Ford Adds High Performance Explorer

?Ford is adding its first-ever high performance version of the Ford Explorer SUV.

Taking advantage of the powerful and economical twin-turbocharged EcoBoost??V-6 engine, the new Ford Explorer Sport boasts 350 horsepower and four-wheel drive with a Terrain Management System?.

?Adding an EcoBoost drivetrain to Explorer Sport delivers even more fuel efficiency and performance to the lineup,? said Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer. ?This is our highest- performance, most capable Ford Explorer ever.?

?Even with the powerful new engine, the 2013 Explorer Sport is projected to return best in class fuel economy of up to 16 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway.? That is expected to be 3 mpg better in the city and 2 mpg on the highway than the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango R/T with their 5.7-liter Hemi engines and 3 mpg higher in the city and 4 mpg higher on the highway than the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.

?Explorer Sport makes no compromises,? said Carl Widmann, vehicle engineering manager. ?By carefully beefing the chassis and suspension, precisely calibrating the Terrain Management System and adding comfort and convenience features, we?ve delivered an SUV that delivers great dynamics and performance ?? while towing up to 5,000 pounds.?

To give the driver more control, the Explorer Sport has a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic??transmission with a unique 3.16 to 1 final drive ratio to provide the balance of responsive acceleration and economical low-rpm cruising for better fuel efficiency.

Rounding out the mechanics of the Sport are a solid-mounted electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) rack and larger brakes for shorter stopping distances and better performance while towing.

?The Sport is distinguished with subtle design cues including blacked-out headlamp and taillamp treatments, black roof rack rails and unique 20-inch painted and machined wheels. The special grille is a low-gloss Sterling Gray mesh, with contrasting ebony high-gloss bars. The black front lower fascia has a functional opening for additional cooling. It?s available in four exterior colors ? Ruby Red Metallic Clearcoat, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Tuxedo Black Metallic and Ingot Silver Metallic.

The interior has a high-end feel with charcoal Black leather-trimmed seating with available contrasting Sienna inserts.

The interior design contrast was inspired by fashion, mirroring two-tones that are currently seen in leather accessories and apparel from design houses Balenciaga and Prada. Stitching is emphasized to lend a handcrafted appearance while highlighting Explorer Sport?s sculptured seats.

Explorer Sport also has unique steering wheel stitching, a technical look to instrument and door panel appliqu?s, unique Sport-logo floor mats and illuminated scuff plates.

?The Sport is scheduled to arrive at dealers later this year.

More from Our Auto Expert