Promising an enhanced driver experience on all levels, the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport is set to join the lineup later this year following its official reveal in New York. While several detail specifications are still being finalized, this first-ever performance-oriented variant matches practicality with exhilaration to a degree that Chief Engineer Bill Gubing calls it, "Our most capable Ford Explorer ever."
Heading the long list of changes that set the new Ford Explorer Sport apart from its lesser siblings is a potent 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that will be tuned to make "at least 350 horsepower." Backed by a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission and feeding power to all four wheels via specially calibrated Terrain Management System and a 3.16:1 final drive ratio that strikes a balance between responsive acceleration and economical cruising, the Explorer Sport is projected to earn EPA marks of up to 16 mpg in the city and 22 mph on the highway. That's comfortably better than the Hemi V8-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango R/T as well as the Land Rover Range Rover Sport. The Explorer Sport also will be able to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
To complement its extra muscle, Ford engineers also treated the new Explorer Sport to a major bit of chassis tweaking. Highlights in that area include a host of structural reinforcements, tauter suspension settings, a faster-ratio electric power steering system and bigger antilock disc brakes.
Helping raise its curbside profile, the Explorer Sport features an impressive selection of tasteful exterior changes that carry through regardless of whether its finished in Ruby Red Metallic Clearcoat, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Tuxedo Black Metallic or Ingot Silver Metallic. The redo starts with a unique grille that pairs low-gloss Sterling Gray mesh with contrasting high-gloss ebony bars, a reworked black front lower fascia with additional cooling intakes, and "Explorer" logotype in billet-like black. Adding more visual spark to the mix are blackout headlamp/taillamp lenses, black roof rails and black side-view mirror caps and a liftgate appliqué along with special 20-inch painted and machined alloy wheels. Inside, the upscale intensity continues, drawing inspiration from the latest designer fashion elements seen in apparel and leather goods from Balenciaga and Prada. The seating can be ordered in standard Charcoal Black leather or with contrasting Sienna inserts, accented with custom stitchwork that's also present in the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Other custom touches include a "technical look" to the dash and door-panel trims, unique Sport-logo floor mats and illuminated scuff plates.
As the new primo offering of the Explorer lineup, the Sport variant also comes with a host of standards that it shares with the Explorer Limited. Key on that list are SYNC with MyFord Touch, a 12-speaker Sony Premium Audio System with HD Radio, rear-view camera, dual-zone climate control, heated power front buckets and a 10-way power driver's seat with power recline/lumbar. Explorer Sport buyers also can opt for features like Active park assist, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, dual-panel moonroof, power liftgate, Intelligent access with Push-Button/ Remote Start and a Class III trailer-towing package. Pricing for the new 2013 Ford Explorer Sport will be released closer to the on-sale date.