The modern revival of the Ford Explorer has been pretty much what Ford hoped it would be -- a popular three-row SUV that squares off well against the imports and the Detroit opposition. To keep interest fresh, Ford's throwing a new model into the mix in a few months: the Sport edition, with the twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 from the Taurus SHO good for a minimum 350 hp. That will get the gelato home before it melts.
With the EcoBoosted Explorer, Ford now has a bracket of engines in the Explorer, although the 2-liter turbo remains a rarity. It also fills a gap for a stouter Explorer, once filled by the V8 in the previous truck-based generation. Ford maintains by using its twin-turbo and direct-injection setup, the Explorer Sport will get 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, surpassing the Hemi V8-powered editions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.
Other upgrades incude larger brakes, a stiffer frame, special wheels and other gadgetry befitting the top-of-the-line model. Prices weren't announced, but the regular Limited all-wheel-drive has a sticker just under $40,000, and it's a safe bet that's where the Explorer Sport will land. Even with gas at $4 a gallon nationally, sales of these larger vehicles have yet to slow -- and if Ford can convince buyers to pay for fuel economy with little sacrifice in power, it'd be surprising to see them fall flat when they arrive later this year.