In the world of high performance SUVs, you have to be for real to be considered a legitimate player. With the first ever performance version of the Ford Explorer finally arriving in the 2013 Explorer Sport 4WD, it also boasts the highest fuel economy among gasoline engine-powered, high-performance SUVs. We were thrilled to test drive this “beast” for a week and came up with the following impressions.
The Explorer Sport’s unique grille is a low-gloss Sterling Gray mesh, with contrasting ebony high-gloss bars. The black front lower fascia features a functional opening for additional cooling. Explorer logotype in billet-like black adds a bold identity statement that is well received. Subtle Sport and EcoBoost badges at the rear finish the lift gate and reinforce this special ride. Sport builds on Explorer’s muscular, sculpted form with subtle cues to differentiate it from other models in the lineup. Available in four exterior colors Ruby Red Metallic Clearcoat (as tested), White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Tuxedo Black Metallic and Ingot Silver Metallic Explorer Sport has unique 20-inch painted and machined wheels, features blacked-out headlamp and taillamp treatments, black roof rack rails, sideview mirror skull caps and a liftgate appliqué. Our Sport also came with chrome door handles, fog lamps, securicode keyless entry, body color rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tips and much more.
There is no doubt that this SUV is an attention grabber with the 20-inch painted and machined wheels as the leading eye-catcher. The Explorer Sport has apparently achieved that right balance between muscle and utility for a sleek looking high-performance machine!
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 appliques, unique Sport-logo floor mats and illuminated scuff plates. As the top of the Explorer line, Sport offers a robust array of standard and optional customer focused technologies that make driving more comfortable, convenient and connected. These include 4WD with Terrain Management System, 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, compass and exterior temperature display, rear view camera, SYNC with MyFord Touch driver connect technology, Sony Premium Audio System with HD RadioTM and 12 speakers. And that’s not all, as Ford really loaded up our test model with cabin features like Active park assist, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, Inflatable rear seat belts, 110-volt outlet, Intelligent access with Push-Button Start, Remote Start, adjustable pedals with memory, power lift gate and some of the freshest leather trimmed seats you’ll find in a performance SUV.
When we first drove the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport 4WD, the word “wow” came out of our mouths more than a few times, and at times, this vehicle that was built for speed and performance can make one speechless. Explorer Sport brings high-performance SUV power and projected fuel economy of up to 16 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway which is fuel economy never before delivered by an SUV. The Explorer Sport features a paddle shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic TM 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.
The chassis has also been specially reinforced, making Explorer Sport stiffer and improving its handling. Explorer Sport also brings a solid-mounted electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) rack with a faster ratio, providing more responsiveness to drivers both on-road and off. Ford’s newest SUV comes standard with larger brakes for shorter stopping distances and better performance while towing. Explorer Sport also has received special terrain management settings for tackling sandy, snowy, rutted mud and hill descent.
The most impressive news with the driving experience of the twin-turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine cranking out at least 350 horsepower and a four-wheel drive with a Terrain Management SystemTM that enhanced on road dynamics. The sheer power that you have at your disposal is beyond exciting for a three-row SUV.
With the 2013 Explorer Sport customers receive an interior inspired by designer accessory fashions combined with a sporty exterior design and specially tuned suspension components that will turn heads and keep you smiling. There is so much here for a price tag of $47,390 as tested that rivals will have to get back to the drawing board to regroup. The 2013 Ford Explorer Sport 4WD will be missed, but the memories are strong!