Car Review: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport 4WD

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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.

EXTERIOR

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!

INTERIOR

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.

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New things from Ford

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2011 Forward with Ford
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Dearborn Mi, During the F-150 drag stripe challenge 2011 Forward with Ford participants raced to the finish line. (06/23/2011)

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We joined Ford this past weekend in Dearborn with bloggers from all over the country to see what Ford has in store for the future. How does a car company deal with changing times and new trends? All companies have to react to the changing world around them and marketplace developments, but spotting trends early can be a big advantage if a company is nimble enough to capitalize on these trends.

Some of the subjects addressed included Living Green, Aging Population and Youth Influence and Global Convergence of Design. Malcolm Gladwell kicked off the event with a keynote speech that addressed the issues of change. Gladwell is always entertaining, but I learned much more when we got to see up-close some of the real trends Ford is addressing and how they are directly impacting products.

Other companies may have been first with green initiatives like electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but Ford is pushing very hard in these areas and we’ll see new vehicles in 2012. Ford has teamed up with well-known conservation and green advocate Ed Begley Jr. who gave us a compelling presentation on what was coming from Ford in this area. Some of the changes are not obvious. One interesting innovation involves soy-based foam which is being used in the seats of cars. This foam is biodegradable and offers a great alternative to petroleum-based foam products.

We got to spend time with J Mays in the Ford Design Center and I was blown away by what they can do now in the design process. Everything is digital, and now they can see and test everything on a massive digital high def screen that covered the entire wall in a large room in the design center. Digital version of the car concepts can be places in all sorts of digital settings so the designers can see what the car can really look like in real life, all the way down to how different types of light would reflect off of different paint jobs, Even the promo “photographs” are now digitally created which saves on time and money.

On the last day we had the opportunity to drive a bunch of Ford vehicles in different settings on the test track in order to learn about various Ford vehicles and initiatives. The events were fun and I learned quite a bit. I started with the F-150 drag races and managed to win my heat. I definitely enjoyed the feeling of flooring the truck from a dead stop on a straightaway!

The most revealing exhibit involved the all-new Ford Explorer. Ford had a series of dirt hills and other obstacles built so we could put the new Explorer to the test in off-road setting. They were showing off the vehicle’s Terrain Management System and I came away very impressed. The system takes the guesswork out of 4WD capabilities. Drivers can pick from four settings – Normal, Mud, Sand and Snow. It was a breeze going up and down steep dirt hills.

It was definitely an eye-opening weekend, so we’re expecting some big things from Ford over the next couple of years.

  

2011 Ford Explorer Limited first shots

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Bullz-Eye recently took delivery of a 2011 Ford Explorer Limited. Unless you follow this industry closely you probably wouldn't know it was an Explorer at first glance. This is basically an all new 2011 Ford Explorer. When designing this "Crossover," it's apparent Ford looked to the future rather than looking back. Check back soon for the review on Bullz-Eye.com!

  

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