2013 Explorer Sport moves to front of the line
BY AL VINIKOUR For Sun-Times Media May 10, 2012 2:11PM
2013 FORD EXPLORER SPORT
ENGINE: 350-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: four-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 16 city/22 highway
BASE PRICE: not available
AS TESTED: not available
Updated: June 6, 2012 12:16PM
Ford unveiled its 2013 Explorer Sport as a new addition to the Explorer family and it’s the first-ever performance version.
Unlike the previous generation’s Explorer Sport that was a trim level fairly near the bottom, the 2013 Sport is the top-of-the-line trim in the current version.
Identifying it from the crowd is relatively easy because it has a spate of Sport-only cues. For instance, it’s the first Explorer to have the name stretched across the hood. It sits on 20-inch premium painted aluminum wheels (embossed with the Sport name) and all-season BSW tires. It also has blacked-out headlamp and taillamp treatments, black roof rack rails, side-view mirror skull caps, a special grille of low-gloss sterling gray mesh with contrasting ebony high-gloss bars, a lift-gate appliqué and subtle Sport and EcoBoost badges at the rear.
Explorer Sport is available in four exterior colors: Ruby Red Metallic Clearcoat, White Platinum Metallic Tricoat, Tuxedo Black Metallic and Ingot Silver Metallic.
Speaking of EcoBoost, Explorer’s beauty goes beyond skin deep. It’s powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 that puts out 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle activation. The new EcoBoost engine gives the Sport the power of a V-8 but the fuel economy of a much smaller V-6 (16 mpg city/22 mpg highway). Final drive ratio is a unique 3.16:1.
The vehicle is four-wheel-drive with a terrain management system (with settings for sandy, snowy, rutted mud and hill descent). It has a 5,000-pound towing capacity. Furthermore, total cargo volume (behind the first row) is 80.7 cubic feet. Curb weight is 4,859 pounds.
It’s living in a rough neighborhood. Its chief competition is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango R/T & Hemi engines and Land Rover Range Rover Sport. It bests them all in fuel economy.
Handling on the new Explorer Sport was designed to be first rate. The chassis has been specially reinforced, making the vehicle stiffer and improving its road feel. It also brings a solid-mounted electric power-assisted steering rack with improved feel that provides more responsiveness to on-road and off-road driving. Larger brakes beget shorter stopping distances and better performance while driving.
The interior might as well have come from fashion stores on Rodeo Drive. It’s inspired by designer accessory fashions. Charcoal black leather-trimmed seating is available with and without contrasting sienna inserts. Stitching is emphasized to lend a handcrafted appearance while highlighting Explorer Sport’s sculptured seats. It also has unique steering wheel stitching, a technical look to instrument and door panel appliques, unique Sport logo floor mats and illuminated scuff plates.
It also contains dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control, 10-way power driver’s seat with power recline and lumbar, six-way power passenger seat with recline and lumbar, first-row heated seats, rear-view camera, SYNC with MyFord Touch driver connect technology and a Sony premium audio system with HD radio and 12 speakers.
The new Explorer Sport has a wide array of options as well, including active park assist, blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, inflatable rear seat belts, power-fold mirrors, dual-panel moon roof, power lift gate and a host of other individual preferences. Pricing is not yet available. The Explorer Sport is manufactured in Chicago and will arrive in dealerships later this year.
Explorer is about as true an American icon as you can get. It boasts a brand awareness of 93 percent and is third in the industry after the Ford F-150 and Ford Mustang. Sales of Explorer are up 42 percent since 2009 and 123 percent over 2010. (The current all-new generation was released in 2011.) Also, it has a 50 percent conquest rate (meaning people who buy one are coming from other manufacturers). To coin a phrase, the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport is not your father’s Explorer.
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