Times have changed and the urge for truck based sport utility vehicles are slowly fading away. Car based sport utility vehicles are all the rage. The benefits is they are lighter, safer and much more fuel efficient. While the Explorer has always been a truck based sport utility vehicle, will Ford be able to retain their loyal fan base of the vehicle? Or is it another case of new trend nothing new?
Performance: The Explorer comes with three engine choices. A 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 240hp, a 3.5-liter V6 producing 290hp and the top of the range 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 producing 365hp. We have yet to test drive either 3.5-liter engines. Our tester car came with the 2-liter turbo engine which is good for around town driving and highway driving. However, if you desire extra oomph we'd say go for the 3.5L V6 with front wheel-drive which is slightly cheaper. You'll have to pay extra for the four-wheel-drive system which is only available on the 3.5-liter engines.
Ride & Handling: The Explorer rides very securely and feels smooth around town. Handling isn't great but it does respond well when you need it to. Most drivers won't really care too much about handling, but ride comfort has to be good and the Explorer will not disappoint.
Refinement: On the highway the Explorer felt smooth and quiet. The cabin is well insulated and the overall refinement of the interior is very good. The turbo engine can get a little gruff at times, but this can be easily drained out by the radio.
Behind the wheel: The driver seat feels very comfortable and all the controls and dials are within easy reach of the driver's seat. The trim of the base vehicle doesn't feel as expensive or eye appealing as those of the higher trims, but the overall feel of the materials do impress.
Space & Practicality: There's plenty of space for five adults, with a third row seat that's best left to the kids. When you lower the third row seat, the boot becomes very spacious. There's enough space for five adults luggage for a weekend vacation.
Buying & Owning: The 2-liter turbo engine makes the most sense, but the only downside is you'll have to pay more than the 3.5L V6 with front-wheel-drive. Also the 2-liter engine doesn't offer four-wheel-drive which makes its appeal limited. But if you drive mostly around town and need the extra two seats, we'd say look else where. Your running costs will be high, while resale value is unknown because the Explorer is still too new to determine.
Equipment: The Explorer comes well equipped for the money. Base trim comes with CD-player, stability control and hill-start assist. You'll have to step up to XT trim for the leather wrapped steering wheel. Top of the range offers 20-inch alloy wheels, upgraded sound system and unique sporty grille.
Quality & reliability: Ford has drastically improved their products over the years. The interior of the Explorer is very impressive, all the materials feel long lasting. However, the question still remains if the Explorer mechanicals will hold up well as Ford's relaiblity record is still rather iffy.
Safety & Security: The Ford Explorer received high scores for both front and side collisons. Rollover protection is four stars which is also very good. All trims come with stability control and traction control. Anti-lock brakes are standard as well. Front and side curtain airbags are standard across the range as well as knee airbags for front passengers.
The Explorer is a good crossover but has limited appeal. The 2-liter turbo engine is good if you don't need to tow or carry seven passengers on a daily basis, but costs more than the 3.5-liter V6 which makes no sense. Also if you're going to buy a $30,000 vehicle alloy wheels should be standard without a question. Overall if you like the style of the Explorer and don't mind the little annoying faults, then this is a great car to own. However, we suggest looking at some of its rivals first. There are a few that can do the same tricks better for less money.
Devon's Pick: Most people won't really use their Explorer for off-road use and towing. This is why I suggest getting the 2-liter EcoBoost engine. It feels like an allround better deal than the 3.5-liter.
Likes: Stylish inside out, roomy interior with impressive quality, turbo four-cylinder surprisingly punchy, smooth ride comfort.
Dislikes: 2-liter turbo four costs more than the 3.5-liter front wheel drive. No alloy wheels on base trim, and the overall packaging of the base trim is rather disappointing.