Ford emphasizes the new Explorer Sport’s fuel economy rather than performance

Ford Explorer Sport FrontJust ahead of the New York Motor Show, Ford has revealed its new 2013 Explorer Sport, a vehicle it describes as having “no compromises” and “high performance SUV power.”

It’s the first factory-built performance version of the popular Explorer, and although comparisons are made with the Range Rover Sport and Dodge Durango R/T in the press release, power doesn’t appear to be its major selling point.

That’s not to say it’s lacking, but rather that Ford is pushing the Explorer Sport’s fuel economy instead. Fitted with an EcoBoost twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V6, producing 350 horsepower, Ford say the four-wheel-drive model will return 16 miles-per-gallon in the city and 22 miles-per-gallon on the highway.

Now, using the phrase “fuel economy” and then quoting 16 miles-per-gallon in town may sound slightly silly, but when compared with its peers, the Explorer fares well. According to the EPA, a 2012 Range Rover Sport will see 12 miles-per-gallon in the city and 17 on the open road for example.

Besides the motor, the Explorer Sport will standout from the crowd thanks to a flashy facelift, including blacked-out light enclosures, a new lower fascia and grille, dark side mirrors and a set of 20-inch wheels. A leather interior with colored trim will be offered as an option.

Ford Explorer Sport Side

To help make the Explorer Sport handle like it looks, Ford has stiffened the chassis and uprated parts of the suspension, plus improved the stopping power with slightly thicker discs, for a 22-percent increase in performance over the standard setup.

Other features include a dual exhaust system, a new version of the Terrain Management System, MyFord Touch, solid-mounted electric power steering and a custom final drive ratio.

The price has yet to be confirmed, however as the Sport will top the Explorer range, it’s almost certainly going to be more than $40,000 when it goes on sale later this year.

From the right angle and in the right color, white in particular, it looks great, but it’s far from “sporty.” Presumably Ford thinks so too, as they have made a fuss over the fuel efficiency and its EcoBoost credentials, but haven’t bothered to talk about performance at all. It’s not going to be a supercar obviously, but it is called the Sport, so one can be forgiven for wondering how fast it goes.

You can see the Explorer Sedate, sorry, Sport being driven in the least sporty way possible in the video below.