By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
When Ford introduced the all-new Explorer last year, it didn't just do a slight refresh of the existing model. Instead, Ford created an entirely new vehicle unlike any Explorer before it. For 2013, the Explorer continues to attract new buyers swayed by its sleek, almost Land Rover-like good looks, cutting-edge technology and efficient engine choices, including the first turbocharged 4-cylinder engine ever to grace an Explorer engine bay. With seating for seven, the Explorer is definitely family-friendly and, thanks to an advanced multi-setting 4-wheel-drive system, the family can now venture confidently off-road (something the old Explorer wasn't very good at). Ironically, the one vehicle that stands to lose market share to the Explorer is its own sibling, the Ford Flex.
If you're seeking the room and versatility of a big SUV, but don't like the idea of a poor-handling, fuel-thirsty land barge that's nearly impossible to park, Ford's 2013 Explorer deserves a good look. Additionally, the Explorer has a beautifully-designed interior and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
If you're hoping for the high-mileage EcoBoost engine and 4-wheel drive, you'll be disappointed to learn the fuel-efficient 4-cylinder is available only on front-wheel-drive models. The Explorer's limited 5,000-pound tow rating may also be a deal killer.
For 2013, a new Sport trim joins the Explorer fleet, offering a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, standard 4-wheel drive, 20-inch sport alloy wheels and two-tone leather-trimmed seats. New features for the Explorer include a passenger-side front knee airbag, available heated steering wheel and auto-dimming headlights.
Driving Impressions It takes only a few minutes of seat time in the 2013 Ford Explorer to realize this is no ordinary SUV. The rigid unit body has none of the squeaks...and rattles so commonplace in most truck-based SUVs, while Ford's Curve Control throttle intervention helps maintain a safe speed when rounding sharp corners. The Explorer's adept suspension is aided by a host of electronic assists designed to make this mid-size SUV handle like a lithe sport sedan. Our short time testing the Terrain Management 4-wheel-drive system netted some pretty impressive results, especially considering the Explorer's modest 7.6 inches of ground clearance and somewhat soft suspension. Still, we wouldn't put this vehicle up against a Toyota 4Runner, for example, whose body-on-frame architecture and hi/lo transfer case make it more conducive to serious off-road challenges. Then again, few truck-based SUVs can match the 2013 Explorer's outstanding fuel economy, exceptional cabin comfort, user-focused functionality and class-leading connectivity.
This latest version of Ford's driver-connect technology is standard on the Explorer Limited and available on the XLT. It utilizes an expanded version of the automaker's SYNC voice-command system to allow and facilitate a broader range of input commands for the audio, navigation, climate control and phone systems.
A world-exclusive, this standard safety enhancement automatically senses when the vehicle is entering a given corner too quickly and automatically engages throttle and braking intervention to help it maintain the desired driving path.
Look inside most trucked-based SUVs and you'll find the same utilitarian dash and door panels as their pickup truck counterparts. Not so with the 2013 Ford Explorer, where an elegant cabin is awash in high-quality, soft-touch surfaces. The Explorer's instrument cluster is clean and simple on the base models and, on the XLT and Limited, it can be upgraded to include the MyFord Touch package that features configurable LCD screens in place of the traditional analog gauges. At the rear, a single-piece rear liftgate opens to expose 15.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which can be expanded to a maximum of 80.7 cubic feet by folding down both rows of rear seats.Exterior
With the 2013 Explorer, Ford has jettisoned the boxy, upright design of old and replaced it with an elegant body highlighted by a boldly-rakish front end. The Explorer's tall doors and lower roof give it a slick, almost low-rider look, as do the Sport and Limited's 20-inch wheels. But, the design is an optical illusion because there is plenty of headroom inside as well as ground clearance below (7.6 inches to be exact). The Explorer's wide track benefits interior occupants with more hip and shoulder room, as well as greatly aids in improved handling and cornering.
In addition to its V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, the 2013 Ford Explorer boasts numerous power assists, MyFord driver connectivity, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with media hub, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering column and more. The XLT adds auto headlights, foglights, 18-inch wheels, rearview camera with zoom function, premium cloth upholstery, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, SecuriCode keyless-entry pad and the SelectShift feature. Leather-upholstered, the Limited gets all that and the XLT's Driver Connect and Comfort Packages – plus a Sony premium audio system with HD Radio. Safety items include AdvanceTrak with Roll Stability Control and Curve Control and Hill Start Assist.
