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2011 Ford Explorer Photo
8.0
/ 10
On Styling
BASE INVOICE
$26,886
BASE MSRP
$28,360
On Styling
A convincing SUV body and a striking, well-executed interior give the 2011 Ford Explorer a visual leg up on almost every other crossover, even the expensive German ones.
8.0 out of 10
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STYLING | 8 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

Ford designers have wrapped the 2011 in muscular sheetmetal that makes the exit vehicle look as dated and dowdy as... well... it is.
Autoblog

it’s finished in piano black which looks very classy.
Automobile

Ford has been trying to make its interiors not just practical but more visually appealing, and it certainly succeeded here.
New York Times

Its dashboard is trimmed in soft "pleather" with rounded edges, and its center console is shiny piano black that's pretty until it's smeared with fingerprints.
Los Angeles Times

The reborn 2011 Ford Explorer may look rough and rugged on the outside, but beneath the skin, this three-row SUV has more in common with Ford's Taurus sedan than a truck.
Popular Mechanics

The old Explorer was a truck that pretended to a higher level of sophistication; this one does a Meryl Streep take on the peculiar SUV dialect, nailing the finer points and going a long way to winning you over to its interpretation with a few subtle twists.

There's more SUV in the new 2011 Ford Explorer's sheetmetal, than anywhere else in or on the new ute. If you're worried passers-by will know you're driving a family vehicle, though, don't. The Explorer's body looks as trucky as ever, in the best way possible. Follow its angled sheetmetal around the car, and and you'll pick up on the slight rolled corners and embossed sides that give a gentle carlike nudge to the upright shape. It telegraphs "SUV" more than you might think possible, since the undergear also comes in Taurus SHO form.

That high hood, the tall grille and those thick horizontal ribs conspire with the distinct angle of the C-pillar to hark back to the days when the Explorer was the best-selling wagon in America.  Details like the perforated grille pieces and big winged taillamps and a minivan-ish tailgate are more like the pieces you'd see on passenger cars, but they tend to fade into the background, behind the sport-ute talking points.

Once you're inside the Explorer cabin, the SUV impression falls apart--for good reasons. The oldest Explorer had a miserable interior, and the last version was simply boring and plain. This time Ford pointed out Audi and BMW interiors as their targets. Given the knockout interiors in the new Flex and F-150, the Explorer's convincing, well-made cabin knocks off some of those high-falutin' targets, easily. The Explorer dash is far more handsome than, say, the Audi Q7; it's on a plane way above the gross-grained Honda Pilot and the spotty Toyota Highlander. The new Jeep Grand Cherokee comes close to the Explorer's virtuosity, the Dodge Durango, a little closer even--but the Explorer's nifty blend of LCD gauges and screens, those exclamation points of metallic plastic on the center stack, and the tight fits between lots of dissimilar pieces, make the cabin exceptional.

Conclusion

A convincing SUV body and a striking, well-executed interior give the 2011 Ford Explorer a visual leg up on almost every other crossover, even the expensive German ones.

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