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The Ford Explorer is a crossover SUV by the American automaker that has been produced since 1991 and is currently in its fifth generation. It’s considered to be one of the most successful and popular representatives of the segment today.
Until 2010, the vehicle was classified as a body-on-frame mid-size SUV. Starting from the 2011 model year, the Explorer has been constructed as a full-size unibody crossover SUV (the platform shared with the Ford Taurus and Flex), sitting somewhere in between the Ford Edge and Ford Expedition.
The Ford Explorer of the 2016 model year holds its leading position in the class of three-row SUVs outperforming all the rivals, even new arrivals, despite its age. The vehicle vies the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, and some others.
The new Ford Explorer was significantly renovated to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the marque. It got redesigned exterior, a more functional and quieter cabin, longer list of features, and a new engine.
You’ll easily recognize the good old Ford Explorer in the new model although its appearance got several all-new features.
Smoother and tenderer lines run along its body, adding sophistication and premium feel to the SUV. It seems to be better finished in comparison to its predecessors.
The front end looks higher thanks to a redesigned three-bar grille. Rectangular headlamps wrapping the angles are supplemented by arrays of LED lights. In fact, the Explorer’s front resembles that of the Land Rover Range Rover (it’s a compliment in this case). The vehicle is equipped with a front view camera and front parking sensors.
The rear end of the Ford Explorer also was remade. In particular, it acquired new rear pillars, spoiler, and taillights.
The Ford Explorer is a vehicle for seven not only on paper but in actual practice, too. However, it isn’t as large as some seven/eight-seaters (the Buick Enclave, Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, or Chevrolet Traverse).
The seats at the front are soft, comfortable, and supportive for those body parts that need that support the most, especially on long trips. The vehicle provides a driver and a passenger with sufficient space despite a wide central console that could restrict knee room and a sunroof that could reduce head room. However, thick A-pillars restrict a view of the road for a driver.
As you get into the second-row seats, the situation changes a little. The bench should provide better comfort. Unfortunately, the cushions here aren’t as those of the front seats. They are placed at an angle and are short on top of everything. In general, knee and head room is excellent here but only on condition that a child, teenager, or a skinny adult occupies the seat in the middle. Only in such a case, three people can travel here. Nevertheless, you won’t suffer from backache after a long journey in the second-row seats in the Ford Explorer. You can order bucket seats instead of a bench in the second row.
The third-row seats are best-suitable for children or teenagers, or those who don’t need much space. There are no problems with accessing them. It’s pretty easy to do thanks to the second-row seats’ ability to fold down and slide forward (there’s a special lever for this function).
With the third-row seats in place, the Ford Explorer offers 21 cubic feet of cargo space. When they are folded down, it increases up to 43.9 cubic feet. There are 81 cubic feet of cargo space at your disposal when the third and second rows are folded flat.
Powertrain and Fuel Efficiency
The new Ford Explorers come with either front- or all-wheel drives. Regardless of the engine found under the bonnet, the vehicle exploits a six-speed automatic transmission available with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
A standard engine powering the Ford Explorer is a 3.5-litre V6 unit that makes 290 hp and 255 lb/ft of torque. The EPA estimated the FWD version at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg hwy (13 and 18 mpg respectively using E85) while the AWD version returns 17 mpg city and 23 mpg hwy (12 and 17 mpg respectively with E85).
A 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine powers the top-of-the-range Ford Explorer vehicles, Sport and Platinum. It produces 365 hp and 350 lb/ft of torque. According to the EPA, it covers 16 mpg city and 22 mpg hwy.
A new motor in the range is a 2.3-litre I4 turbocharged EcoBoost unit that’s capable of 270 hp and 300 lb/ft of torque. It’s also available with FWD and AWD layouts. The EPA hasn’t rated it yet.
There are just a few SUVs the Ford Explorer can rival in terms of technical equipment. One of them is the Jeep Cherokee. The Explorer, belonging to $31,600-53,500 price category, is equipped not worse than luxury vehicles. You can choose from five trim levels: the Base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum (new).
Even standard features of the Base model can be quite enough for some customers. They include cloth upholstery, AM/FM/CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, and SYNC voice control system as well as a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, rear-view camera, and power mirrors, locks, and windows. Among options are inflatable safety belts for rear-seat passengers, satellite radio, etc.
The next, XLT trim level provides power-adjustable front seats, keyless push-button start, rear parking sensors, 18-inch wheels, etc. by default. An option list includes 20-inch wheels, sunroof, power tailgate, front parking sensors, sat nav, MyFord Touch, and an upgraded audio system.
Move up to the Ford Explorer Limited model and you’ll get a front-view camera, sat nav, SYNC with MyFord Touch, Sony sound system, leather upholstery, etc.
The Sport version of the SUV adds such standard features as power-adjustable heated front seats, 12-speaker Sony sound system, HD radio, and automatic climate control while a range of options is supplemented with a dual sunroof, adjustable pedals, heated rear seats, blind spot monitors, active park assist, and some other features.
For the range-topping Platinum model, the Sport model’s options are turned into standard features adding 20-inch wheels, park and lane keep assist, digital instrument cluster, and adaptive cruise control.
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