Editor's Note: This is our new Quick Spin format, now shorter, less formal and more personal than our regular reviews. We've reinvented the format so we can talk about even more of the new vehicles we drive. Enjoy!



The popularity of crossovers and SUVs as daily transportation often eludes me, but it's tough to argue with their functionality if you've got a sizable brood and a vacation ahead of you. I drove this 2013 Ford Explorer Limited from the greater Detroit area to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a quick stop in Cleveland to pick up additional family. Overall impression? After driving 1,900+ miles in a single week, it's hard to imagine there are many vehicles better suited to the task than this Ford.

Travel Notes:
  • I drove 11+ hours straight twice in one week, with absolutely zero backaches to report from anyone – impressive.
  • Interior fit-and-finish and material choices shade those of most rivals, and options like cooled seats, second-row seatbelt airbags and power-folding third row are impressive.
  • Loaded with four people and a cargo hold full of beach gear, the 3.5-liter V6 had enough muscle (290 horsepower, 255 pound-feet of torque) through the mountains of Pennsylvania, but I can't help but wonder how it'd feel if we were towing something.
  • Ride and handling balance is very well judged, electric power steering accurate
  • MyFord Touch is powerful and offers serious configurability, but a slow touchscreen and overly complex interface hurts usability.
  • Kodiak Brown paint is great – very rich. Can look black or root beer depending on light.
  • Terrain Management is killer – when it works. We bombed around in Sand Mode along the Atlantic ocean dunes full-up with seven people for over an hour (we were one of the only unibodies we saw out of perhaps a hundred vehicles). Then the all-wheel-drive system unexpectedly turned itself off and we ground to a halt, nearly axle-deep. No sign of overheating, the system simply displayed that all-wheel drive was off, and rotating the knob wouldn't coax it back on. After turning the Explorer off and letting it sit for a few minutes, I restarted it and we were back in business. It never malfunctioned again.
  • Sand gets everywhere – even atop the engine and caked in the door sills. Two hours of cleaning and all is well.
  • Aside from the Honda Odyssey, the Ford Explorer appears to be the Outer Banks' Official Family Vacation Vehicle. They're everywhere.
  • Overall fuel efficiency for 1,900+ miles was 20.2 miles per gallon – bang on with what the cluster display indicated. EPA ratings call for 17 city/23 highway/19 combined. Considering a full load, PA's mountains, traffic, a couple of hours throwing sand around and the fact that the driver gave absolutely zero consideration to efficiency, we were quite pleased.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      John Cocktoastin
      • 2 Years Ago
      ironically I had a similar experience. This summer I rented a new Explorer Limited AWD from Enterprise (with updated MyFordTouch) and took my family to Nags Head (Outer Banks, N.C.) We all LOVED it. The only thing that disappointed me was the fuel economy which "only" hovered around 20mph even on the highway. I guess this is probably normal for a modern already heavy & fully loaded SUV though. We really enjoyed the vehicle. When I came home and looked at one on the dealer lot though, $50k to purchase that model was hard to swallow. not saying it's not worth it, but financed that is an $800 a month payment! too rich for me right now in this econcomy. But again, my rating of the vehicle was a solid A!
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      The shut down "reboot" of the car to get the AWD system going sounds an awful lot like the cure for when the Sync system freezes up. Did Microsoft program the AWD system too? ;)
      Jon Bowen
      • 2 Years Ago
      dont be mislead by that price. you can get an AWD starting at like 34 and change i believe
      cyb
      • 2 Years Ago
      In June we went with my brother and his family on the road trip. Minneapolis, Washington DC, New York, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago Minneapolis in Explorer and C&T (9 people total). He was very impressed with the Explorer. And he is German eyeing the X5 as his next car. At almost 4k miles we have averaged 22mpg including all the city traffic and mountains we have approached on our way. Never felt tired, and no problems whatsoever. Very impressive car IMO.
