Prior to the 2013 model year, the Ford Explorer was available in three trims: base, XLT, and Limited. All three are built with the same wheelbase of 112.6 inches, the same length of 197.1 inches and the same height of 70.4 inches.
The features and equipment determine the price and character of a particular trim.
For this model year, Ford produced a new trim, the Explorer Sport, which keeps the same exterior and interior dimensions but focuses more on a sport-type character with increased torque and speed without compromising the dimensions of comfort and the sense of luxury.
“Explorer is just coming off one of the best months in sales since being reintroduced in 2010, and Sport is off to a great start as well. In fact, Sport is moving in and out of dealerships as fast as Raptor or GT 500,” said Eric Peterson, market manager for crossover and medium utilities.
The Sport is ready to take on any challenge posed by the weather or road conditions with the Terrain Management System (TMS). You just turn the dial to match the scene outside. And the TMS is paired with intelligent 4WD system, giving you seamless shift–on-the-fly confidence.
Just look at the icons and decide what you want and need to do. “Normal” is ideal for everyday road driving; “Mud/Ruts” lets the tires spin a bit if needed to keep you moving; “Sand” allows aggressive wheel spin to help you stay on top; and “Snow” optimizes grip on all sorts of slippery surfaces.
In addition to these selectable modes, the TMS includes Hill Descent Control, which regulates speed or steep declines with just the push of a button.
The Sport has a 3.5-L Ti-VCT twin-turboV-6 engine that delivers 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The 4WD TMS delivers 22 mpg/hwy with the SelectShift 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Sport has a luxurious interior like the Explorer Limited, with additional items such as unique leather stitching, paddle shifters, illuminated scuff plates, an easily read instrument panel, and door panel appliqués.
Suspension is the thing that separates the Sport from the trim fold. The strengthened strut tower bar improves steering precision and road feel, while the underbody tunnel brace further improves steering precision.
The Sport has bigger brakes, wider wheels, a solid mounted steering gear, and Sport-tuned suspension with reduced lateral compliance at the rear.
Ten-way power driver/passenger seats, dual zone auto climate control, and particulate air filter make the cabin interior all the more pleasing. The flexible seats in the Sport allow you to easily change the configuration. With a touch of a button, the PowerFold third row seats fold flat into the floor, creating a flat load floor.
Extra-deep 21 cubic feet cargo area behind the third row, rear view camera, 60/40 split fold second row seats, PowerFold third row seats, and power lift gate let you see and store your stuff just the way you want it.
The Explorer Sport has a starting price of $40,720.
Government Safety Ratings
The Explorer gets a 5-Star rating in overall vehicle safety, frontal crash for passenger, and side crash for front and rear seat passengers, and a 4-Star rating for rollover and frontal crash for the driver.
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or firstname.lastname@example.org
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