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
By Rod on Sunday, December 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable and beautiful"
Cons: "back seats are too tight"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I bought this car and it was love at first sight.It has great steering, a beautiful interior and exterior, but in the back the seats are too bunched up, but overall i love it!"
8 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Driver on Thursday, November 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable, space, stability"
Cons: "steering wheel design, door cup-holders, SYNC"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The vehicle has good driving. I drove from NH all the way to Orlando, FL and back, I didn't feel the road. The car is comfy. I am a detail oriented driver and therefore I get annoyed by small things in a car. Thinking of the Explorer, I can provide feedback on some "small" things that I believe need to change if Ford wants to have this vehicle as one of the best SUVs on the market (price/value/comfort/features). Before I go and list the things requiring a change, I want to state that this vehicle is still among the top five I would recommend to anyone. So, the annoying things for me as a driver are: 1.Small door cup-holders (height is not enough for a regular coffee cup or a small water bottle) 2. Weirdly designed steering wheel (unable to "lock" the steering wheel with my thumbs, holding my hands in 9-3 position. I have driven civic, accord, passatt, jetta and I could do that in all of them). In the Explorer, you are forced to hold the steering wheel like you are driving a truck 3. SYNC is not responding fast enough (you are forced to touch multiple times or wait as you are not sure if something was initiated or not) 4. Touch screen is not good for use while you are driving (if you want to change something on the screen, you better stop driving and do it. Old "buttons" approach would be more beneficial and efficient instead of the touch screen. In my Accord, I can changes radio stations, change the heat/AC, CD player etc. without looking at it) 5. Radio volume (it seems that I can not find the perfect volume while driving, it is either to low or it is to loud. This is not good when you have kids sleeping in the vehicle while driving ;-)) 5. Heated seats (maybe this is happening just to my Explorer but what I see is not having any heat on the lower back. Jetta's seats, for example, are heating the lower back as well) If you can live with these small annoyances, this will be a great vehicle for you. We all know that there is no such thing as a "perfect" matching car for anyone. The Explorer is close enough. Oh, and one more thing... I am averaging 21.2 miles per gallon after approx. 21,000 miles driven so far."
18 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By rdclk on Saturday, October 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles great. Looks great. AC seats"
Cons: "too small to list"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Handles awesome in the weather this past winter. Took a long road trip, and the 20" tires are so smooth on the highway. I have received so many compliments on the looks of the vehicle. Bluetooth is great. Has incredible acceleration. I love this vehicle."
16 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Lewis on Sunday, September 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I always had a Ford Explorer, this new is my 4th, but so far, this one is the best car, reliable, trustful, confortable, so quiet, and really smooth to drive, good on gas, I got so far 20mph on city, and that's mean a lot to me, putting my self some upgrades, and looks great now....!! I'm glad I have this car and pretty much happy, as some one said, when you take it to wash, there is. The problem with the little roof in the back, but after all..... Love it...!!"
13 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By goran on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "all great"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"after dodge, Nissan, mazda, jeep and Mercedes suv (all new) this is best car what I had. I change cars every 3 years due to high miles and this one is great on gas and everything"
15 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By Don on Monday, September 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, priced competively"
Cons: "Short Battery Life - less than 2 years"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The 2013 Explorer design lends itself to have a smooth ride and well designed interior for sufficient room to carry 5 adults. The Explorer is very repsonsive to sudden braking and did not sway."
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful