Sport Trim Joins Ford Explorer Lineup
By Brad Constant
Ford unveiled the newest addition to its Explorer lineup on Wednesday, the 2013 Explorer Sport--the company's first performance-focused version of the midsize SUV.
Ford will show the Explorer Sport at the New York auto show next week.
"The Explorer Sport is differentiated from the rest of the lineup with appealing exterior design treatments, unique wheels and tires for sporty appearance and handling, and with exclusive interior materials," said Eric Peterson, Ford's marketing manager for utility vehicles.
The Explorer Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine that makes 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, Explorer chief engineer Bill Gubing said. The EcoBoost V6 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. In the Explorer Sport, the engine-and-transmission combination should be good for fuel economy numbers of 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
Power is fed through a torque-sensing four-wheel-drive system that optimizes how power is allocated among each wheel. Ford also reworked the SUV's terrain-management system specifically for the Explorer Sport. Gubing said the changes will provide "much greater on- and off-road capabilities and improved driving dynamics."
The automaker further improved handling by strengthening the strut-tower braces and adding additional chassis bracing. The 2013 Explorer Sport also gets larger brakes that are said to improve stopping performance by 22 percent over the brakes on the standard Explorer, according to Gubing.
Placed at the top of the model lineup, the Sport version was designed for Explorer buyers looking for improved performance, vehicle engineering manager Carl Widmann said. However, it also has many of the luxury touches found on the more comfort-oriented Limited models, including heated, leather front seats, a Sony premium sound system and Sync with MyFord Touch. Unique interior touches include Sport logo floor mats, illuminated scuff plates and new door-panel and instrument appliqués.
Exterior touches include a new dual exhaust, 20-inch painted wheels, blacked-out headlamp and tail lamp treatments, black roof rails and black side-mirror caps. Ford also placed the Explorer logotype above the grille for the first time.
Ford has not set pricing for the 2013 Explorer Sport yet. It says that the new model will arrive in dealerships later this year.
In other-words it's a big-and-tall Taurus....That's all the Explorer is today, a Taurus station wagon. Your assumption is correct, it is a FWD-biased AWD system.....because the Explorer is all car and no longer a capable truck. Not that the old Explorer was exactly great off-road.
It really wasn't suited for anything much more challenging than a fire road or adverse weather conditions.
I agree with this. My dad's CR-V was that way too. My description of it is that it's a "bad road" car and not an "off road" car. So long as you had somewhat firm ground in front of you that vaguely resembled a road it was ok. Just don't expect it to do more than that.
Considering where my dad took the family when we didn't have an off-road car or van, I wouldn't be too concerned. It'll just be a lot of work to make it a true rock-crawler or mud-bather.
My disappointment would be that its likely a front-driv bias 4wd system rather than a longitudinal/rwd biased set-up. In other-words it's a big-and-tall Taurus....
Oh c'mon Ford, if you really want to make a sport SUV, do it properly!
Hey, at least they are trying. It used to be the word "sport" was applied to anything with a spoiler. SUV's, minivans, Escorts...
The old Explorer could at least go off road. The new Explorer not so much considering how much lower to the ground it is.Eh, not really. The independent front and rear suspensions on the last gen Explorer offered very little wheel travel, it didn't take much at all to get them to lift a wheel, and with no traction aiding differentials, you can easily lose forward momentum that way (aka get stuck). It really wasn't suited for anything much more challenging than a fire road or adverse weather conditions.
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