The 2013 Ford Explorer continues to attract buyers with its combination of impressive styling, high safety rating, efficient engine lineup and cutting-edge technology. While it is not at all perfect, with its cramped third-row seat and somewhat glitchy MyFord touch, it cannot be denied that it ventures confidently on city streets, highways and off-road, making it one of the best crossovers SUVs around.
NEW FOR THE 2013 FORD EXPLORER
o Performance-oriented Sport trim level equipped with a turbocharged powertrain and sport-tuned suspension
o New front passenger knee airbag comes as standard equipment across the board
o Limited trim level gets heated tilt/telescoping steering wheel, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist as optional equipment
o Xenon headlights receive automatic high-beam control
UNDER THE HOOD
Standard across 2013 Explorers is a 290 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with a torque rate of 255 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive system comes standard on all models and so is a six-speed automatic transmission. A four-wheel drive system with four-mode selections is offered as an option.
With the 3.5-liter V6, front-drive Explorers deliver an EPA fuel economy rating of 17/24 mpg, while 4WD versions receive 17/23 mpg. It also lends the Explorer a 5,000-pound towing capacity.
The second engine, which powers the new Explorer Sport, is a twin-turbo Ecoboost 3.5-liter V6 that is good for 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Available only with the four-wheel drive system, this V6 receives an EPA fuel economy rating of 16/22 mpg.
A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available as an option for front-wheel drive Explorers. This powertrain creates 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque and gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 20/28 mpg.
ON THE ROAD
Behind the wheel, the 2013 Explorer feels more like a car rather than a big SUV. This means it does not produce the squeaks and rattles that are common in most truck-based SUVs and is confident and safe at highway speeds, sharp corners and even on course pavements.
Although it may not have the V8 engine that some of its rivals have, its base V6 actually offers a reasonable level of acceleration, allowing it to swiftly move from a standing start and giving the Explorer more passing abilities. On the other hand, the turbocharged four-cylinder may seem small for this SUV. But, it actually doles out adequate acceleration for the Explorer to do its urban duties easily, while also sipping lesser fuel than its V6 cousin.
The Explorer’s electric power steering gives the vehicle a nimble feel, and with its Active Park Assist options, it allows this SUV to park with ease by letting the driver keep tabs on his or her surroundings. The adept suspension is equally good, rendering a comfortable ride, while the 7.6 inches ground clearance is sufficient to let the Explorer handle just the right level off-road driving.
INSIDE THE 2013 FORD EXPLORER
Whereas most truck-based SUVs have a utilitarian interior, the 2013 Ford Explorer has nice-looking and welcoming cabin that is loaded with high quality material and soft-touch surfaces. The dash is clad in a supple material, while the instrument cluster is straightforward on base models, but can be upgraded with the MyFord Touch package that brings a configurable LCD screen, which holds most of the buttons and controls for the vehicle’s functions.
Although the MyFord Touch interface contributes to the elegant look of the Explorer’s interior, a couple of test drivers find that the buttons are somewhat confusing and at times fail to respond to inputs.
There is ample head and legroom in front and in the second row, and the seats are also more comfortable and supportive throughout when compared to previous models. The third-row seat is narrow for adults, but is more than adequate to comfortably accommodate children. As for cargo space, the Explorer’s 80 cubic feet of maximum trunk capacity is the smallest for its class.
The 2013 Ford Explorer is available in four versions: Base, XLT, Limited and Sport. Below are some of the standard and optional equipment available on each trim.
Base: 17-inch steel wheels, hill-start assist, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with break assist, power locks, windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, front and rear air conditioning, steering wheel with tilt/telescoping function and remote audio controls, cloth upholstery, power driver’s seat, split fold-down second- and third-row seats, trip computer and an audio system with six speakers, CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
XLT: On top of the Base trim’s features, the XLT trim gains 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, fog lamps, sequential sport shifter, heated door mirrors and turn signals, rearview camera with zoom function, SecuriCode keyless-entry pad and premium cloth upholstery. Optional equipment for the XLT includes a dual-panel power moonroof, power liftgate, automatic air conditioning, navigation system, MyFord Touch, eight-speaker premium radio, leather seats, power passenger seat, heated front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels and blind-spot monitoring system.
Limited: The Limited trim gets all the aforementioned standard features in addition to the XLT’s optional equipment. From there it adds 20-inch wheels, remote engine start, power-adjustable pedals with memory, automatic air conditioning, memory driver’s seat, heated front seats, power passenger seat, leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirror, 110-volt power outlet, MyFord Touch touchscreen controls for audio and climate control, SYNC voice-activated system, a rear camera and 12-speaker Sony premium audio system. Some notable optional features that can be had for the Limited trim includes a power lift gate, rain-sensing wipers, active park assist, distance cruise control, second-row captain’s chair and power-folding third row seat.
Sport: The new Sport trim mirrors the equipment available on the Limited trim, but forgoes the leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, remote engine start and keyless ignition and entry. What it adds in the list are a set of 20-inch wheels, unique interior and exterior trim details and sport front seats. Optional features available for the Sport trim includes a navigation system, power liftgate, cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, leather upholstery, power front passenger seat, memory driver’s seat, ventilated front seats and 110-volt power outlet.
Photo credit: thecarconnection.com