2013 Ford Explorer Sport
2013 Ford Explorer Sport. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

Oh, Ford. What hast thou done?

When I heard I was getting an Explorer Sport, I had no idea what it was. In the last few years, the “Sport” badge has been affixed to the rump of entry level vehicles by many manufacturers. So I wondered if that was going to be the case.

Turns out Ford is heading to the other end of the spectrum with the Explorer Sport. It’s the top of the line, and by Sport they mean “SHO-engine and stuff”!

Yep, the Explorer Sport gets endowed with the 3.5L twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost engine. The one that puts out 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. Mmm-hmmm.

Ford also tries to set the Sport’s exterior apart. The wheels are snazzy 20-inchers with unique styling. The restyled grille, lower body cladding and tailgate trim are all black, and the headlights and taillights get a blackout treatment too. And there’s a huge “E X P L O R E R” badge on the hood.

When you step inside, you’re greeted with a customary Explorer interior. The materials are decent – you’ll find soft-touch plastics almost anywhere your hand falls – the dash, door panels, etc. – although I thought the centre console was a bit plasticky and cheap. Fit and finish appear to be very good, and the vehicle offered up nary a squeak or rattle, even over our icy, rutted, chock-full-of-potholes Edmonton roads.

I found the interior to be quite dark – most everything is black, with the exception of a couple of metallicized plastic trim pieces.

The heated, cooled and power-adjustable front seats are trimmed in perforated leather with contrasting stitching, and are “sport style” (no relation to Gangnam Style). Not sporty enough, in my opinion, as the bolstering could use some help. They are very comfortable though, and nice to look at.

2013 Ford Explorer Sport2013 Ford Explorer Sport2013 Ford Explorer Sport
2013 Ford Explorer Sport. Click image to enlarge

The steering wheel is power adjustable (as are the pedals), and it has controls for media, cruise and phone functions as well as two D-pads. These are used to control Ford’s now-familiar information screens that flank the large centre speedo – the left offers up trip meters, fuel economy and vehicle settings while the right allows you to see media, phone, navigation or climate control displays.

The centre stack starts with the MyFordTouch (MFT) touchscreen at the top. It manages media, navigation, phone and climate control functions – each one resides in one quadrant of the home screen. Touch any of the corners and that function will take over the whole screen, and you can drill down from there. I’ve gotten used to MFT and I can get by. It’s fine once you figure out the basics, and I found the voice recognition to work well.

Below the screen is a panel with buttons for the automatic dual-zone climate control system. In the centre sits a D-pad with a rotary knob around it, controlling volume and basic tuning functions for the Sony media system, which sounds quite good.

I’m not a fan of how some of the functions I want to access immediately (like the heated seats) force me to look at and use the touchscreen. I’d rather they be assigned hard switches or buttons.

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