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Ford Explorer a much more refined SUV





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It shouldn't take any driver familiar with the history of the Ford Explorer to discern that this sport utility vehicle no longer feels like a truck. The Explorer is still big, features three rows of seating and carries seven passengers.

Yet it's now an SUV with more refinement.

Some major changes arrived in 2011 when Ford succeeded with its full redesign. The company did away with the previous truck-based chassis and its new design resulted in a smoother ride because the Explorer possesses a lighter, car-like quality due to its unibody construction.

2013 Ford Explorer

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 290 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 16-24 mpg
  • Price: $29,135 to $40,720
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 5 years/60,000

Utilizing the Taurus sedan platform, the Explorer now can hang with some of the large crossover SUV competition like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9 and the Chevrolet Traverse.

Although an Explorer equipped with four-wheel drive can still provide some offroad adventure, it's not a plodder in regular driving situations. Don't worry about the cornering and the rollover possibility because the Explorer will handle those challenging situations just fine with its responsive steering.

It's comforting to know that the Explorer is equipped with Ford's Curve Control, a technology that reduces speed when it senses the vehicle is going too fast around a corner.

The Explorer can still provide power, evidenced by its towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. Although no V8 resides in its lineup, the Explorer comes standard with a 3.5-liter, V6 with 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, making it more efficient than previous models. The Explorer is clocked going 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds.

There are other noticeable differences in the Explorer. Gas mileage is one area. Offered in four trims - base, XLT, Limited and Sport - the Explorer ranges from 16-24 mpg, which is typical for this class. The Sport trim model is new for 2013 and features a turbocharged V6 engine and sport-tuned suspension.

This redesign certainly addressed the Explorer's interior issues as well. It's now high quality with some technological features that will please the masses. The dash is made of soft touch material. Cabin room has been added, the seating is comfortable for the first two rows (third row is limiting), cargo space is ample, and there are a number of good storage areas. The optional MyFord Touch has drawn mixed reviews, so be careful making that purchase.

The Explorer is still a rugged looking, rather macho large SUV. But it's the refinements in a number of areas that now have this Ford on more equal footing with its rivals.


Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.