Every out of town trip has its own logistics.
You need to plan accordingly, depending on the distance you cover, the number of passengers traveling with you, how long you will stay, and what will you do.
This time the author traveled to the 2013 World Cyclo-cross Championships in Louisville, KY.
The sport of cyclo-cross is tough and often is nothing short of a mud-bath on a bicycle.
The 2013 Ford Explorer Limited seemed to be the appropriate vehicle to travel the distance and to take all the luggage, including the bicycle.
Back in the day, the SUV was basically synonymous with the Ford Explorer. This is not the case anymore, and the 2013 model is only a remote reminder of its predecessor. The truck chassis is gone, replaced by a unibody platform.
This design improves the fuel economy, handling, and interior space.
The V6 engine in the Explorer Limited delivers 290HP, with fuel economy 17-23 mpg. The fuel consumption is not too impressive for the 440 mile trip from Atlanta to Louisville, however taking the foot off the gas pedal from time to time works pretty well without affecting travel time.
Since the weather was going to change from mild to 11 degrees Fahrenheit with snowfall, the all-wheel drive created a safe feeling at all times.
The technology package and overall luxury made the entire trip a breeze.
The Explorer now offers a heated steering wheel to enhance driving comfort and smart HID headlamp beams that dim automatically when oncoming traffic is detected. The Explorer bolsters its class-leading safety package with new knee airbags for the front-seat passenger. Some other features include:
- AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™)
- Safety Canopy® System, a side air curtain technology offering protection for the first and second seating rows
- SOS Post-Crash Alert System™
- MyKey® programmable vehicle key allows parental controls on driving speed
- Hill Start Assist for more confidence on uphill grades
- Curve Control, which can slow the vehicle by up to 10 mph if it senses a curve is being taken too fast
- inflatable rear seatbelts
- active park assist
- power-folding third-row seats
- rain-sensing wipers
The available Sony Audio System features 390 watts of power, 12 high-quality premium speakers and a dual-channel subwoofer. The system includes HD Radio for static-free, razor-sharp sound reception. One especially innovative feature is iTunes Tagging. You simply hit the "Tag" button when you hear a song you like on your local FM HD Radio station.
Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System™ can handle everything from off-roading to snow-covered roads.
The system was very well tested when the temperature plummeted to the teens with patches of snow and ice on the roads, and a very muddy roadside parking space.
A heated steering wheel and front seats is something to laugh about in Miami, but frosty Louisville welcomed this feature with open arms.
Backing up on the busy road was not possible without the assistance of others. The Explorer can handle this task very well without any assistance. While in reverse, an audio signal warns about incoming traffic, with a different type of signal when people are approaching.
While most cars had bike racks, the Explorer allowed the whole bicycle inside. The read seats folded automatically within seconds.
The interior was super quiet, thanks to recycled denim used as a noise reduction.
However, there is some room for improvement. The headlight switch is basically obstructed by the left forearm (two police cruisers reminded the author about the need to use the lights after darkness.)
The blinker switch is quite annoying, behaving at times as a bucking bronco, quite difficult to control.
The navigation system was quickly replaced by the basic model of Garmin - no time to waste!
Overall, the 2013 Ford Explorer Limited is a very roomy SUV, loaded with luxury and electronics. It does not win any awards in a back alley drag race, but deliveres a safe and solid performance. Those in need of an extra space and cargo will really appreciate this vehicle.