2011 Ford Explorer
2011 Ford ExplorerEnlarge Photo
Overall Rating: 8.3
From the Third Row: A roomy third row and smooth carlike ride give rearmost passengers have a lot to be thankful for.
Bottom Line: The 2011 Ford Explorer a formidable shot right at the heart of the crossover market--one that's sure to pull some of the remaining SUV loyalists off their very high horses.
For many years, the Ford Explorer was at the heart of the family vehicle market, and you couldn't go more than three or four driveways in suburban-mall parking lots without seeing an Explorer. Times have changed a bit, and the market has migrated to more carlike crossover vehicles.
And now, Ford has followed, making the 2011 Explorer much more carlike, yet still rugged, and updated with all the latest in-cabin tech. Front and center for the driver and passenger is the new MyFord Touch, a touch-screen-based system that works with Sync Bluetooth connections and allows fingertip-swipe control of climate and nav, as well as audio functions for the excellent Sony sound system.
The new Explorer has just a skosh less people space than the seven-seat Flex, but its design has some advantages—and we love the third-row power seat-folding mechanism, which smartly positions into one of several settings without the need to reach, strain, or even hold a button down. There's still some off-road ability built in, but Ford has borrowed some of the best of Land Rover here with a multi-mode terrain-management system that lets you select that you need help with, say, Snow, and focus on staying safe while the kids are screaming in back.