Ford unleashes 350-horsepower Explorer Sport

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Ford Explorer

Ford is churning out a 350-horsepower edition of the Explorer called the Explorer Sport. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Ford Explorer was the poster child of the SUV craze of the mid-1990s into the 2000s. However, Ford thinks that its image is a bit too family-friendly and has punched up the range with the Explorer Sport, a 350-horsepower turbo edition of the family hauler.

The golden retriever of the car world

In the 1990s, families buying cars turned from the minivan to the SUV, as gas was cheap and plentiful and some of them happened to be fairly capable off-road. The poster child of the SUV boom was the Ford Explorer, which became almost as familiar a sight at the typical suburban family home as a golden retriever, the ubiquitous breed of dog.

However, people began to shy away from gas-guzzling, truck-based SUVs and gravitated instead toward the crossover, SUV-like vehicles built on car frames. Ford, according to the New York Times, has had it with family friendliness and is releasing an Explorer with some real grunt under the hood, the Explorer Sport.

Twin turbo terror

The Explorer Sport will run on a twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6. The current Explorer has an available EcoBoost engine, a 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder engine producing 240 horsepower. The Explorer already has an available V-6, a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter, but the engine slated for the Explorer sport, which according to Inside Line is a 3.5-liter V-6, should produce roughly 350 horsepower.

The motor is mated to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and should be good for 16 miles per gallon city, 22 highway. The Explorer Sport will be available in four-wheel drive as well as a Terrain Management System, or traction control for different surfaces such as mud, snow or wet asphalt.

Explore your wallet

However, the Sport is also slated to be the top of the Explorer range and therefore will likely cost in excess of $40,000. However, the more luxuriously equipped Explorers, according to USA Today, sell the best. More than 40 percent of all Explorer buyers choose the Limited trim, which starts at $39,505 after destination charge.

There are comparably sized SUVs that produce as much or more power, some for less money, but none get gas mileage as good because they all come with V-8 engines. Only the the Jeep Grand Cherokee with the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gets similar mileage, producing 360 horsepower and achieving 14 mpg city, 20 highway. Depending on the trim, it can cost less than $40,000. The Dodge Durango R/T costs less, at $35,795, has the same 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 but gets three fewer miles per gallon city and two fewer highway than the Ford’s projected mileage. Other SUVs of similar size, power and price, such as the Toyota Sequoia or the Nissan Armada, get less than 20 mpg highway.

Sources

New York Times

Inside Line

USA Today

Jeep: http://www.jeep.com/en/2012/grand_cherokee/capability/powertrain/

Dodge: http://www.dodge.com/en/2012/durango/rt/

Toyota: http://www.toyota.com/sequoia/specs.html

Nissan: http://www.nissanusa.com/armada/?next=header.vlp.postcard.picture.thumbnail.

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