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Since it’s 2011 refresh, the Ford Explorer has’t really set the world alight, at least among those that remember the old 5.0-liter and 4.6 V8 models that offered both gusto and family practicality.
Having introduced a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder in the 2012 model, Ford decided to kick things up a notch with the 2013 Explorer Sport, launching a 3.5-liter EcoBoost powered flagship Sport model.
Rated at the same 350 horsepower as the Taurus SHO and delivering 350 lb-ft of torque, the Sport is designed to deliver that extra dose of pizzazz without sacrificing fuel economy (Ford says it will deliver a projected 22 miles per gallon on the highway).
Many of us still remember the 90′s Ford Taurus line: ugly, poorly built and revolting. There just wasn’t much good to say about them. Fast-forward by about a decade and the Taurus makes more power than recent muscle cars, or at least the SHO version does.
Ford updated its site to include pricing on the 2013 Taurus models, which start at $27,395 (including destination) and go up to $39,995 for the performance-oriented SHO model.
Those willing to foot the bigger bill get a car with the same potent ecoboost 3.5-liter V6 as the company offered on the previous model. While the 365-hp rating is nice, the broad power band is the impressive part. Ford says peak torque (350 lb-ft) is available all the way from 1,500-5,250 rpms, or most of the engine’s rev-range.
That model comes with all-wheel drive and is mated to a high-capacity version of the standard six-speed automatic transmission. The base model now comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder ecoboost capable of 31 mpg highway while still offering 237 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque.
Probably the most noticeable change, the exterior styling got a serious update with Ford’s new hexagonal grille that looks sportier and more Mustang-like. The SHO model comes with 19-inch wheels standard, but customers may choose 20-inch upgraded wheels with summer performance tires. A spoiler and and sport-tuned suspension also come standard.
Don’t let the EcoBoost name fool you, though. As we said in our review of the 2012 model, gas mileage is far from eco-friendly. The SHO gets a thirsty 17/25 mpg city/highway. The standard V6 is also available making 290 hp and 18/28 mpg city/highway.
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Taurus
The last V6-powered Ford F-150 was sold to the public in 2008, and only 11% of sales were made up of the smaller-engined trucks. Three years later, and Ford’s gamble to offer not one but two V6s in America’s best-selling vehicle seems to be paying dividends, with 35% of F-150′s sold coming with either the base 3.7L V6 or the 3.5L Ecoboost turbo engine.
Part of it can be attributed to the rising gas prices felt throughout the year. The 3.7L F-150 is classified as the most fuel-efficient full-size truck, with a 17/23mpg EPA rating. Ford also claims that the Ecoboost is selling like hotcakes, but didn’t give any data to back up the claim. With the V6s selling strong, there may be a shift to smaller engines in trucks, now that the mental barrier of requiring a V8 in a pickup seems to be dismantled among consumers.
A tip given to Jalopnik states that Ford chairman Bill Ford Jr. confirmed that an Ecoboost engine will appear in the Mustang, although a timeline and engine specifications were not provided.
While speaking at Princeton University, Ford was asked by an audience member about the possibility of an Ecoboost Mustang. Ford confirmed that the turbocharged engine would reach Ford’s pony car, but no further information was revealed. Ford current Ecoboost 4-cylinder is capable of up to 247 horsepower, while the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 is good for as much as 365 horsepower. While power is somewhat diminished compared to larger V6 and V8 engines respectively, fuel economy figures make up for the performance deficit.
It’s conceivable that either application could find its way under the hood of a Mustang. A 4-cylinder Ecoboost would be a potent competitor to smaller engined cars like the Hyundai Genesis (and certainly the Mustang V6 is now a legitimate performance car in its own right), while an Ecoboost V6 could bridge the gap between the regular V6 and the 5.0 V8. Jalopnik has suggested that the “SVO” trim, which used a 2.3L turbo 4-cylinder in the 1980s, could return, but there’s little evidence to back up that notion. Then again, Ford did revive the 5.0 badge, and with children of the 1980s now in a position to buy a Mustang, it might just happen.
Turbocharged four-banger could replace standard V6 engine in Mustang, F-150
Ford has just confirmed that it will bring an EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine to marker starting next year. The new engine will be a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder and use a turbocharger to deliver at least 230hp and 240 ft-lbs of torque.
Much in the way that the 365-hp EcoBoost V6 delivers V8 power with V6 duel-economy, the EcoBoost four is designed to deliver V6 power with four-cylinder fuel-economy. Ford says it should deliver a 10 to 20 percent fuel-economy improvement over a similarly powerful V6 engine.
Ford will no doubt begin to use this new EcoBoost four as a replacement for many of its V6 engines in models like the Fusion, Edge and Escape/Mariner. There is the possibility that we could see the turbo-four replace the base V6 powerplants in models like the Mustang and F-150. Some rumors, however, have indicated that the Mustang could use the 3.7-liter V6 from the Lincoln MKS.
As with the current EcoBoost V6, Ford seems dedicated to using the new engines in higher-end trim levels of cars, such as with the SHO or the EcoBoost version of the Flex. That being said, there is potential that this new EcoBoost four could see its way in to a sporty version of the Focus.
Even smaller displacement (1.0- to 1.6-liter) EcoBoost engines are expected to follow for use in the Focus and the upcoming Fiesta, as Ford has its eye on becoming a bigger player in the high-volume sub-compact segment.
By 2010 Ford says it will have improve the fuel-economy of its vehicles by 20 percent as compared to 2005, with a goal of a 35 percent improvement by 2015.
[Source: Car & Driver]