The Ford Explorer relaunch has gone fantastically well. We thought it was a great product from the beginning, but we can admit being surprised at the crossover’s sales numbers. It goes to show you how much name cachet Explorer has, and its debut couldn’t have happened at a better time for Ford.
Last year, about 135,000 examples of the new Explorer were sold. For a vehicle at the upper end of Ford’s price range, that is no small feat. One thing that was perplexing at launch though was that the Explorer was unavailable with Ford’s lauded 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. An amazing engine, it does duty in Ford’s other two crossovers on the platform – MKT and Flex.
Until now, two options have been available – the utterly pointless EcoBoost four-cylinder (which Ford actually charges more for!) and a naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter making 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Now, the wait for those who want EcoBoost is over. Say hello to the Explorer Sport. In addition the 350 horsepower V-6 under the hood, styling changes do a lot for the Explorer Sport. A lot of the brightwork is replaced with black elements, such as the signature Ford three bar grille up front.
The headlights and taillights also have a dark tint on them. New wheels and low-profile tires help round off some of the exterior tweaks to this SUV. Rather than just throw EcoBoost in and call it a day though, Explorer Sport has received some other substantive upgrades. Ford has fitted a beefed-up braking system with thicker and larger discs 13.8 inches in diameter. Terrain Management has been reworked, along with a Power Take Off cooler for the Explorer’s all-wheel drive system. A new cross-tunnel brace has been added for rigidity, something that combined with a new electric power steering mount should help with handling. We’re eager to see what the results are in our own testing of the Explorer Sport. The Sport is the top trim level of the Explorer, coming in at about $38,180.