Test Drive: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport

?Ford?s 2013 Explorer Sport: A fully capable high performance SUV?

2013 Ford ExplorerThe Blue Oval team at Ford Motor Company literally reinvented their immensely popular Explorer SUV for the 2011 model year. It was introduced, powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produced 290 horsepower and 255 pound feet of torque, with an optionally available 2.0-liter EcoBoost, turbocharged and intercooled inline four-cylinder engine There were a host of improvements and enhancements integrated into the made-over Explorer.

Now there?s a new Explorer available – a high performance version dubbed ?Sport?. The motive force for the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport is delivered by a 3.5-liter V6 also, but with Ford?s dynamic EcoBoost technology, featuring twin turbochargers and Gasoline Direct Injection. The new EcoBoost V6 cranks out 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, while delivering 350 pound feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The engine mates to an electronically controlled six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Power reaches all four wheels as standard via a specially calibrated 4WD system with Ford?s Terrain Management System, which is also standard fare. The Explorer Sport achieves EPA mileage estimates of 16-mpg city and 22-mpg highway – It?s the only seven-passenger SUV to do so.

2013 Ford Explorer engine compartment

As the ?Sport? moniker implies, the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport takes the Explorer nameplate to a new level. Bill Gubing, chief engineer for Explorer, Taurus and Police Interceptor vehicles, describes it as ?hitting a sweet spot combination of power, usable torque, 4WD capability, with class-leading fuel efficiency.? He further pointed out ?The Explorer Sport?s EcoBoost engine matches Taurus SHO for output and the Terrain Management System has been calibrated specifically to optimize increased power regardless of the road or conditions.?

2013 Ford Explorer - wheels

The 2013 Ford Explorer Sport rolls on 5-?canopener-shaped?-spoke, 20-inch, black painted and machined alloy wheels stamped with the ?Sport? name, and shod with performance tires. Springs and shocks are all new, and the steering benefits from a unique sport calibration. Exterior styling bears a strong resemblance up front to Range Rover. The grille showcases gloss Ebony horizontal accent bars with low-gloss Sterling Gray mesh inserts and Explorer is spelled out on the hood?s leading edge. Headlamps and taillamps are darkened for a custom look. A gloss Ebony horizontal bar also appears across the rear, matching the front end?s?styling.? Exterior mirror caps and the Sport?s ?D? pillars are also finished in gloss Ebony giving the effect of a floating, wrap-around rear roof section, while the roof rack rails receive a flat Black finish. A lower flat black composite surround provides protection from road debris. Trim levels will include a base level Sport, an XLT model and a Limited trim.

2013 Ford Explorer - interior

Moving to the interior, the design contrast was inspired by high fashion, mirroring two-tones, currently popular in leather accessories and apparel from design houses Balenciaga and Prada, where stitching is emphasized for a handcrafted appearance, while showcasing Explorer Sport?s sculpted sport seats. The steering wheel features unique stitching, along with a technical look to instrument and door panel appliqu?s, unique Sport-logo floor mats and illuminated scuff plates contribute to the Sport?s ?Sporty? image.

Technology abounds with comfort, convenience and connectivity features, including: dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control, a 10-way power driver?s seat with power recline and lumbar; a? six-way power passenger seat with recline and lumbar;? first-row heated seats; a compass and exterior temperature display; a rearview camera system; and SYNC? with MyFord Touch? driver connect technology. Available options include: BLIS? (blind spot information system) with cross-traffic alert; cooled seats; inflatable rear seat belts; a 110-volt outlet; PowerFold mirrors; intelligent access with Push-Button Start Remote Start; power tilt and telescoping steering column; adjustable pedals with memory; a dual-panel moonroof; a power liftgate; and Class III trailer-towing package.

I experienced the all-new 2013 Ford Explorer Sport with a Ruby Red metallic Tri-Coat exterior finish with a two-tone Charcoal Black and Sienna leather interior. The base sticker read $40,720? while options such as: Voice-Activated Navigation System; power liftgate, Blind Spot Warning System and Destination and Delivery Charge, bumped the final sticker to $47,815.

SUMMARY: ?The 2013 Ford Explorer Sport performs well with added chassis tunnel reinforcements and a solid-mounted electric power-assisted steering rack, for a better feedback both on-road and off. It comes standard with larger brakes for improved pedal feel and response for drivers, with stronger resistance to fade and better performance while towing. The new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivers the?power and acceleration of many V8s while providing the efficiency of a V6. He shifting is smooth, and the ride quality, though not plush, is comfortable.

Other major accomplishments achieved in this new SUV include: specially calibrated suspension componentry, enhanced Terrain Management System, Hill Descent Control, a tow capacity of up to 5,000 pounds, rear inflatable seatbelts and Trailer Sway Control.

2013 Ford Explorer - rear view

In the final analysis, the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport delivers a sporting experience indeed, and the note from the Polished ?trumpet-tipped? dual exhaust is sweet and mellow – not Mustang GT500 sweet mind you, but satisfying none-the-less.

SPECIFICATIONS: Ford Explorer Sport-?13

Base Price: $40,720.
Price as Tested: $47,815.
Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve EcoBoost, Twin turbocharged V6 with Direct Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 365 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 350 @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System?.
Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson struts with rear- facing L-shaped lower control arm, 32 mm stabilizer bar attached to isolated subframe and upgraded strut tower support.

Rear – Independent Multilink with upper and lower control arms and isolated 22 mm stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented disc brakes with 4- channel ABS, and AdvanceTrac? ESC with traction control.
Tires: Continental ContiSportContact P265/45 ZR 20 Y mounted on 5-?can-opener?- spoke painted and machined alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 112.6 inches
Length Overall: 197.1 inches
Width: 90.2 inches
Height: 71.0 inches
Curb Weight: 4,921 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 18.6 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 16 mpg city / 22 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.













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