      Moosetang
      • 2 Years Ago
      The EcoBoost 6 in the Sport would probably be just the ticket for anyone who's planning to tow something on their vacations. And even when not towing anything, it would pretty fun to have that torque on hand.
      graphikzking
      • 2 Years Ago
      2 things I bring away from this review: 1. My parents Murano in the Pennsylvania countryside usually averaged about 16mpg. When I BABIED the living crap out of it - prius style driving - I could only muster about 17.5 on long trips. Highway I could get like 24mpg but then as soon as you slow down or stop and slowly accelerate the average would drop back down into the teens instantly. 2. The Mazda CX9 looks like a crazy bargain. Basically the older 3.7 liter Ford Motor at 273hp instead of 290hp but it only gets 1 less MPG and the car costs $4,730cheaper. Not sure what other options the Ford has - but for $4,730 more it better be A LOT of features.
      EvilTollMan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cool review, bro.
      gonz
      • 2 Years Ago
      The explorer starts at 29 and can go as high as this one that has everything on it
      Felspawn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Impressive, when it comes to replace my '05 pilot the Explorer will definately be on the shortlist
      Guy H Tran
      • 2 Years Ago
      At las t a quickie without the mess Well done Ilove it
      That Guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      All that money for a ugly Taurus wagon that has the fundamentally flawed and all around terrible MyFord Touchy and a AWD system that doesn't work. Sounds like a Ford alright. And that so called "terrarian management" system is such a hoax. All turning that goofy knob with hieroglyphics on it does is change where the little orange light is.
        Shayne Wolfe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @That Guy
        I come across your posts almost every time I read comments. Dude, really? You do realize you are waisting your time with all your idiotic negativity, that seem to be 99% of the time, far from accurate. Your name speaks your intellect.
          Ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Shayne Wolfe
          Yeah, he only comes out from under his bridge if it's a Ford article. He's had to change his name several times because people catch on.
        merlot066
        • 2 Years Ago
        @That Guy
        The presentation of information is ridiculously simplified for you and you still don't grasp any of it. "Overall impression? After driving 1,900+ miles in a single week, it's hard to imagine there are many vehicles better suited to the task than this Ford." The Explorer is the best selling full-size crossover in America right now and until you can prove that a disproportionate amount of those sales are to rental lots then you can get out.
      i.own.your.ass
      • 2 Years Ago
      47,710 $.... are you kidding me?? for those prices you should go german...
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @i.own.your.ass
        Not saying what is better, or not better, but that's right in line for the segment. Durango fully loaded tops $47k. Fully loaded Grand Cherokee will top $50k I believe. Pricing is right in line with it's competition. Anything gets pricey when you tick all the option boxes. You can make the "well you could go with this car" argument with any vehicle. All depends what you want. Fully loaded non luxury model, or no optioned expensive car just so you can march around saying you have a BMW, or whatever. Personally, I'm not opting for a stripped out luxury model. I prefer getting more for my money. If I can't afford a nicely optioned luxury, I'd rather have the fully loaded "non-luxury" that comes better equipped. Sure if you're worried about impressing your neighbors with the fancy badge on the front of your vehicle than the vehicle in this review isn't for you.
        Brian E Parker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @i.own.your.ass
        You mean an X5 that starts at $47,500 + Delivery, etc with no options & vinyl seats? Or a Mercedes ML that starts at $47,200 + Delivery - again with no options and vinyl?
          haters
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brian E Parker
          You could get a Q7 supercharged or a Touareg (sp?) diesel. Also Cayenne V6 if you are really stingy with the options.
          haters
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brian E Parker
          Something many people don't understand is that there is more to a car than the spec sheet. The base German SUVs may not have cooled seats or a gimmicky buttonless interface, but they include far superior powertrains & interiors. Same thing goes for all those Hyundai/Kia bandwagoners. They look at spec sheets but forget the car will have the structural integrity of a wet noodle after 4 years.
          Brian E Parker
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brian E Parker
          Oh - and that Cayenne? Starts at $48,200
          Casey Jensen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brian E Parker
          How about an Audi Q5?
        Making11s
        • 2 Years Ago
        @i.own.your.ass
        While I personally wouldn't pay that much for an Explorer, I can't think of a comparably equipped German 7-seater SUV at that price point. Even a similarly equipped VW Touareg is about $55,000.
          XT6Wagon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Making11s
          more to the point at that price point I'd drop the tiny bit of extra money for the Explorer Sport with the Ecoboost V6. 365HP and endless torque makes for a hell of a ride.
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