$13,614 - $21,919

2013 Ford Explorer Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Ford Explorer was new.


Performance: 7.4

Overall, most reviewers say the 2013 Ford Explorer is a pretty good performer, with better handling than many of its competitors. Reviewers note that the Explorer’s acceleration isn’t particularly impressive, especially in turbocharged EcoBoost models, but also say that most of the Explorer’s potential buyers will likely care more about things like all-wheel drive availability and fuel economy than how their three-row crossover handles.

  • "The Explorer has baked-in refinement evident from its decent isolation from road noise and the muted hum coming from its 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6.” -- Motor Trend
  • "The Explorer is solid, quiet, and comfortable. Its base V-6 provides good power, but it feels a lot like a minivan, and it's not quite as versatile or easy to pilot.” -- Car and Driver
  • "It takes only a few minutes of seat time in the 2013 Ford Explorer to realize this is no ordinary SUV. The rigid unit body has none of the squeaks and rattles so commonplace in most truck-based SUVs, while Ford's Curve Control throttle intervention helps maintain a safe speed when rounding sharp corners.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The base 2013 Explorer comes standard with a 290-horsepower V6 engine on all trims, though a 240-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is available on all trims except the top-of-the-line Sport. The turbocharged EcoBoost engine can only be paired with front-wheel drive, although all-wheel drive is optional on models equipped with the V6. Both powerplants are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Explorer’s fuel economy ranges from 16/22 mpg city/highway in all-wheel drive V6 models to 20/28 mpg in front-wheel drive, four-cylinder models, according to the EPA.

Testers don’t rave about the 2013 Ford Explorer’s acceleration, but they write that it’s fine from either engine. The V6 is more powerful, but reviewers say that for most shoppers, the EcoBoost’s significant fuel economy gain may be worth the sacrifice in power. While opting for the EcoBoost engine improves fuel economy, it rules out all-wheel drive as an option. Reviewers say the automatic transmission is smooth, for the most part, though some downshifts can be sudden.

  • "Don't be quick to dismiss the idea of a turbo-4 powering this none-too-small SUV. It may not be as quick as the V6, but in practice, the EcoBoost engine provides smooth response, more than adequate acceleration for daily use and, of course, better fuel mileage than you'd get with the V6.” -- Edmunds
  • "Though Explorer has one of the most powerful V6 engines in the class, it doesn't feel significantly quicker than other midsize SUVs. Rather, it builds power smoothly and steadily. … The transmission is alert and smooth for the most part, but some downshifts can be abrupt.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the Ford Explorer has good handling for such a big SUV. They like its steering, which is light but responsive, and they say its ride is comfortable and absorbs bumps well. Reviewers also say the Explorer is good while cornering as well, which is unusual to hear about a three-row SUV.

  • "The 2013 Ford Explorer feels rock-solid at freeway speeds, well-damped over broken pavement and very confident when negotiating a corner.” -- Edmunds
  • "Not as athletic as the pacesetting Mazda CX-9, but Explorer can more than hold its own on twisting roads. Its wide stance helps maintain good grip. Steering feel is on the light side, but it's quick to respond to desired changes in direction.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Explorer's adept suspension is aided by a host of electronic assists designed to make this mid-size SUV handle like a lithe sport sedan.” -- Kelley Blue Book

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