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3/4 Front Glamour 2013 Ford F-250

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Expert's Rating


  • Powerful engine options
  • Best-in-class towing capability
  • Many cab styles and options
  • High payload capacity
  • Diesel option has no exhaust brake
  • Poor fuel economy
Automotive Editor -
The Ford Explorer was synonymous with family transportation in the 1990s. Since then, it's been reborn as a three-row midsize crossover that combines carlike refinement with practicality and moderate off-road capability on four-wheel drive models. It has a variety of available engines, from a turbocharged four-cylinder to a turbocharged V6 that's new for 2013. In addition, the Explorer has comprehensive safety features and advanced technology that keeps it relevant as family transportation in this decade.


All Explorers are have three rows of seats and seat up to seven passengers. A 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic, is the standard powertrain and it's available with either front or four-wheel drive. The four-wheel drive system doesn't have a low range, but boasts Ford's Terrain Management system that allows the driver to select the road surface. Electronics in the system alter the way power is sent to the wheels to cope with things like rocks and snow. It tries to give the car-based Explorer off- road capability more in line with a traditional SUV like a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

See what other SUVs are getting praise with our 2013 SUV buying guide

Optional on front-wheel drive Explorers is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, one of Ford's EcoBoost variants. Even though it's small, the engine packs 240 horsepower and gives the big Explorer best-in-class fuel economy of up to 28 MPG highway. This compares to the V6's highest rating of 25 MPG highway. Newly available is the EcoBoost V6, only available on the Sport model. It turns out 350 horsepower. Explorers can tow up to 5,000 lbs. with the V6, but 2.0-liter models max out at 2,000 lbs.

All Explorers get power amenities, air conditioning, six-way power driver's seat, 17-inch wheels, six-speaker audio system with AUX input and a raft of safety features that includes full-length curtain airbags, front and side front passenger airbags and a rollover protection program. XLT models add SiriusXM radio and rear parking sensors. Limited trim boasts leather seats, HD radio and MyFord Touch. The new Sport trim has the EcoBoost V6, sport seats and 20-inch alloy wheels.

In terms of the competition, the Chevrolet Traverse can seat up to eight, instead of the Explorer's seven. It also has more cargo space overall. But the Traverse doesn't have as sophisticated of a four-wheel drive system and only offers one engine. The Honda Pilot also seats up to eight and can be cheaper than a similarly equipped Explorer, but lacks many high-tech options and has hit-or-miss styling. The Toyota Highlander is quiet, soft-riding and offers a four-cylinder. But the Toyota is more cramped inside. The Mazda CX-9 is more agile and is less expensive than the Explorer, but its infotainment systems are a generation behind.

Overall, the Explorer is a solid choice for a three-row crossover if safety and having the latest in-car technology is high on the list. It is also a competent seven-seater that offers many engine choices and has a more sophisticated four-wheel drive system than other crossovers.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 Ford F-250
Starting price

2013 Ford F-250 Lariat

Recommended for: Buyers who want luxury features on a capable truck

The Lariat comes packed with features more typical of a luxury car than a big truck. Available only in super cab and crew cab, the Lariat comes standard with premium leather seats, special paint and exterior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, power adjustable pedals, wood-tone trim, an LCD productivity screen, a 110-volt outlet, backup camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, parking sensors and a Sony premium audio system with SiriusXM. Options include a touchscreen navigation system, memory settings for the driver, a diesel engine and electronic four-wheel drive.

2013 Ford F-250
Starting price

2013 Ford F-250 XL

Recommended for: Truck buyers looking at simplicity over style

The XL aims to be for buyers looking for just the basics in a heavy duty truck, but it still has enough amenities to make it livable. The standard engine is a 6.2-liter V8 with 385 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. Power goes through the rear wheels or all four with an optional four-wheel drive system. It's available in regular cab, super cab and 4-door crew cab versions. XL models get a 40/20/40 split front bench seat for three passengers and a vinyl floor covering. Bed lengths are available in 6 3/4-foot and 8-foot. Air conditioning is standard, along with a two-speaker AM/FM radio, trip computer, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and tie-down hooks in the bed. A 6.7-liter diesel V8 is optional and offers 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft. of torque. The XL Value Package includes a four-speaker audio system with CD player, cruise control and chrome exterior trim. The Power Group adds power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry and soft-touch interior trim. Remote start, steering wheel mounted audio controls, SYNC, upfitter switches and cloth upholstery are also options.

2013 Ford F-250
Starting price

2013 Ford F-250 XLT

Recommended for: Buyers who want more convenience features

The XLT includes a few more creature comforts to make life in this big truck a little more relaxing. XLT includes equipment from the Value Package and Power Group, and also offers either a 6.2-liter V8 or 6.7-liter diesel with the same cab and bed options. Cupholders up front are standard, as are carpets, steering wheel audio controls, articulating headrests, AUX input, Ford's SYNC system with USB, cloth upholstery and chrome bumpers. The XLT Value Package adds a power driver's seat, power adjustable pedals, automatic door locks, rear parking sensors and a door-mounted keypad. SiriusXM satellite radio, four-wheel drive and a multi-function dash display are also options.

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Used Ford F-250 in 20149