For 2013, all Ford Explorers offer 4-wheel drive with multi-mode Terrain Management System and Hill Descent Control. XLT buyers can add the Driver Connect (MyFord Touch/SYNC, premium audio, dual-zone climate control and rearview camera). The Limited's Luxury Seating Package (perforated leather, heated/cooled front seats, power-folding third-row seat, power liftgate and navigation) is available with or without the 302A Group (Blind Spot Information System, adaptive cruise control, Auto Park, HID headlamps and rain-sensing wipers). Stand-alone options for the XLT, Limited and Sport models include navigation, dual-panel power moonroof, power liftgate, inflatable second-row outboard seatbelts, power tilt/telescopic and heated steering wheel and the blind spot system.
The 2013 Explorer's standard engine is Ford's high-tech 3.5-liter Ti-VCT (twin-independent variable camshaft timing) V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. With the 6-speed automatic this engine delivers class-leading 17/25 mpg city/highway EPA numbers in front-drive Explorers and 17/23 mpg in the 4WD versions; it also accelerates from zero to 60 mph in roughly eight seconds and gives the Explorer a 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity. Optional on front-drive models is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, but is recommended to use premium fuel. Fuel economy ratings for the EcoBoost are an estimated 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The Sport gets a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine rated at 350 horsepower.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg
290 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
255 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg (FWD), 13/18 mpg (E85), 17/23 (4WD), 12/17 mpg (4WD E85)
3.5-liter turbocharged V6
350 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
350 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2013 Ford Explorer starts at just over $29,500 for a base model, with an Explorer XLT around $33,000, the top-line Explorer Limited close to $38,700 and the Sport trim near $41,500. Opting for 4-wheel drive will add another $2,000, but even a fully-loaded base Explorer should still slip in around $35,000. These prices are right in line with the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, but add options and the Explorer's price is a bit higher than those of the Hyundai Veracruz and Mazda CX9. Before you head to the dealership, check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com to ensure that you're getting the best deal. When it comes to resale, KBB projects the Explorer will retain better-than-average residual values over time.
By Scott on Thursday, April 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Dependable, comfortable, awesome in the snow!"
Cons: "Wish I could have afforded more options..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I would recommend this vehicle for several reasons. This vehicle provides a smooth and comfortable ride. I travel approx. 600 miles a week for my job. I am currently assigned to a region in the USA which has an abundance of snow and bitter cold temperatures. This vehicle has never had trouble despite seeing numerous others along the side of the road! In my opinion, it's the overall best buy for a SUV."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Ford Dude on Friday, March 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,741overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Acceleration, better gas mileage, luxury, quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded my 2002 Explorer for a newer model because the one I've drove and owned for 12 years was trouble free there wasn't any mechanical problems was an reliable SUV. Now I am happy with my 2014 Explorer its best in more technology features includes my FordTouch is best with interface and controls are really neat every available option fully loaded on Platinum package bought on this model. The SUV has more acceleration with great gas mileage, comfortable seats, heated seats, navigation, dual panoramic moon roof, moving object detection and much more. I love my 2nd Explorer being more restyled and it rides better given me a quieter drive and upgraded interior on everything so best on my Explorer. There are lots of room, great features and sync system is awesome too looks exactly like a BMW having LED lights and top of the line in its new quality."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By jcorcione on Thursday, March 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Ride quality"
Cons: "A bit pricey NAV should come standard."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"We really love the explorer. It really has an exceptional ride quality I was not expecting. A pleasure to drive. We had some issues with the APM which is part of the SYNC system and have had several software upgrades to the unit (covered under warranty) other than that we have been very pleased with the vehicle with regard to ride, comfort and quality. We plan on trading the vehicle in on an explorer sport."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Johnny W on Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Build quality, power, quiet, good handling for SUV"
Cons: "Touch screen takes getting used to"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Comfortable, reliable, easy-to-use AWD system. Mileage decent for an SUV -- I get close to 21 MPG overall. Very quiet and solid on the highway, adequate off road but, to me, not the kind of vehicle you take way off road into the deep woods. Some people don't like MyFord Touch -- I never found it difficult to use, but it does have some quirks that take getting used to. SYNC, on the other hand, is a real plus."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By explorer owner on Saturday, February 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great safety and comfortable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my first suv. I have a 2012 and was rear ended by someone going at least 50 mph. I ended up having herniated disks in my neck and a torn rotator cuff in each shoulder. If it wasn't for the ford explorer, I might not be here today to tell this story."
By Bubba on Tuesday, February 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love it"
Cons: "Wish my wife would let me use it more"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought this car because my wife had to have it. Is was a little nervousness because it was one of the first ones out. It has been a good car haven't had any probs with 46000 miles . It rides good had plenty of power and all the bells and whistles took it hunting and was amazed where it would go and what it would climb. Great SUV ford u guys really surprised me"
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful