2013 Ford Explorer Sports – First Test Drive Impressions

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.

2013 Acura ILX, the Best of Both Worlds

The last thing someone wants to do is shell out $20,000 for a new car and then have their family's physical well-being be in jeopardy. With every unveiling of a new or updated model, the safety of the vehicle is always a consideration for a buyer and the 2013 Acura ILX is no exception.

The ILX contains many parts derived from the Honda Civic sedan model. Considering the Civic's reputation as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that's a good sign.

Honda's ownership of the Acura brand has resulted in a fairly simple transition from the manufacturing of Honda parts to Acura parts. In addition to its shared safety and performance features, the ILX is offered at a substantially lower price than any comparable Acura model in the past. With that said, while the ILX shines in certain aspects, it lacks in others.

What The Acura ILX Has to Offer

  • The ILX features a variety of Acura parts in each of three models. The first features a 2.4-liter, 201-hp engine remarkably similar to that of the Honda Civic Si. The smaller model ILX has a 2.0-liter, 150-hp engine with a five-speed automatic transmission and custom paddle shifters. Both models get anywhere from 20 to 35 MPG, depending on driving conditions.
  • The third model is perhaps the most attractive to the modern car shopper because it is a hybrid. As you may have guessed, the Acura ILX Hybrid is derived from the 2012 Civic Hybrid. No surprise there, but it still has a decent 110-hp, 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine and Honda's CVT transmission.
  • Due to the ILX’s front wheel drive, it holds nearly two-thirds of its weight in the front end of the car. To compensate, it features increased grip on the nose, allowing the ILX to corner steadier and with increased traction.
  • Again borrowing from the Civic, but differing slightly, the ILX's frame includes a prominent overhang meant to draw out the car's hood. On the back end, the ILX has a sedan-like trunk featuring a slight deck lid. Overall, the car’s design appears far more similar to that of a Honda than an Acura.

What’s Inside?

The ILX's interior is reminiscent of other Acura models both past and present. The shifter and center console, along with many other interior aspects, bears a striking resemblance to the Acura TSX. From the driver and passenger seat frames to the upper and lower dashboard, the ILX borrows a lot from its Acura siblings.

In addition, the ILX has a premium package available that includes the latest automobile technology with voice navigation, Bluetooth hands-free technology, weather/traffic updates, rear camera and patented AcuraLink communication system built in.

Conclusion

There is no question that the new 2013 Acura ILX has borrowed a few parts from the Honda Civic. With the safety of a Civic and a selling price starting at $25,900, the LXI lands on the middle ground between security and appealing design. But for those who are concerned with safety and affordability over luxury, the Acura ILX is a solid option.

by Annabella Clavette