeah, it's unique looking, but it "appeals to people who want to stand out in the crowd," says Flex Chief Engineer Tom Ozog.
We also had the chance to drive the Flex, and we chose a Limited model with EcoBoost. Other than feeling heavier, it was almost indistinguishable from the handling and acceleration of the SHO. It was poised, powerful, and gave us driving confidence like no other SUV.
The exterior and interior have both been upgraded for '13, but the real improvements are in driver comfort and feel. Acoustic absorbers make the ride quieter, interior advancements give the driver and occupants a luxury experience, and performance upgrades make it fun to drive.
The 3.5L EcoBoost engine, like in the Taurus SHO, has been improved to 365 hp and 23 mpg highway. Braking power has been increased front and rear, and Ford even added inflatable seatbelts and rain-sensing wipers.