Today’s Practical SUV: Ford Explorer Limited

by Mike Hunter

The grandfather of the SUV movement over the last 20 years, the Ford Explorer has evolved. In a market where gas mileage, eco-friendly options and technology are the attraction, the 2013 Ford Explorer Limited edition is a top option, exuding practicality, style, quality and comfort.

Redesigned in 2012, the Explorer has some exciting new features by Ford that will make this year’s model a prized one. MyFord Touch™ and Ford SYNC® are the technology highlights. MyFord Touch™ with SYNC® is the new touchscreen technology that boasts an 8-inch customizable touchscreen that allows drivers to customize their driving experience through voice recognition like “Find me a restaurant,” verbalize climate controls, find SiriusXM radio stations, get directions and auto health reports, among other options. It take drivers a while to get used to these options and to customize them (and keep eyes on the road), but the full use of this technology makes commands simple. Bluetooth technology syncs the smartphone to the on-board MyFord Touch™ capabilities, allowing for contacts, calendars and call to be organized and implemented conveniently.

The 3.5L TiVCT V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque falls just short of what one might expect under the hood in a Ford. Boosting fuel economy and still outputing some good power and towing capacity drove the decision to offer only the V6, but to match the sporty styling and luxe features, the Explorer feels like it needs more power. (The available Sport model does come with an enhanced 3.5L Ecoboost® V6 that delivers instantaneous, low-end torque responsiveness with 350 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, six-speed SelectShift Automatic® transmission, with paddle shifters providing for better performance.)

The sleek, Euro-styling of the Explorer feels a bit boxy, but it is well crafted and has impressive curb appeal. The dual chrome exhaust tips, halogen headlamps, LED tail lamps and liftgate spoiler compare to the features on the Range Rover Sport. Interiors are also impressive, with seating for seven, variable cargo space configurations and mid-level luxury throughout. Leather heated or cooled seats (optional), rear captain’s chairs and automatic-stow far rear seats make for a full cabin, but with ample room. Standard is the Audio System from Sony® with HD Radio™, which includes 12 premium speakers for razor-sharp sound reception.

2013 Explorer Limited

City MPG             17
Hwy MPG            24
0-60 MPH           8.3 sec
Transmission      6-speed automatic
MSRP                   $37,855 (Sport: $40,720)

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