The old two-door Ford Explorer Sport was one of those cars where the adjective “sport” was used primarily as a synonym for “less practical.” (See also: Ford Explorer Sport Trac.) The new Ford Explorer Sport, however, actually has a solid claim on the title, thanks to its Taurus SHO-sourced 3.5 liter twin-turbo V8.
In the SHO, that motor cranks out 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque; Ford is still playing coy with the 2013 Explorer Sport’s output, saying it makes “at least 350 horsepower,” but we’d be surprised if it didn’t at least match the SHO (and the equally powerful Flex EcoBoost). Like the SHO, it comes with standard all-wheel-drive. In fact, since the Taurus and the Explorer are built on the same platform, you might as well just consider it a tall hatchback SHO.
Granted, even with its tightened suspension and hopped-up motor, the Explorer Sport isn’t going to be a match for the likes of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, but we’re gonna stay open-minded about it. It should be at least somewhat fun to drive—and the blacked-out grille, 20″ wheels and other sporty accoutrements make it look somewhat close to cool. Could be worse. It could just be another two door Explorer. [via 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 a faster ratio, 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
Intelligent access with Push-Button Start
Adjustable pedals with memory
Class III trailer-towing package
Explorer Sport is manufactured at Ford’s Chicago production facility. It will arrive in dealerships later this year.