What can you say about the new 2013 Ford Explorer? In a nutshell it is the new redesigned Ford Explorer and is the synthesis of an American SUV with European styling and handling. The interior was nice and well appointed which made me feel I was in a luxury Lincoln. Makes you wonder what Ford will do with the Lincoln version of it. The model I had was a beautiful black and pretty brown leather seats. The 2013 Explorer Sport has some nice features but the re-engineering is what won me.
Ford's head engineer on the 2013 Ford Explorer emphasized that have improved to make a stiffer body with reinforcements in key structural areas. Under the two fronts seats where they attached to the floor, there is a bar that stiffens the body, right across the transmission tunnel. There is another stiffening bar behind the front shocks that is also behind the engine.
What was interesting to hear is that Ford Explorer weight split is 60/40 vehicle but the drivetrain can go into pure 50/50. There is a convenient knob on the central console where you can select Desert, Forest and Ice mode, each giving you more or less torque if different driving conditions.
Although you sit high, as with any other SUV, it felt responsive and tight… at least tighter than any other SUV I've driven. I would imagine the Porsche and Maserati could easily out handle the 2013 Ford Explorer, but not its price. It's a SUV and has limits but more than a few BMWs on twisty roads were surprised by the powerful SUV keeping pace with their German vehicles. Worse case handling scenario, the rear has a hard time understanding what the front is doing but obliges willingly and follows the curve.
Purist will hate the paddle shifting mounted on the steering wheel instead of the column, but I suspect 90% of its clientele won't know or care what paddle shifters are or even bother to use them. I found myself a few times coming out of a curve wanting to shift but not being able to figure out which paddle was up or down. One very nice touch are the good looking 20-inch wheels with “Sport” engraved in them. The brakes have been generously upgraded for the Sport version for the extra power.
All in all, this is yet another Ford achievement as the company positions itself to compete with the more power and performance oriented SUV market, but at an affordable price. I found the SUV easy to drive in traffic and even fun to bounce around canyon roads. The engine comes alive at over 3,000 but not once will it intrude inside your plush felt cabin. The only thing you will hate on the road if you own a Sport version is to see an older Explorer in front of you heavily braking at every curves. This SUV is meant to go fast, cruise around town and everything in between.