I finally had the chance to test drive the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport as I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this vehicle for awhile now. I have to say I was very impressed with the power of this SUV and at 365 HP there is ample power to go around. We are actually in the market for a SUV as our family is expanding and we require the extra room. This specific Explorer Sport as tested was $54,779 MSRP.
The Explorer has TONS of room and was very surprised when I got in. Compared to the Escape and what I drive currently this was a treat as I didn’t feel cramped in any way. One thing I did notice though was the styling isn’t the same as the 2013 C-Max or Escape and the windows were not as visually appealing. The Explorer in this setup is a 7-seater and for the most part of our driving around we had the back row folded down which provided extra storage for our running around. Even with the back row up we had more than enough room to place the stroller and other items typically carried around with kids on a weekend. Ford makes great use of dropping the spare tire so it’s not up at hip level like most SUV’s. This gives way to extra storage which is much needed for a family of at least four.
I was at the Edmonton Auto Show and took a video of the Ford Explorer Limited power seat option which just blew me away. I’ll tell you why after the video.
So why is this a big deal? We checked out all the other SUV’s at the Auto Show, the luxury ones, the cheap ones and nobody else had this option of folding the seats down with one touch. Even some of the 75K+ SUV’s had you holding the button for the whole time. Ford has knocked it out of the park on this option that’s for sure.
Power and Handling
There is a ton of power in this 3.5L EcoBoost engine and again at 365HP it was a lot of fun to drive. I don’t think I’ve ever driven a vehicle with that much horse power, even when I was working for South Park as a detailer. If you are looking for a family SUV with power but at the same time great fuel efficiency then this is your SUV. The sad thing about my test drive though, I was not able to test the different drive modes. The Explorer comes with 3 different modes, Normal, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Grass/Gravel/Snow. That last one, especially in Alberta would be beneficial.
As with some SUV’s I’ve driven, they can sometimes feel top heavy when driving around corners at higher speeds and the Explorer didn’t disappoint here. Hugging the corners and feeling solid through different turns was a pleasure and just keeps adding to the plus’s of this vehicle.
The Sport comes with a lot of the same technology that I’ve mentioned in previous reports here such as the Ford MyTouch SYNC and Navigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Park Assist, and others. However what I did notice and you may want to check with your Ford Dealer, is not all features are available in the “Sport” package. I’ll assume Ford was thinking you are more for power and speed than some of the neat technology features that would be fully included in the Limited version.
I had a better time again with the SYNC Voice-Activated technology and I believe this to be continued use or getting to know the idiosyncrasies that the SYNC system has. The more you use it the more proficient you become and it really is a convenient feature in a society that is accepting more and more distracted driving laws.
There was one technological feature I wanted to try and really is more of a safety feature and that was the Lane-Departure Warning and Lane-Keep Assist. Driving a lot on the highway is something both my wife and I do and as with most you can get tired and drift. At that point you really shouldn’t be driving, but Ford has you covered by utilizing haptic feedback through the steering wheel and actually applies steering torque which can direct your vehicle back into the lane you are supposed to be driving in. This is a great feature in my opinion and wish I had the opportunity to “Real-world” test it.
I think the only real negative I have with the Ford Explorer is the fact you cannot get the Sport engine inside the fully loaded Limited version. The Limited edition has captain seats in the back row so you can easily get in and out of the back with child seats where the Sport does not have this feature and leaves the third row almost impossible to get to if you’ve got two child seats locked in. Since this test drive, my opinion has changed where I’d probably buy the Limited version over the Sport as it fits our family best. Can’t have it all I guess!
Another feedback item for Ford is I’d like to see the inside styling refreshed so it falls inline with it’s other brother’s and sisters. The Escape and C-Max have that new interface where the Explorer and Edge have similar styling cues on the inside. Maybe the 2014 will be updated? Lastly I’d like to see an option to have 22” rims like the Edge. I’ve driven the Edge Sport (my father in-law has one) and anytime I drive it, 50% of the time people comment on the rims. “Are those Factory rims?!?”. Updated option here would be a benefit.
Overall this 2013 Ford Explorer Sport was fun to drive and had ample power to please the power hungry SUV drivers out there without breaking the bank. However if you are looking for a more family oriented SUV, go for the Limited version which offers more of the technology and features that are well suited for a family.