You can’t deny success. Last year, sales of the Ford Explorer midsize SUV easily topped 100,000, making it the fastest growing vehicle in its segment. The reasons for such impressive sales are obvious; the Explorer boasts best-in-class fuel economy, seating for seven, an interior reviewers have dubbed “Ford’s best effort ever” and a slate of safety features that earned it a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Throw in a “North American Truck of the Year” award bestowed by a panel of automotive journalists, and it’s no wonder buyers are beating a path to dealership doors.
Buyers evaluating the Explorer might be surprised by another aspect of the Explorer that doesn’t receive quite as much time in the spotlight as its stellar fuel economy, premier-class amenities and cutting-edge infotainment technology, and that’s its surprising capability. Many utility vehicles settle for being little more than outsized station wagons, but for all its over-the-road smoothness, the Explorer proudly serves as a dependable partner when you need to haul, tow or take the family to an off-road campsite.
Ford sells the Explorer in three trims: The value-laden Explorer (MSRP $28,870), the well-equipped XLT (MSRP $32,345) and the upscale Limited (MSRP $37,855).
The heart of the exceptional capability found in the new Explorer lies under the hood where the standard 3.5-liter V6 features twin-independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) and pumps out 290 hp and 255 lb/ft of torque. Even with all that muscle on tap, the V6 Explorer returns as much as 25 mpg on the highway, a rating that surpasses all other V6-equipped models in this segment.
New for 2012, Explorer buyers gained the option of a 2.0-liter EcoBoost® inline four-cylinder – the first time Ford offered this engine in any vehicle in its lineup. Thanks to a combination of turbocharging and other advanced engine technology such as Ti-VCT, this compact powerplant effortlessly produces 240 hp and 270 lb/ft of torque. Further beggaring belief, when outfitted with the EcoBoost, the Explorer delivers a gas-pump-defying 28 highway mpg. That rating is best in class among all seven-seat SUVs.
Power flows to the front wheels via a standard six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. On V6 models, you can opt for the Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive system, which delivers a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. The Trailer Tow Package – consisting of a Class III frame-mounted hitch, four- and seven-pin connectors and an engine-oil cooler – is also required.
For added security under a wide range of driving conditions, Explorer models equipped with four-wheel drive also get the Terrain Management System™, which operates via a dial mounted in the center console. Simply turn the dial to choose the icon that best represents the surface you need to cross – from “Mud/Ruts” all the way to “Grass/Gravel/Snow” – and the system reconfigures performance of the throttle, suspension, transmission and stability control to deliver the perfect ride.
The Explorer offers a generous 7.6 inches of ground clearance and a ramp break over angle of 16.5 degrees. You’ll also appreciate the standard Hill-Start Assist, which prevents the vehicle from rolling backward on an incline by maintaining brake pressure until you safely accelerate.
Using a pair of gyroscopes to monitor yaw and roll rates, AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control® keeps the Explorer planted at speed by sensing and countering wheel slip, rolling motions, understeer and oversteer. The system also includes Curve Control, an application that detects when you’ve entered a turn too fast and automatically slows the vehicle to the proper speed. When towing is a must, count on the added security of Trailer Sway Control, which activates the brakes at individual wheels and decreases engine speed to prevent swaying motions.
For those times when hauling cargo takes precedence over hauling people, the second row consists of a 60/40-split fold-flat bench seat while the third row offers 50/50-split/folding. Lowering both rows yields 80.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity (folding just the third row delivers 43.8 cubic feet). To help make stowing cargo easier, opt for the available, class-exclusive PowerFold third-row seat, which operates at the touch of a button. Same goes for the available, height-adjustable Power Liftgate. For greater storage space when all hands are onboard, you can configure the second row with a center console.
As mentioned, the Explorer has earned top-flight accolades for its capability on the safety front. Along with a full array of passive and active restraint systems, credit goes to such available driver-assistance technology as Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support, the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross-Traffic Alert and the SOS Post-Crash Alert System.
For full capability in urban environs, choose Active Park Assist, a system that actually locates a properly sized parking space, then takes control of the steering and parks the vehicle for you with a minimum of fuss. All you need to do is work the accelerator and brake pedals.
There’s only one way to experience the seven-seat capability pliable enough to pamper you and your family on every day excursions, yet rugged enough to carry the lot of you safely and confidently to the farthest reaches of undiscovered country, and that’s to contact us to schedule a test drive of the new 2013 Ford Explorer.