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2013 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD Review By John Heilig

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2013 Ford Explorer


SPECIFICATIONS: 2013 Ford Explorer

Model: 2013 Ford Explorer LTD 4WD
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 290 hp @ 6,500 rpm/255 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 112.6 in.
Length/Width/Height: 197.1 x 78.9 x 71.0 in.
Tires: P255/50R20
Cargo volume: 21.0/43.8/80.7 cu. ft. (behind 3d row, behind 2nd row/behind front seats)
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway/20.0 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gal.
Curb weight: 4,697 lbs.
Sticker: $47,710 ($825 destination, $7,030 in options)

The Bottom Line: If you' relooking for a solid full-size SUV, you can't go very wrong with the Ford Explorer. Since the time when the Explorer replaced the Bronco and became the first (except for the Jeep Grand Cherokee) four-door SUV, it has been at, or near, the top of all ratings.

Technically, the Ford Explorer is a "standard SUV." By this, the namers identify it as being somewhere in the middle of the behemoths and the minis. It's probably a good classification, but driving the Explorer felt more like it was a big SUV. Oh, not as big as the suburban or Excursion, but the Explorer is certainly in the size range where parking is a challenge and smaller cars tend to get nervous in its presence.

While the Explorer seems big, it really isn't that big. It's less than 200 inches long and ride son a 112.6-inch wheelbase, providing a steady ride. Overall, the ride quality is comfortable, but it does tend toward the hard side, but not harsh. In truth, you wouldn't want a vehicle with four-wheel drive and off-road capability to have a too soft ride, since you'd want flexibility if you're headed over some rougher dirt roads.

Our tester was loaded with features, including FORD SYNC, a great Sony sound system and power everything. We had three rows of seating, but the third row seat backs conveniently fold forward and back up at the touch of a switch. There's great cargo capacity behind the third row, but fold it forward and you'd think you were in a minivan.

I was particularly impressed by the accident avoidance system. At first I was confused by the row of red lights that appeared at the base of the windshield on start-up. Then we almost had a parking lot "incident" and the lights flashed on alerting me to the fact that there was a vehicle where I wanted to go.

There isn't a blind spot warning system per se, but the Explorer, like many Ford vehicles, had an overly convex section to the outer upper corner of the exterior rear view mirrors to let you know if there's any activity in the blind spot. I have learned to like blind spot warning systems that use lights, but the mirror approach is workable. There's also a rear view camera showing what's behind you as well as turn indication, giving you a good idea of where the Explorer will go when you're in reverse and you're turning.

If you're not satisfied with the multiple radio choices (or a CD), there's a convenient cubby ahead of the shifter that will give you the warm fuzzies. Here, where possible an ash tray might go in a vehicle so equipped, is a 12-volt outlet, USB and AUX inputs as well as audio and video inputs, if you want to show home videos in the car.

The front seats are comfortable, if firm. There was no unpleasantness on our ride tests. There's a deep center console between the seats, with change trays and another 12-volt outlet.

The second row seats off decent leg room. the second row also has a 110-volt AC power outlet and adjustable heat and fan controls. While the second and third row seats are flat, they have a fold-down arm rest. Access to the third row is difficult, especially for senior citizens. What's nice about the third row seats, besides the cupholders, is the fold-down headrests that don't tend to obscure rearward vision.

The only assist handle is on the passenger A pillar.

Overall, the Ford Explorer offers a quality ride experience in a seemingly large package. While it has all the requirements of a sport utility, it also doesn't compromise in the ride quality department which is as important as utility.

2012 The Auto Page