Let’s face it, even if you closely examine the 22 year history of the model, the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport has no competition for the title of “Most Exciting Explorer.” This is certainly not an attempt to damn the new model with faint praise, it is more a condemnation of all of the uninspiring Explorers which came before.
As with most original SUV nameplates that are “evolving” into more fuel efficient crossovers, the Explorer started off as a rather elemental body on frame truck and became bigger and heavier over time. In 2010, the Explorer was recast as as unibody and won the 2011 North American Truck of the Year.
The 2013 Ford Explorer Sport is the fullest expression of the nameplate as a crossover. There have been Explorer Sport models before, mostly denoting a model with coupe style doors and a rear hatch. Now the Sport is a standard bodied five door model which actually brings higher performance to the table. By being the stud of the stable, the new Sport model is priced accordingly, slotting right into the very top price segment of the model, with a nearly $41,000 base price.
What you get for your money is a vehicle with the hidden gem of all of Ford’s new “Ecoboost” turbocharged engines—the all aluminum, 3.5L twin turbocharged and intercooled, direct fuel injected DOHC 24 valve V6 making 365 BHP and 350 ft-lbs. of torque. If this engine seems the least bit familiar to you, it’s because you recognize it as the power plant lifted from the Taurus SHO sports sedan. This engine is capable of hauling the 2.5 ton Explorer from 0-60 mph in a shade over six seconds while still returning a respectable 16/22 mpg city/highway.
Ford has focused on providing a more upmarket experience within the Explorer Sport, giving its interior more foreign-luxury-car-inspired styling.
Those performance figures reveal the Explorer Sport’s corporate mission as Ford’s CUV import fighter. The market is crowded with upmarket German, Japanese, and British CUV offerings. This version of the Explorer stakes out Ford’s claim for the near and full luxury segment that sees vehicles such as the Land Rover Evoque, Mercedes M-Class, the BMW X-class, Lexus RX 350, and Acura MDX slugging it out for sales.
Though the latest Explorer has mutated from a rear wheel driven truck chassis to a front wheel drive/AWD platform, the new Sport does not suffer much in the way of torque steer upon take off. Ford’s very competent and versatile AWD system makes the power always drive the wheels that have the best traction. Unlike many of its competitors, Ford also serves up some engineering magic that allows the new Explorer take on road conditions in something approximating true 4WD. By taking full advantage of electronic differential management, and aggressive automatic wheel baking, the Explorer Sport can not only deliver 100 percent of the available power to just one wheel, but through the assistance of a dedicated cooling unit, can also run in a lower geared AWD setting indefinitely without overheating.
If you want a domestic crossover with the styling and performance of its foreign competitors, and then some, test drive an Explorer Sport.
Stop in to Oxmoor Ford of Louisville to see and drive the all new Ford Explorer Sport.
100 Oxmoor Lane
Louisville KY 40222