Spiffed up for 2016, the Ford Explorer still maintains its strongest and most unique identity within the Ford family of vehicles. Ruggedness coupled with refinement seems to be a winning formula for the crossover SUV with car-like bones. The latest Ford Explorer is hands-down, a family hauler that pretty much accommodates all frames from NBA forwards to those folks, who must sit close to the steering wheel to peer over the dash.
The Explorer is big but tidy looking, even lean, when describing its exterior appearance. What immediately draws the eye is the vehicle’s new front fascia– slimmer, restyled grille, hood, fenders, and swept back LED headlights that add to its overall hunkered-down and aggressive look. Many feel the Explorer is nearly a dead ringer for a Land Rover which isn’t a bad thing at all. More sculpted with chrome touches here and there adds to the Explorer’s overall upscale styling.
Inside the three-row crossover SUV is an excessive amount of space, it has a cabin capable of accommodating seven passengers and their gear with absolute good headroom in all positions. Nothing within the Explorer’s interior looks cheap; it has a nice mix of soft touch surfaces that are peppered with chrome touches. The Explorer’s seating is nicely positioned, offering a commanding view of the road. The SUV does have a third-row that is actually adequate enough for average-sized adults with headroom that is ample and not encroaching. The steering wheel on the Explorer has a great feel and is tilt/telescopic, the only way to go these days. Offering a slew of technology that will enhance any driving experience, the base Explorer comes with a 4.2-inch display screen, Sync (Ford’s voice-activated phone/entertainment interface), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and USB/auxiliary audio inputs. The optional and once finicky MyFord Touch interface is now more user-friendly than ever.
Another cool feature on the Explorer are the “smart-charging USB ports” in the front and rear of the vehicle that will charge devices two-times faster than before. A dirty backup camera lens in the Explorer is a thing of the past as Ford has come up with one that is self-cleaning. And for those who like to haul ‘stuff’ and then some, the Explorer offers a not too shabby 81.7 cubic feet with both rear seats folded and 43.9 cubes with just the third row down. A hands-free power lift gate is available that allows folks to open or close the lift gate with a gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper, this option is just the ticket, especially if you’re carrying bags and don’t have a free hand. The Explorer gives you 17 city/24 highway at the pumps and can also tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The Explorer has a big feel but is surprisingly agile and comfy on the road even on rough surfaces. The vehicle’s steering is responsive and performance-wise, it is more than adequate. The crossover SUV’s passing maneuvers might lag a bit but once it gets going, it offers robust driving dynamics, handling itself quite competently in nearly all situations. Worth mentioning is the braking system on the SUV that holds it down with authority and its uncannily quiet cabin that suppresses road noises. Standard on the Base, XLT and Limited trim levels is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that pumps out 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. The Explorer Sport and Platinum trims come with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that kicks out 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. There’s also another engine option that can now be paired with all-wheel drive, a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that replaces the previous, more anemic 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder.
Safety-wise, the Explorer has a variety of standard safety offerings that include stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a front passenger knee airbag, rearview camera, and MyKey, the parental control system that sets for a young driver, a number of electronic restrictions and instructions. There are also additional available must-haves such as a 180-degree front camera, forward-collision warning system with brake priming, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning system (with rear-cross traffic alert) and inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers. The 2016 Explorer also earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) five-star rating for overall, frontal and side crash protection.
The 2016 Ford Explorer is a hauler that most families need all the time. It is definitely a vehicle for those who regularly transport lots of passengers and stuff, and those who tow heavy loads, should find it a pretty worthy purchase.
Prices start at $31,050. Need more info? www.Ford.com