Ford has announced official fuel economy estimates for the 2013 Explorer Sport, which is EPA-rated at 16/22 mpg city/highway. The automaker also noted that the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 powering the three-row crossover will produce 365 hp, the same output as the F-150 EcoBoost.
The 300-plus-hp, three-row crossover category is small, and the Explorer Sport's fuel economy estimate beats the 14/20 mpg figure of rear-drive Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango R/T equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, though both of those still use a six-speed automatic transmission instead of an eight-speed automatic like the one in the 2013 Ram 1500. Compared to other three-row crossovers like the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse, which is expected to achieve 16/23 mpg with its 288-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive, the performance-oriented Explorer Sport's fuel economy is still competitive. The Traverse's EPA figures happen to match that of the Explorer Sport's stablemate, the 2013 Ford Flex, which shares the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost mill. How well the Explorer Sport accelerates from 0-60 mph compared to other high-horsepower SUVs is something we look forward to testing in the near future.
The Explorer Sport receives a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, along with a 3.16:1 final drive ratio specially tuned to balance acceleration with low-rpm highway cruising. The crossover also gets Ford's Terrain Management System, which is intended to optimize power and torque in sandy, snowy, muddy, and hill descent conditions. Further enhancements for the Explorer Sport include a reinforced chassis tunnel, solid-mounted electric power-assisted steering rack, and larger brakes.