The 2016 Ford Explorer has been given a redesign, the first for this SUV since a 2011 makeover, and the results should please long-time fans of the vehicle as well as appeal to buyers who might not have previously considered it. The exterior styling has been updated to look more sporty and modern, while still maintaining a legitimate SUV design – no attempts to look more like a car or wagon here.
This SUV with three rows of seating is available in four trim levels including base, XLT, Limited and Sport. And while it is technically a crossover – built on a car chassis – its now enlarged headlight groupings and the optional LED fog lights give it some similarity to its F-150 pickup truck sibling.
The rear spoiler and a reformulated roof rack improve aerodynamics, and thus fuel efficiency. There is a hands-free lift gate that lets you wave your foot under the vehicle when you have the key on your person, prompting the gate to open. It’s a nice convenience feature when you’re loading stuff.
There are three engine choices. The standard is a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 290 horsepower. Next is a 3.5-liter V-6 with twin turbo EcoBoost that makes 365 horsepower and is installed in Sport trim models. The new option is a 2.3-liter four-cylinder that makes 270 horsepower and also has EcoBoost technology.
The three row seating can accommodate six people with bucket seats in the middle row, or seven with a bench in the middle. Seating is fairly comfortable in the front two rows, but a bit snug in the back row.
Fortunately, Ford has abandoned its much maligned touch screen controls that operated many functions. Now there are actual buttons and knobs again that are much easier to use.
Ford includes an impressive amount of safety features such as lane maintenance assist, front collision warnings, front view and rear cameras with washers that keep them clean from dirt and debris, and a parking assist feature. There are also inflatable seat belts available for the second row of seating that add protection in the case of a collision.
Pricing on the Explorer ranges from around $32,000 to about $53,000. That’s more, in the main, than you might pay for some of its competitors. But Ford has established a solid reputation for quality, especially among its trucks and SUVs, that might make the premium worthwhile.
The Explorer has built a reputation as one of the better SUVs on the market over the past several years, and its latest incarnation should do nothing to change that.