Heading to dealers next month, the new-for-2013 Ford Explorer Sport will arrive with a host of well-focused design touches that promise to make it both the hottest and the coolest member of the family. Matching superior performance from its 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 with a performance-tuned chassis and distinctive styling elements, the all-wheel-drive 7-passenger Explorer Sport will provide an enthusiast-grade driving experience while delivering a class-leading 22 mpg projected EPA highway number.

"Explorer Sport hits a sweet-spot combination of power, usable torque, 4WD capability, with class-leading fuel efficiency," said Bill Gubing, chief engineer for Explorer, Taurus and Police Interceptor vehicles. "The Explorer Sport EcoBoost engine matches Taurus SHO for output and the Terrain Management System has been specifically calibrated to optimize increased power - regardless of the road or conditions."

Other Explorer Sport-specific mechanical tweaks include a retuned suspension, reinforced chassis tunnel, a more responsive electric power steering unit, 3.16:1 differential ratio, bigger brakes and unique 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 255/50 high-performance tires.

Highlighting exterior changes to the Explorer Sport are a unique Sterling Gray grille insert, blackout head/tail lamps, black roof rack rails, sideview mirror caps and liftgate appliqué plus a functional vent in the blacked-out lower front fascia that improves engine cooling. Inside, the Explorer Sport appointments were inspired by clothing and accessory lines of Balenciaga and Prada. Black leather seats -- with or without Sienna leather inserts - are matched with similarly styled trim elements and appliqués. Other standards include steering wheel mounted paddles for the 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, SYNC/MyFord Touch connectivity, a Sony Premium Audio System with navigation, dual-zone climate control, rearview camera system and more.

Topping the options roster are BLIS (blind spot information system) with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, dusldual-panel moonroof, power liftgate, inflatable rear seat belts, power tilt/telescoping steering column, power-adjustable pedals with memory, remote start and a Class III trailering package that allows the Explorer Sport to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Pricing for the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport will start at $41,545 with a fully loaded example topping out in excess of $50,000.

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