Our reviews of the Ford explorer have to be pretty positive because our initial test in late 2010. The big seven-passenger do a successful change to a unibody platform, and also has uncovered a level that refinement the nameplate has actually never known. We’re likewise quite bullish top top Ford’s EcoBoost selection of engines, with certain love being heaped on the 3.5-liter V-6 native the Taurus SHO, Flex, and also F-150. These two items have joined forces for 2013, bring about the Ford traveler Sport. So naturally, when the Dearborn-based manufacturer invited us to check this automotive witches brew, we were loath come decline.

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Adding the 3.5-liter EcoBoost to the traveler seems prefer a pretty smart move. When there’s never ever been noþeles offensive about the power of the conventional 3.5-liter V-6, it’s down 60 pound-feet of speak on the last-generation Explorer’s 4.6-liter V-8 (the old V-8 just packs a two-horsepower advantage on the V-6). Perhaps more importantly for the explorer buyer, the naturally aspirated V-6’s 5000-pound towing capacity is under some 2000 pounds ~ above the old V-8.
The addition of the EcoBoost provides the traveler a true workhorse engine for the first time due to the fact that 2010. With 365 horsepower and also 350 pound-feet the torque, the traveler Sport package both a far-ranging horsepower and also torque advantage on the old V-8 engine (73 ponies and 35 pound-feet of torque). Unfortunately, the extra power doesn’t help towing capacity, i beg your pardon is still grounding at only 5000 pounds.
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Slapping the surname “Sport” ~ above the end of explorer necessitates an ext than simply a brand-new engine, though. There have to be aesthetic tweaks. The visual formula because that the explorer Sport is a an easy one. Give it headlights and also taillights v black housings for that cool tinted look, replace many of the chrome with shiny black color stuff, and also fit a set of chunky 20-inch wheels. Also, “Sport” badges. Gotta have actually the badges.
The result CUV is actually pretty suturing attractive. Our Ruby Red tester’s red-and-black shade scheme looks natural and also high class. Us are particularly fond the the rear end, as the black taillights and also the linked black chrome strip over the license plate really tie the vehicle together well. Our main complaint about the exterior is the we’re stuck with the Gillete Mach 3 grille. Surely a black color honeycomb grille, like the one found on the Taurus SHO, would have actually looked an ext attractive, right?
Inside, the explorer feels mainly unchanged. The standard shade is charcoal black, although a new Sienna brown contrasting inner is additionally available. The steering wheel is traditional Ford, v an attractive design and nice sufficient leather, although we think a much more bespoke wheel need to be available on the sports model. Even something as straightforward as Alcantara trimming would certainly be one improvement. Paddle shifters have sprouted indigenous the back of the steering wheel, return their little size and reasonably shabby end up felt fairly uninspired. The perforated, heated, cooled, ten-way driver’s seat is additionally a pretty traditional item. Us didn’t an alert any extr bolstering that would collection it apart from a lesser Explorer.
Our drive path was a collection of twists and also turns between Ann Arbor and Mason, Michigan to discover out even if it is this explorer Sport matches up to the potent competition, in particular, the Hemi-powered dodge Durango (the Explorer’s most apparent competitor), or if the Blue Oval’s premier seven-seater has fallen flat by imbuing it v such power.
Ford’s EcoBoost V-6 is a consummate performer, elevating the straight-line prowess that the traveler considerably. Ford claims a two-second advancement in the run to 60 miles every hour, which seems slightly optimistic. Turbo lag is rarely a large issue for this biturbocharged V-6, together it supplies only a temporary hesitation prior to reaching the broad, an effective torque curve. Height torque is reached at 3500 rpm, providing the traveler Sport a significant mid-range punch.
This engine differs substantially from the normally aspirated, 5.7-liter hemi V-8 discovered in the evade Durango. Wherein the Durango is full of life, v a complex, exciting exhaust note and also an engaging strength delivery, the explorer Sport’s EcoBoost mill is cost-free of drama. The thin level of accessible power isn’t a poor thing, yet it doesn’t do lot to add to the all at once fun the the control experience. The exhaust keep in mind is fairly dull family member to the assorted V-8s top top the market, together well. The difference between these 2 is like the difference in between the original Star Wars and Transformers: one is thrilling in a classic, difficult-to-express way, when the other is several excitement and not a ton of substance.
We’ve never been the form to turn down a twisty little bit of pavement (our surname is Winding road after all), but the Explorer, even in sport trim, will never ever be a corner carver. Ford’s engineers shored increase the suspension for this model by stiffening the dampers, yet the mix of a almost 5000-pound curb weight and a balance that still leans greatly towards comfort end dynamism method that this is a automobile that’s happiest on the freeway. Through the bends, role is managed reasonably well, yet mid-corner imperfections develop a high degree of vertical motion. It isn’t sufficient to yes, really hurt our confidence, however it doesn’t have actually the planted feel we were hope for.
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The electric steering has been retuned, and also feels quicker for what it’s worth. Feedback is quiet limited, though. Really, like the suspension, the steering is happiest as soon as it’s inquiry to simply go straight.
With a beginning price that $40,720, the traveler sits right between the two peak models in the Hemi-powered, all-wheel-drive Durango range, the $38,595 R/T and also the $43,285 Citadel. Ours tester added the 402A choice package (MyFord Touch, blind-spot monitoring, strength liftgate, strength tilt/telescopic steering, push-button start, approximately lighting, and also a couple of other goodies), together with a pair of captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, a trailer tow pack, the Ruby Red Tricoat paint, and summer tires. Complete price satellite at $48,385.
That’s a high number, particularly considering a an in similar way optioned Durango Citadel have the right to be had actually for $45,545. Still, much less than a $3000 premium isn’t a particularly hard pill come swallow, particularly when considering fuel economy. The turbocharged V-6 the the traveler Sport will certainly net 16 miles every gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. That compares fairly favorably come the all-wheel-drive, V-8-powered Citadel, v its 13-mpg city and also 20-mpg highway ratings. There’s not a large difference, however it’s certainly enough that we’d consider spending an extra pair thousand dollars.

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Ford’s built a pretty considerable vehicle with the traveler Sport, gifting it v a much-welcomed rise in power and torque, while offering the exterior some extra panache. It’s no a sporting activities SUV in the mold of a variety Rover sports or BMW X5M, yet it is simply the type of auto for the family members that desires to gain where it’s going quickly, in comfort and style, and for a reasonable price. That’s a mission we deserve to happily get behind.