OCTOBER 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Motoring

PRICEY FORD TAURUS SHO A BLAST TO DRIVe

Test-drive reviews by NITISH S. RELE, motoringtampabay@gmail.com

For a 4,368-pound vehicle, the 2011 Ford Taurus SHO (Super High Output) is quick off the mark, nimble in traffic and exciting to drive. Credit goes to the 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged engine cranking out 365 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 350 pounds-feet of torque @ 3500 rpm. The standard 6-speed auto transmission operates with flawless logic. Shock absorbers, springs, stabilizer bars and strut mount bushings have been specially tuned for a composed ride. So has the electric power-assisted steering to deliver an accurate and direct response to the driver.

That this is not your run-of-the-mill Taurus is evident with a glance at the traditional three-bar grille surrounded by horizontal HID projector headlights, decklid-mounted rear spoiler, dual chrome exhaust tips and SHO badge on trunk and windows. SHO is also prominently embossed on front charcoal black umber leather seatbacks. The leather/alcantara interior conveys a cool, modern feel and appearance with aluminum appliques on gas/brake pedals, console instrument and door panels. Also standard are leather/chrome shifter, 10-way power front seats, push-button start, steering wheel paddle shifters, dual zone auto climate control, tilt/telescopic column and a cap less fuel filter.

It comes with a plethora of standard safety features, including dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, front seatbelt pretensioners, AdvanceTrac with stability control, tire pressure monitoring system and SOS Post-Crash Alert, which automatically unlocks the doors, sound horn and activates emergency flashers if airbag deploys. And, of course, all-wheel drive affords peace of mind in any road condition.

The Taurus SHO is undoubtedly a blast to drive, thanks to a surefooted chassis that results in swift acceleration, first-rate handling and good body control with a stylish, handy and attractive cabin.

However, base-priced at $37,770 (with options such as navigation and the SHO performance package, our test drive costs $44,240) we believe the car is high-priced for the average Ford owner. Heck, you could get a fully loaded Lincoln from the carmaker’s luxury division.

TAURUS SHO
Tires: 255/45VR19
Wheelbase: 112.9 inches
Length: 202.9 inches
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
City: 17 mpg
Highway: 25 mpg
Web site: www.ford.com


2011 KIA OPTIMA TURBO IS ATTRACTIVE INSIDE AND OUt

Sharing the basic design and power trains with its sibling Hyundai Sonata, the 2011 Kia Optima SX turbo is equipped with a 2.0-liter gasoline-direct injection inline-4 cylinder engine. Mated to a 6-speed auto transmission, the midsize sedan puts out 274 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 269 pounds-feet of torque @ 1750 rpm. A sport tuned suspension of independent MacPherson strut and multilink rear translates into a delightfully supple ride, taking bumps and breaks with ease.

Ensconced on a steel unibody structure, this year’s Optima is slightly longer, wider and lower than its predecessor. With a mesh grille, black HID headlights, sculpted side sills, front brake calipers and rear lip spoiler, the car conveys a handsome look. In fact, it is undoubtedly the most boldly-styled midsize sedan on the road. Honda (Accord), Nissan (Altima), Toyota (Camry), please note.

From the moment you settle behind the tilt/telescopic steering wheel, you know you are in an eye-catching and comfy cabin that offers leather on cushy seats and shifter knob, alloy pedals and door sill plates, push-button start, dual-zone auto climate control and USB/AUX input jacks under the dash.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front and rear crumple zones, four-wheel antilock brakes, Electronic Stability control and traction control, front active headrests, side impact door beams, three-point front seatbelts and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

The Optima turbo exhibits admirable performance with attractive styling inside and out. It’s an impeccably tuned ride for the daily grind.

SX TURBO
Wheelbase: 110 inches
Length: 190.7 inches
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
City: 22 mpg
Highway: 34 mpg
Base price: $25,995
Web site: www.kia.com


OPTIMA HYBRID ENSURES FUEL SAVINGS

Like the turbo, the Optima hybrid has the same body and engine as the Sonata. The all-new gas/electric hybrid is equipped with a 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle, 4-cylinder engine developing 206 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 195 pounds-feet of torque @ 4250 rpm. Two aspects make the car stand out. Instead of the usual continuous variable transmission, it gets a 6-speed automatic. Also, out goes the usual nickel-metal hydride battery found in most hybrids to make way for a much lighter 270-volt polymer battery pack to open up trunk volume. You sacrifice nearly 6 cubic feet of trunk space. But the returns are worth it. The hybrid version touts EPA figures of 36 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.

Coupled to the gasoline engine is a 30-watt kW electric motor, which enables the Optima to run solely on pure electric mode at speeds up to 62 mph. During regenerative braking, the battery is recharged by the captured energy as the driver brakes or slows down. At stops, the gasoline engine shuts down for fuel savings and zero emissions. For the driver’s convenience, a digital readout of the sedan’s hybrid performance is located fittingly between the analog instrument gauges.

It should be noted that the hybrid pretty much has the same exterior fascia, steering, safety, wheelbase, length and most of the suspension features as the turbo.

Base-priced at $26,500, this Optima may be lacking in punch but it makes up the deficiency on several counts: ride comfort, safety, great value and fuel economy. And let us not forget bold styling, a trait missing in hybrids on the road.

OPTIMA HYBRID
Tires: 205/65R16
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
Web site: www.kia.com

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