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First Drive: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport

Big crossover conquers the only jungle that really matters.

by on Nov.30, 2012

The Ford Explorer Sport is the perfect vehicle for conquering the concrete jungle.

The Ford Explorer Sport is the perfect vehicle for conquering the concrete jungle.

It’s a jungle out there and you need a vehicle that can handle it. Pitted trails, obstacles to avoid, narrow spots to fit through.

Yep, the parking lot can be a real test for any vehicle … Oh, you thought this was about the REAL jungle? As in vines, mud holes and “roads” that are more like deer trails? Ha, while SUVs may purport to go there, virtually everyone knows that the only time the large majority of these beasts ever leave the road is to enter the parking lot at the mall.

So it is with that in mind that we put Ford’s new Explorer Sport to the test. In fact, we subjected Ford’s biggest crossover – sorry, Ford may want you to view this as a sport utility vehicle, but it’s based on the same platform as a Ford Taurus – to the most grueling test possible: Black Friday shopping.

Back from the Jungle!

The test actually began with what became a reconnaissance mission on Thanksgiving Eve Wednesday night – go ahead, call us geeks – to Carson’s where we were able to scout locations for bounty which would become critical Thursday night/Friday morning.

As is typical these days, Black Friday actually begins Thursday night as families are wrapping up their Thanksgiving Day celebrations. So having a sure-footed CUV with a commanding driving position becomes important in the battle to avoid other motorists in their tryptophan-induced stupors.

There were presents to buy, deals to be had and mobs of people to be crushed by. Our Black Friday escapade was on.

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Crossover or SUV? It Doesn’t Matter Because New Explorer Impresses

by on Nov.02, 2011

Ford has remade its Explorer sport utility vehicle, giving it car bones, but also the tools to leave the roads behind.

So, what is the difference between a crossover and an SUV, anyway? In the past, auto writers tended to classify an SUV as one of the old-style body-on-frame bruisers. Real trucks, based on their makers’ pickup truck, capable of going off-road. They came standard with rear-wheel drive, with optional four-wheel drive, no, not all-wheel drive, we’re talking about a system where the 4WD is engaged either by a lever, or more recently with buttons or a knob.

Ford wants us to classify its redesigned Explorer as an SUV, not a crossover. If it’s a crossover you want, then Ford would like to sell you a Flex. But can this completely remade Explorer still claim to be an SUV? Based on the same Volvo bones that underpin the Lincoln MKT and MKS and the Ford Taurus and, yes, even the Flex crossover, base Explorers are now front-wheel drive riding on a unibody platform.

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Sure, much of this is just autowriter flimflam that matters little to the people who buy these rigs. When you boil it down to its essence, car buying revolves around three things: styling, capabilities and how it makes you feel. Oh, and we suppose the niggling issue of cost, and that whole price of ownership thing, has a little to do with it, as well.

So what about this Explorer’s capabilities? Not surprisingly, it handles better than the clunky old Explorer. The stiff unibody makes a big difference compared the old truck’s traditional frame.

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Ford Adds 2.0-liter EcoBoost to Edge, Explorer

Fuel economy jumps as high as 30 mpg.

by on Aug.29, 2011

Ford adds the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine to the 2012 Explorer line-up.

Domestic makers often get slammed for the poor fuel economy of their sport-utility vehicles and crossovers, but Ford hopes to win kudos – and new buyers – as it expands the use of its new EcoBoost powertrains, a new 2.0-liter version of its high-mileage engine going under the hood of its most popular SUV and CUV offerings for 2012.

The promise of Ford’s EcoBoost system is that through the use of turbocharging, direct-injection, and other technologies, smaller-displacement engines with reduced cylinder counts can make as much power as their bigger counterparts while improving fuel-economy. Ford has already applied the EcoBoost concept across much of its lineup, and the latest application is in the 2012 Ford Edge and 2012 Ford Explorer.

Breaking News!

Both models are now available with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection engine that makes 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Available only in front-wheel drive models, the engine promises 28 highway mpg in the seven-seat Explorer and 30 mpg in the Edge – while still delivering 2,000 pounds of towing capability.

Ford says the Edge is 80 pounds lighter and the Explorer 50 pounds lighter with these engines under hood, but neither the Edge nor Explorer is known for being light on its feet. Still, during our brief drive of each vehicle, we could tell the difference from the larger V-6 (V-6s, with the Edge).

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Ford Throws Party To Unveil New Explorer

Employees gather outside company’s World Headquarters to celebrate critical product launch.

by on Jul.26, 2010

The 2011 Ford Explorer makes its debut in Dearborn.

With thousands of employees, dealers and suppliers watching, Ford took the wraps off its 2011 Explorer at a big party outside the company’s World Headquarters in Dearborn.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development director, gave a brief rundown on the new sport utility vehicle’s attributes, saying that they all needed to be salespeople for redesigned SUV. (Click here for full details on the new, 2011 Ford Explorer.)

With local band Fifty Amp Fuse playing covers of well-known songs, the Explorer rolled over a 25-foot-tall “mountain” of dirt on the west lawn of Ford’s iconic Glass House as the Ford faithful waved the white T-shirts they were given.

Nearby, in a tent for dealers, Bill Demmer, president of Jack Demmer Ford in Wayne and Jack Demmer Lincoln-Mercury in Dearborn, said the new Explorer will help rejuvenate a fallen Ford model.

“It kind of faded away quietly,” Demmer said of the current SUV. “It’s exciting with the technology they’re building into the (new) car.”

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“You can tell that Ford Motor Company is driven,” he said. “We’re finally on the right page.”

Demmer said the new Explorer gives another choice to buyers who find the styling of the Flex crossover too polarizing.

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2011 Ford Explorer To Be 30% More Fuel-Efficient

2011 Ford Explorer To Be 30% More Fuel-Efficient

by on Jul.19, 2010

The production version of this Explorer concept vehicle will hit showrooms for 2011 -- and deliver a 30% bump in fuel economy, the maker says.

It’s been a decade since former Ford Motor Co. CEO Jacques Nasser pledged to increase the fuel economy of the maker’s trucks and sport-utility vehicles by “25-in-5.”

But while Ford will be a little late in that pledge to boost mileage 25% in 5 years, it will actually exceed the former chief executive’s goal, at least with the next-generation Ford Explorer, which the company has announced will get 30% better fuel economy than the old SUV.

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Breaking News!

A key reason behind that improvement is the complete shift in the design of what was once the most popular sport-ute in the U.S.  Since its launch, Explorer relied on a truck-like, body-on-frame platform.  The 2011 Ford Explorer will switch to a lighter, more car-like unibody platform.

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