Ford has reinvented its Explorer, making it more modern in an effort to keep up with today's families. But are the changes a good thing or bad thing? That's the question we went into with our latest video road test.
With any SUV, utility is key. The Explorer's interior is spacious, and the seats are flexible. The second-row seat has good head and leg room for adults, and the extra five inches of width is noticeable. Two adults and a small child will be comfortable in the rear seats. There's no sliding function on the second-row seats, but there is a tilt mechanism that allows you to get into the standard third-row seats. It's pretty cramped in the third row, making it mostly suited for small children.
The third row is power-operated in some models, and folds flat, giving the Explorer 21 cubic feet of cargo room, but with the seat up the cargo room drops dramatically. With both the second and third row folded down, the Explorer offers 81 cubic feet of cargo space, giving you more than enough space for the Costco run.
The Explorer is rated by the EPA at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with the V-6 and with power only going to the front wheels. Add all-wheel drive and you'll lose 1 mpg in on the highway for a 23-mpg highway rating. The available four-cylinder EcoBoost engine ups the ratings to 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, but remember, it's front-wheel drive only.
The IIHS named the latest Explorer a Top Safety Pick, and the crossover offers a comprehensive safety package, with front, side, and curtain airbags, along with new optional inflatable rear-seat belts. Visibility is good, but the thick C-pillars create rather large blind spots.
With a base price of just under $29,000, the Explorer carries the usual power features you''d expect. Our tester, a Limited, carried a sticker price of just over $46,000, and the list of standard equipment fits the price tag--including the complex MyFord Touch system, which replaces buttons and switches with voice commands, an LCD touchscreen, and steering-wheel controls.
Offering more technology, and more luxury than ever, with a higher price tag than ever, the latest Explorer is a trucky SUV no more. It's a sophisticated crossover vehicle with some towing and all-weather capability to go with some very advanced technology--both under the hood, and on the dash.