Reviewing the 2013 Ford Explorer

— 6 minute read

Disclaimer: From time to time I get a vehicle from Ford Canada to review. Thus far I've reviewed the 2013 Ford Flex, 2013 Ford Escape and now the 2013 Ford Explorer. I don't receive any compensation for this other than the fun of getting to drive a new vehicle. They even make me pay for my own gas! Can you believe it?

There's a lot of similarities between the 2013 Ford Escape and the 2013 Ford Explorer in their look and feel. Having reviewed them back to back, the Explorer feels a bit like just a larger Escape - and that idea will help shape whether you're a fan of the Explorer or prefer something more like the Escape.

The 2013 Ford Explorer looks a lot different than I expected it to. The outside design and styling is much more sleek and modern than what I remembered of previous generations of Ford Explorers.

2013 Ford Explorer Review-02 Exterior View

The ride is great. For being a bigger vehicle it handles corners and stopping/starting without feeling like a large boat. The driver's seat and area is much roomier than the Escape as well. For me as a larger guy this was nice as the Escape felt a bit cramped - especially if you were on a longer trip.

Ford Explorer Interior

MyFord Touch permalink

Having used the MyFord Touch™ and Sync® in the previous Ford vehicles I drove there wasn't much new to see here - other than the Sync® seems to hate my iPhone 4.1

What I can say about MyFord Touch™ is that the interface is worlds ahead of what I've experienced with other vehicles. As a nerd I appreciate the effort that goes into making a user interface that's actually usable. And making a touch screen interface for a vehicle is a completely different animal than making an iPad or iPhone interface. As much as I'd love to see an Apple designed vehicle interface, I don't see any car makers handing over the virtual keys to Apple any time soon.

The display is easy to read while sitting back in the carseat and easily viewable by both driver and passenger. It smartly locks certain features out when you're driving. Listening to Sirius XM, AM/FM radio and music and podcasts on my iPhone all works very well and is seamless - provided your phone maintains a connection.

Pearl Jam on XM Radio

Ruined by Minivan Life permalink

For our family with 3 kids we've been ruined, for better or worse, by owning a minivan and any vehicle now feels like a step down from that - short of a newer minivan (cough Ford cough). Moving multiple car seats in and out of the Explorer isn't nearly as easy. And with our kids being 5 and under it's not as easy for them to get in and out of the vehicle as in our Odyssey. But if your kids are older, it's great to be up nice and high in the comfortable rear seats of the Ford Explorer.

A bit tight to fit.

My main issue with the Explorer is how large it is. I found shoulder checking, backing up (though the rear camera helps a ton and works great), parking in a parking lot and even passing on the highway to be difficult to know where the vehicle is and if there's anything around me that I might run into. As with most vehicles, you do get used to them and become aware of where the bumpers are the more you drive them - but I never really felt fully comfortable in the 2013 Explorer.

How big the Explorer feels will be a big plus for you (i.e. interior room/seating) or a negative (i.e. parking, etc.), depending on your perspective. For me, I preferred the smallness of the Escape for parking and driving despite the negative of it having a smaller cabin space.

Back Seat with a Car Seat

Touch the Buttons permalink

One big positive for me is how much thought and care has gone into the buttons, dials, knobs and widgets in the Ford vehicles. Rather than just being flat they're textured, beveled or just different in some way from each other so it's much easier to figure out which button you're trying to adjust without having to look down from the road - kind of an important thing to keep your eye on.

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Not Willing to Flex permalink

Sue and I were talking about which of the 3 Ford vehicles we've tested we liked best and I really wanted to like the 2013 Ford Explorer 2. And I suspect that if it was the vehicle that I got first for review it'd probably be my favourite. But my favourite is still the 2013 Flex. 3 For me it's the combination of the funky, boxy styling of the exterior with a great roomy interior to make for the best driving experience of the three.

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  1. With both the Explorer and the Escape it would work fine for a couple of days and then for no apparent reason it would stop and I wouldn't be able to get it working again for the rest of the test drive. I tried a few of the troubleshooting steps I found online (reset the car's Bluetooth, reset Sync®, reset my iPhone 4, etc.) but nothing seemed to work. I have to think it's something with my iPhone 4 rather than the vehicle since it happened with two different vehicles - but I'll see what happens with the next one. Third time's the charm? 
  2. It probably didn't help that I got a parking ticket on my first day with the Ford Explorer. The parking job was my fault. Mostly. 
  3. Sue's is the Escape. But she can have her own review of the Explorer if she wants to write it.