2013 Sport Road Trip | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

2013 Sport Road Trip


Active Member
August 11, 2012
Reaction score
City, State
Fullerton CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
2013 Explorer Sport
The Sport is four months old and has mostly highway miles. We are with nearly five thousand miles on the odometer since returning from our annual ski trip.

Holly cow! When do you need twin turbos? When you climb from 1500 feet above sea level to 9766 feet in 14 miles. That is a pretty good estimate on the difference between Cedar City, Utah and the base of the Brian Head, Utah ski facility. I used an altimeter app on my iPhone to estimate altitude.

I've driven this road for many years and prior to this year, with my 2004 Cayenne V8. The normally aspirated Cayenne would struggle getting up torque when climbing the nearly 14% grade (see UTAH DOT for exact grade)-especially when reducing our speed to 15mph entering the very steep curve near the entrance to Brian Head. Compare that experience with last week. As the turbos spool up quickly, it doesn't take long to reach the Sport's very linear torque curve. Wow! I've never had a smoother climb up highway 143. This Sport performs at its best at higher elevations where the air is less dense and there is a full load (three adults, one good sized dog, the trunk loaded with whatever the two female adults could pack and a full sized Thule carrier on the roof-see photos).

The facts: trip length: 972 miles; average mpg as measured by the trip meter: 18.2; lowest elevation: 321 feet; highest elevation: 9812 feet; coldest morning: 9 degrees Fahrenheit; warmest day: 31 F; total one way driving time: 7.5 hours each way.

As most active members have observed, the mileage per gallon is somewhat deceiving. For the sake of comparison, I'm going with the car's computer. The Sport was fully loaded and I would guess that the Thule was near its maximum load of 150 pounds (two snow boards, two pair of skis, ski/snowboard boots and with whatever space was left over, packed with additional clothing and food). My expectation was that I would have averaged somewhere in the 15 to 16 mpg based on the heavy load, winds and driving condition. I don't know if my expectations were too low or I've bee hoodwinked by Ford. I'm satisfied with the mileage, especially in light of my propensity to foolishly exceed certain 75 mph zones. I did accidentally reach 89 mph for a short distance-really, it was accidental that I accelerated too aggressively to pass those slow moving three trailered trucks. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The overall highway performance was exceptional. The ride is so comfortable compared to the Cayenne I don't know the proper adjectives to describe our experience. Seat, steering and driving positions were easily made to accommodate my different driving positions. The seat heaters worked nicely although for the life of me, I couldn't tell if the heat fluctuated with the outside temperature or just exactly what was happening. Like several other members have written, the seat temperatures fluctuate. The rear leg room was very adequate and I didn't hear a single complaint from the one human occupant. Fortunately, the other occupant, a 60 pound German Shorthair Pointer, had the sense not to complain.

The nearly 44 cubic feet behind the second row was packed. If you have read my other threads, you know that I did not want the third row seats and would have benefitted from their removal. For those of you who previously responded that I should have selected some other vehicle, you missed the point: I want my cake (performance, great brakes, etc offered in the Sport, without three rows of seats) and eat it too (more storage room that could be accomplished with the removal of the third row). So there. I'm spoiled and want the use of the deeper well created by removing the seats.

The brakes they performed without any fade, unintentional pulsating or squeaks. Excellent in the snow and slush. The only time I felt any pulsating is when I engaged the hill decent in an experiment to see how it worked. Sure enough, down a snow covered private road, it held my speed while pulsating the brakes.

Moving onto the AWD, I had mixed feelings. I could see on the left side display, the power being constantly varied from the front to the back and vis versa. The Sport has the standard 20 inch Optimo tires. They are worthless, in my opinion, in the snow. And, I'm not talking deep wet snow. I'm talking Utah powder!

As a result, I cannot judge the performance of Ford's traction control. Based upon my limited experience with it, there was no difference. I'm laying the fault right on the doorsteps of the chassis/tire folks at Ford. For a few more bucks they could have chosen a more aggressive tire like the Yokohama Prada. My Sport was $41K + and the engineers sold out to the guys and gals with CPA behind their names? Just my two cents but label your SUV a "sport" with all wheel drive and give me essentially summer tires?

The only bad news is the left front fog light lens. It's dead, killed by a stone or some other debris. I'll buy the new housing and while at it, probably upgrade the bulb.

I've also posted the pictures of my additional back up lights. The lights are from Recon and can be activated either by placing the car in reverse or by a switch. I need to create a bracket to focus the lights farther back.

Photos are at: http://s1299.beta.photobucket.com/user/Langla4/library/

nice write up...I sshare many of the same thoughts and I have the Sport up some pretty high altitudes and it was impressive