2013 Ford Explorer Preview

Jeff Youngs | May 01, 2013
  • New Sport trim level adds performance features and styling touches
  • Limited trim level has slight additions and revisions
  • Full-size SUV carries up to 7 passengers
  • 4-wheel drive (4WD) is available on all trim levels
  • Sport trim level's turbocharged engine provides up to 365 horsepower


The Ford Explorer is the automaker's flagship midsize crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV). Introduced in 1990 as a body-on-frame midsize SUV, the Explorer underwent a generational change for the 2011 model year, being reincarnated as a unibody crossover vehicle. The result is a lighter and more spacious product that's ordinarily used as a family hauler. The Explorer is also a popular fleet vehicle, and versions are available for law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical applications. Its competitors include the Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Dodge Journey. The 2013 Ford Explorer is available in four trim levels: the base model; more featured XLT; luxury-oriented Limited; and, new for 2013, the performance-minded Sport. Properly equipped, the Explorer can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Exterior Features

The 2013 Ford Explorer is available in 10 exterior colors (color availability varies by trim level) with standard 17-inch wheels, roof rails, and privacy glass. The XLT trim level features 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry pad, automatic headlights, fog lights, and rear park-assist sensors. The Limited upgrades to 20-inch wheels, and adds keyless/remote ignition. The Sport trim level has differently styled 20-inch wheels, and some exterior details that distinguish it from the Limited.Interior FeaturesThe base Explorer's interior features cruise control and air conditioning, cloth upholstery with a 6-way power driver's seat, 6-speaker sound system, and trip computer. The XLT trim adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and several option packages. The Sport adds dual-zone climate control, upgraded sound system, heated sport front seats with 8-way power for the driver and 6-way power for the front passenger, rearview camera, and distinctive styling touches. The Sport also includes the MyFord Touch electronics interface, which includes three displays and various input jacks. The Limited trim includes those upgrades plus conventional seats with leather upholstery, 2-zone automatic climate control, 12-speaker sound system, power-adjustable pedals, and other option packages. Maximum cargo volume is 80 cubic feet.

Optional Features

The 2013 Ford Explorer offers many option packages at various levels. The XLT's Equipment Group 201A includes 2-zone climate control, 9-speaker sound system, the MyFord Touch interface, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera, and more. Equipment Group 202A adds leather upholstery, including heated, power-adjustable front seats. With the Limited trim, the 301A package adds power-folding third-row seats, power liftgate, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats with more power adjustments, and a navigation system. The 302A package, which can be added to the 301A, adds xenon headlights with automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, an automatic parallel parking system, and additional safety features. Second-row bucket seats are available; they reduce seating capacity to six. Several different roof-mounted cargo boxes are available, as are various cargo holders and organizers for the interior.

Under the Hood

2The Ford Explorer is available in front-wheel or 4-wheel drive (FWD or 4WD), and with three different engines. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter, 290-horsepower V-6 model that produces 255 lb.-ft. of torque. Available only with FWD is Ford's EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, a 2.0-liter model that makes 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. The Sport trim level introduces a turbocharged, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, available only with 4WD, that produces 365 horsepower and 360 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Explorers.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Ford Explorer are:

  • Explorer with 3.6-liter V-6 engine and FWD: 18/25/20 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • Explorer with 3.6-liter V-6 engine and 4WD: 17/23/19 mpg
  • Explorer with 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine: 20/28/23 mpg
  • Explorer Sport with 3.5-liter V-6 engine and 4WD: 16/22/18 mpg


Standard safety features on the 2013 Ford Explorer include stability and traction control, trailer sway control, side-impact curtain air bags and inflatable seat belts in the second row. The MyKey system can limit maximum speed and sound system volume for guest drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates the 2013 Ford Explorer 5 stars (out of a possible 5) for overall impact protection, including 5 stars for both frontal- and side-impact protection. In tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Explorer received a "Good" rating--the Institute's highest--for frontal-offset, roof strength, and side-impact protection.


Ford's Sync technology includes voice-controlled phone capability, automatic phone book download, photo transfer, voice-activated music search and radio tuning, an integrated navigation system, turn-by-turn direction, voice access to business listings, audible text messages, and much more. Sync works in concert with the MyFord Touch electronics interface, which includes three displays and allows the use of various entertainment and communications-related attachments.
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