First Look: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport

By Brandon Turkus

April 03, 2012

Ford unveiled its 2013 Explorer Sport ahead of this week’s New York Auto Show. Rather than a two-door Explorer (which is what all Explorer Sports have been until now), this new trim gets the 3.5-liter, EcoBoost, biturbocharged V-6.
Power jumps from 290 to 350 horsepower thanks to the swap. There’s no mention of torque increases, but it’s a safe bet that the EcoBoost will produce more than the 255 pound-feet found in the Explorer’s standard 3.7-liter V-6.
Even with the extra power, the Explorer should still net 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway. Hardly stellar numbers when viewed in isolation, but they do best the Hemi V-8 in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango by 3 city and 2 highway mpg.
Other changes include a more rigid chassis, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a revised final-drive ratio (3.16 to 1), tweaked electric power-assisted steering, and Sport-specific twenty-inch wheels.
Aesthetic changes include blacked-out headlights and taillights, as well as a sterling-gray-and-black grille, and black trimmings on the front fascia.
Ford is targeting a release in late 2012, with pricing to be announced shortly before.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Ford.
New Ford Explorer Sport: Fuel-Efficient, High-Performance SUV Features Inspired Design Cues, EcoBoost V6 Engine
·       Ford Explorer Sport is a new addition for the 2013 model year, featuring EcoBoost® 3.5-liter V6 engine for greater performance feel and projected top fuel economy among gasoline-powered, high-performance sport utility vehicles
·       Explorer Sport gives customers an interior inspired by designer accessory fashions, sporty exterior design cues and specially tuned suspension components
DEARBORN, Mich., March 28, 2012 – The first-ever performance version of the Ford Explorer arrives this year with the highest projected fuel economy among gasoline-engine-powered, high- performance SUVs.
With a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost® V6 engine making at least 350 horsepower and four-wheel drive with a Terrain Management System™, Explorer Sport delivers enhanced on-road dynamics with sporty design cues inside and out.
“Adding an EcoBoost drivetrain to Explorer Sport delivers even more fuel efficiency and performance to the lineup,” said Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer. “This is our highest- performance, most capable Ford Explorer ever.”
Power, capability, fuel efficiency
Completely new for 2011, the Ford Explorer has been winning over customers with its improved on-road handling, impressive comfort and convenience technologies, and fuel economy never before delivered by an SUV.
For the 2013 model year, Explorer Sport brings high-performance SUV power and projected fuel economy of up to 16 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway – anticipating 3 mpg better in the city and 2 mpg on the highway than the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango R/T 5.7-liter Hemi engines. It scores 3 mpg higher in the city and 4 mpg higher on the highway than the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
“Explorer Sport makes no compromises,” said Carl Widmann, vehicle engineering manager. “By carefully beefing the chassis and suspension, precisely calibrating the Terrain Management System and adding comfort and convenience features, we’ve delivered an SUV that delivers great dynamics and performance  – while towing up to 5,000 pounds.”
The Explorer Sport features a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmission with a unique 3.16 to 1 final drive ratio to provide the balance of responsive acceleration and economical low-rpm cruising for better fuel efficiency.
The chassis also has been specially reinforced, making Explorer Sport stiffer and improving its handling.
Explorer Sport also brings a solid-mounted electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) rack with improved feel, providing more responsiveness to drivers both on-road and off.
Ford’s newest SUV comes standard with larger brakes for shorter stopping distances and better performance while towing.
Explorer Sport also has received special terrain management settings for tackling sandy, snowy, rutted mud and hill descent.
“Upgrading to Sport specification enabled us to maintain the standards of traditional Explorer capability plus delivering the highest highway fuel efficiency among gasoline-engine-powered, high-performance, three-row SUVs,” Widmann said.
Subtle, sporty design elements
Sport builds on Explorer’s muscular, sculpted form with subtle cues to differentiate it from other models in the lineup. Available in four exterior colors – Ruby Red Metallic Clearcoat, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Tuxedo Black Metallic and Ingot Silver Metallic – Explorer Sport has unique 20-inch painted and machined wheels, features blacked-out headlamp and taillamp treatments, black roof rack rails, sideview mirror skull caps and a liftgate appliqué.
The Explorer Sport’s special grille is a low-gloss Sterling Gray mesh, with contrasting ebony high-gloss bars. The black front lower fascia features a functional opening for additional cooling. Explorer logotype in billet-like black adds a bold identity statement. Subtle Sport and EcoBoost badges at the rear finish the liftgate.
Inside, the high-end feel continues. Charcoal Black leather-trimmed seating is available with and without contrasting Sienna inserts.
The interior design contrast was inspired by fashion, mirroring two-tones that are currently seen in leather accessories and apparel from design houses Balenciaga and Prada. Stitching is emphasized to lend a handcrafted appearance while highlighting Explorer Sport’s sculptured seats.
Explorer Sport also has unique steering wheel stitching, a technical look to instrument and door panel appliqués, unique Sport-logo floor mats and illuminated scuff plates.
Comfort, convenience, connectivity
As the top of the Explorer line, Sport offers a robust array of standard and optional customer-focused technologies that make driving more comfortable, convenient and connected. These include:
       4WD with Terrain Management System
       Dual-Zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control
       10-way power driver’s seat with power recline and lumbar
       Six-way power passenger seat with recline and lumbar
       First-row heated seats
       Compass and exterior temperature display
       Rear view camera
       SYNC® with MyFord Touch® driver connect technology
       Sony® Premium Audio System with HD Radio™ and 12 speakers
Explorer Sport can be tailored to individual preferences with the following options as well:
       Active park assist
       Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert
       Inflatable rear seat belts
       110-volt outlet
       PowerFold mirrors
       Intelligent access with Push-Button Start
       Remote Start
       Adjustable pedals with memory
       Dual-panel moonroof
       Power liftgate
       Class III trailer-towing package
Explorer Sport is manufactured at Ford’s Chicago production facility. It will arrive in dealerships later this year.