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This is an Explorer? Really?

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I have a fifteen-year-old granddaughter who is taking driver’s ed. With her parents’ and grandparents’ interest in cars, she has always been quite aware of brands, styles and features. Now with the rapidly approaching reality of actually getting behind the wheel of a car of her own, that awareness is heightened. Her dad’s car is an Explorer. It is older, but with leather and nicely equipped. When she rode with me in the 2013 Ford Explorer that I had for a test drive she was amazed! From the more streamlined exterior profile to the updated interior and advanced technical features, this Explorer didn’t seem to her to be the same vehicle at all!

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The Explorer is an SUV that comes with all the standard features to make it off-road ready. This 4-door four-wheel drive has a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 112.6-inch wheelbase provides stability on uneven surfaces, and the terrain management system adjusts to a variety of conditions. The winter weather has had an effect on some of our east Texas back roads, but the Explorer handled puddles, potholes and washouts easily and smoothly. Having to put the passenger side wheels in the ditch so you can pass an oncoming vehicle can be nerve-wracking, but it was no problem with the Explorer! Hill descent/off road mode, hill start assist and trailer sway control aid in safe maneuvering regardless of the surface. On the highway the traction control, curve control, speed control, and reverse sensing and rear view camera similarly boost driver confidence.

On the inside the Explorer is attractive, comfortable and functional. Just because it is a SUV doesn’t mean you have to feel like you are roughing it. Leather trimmed seats, 10-way power adjustable front seats, dual zone climate control, leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls and a tilt and telescoping steering column all lend a super-comfortable ride to the Explorer.

All this comes at a price, and for the base model that is $40,720. My test drive vehicle included an optional equipment group package that added voice activated navigation, blind spot monitoring system, universal garage door opener and more. Of special notice and interest to my daughters, riding in the second row seats, were the inflatable safety belts, which they found difficult to connect and stiff while wearing. We obviously were not about to force deployment, but were very curious about how they work! They do, by the way, add considerable safety and injury reduction for rear seat passengers. Also optional were heated and cooled seats and select shift transmission. These options plus destination and delivery brought the total vehicle price to $47,390. Estimated fuel economy is 16 miles per gallon city, 22 on the highway, 18 combined.

The 2013 Ford Explorer is like two cars in one. It is fun and capable for off-road or vacationing, but attractive and capable for family and everyday driving. Check one out at a Ford dealership soon!

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