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Ford Explorer

A new model adds some sport to the all-American SUV.

Now that the current-generation Explorer has been on sale for two years, the vehicle’s metamorphosis from old-school SUV to modern crossover is complete. The transformation has been a success, with sales having seen a steady increase ever since the unibody Explorer was introduced. The reinvented Explorer features good fuel economy for a large vehicle, high-quality materials, and state-of-the-art technology, but it has some shortcomings. Visibility from the driver’s seat is not good due to the high beltline and the thick A-pillars. The ride and handling are improvements over the old Explorer’s, but driving this crossover is in general a ho-hum affair. Ford has addressed that complaint for 2013 with a new model, the Explorer Sport, which features a 350-hp EcoBoost V-6 and a sport-tuned suspension. Buyers can also opt for a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder or a normally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6. Four-wheel drive is standard on the Sport and optional with the V-6 but is not available with the four-cylinder. Options include MyFord Touch — an eight-inch touchscreen that integrates navigation, audio, climate, and phone functions. It has been enhanced this year to make it easier to operate. Options include a two-panel sunroof, power-folding third-row seats, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, and parallel-parking assist.

COMPETITORS

Chevrolet Traverse

Honda Pilot

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Toyota Highlander

new for 2013

A new trim level, the Sport, has been added. Powered by Ford’s 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, the new model features a sport-tuned suspension; larger brakes; standard four-wheel drive; a unique grille, exhaust tips, and twenty-inch wheels; and leather sport seats. Front knee air bags are now standard in all Explorers, and Sync with MyFord Touch has been enhanced to make it easier to operate.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, front knee, side, and side curtain air bags are standard; rear inflatable belts for outboard positions are available on XLT, Limited, and Sport. ABS; traction and stability control; trailer-sway control; tire-pressure monitoring; and the SOS Post-Crash Alert System are standard. Adaptive cruise control with collision warning, BLIS, and hill-descent control are optional.

MPG

CITY 16–20

HWY 22–28

PRO

Fuel efficient for a crossover

Available all-wheel drive

Lots of safety and high tech

CON

No all-wheel drive with I-4

Poor outward visibility

Base Price Range: $29,695–$41,545

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: Explorer, XLT, Limited, Sport

BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 6- or 7-passenger

ENGINES: 2.0L turbo I-4, 240 hp, 270 lb-ft

3.5L V-6, 290 hp, 255 lb-ft

3.5L twin-turbo V-6, 350 hp, 350 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 151.7 cu ft

CAPACITIES: Towing 2000–5000 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 21.0/43.8/80.7 cu ft

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