2010 Ford Explorer Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 5, 2009

For a truck-based SUV, the Ford is versatile and capable, with a great interior and a number of safety and entertainment features. For a smoother ride, consider a car-based SUV instead.

The editors of TheCarConnection.com have driven the Ford Explorer in several different trims and bring you firsthand observations and buying advice here in a brief Bottom Line assessment. Additionally, TheCarConnection.com has looked at what other professionals have said and included it as part of a comprehensive Full Review.

Back in the early 1990s, the Ford Explorer quickly became one of the most popular family vehicles. Thankfully Ford has kept the Explorer reasonably up-to-date; the current version of the Explorer, introduced in 2006, is the best one yet in terms of promising trucklike towing and hauling ability, while still also allowing comfortable and safe transport. That said, it must also be acknowledged that today there are also better options for a roomy, versatile family vehicle.

In the Ford lineup, the 2010 Ford Explorer is just below the Expedition and ahead of the Taurus X, Flex, Edge, and Escape in terms of exterior size and capabilities. While the Explorer is technically classified as a mid-size SUV, it can still seat up to seven passengers and tow an impressive 7,285 pounds.

The standard drivetrain for the Ford Explorer is a 210-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 matched with a five-speed automatic. There is an optional 292-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 powerplant that comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. Both engines come with standard rear-wheel drive, but can be mated with a choice of Ford's ControlTrac four-wheel-drive system or full-time all-wheel drive if you need extra grip.
The V-6 engine in the 2010 Explorer is far noisier and less refined than the V-8, as the smaller engine has an aged design that must work harder to keep the Explorer hustling along. Like its Ford Explorer Sport Trac sibling, the Explorer's V-8 with the six-speed transmission manages to get superior fuel economy numbers than the V-6 model. Meanwhile, that clean exterior shape certainly helps keep wind noise to a minimum.

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Along with tougher off-road capability and higher tow ratings, people still buy this type of SUV for its versatility and the high seating position. The 2010 Ford Explorer delivers on most of these counts. It's not very off-road-capable, but it's a good choice for towing a small boat or trailer of ATVs. Meanwhile, the ride is smoother than that of other truck-based utes, and the independent rear suspension adds to its stability and responsive handling, but make no mistake. Editors of TheCarConnection.com are impressed with the interior quality of the Ford Explorer. If you want a more carlike ride, there are many crossovers to consider. For more versatility, there is also Ford's Explorer Sport Trac, which adds a cargo bed to the Explorer.

Safety-wise, the AdvanceTrac (electronic stability control) system with roll stability control comes as standard, and performance in government crash tests is good. There is also a standard Trailer Sway control feature that works with the AdvanceTrac and Roll Stability systems to keep trailers under control during towing.

Ford brings the Explorer into the 2010 model year with the familiar base XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited trim levels. Last year's XLT Sport package returns for the 2010 lineup as well. Feature-wise, the 2010 Ford Explorer offers just about anything a buyer might want in an SUV, including a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a power-folding third-row seat (which increases the Explorer's seating capacity to seven). Also available is the next -generation voice-activated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link.

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