Bad news for those high-end luxury cars that debuted at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit: The all-new Ford Fusion stole the show. With its surprisingly good looks (think Aston Martin meets BMW), the midpriced American four-door is poised to knock those other midsize sedans down a notch or two. Shedding stereotypes of the econo-box, the 2013 Ford Fusion employs refined, sophisticated design, good enough to win the EyesOn Design award for best production car, an accolade bestowed during the Detroit show by a panel of judges that's a veritable who's-who of the car design biz. As notable as its looks, the 2013 Fusion will come in a variety of powertrains, from gasoline to hybrid to plugin. The base engine will be the same naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder currently used in the outgoing generation, good for 170 horsepower. Two turbocharged power plants will be optional: a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that will make 179 hp, or a 2.0-liter EcoBoost motor that makes 237 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque. The latter, designed to be a sportier version, will be outfitted with a rear-biased all-wheel drive system. A gas-electric hybrid version of the 2013 Ford Fusion will also be available, which will bundle the 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
The 2013 Explorer 3.5-liter V6 comes standard with six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is optional and includes Ford's Terrain Management System, a selectable four-mode system that optimizes traction electronically for different conditions. Hill descent control and hill start assist are also included. The 2013 Ford Explorer feels rock-solid at freeway speeds, well-damped over broken pavement and very confident when negotiating a corner. Ford put all the engineering effort it could muster into the Explorer, and got the ride, handling, and NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) results it hoped for. The rigid chassis and careful tuning of the independent suspension produce a superb all-around ride. It takes corners and undulations flat, and the speed-sensitive electric power steering allows it to turn relatively tight and quick. The front suspension uses short and long arms with a fat 32mm stabilizer bar. Engineers gave the rear suspension a name, SR1, because for each wheel movement, the shock absorbers are tuned to make the same motion in the same cadence, which they say eliminates undesirable ride motions.
The interior design team went for a clean and simple layout, with elements borrowed from watch design and modern architecture. When the driver surveys his or her domain, it all looks satisfying, with a clean and slanted center stack using stylish satin-finish trim materials, and attractive climate vents and audio speakers. The doors have metal speaker grilles, and curve into the dash panel. There's a big glovebox with a shelf, leather grab handles and armrests on Explorers with leather interior, and long door pockets with space for a bottle. Many of the features and functions, say climate or audio settings, can be adjusted in four separate ways: by voice command, by thumb buttons on the steering-wheel spokes, by touching the display screen itself or by using the buttons in the switch stack below, should you choose to do it the old-fashioned way. Safety features are headlined by Ford's new curve control, which applies braking to individual wheels as needed to correct corner trajectory. It's part of a comprehensive electronics suite, which also includes antilock brakes and Ford's ActiveTrack stability system with rollover mitigation and trailer sway control. Standard crash protection starts with dual-threshold front airbags, a front passenger knee protection airbag, front-seat side impact airbags, head-protection curtains for all outboard seats and SOS post-crash alert. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Explorer a Top Safety Pick.
Fusion chief designer Darrell Behmer and his team aimed to amplify a sporty look with a wider grille, wraparound headlamps and flowing, connected lines. Beautiful headlights complement the graceful fenders and transform the inherently square nose. The amber indicators sweep back like narrow wings atop tidy main projector beams. The plastic grille is gray on the base Explorer, body-colored on the XLT (the best looking), and satin-chrome on the Limited. The hood looks short from the side but long when looking straight down it. It's got two parallel humps and a scoop in the center, smoother than it sounds. Rear taillights are LED, and also look good. Black rockers on the sides allegedly lift the eye. Five new metallic paint colors for 2012 enhance its polished appearance.
The 2013 Ford Explorer is availbasle in the base, XLT and Limited trim levels.
Standard equipment includes a V6 engine, 17-inch steel wheels, privacy glass, integrated blind spot mirrors, roof rails, cruise control, air-conditioning, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The XLT adds 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlamps, foglamps, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a keyless entry code pad, Sync (Ford's voice-activated telephone/entertainment interface), satellite radio and a USB port.
The Limted has everything that the XLT has but adds a remote engine start feature, 20 inch wheels among som eother nice features.
This latest-generation Ford Explorer is larger, better looking, quieter, more powerful and far more fuel efficient than the pre-2011 models. The 2013 Explorer 2.0 EcoBoost option delivers a class leading Highway EPA rating. The Explorer offers lots of choices: three trim levels, two engines, front- or all-wheel drive and plenty of class-exclusive options. The base Explorer in particular jumps out. It's a fully quipped, state-of-the-art seven-seat SUV, with a smooth, powerful V6. Click here for more information on the 2013 Ford Explorer.
Some of the information in this review was obtained through newcartestdrive.com
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