All-new Ford Escape certified by U.S. EPA at class-leading 33 mpg with an automatic transmission, which is preferred by the majority of American drivers; all Escape engine offerings achieve 30 mpg or better on the highway.
Escape’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost® engine is 2 mpg better than the Honda CR-V and 5 mpg better than Toyota RAV4 on the highway.
Ford Motor Co. owned Land Rover up until 2008. Fast forward and the Blue Oval is poised to bring a new, top-of-the-food chain Explorer that clearly is meant to appeal to those who would love to rock a Range Rover Sport but have a Ford budget and/or sensibilities.
This 2013 Explorer is named, you guessed it, Sport. Twin turbos will boost the 3.5-liter V6′s output to “at least 350” ponies, Ford says. But with premium gas topping $4 a gallon – and high-octane fuel is what a gas turbocharged engine is happiest with – the modern definition of performance has to include how thirsty a vehicle is. Ford predicts that the ’13 Explorer Sport will come in at 16 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway. Competitors like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Range Rover Sport Supercharged are thirstier but that could be expected when those “muscle SUVs” offer 470 and 510 horsepower, respectively.
As with its Focus, Fusion, Mustang and even F-150, Ford again makes use of electric power steering to help maximize fuel mileage. The transmission and final drive ratio also play a role: the Sport will come with a six-speed, paddle-shifted “SelectShift” automatic with a numerically low drive ratio of 3.16 to 1. The 2013 Sport will be exclusively four-wheel-drive with a terrain management system that features Road Ranger/ Toyota 4Runner-like settings for sand, snow, mud and hill descent.
The Sport’s platform gets reinforcements to improve handling and bigger brakes – how much bigger we can’t tell you as Ford has not released full specifications yet.
“Explorer Sport makes no compromises,” said Carl Widmann, vehicle engineering manager. “By carefully beefing the chassis and suspension, precisely calibrating the Terrain Management System and adding comfort and convenience features, we’ve delivered an SUV that delivers great dynamics and performance – while towing up to 5,000 pounds.”
The Sport will be available in four metallic colors: ruby red white plantium, black and silver. You’ll be able to tell Sport models by their own 20-inch wheels, blacked-out headlamp and taillight treatment, gray mesh grille and a lower front fascia that has a larger opening that should aid cooling.
If you want an Explorer that’s even less thirsty, pop for the 2.0-liter EcoBoost version. Only available in front-wheel-drive, the EcoBoost four is rated at 20 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway. Interestingly, the turbocharged version actually offers higher torque than the standard, normally aspirated V6: 270 pound-feet of torque between 1750 and 5500 rpm vs. 255 @ 4100 rpm.
Ford did not announce pricing for the Sport, but a similar model, a Limited 3.5 AWD Explorer, starts at $40,680. Factor in the cost of dual turbochargers and a fashion-influenced high-end leather interior and it wouldn’t be unreasonable if the Sport winds up having an MSRP of at least $42,700.
The Sport looks as though it will have standard dual-zone auto climate, heated driver and front-passenger seat, 10- and 6-way power driver and front passenger seats, rear-view camera, a Sony audio system with 12 speakers and SYNC with “MyFord Touch.”
The blind-spot warning system, power-folding outside mirrors, push-button/remote start, adjustable pedals, moonroof, power liftgate and a Class III trailer-towing setup are optional. The Explorer Sport will start coming off the Chicago assembly line in late 2012.
The public has been treated to quite a few tasty Ford models, like the stunning new Fusion and the more modern Escape, recently. Am I the only one thinking that Lincoln, Ford’s luxury division, is overdue for its own versions of the important SUV and mid-size sedan segments?