|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
We’ve driven the Ford Explorer V6 Limited as well as the Explorer EcoBoost 2.0 GTDi before so we're no stranger to the Blue Oval’s mid-sized luxury crossover. In fact, we’ve loved it so much, it was named as our Top Pick for 2011. Now, Ford has given its range-topping Explorer V6 Limited some upgrades, mostly to differentiate it from its EcoBoost sibling.
What’s New Outside?
You’re looking at the 2013 Ford Explorer V6 Limited and don’t worry about not being able to spot the difference compared to the 2012 model as there’s no difference (well, apart from the front proximity sensors).
Two years on, and the Explorer still looks fresh and futuristic as the day it launched here. Despite the arrival of newer rivals, namely the Hyundai Santa Fe 4WD, the sculpted hood with clamshell-like opening, stepped-style headlights, and “floating” roof of the Explorer are still very distinctive. It’s attractive and upscale above and beyond what its rivals can offer. Thankfully, the only missing item, HID headlamps, are now standard on the Limited trim model.
What’s Different Inside?
Since this is a minor year-to-year change, the Explorer retains the same interior. Like its sheet metal, it’s avant-garde and futuristic. And for a crossover, it’s very driver-centric and car-like. Soft-touch plastics, supple leather, matte aluminum-like trim pieces, wood and piano black lacquer accents all combine to make this a well-made, well-designed cabin.
The biggest news with the 2013 Explorer is the addition of inflatable second-row seatbelts first seen in the Explorer EcoBoost. It provides an extra layer of protection to outboard passengers, especially children in the unlikely event of an accident. Another major improvement is the rollout of the newest MyFord Touch (Version 3.2.2.). Along with a slight redesign of the center console (which adds more physical shortcut buttons), the latest MyFord Touch upgrades reduces lags and hiccups to almost zero. Plus, it adds even more connectivity options like the ability to share a Wi-Fi connection via a USB dongle.
What’s It Like to Drive?
There are no mechanical changes done to the 2013 Explorer Limited which means the 3.5-liter Ti-VCT is retained along with its 290 horsepower, 346 Nm output. The introduction of the EcoBoost engine may have reduced the need to go the Full Monty, but if you do, you’ll still love it. The large normally-aspired engine feels more relaxed than the turbocharged one, especially when puttering along in city traffic. Plus, there’s more than enough power for overtaking for all but on steep uphill climbs where the EcoBoost rules the roost. And fuel mileage isn’t that off compared to the EcoBoost: 5.2 km/L versus 5.95 km/L in city driving.
The handling remains solid and safe with controlled body roll. The steering is on the light side, but at least the Explorer feels capable on twisty roads; a surprise given the nature of this vehicle. What’s more, the addition of front proximity sensors means that the 2013 Explorer is now fitted with Active Park Assist. First seen in the Focus, it can automatically steer the Explorer into a parallel parking slot. With the girth of this car, it’s a necessity. Thankfully, it works like a charm.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Going through the Vehicle Settings menu, the 2013 Explorer adds a slew of stuff most of which aren’t immediately visible to the typical owner. Aside from Active Park Assist, the Explorer now has BLIS blind spot indicators, lane keep assist, and active cruise control (automatically maintains distance vis-à-vis the car in front).
Of course, all these additional features don’t come free. But considering a very modest P 200,000 increase (now P 2,595,000) the 2013 Explorer Limited is the most affordable upscale mid-sized crossover out there. And considering it’s got even more toys than its more expensive competitors such as the Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and the like, this is still the best value crossover out there. Considering what you get and the price you pay, you don’t need to win the lottery to justify buying a 2013 Ford Explorer V6 Limited. It’s aspirational yet attainable at the same time. A true win-win situation.