Picked up the new rental today. It is Big. [Update]

I received a free upgrade but they didn’t have any sports cars or premium cars on the lot, so they bumped me up to a premium SUV. It’s amazing how little has changed between our 2013 Explorer (RIP) and this 2018. The differences are in the details, like real buttons for the HVAC controls (yay!). This one is a Premium (coincidence, no?), so it has all the bells and whistles. My favorite so far is the self-folding third row. Sure, doing it by hand is easy, but watching it do it by itself is fun.

I’ll can put together a quick review if anyone is interested.


I’ve noticed that this thing guzzles gas and is a big pig on the road. What do I mean by big pig? It’s slow and ungainly. The transmission shifts slowly, making the response to requests for acceleration somewhat ponderous.


After voicing these complaints in the comments, Gerry197 provided a helpful hint - put it in Sport Mode.

I’ll admit, I had a hell of a time figuring out how to put it in Sport Mode. I searched for a button and dug through every Sync menu, to no avail. I finally resorted to Google. Sport Mode? No Problem! It’s just one click of the lever past Drive.


In our 2013 Explorer, one click past D was M, or Manual Mode. That activated a little rocker switch on the side of the shifter which just happens to be the least satisfying way to shift a transmission.

Really, who wants to shift with this?

So what does the Sport Mode Get you? The new Sport Mode still lets you shift with these goofy buttons, but unlike its predecessor, it will do all the shifting for you if you just leave it alone to do its thing. It’s supposed to hold gears longer, shift faster, and keep the revs up so the engine is closer to the power band. Does it work? You bet!


I found that Sport Mode completely changed the character of the big pig. Now instead of being big and ponderous, it is big and somewhat sprightly. It’s like the mass is all shifted upward and now the weight is being carried on the balls of its feet. It’s like a lineman who put on some new shoes and is now playing running back. Yeah, it’s that different.


The downside? Fuel economy. I reset the meter just to see. It managed a solid 15.5 mpg in morning downtown Houston traffic. It was hanging around 16.6 mpg, so the loss isn’t too bad. I’ll have to get it on the highway to see how far it drops from the 22 mpg it managed on the way over from Baton Rouge.

Until then, thanks Gerry197! You’ve put a grin on my face again, but a bigger hole in my wallet.

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