The Ford Explorer stays in a close race with the Jeep Grand Cherokee for the widest, most technologically advanced set of features available in its segment. It's beyond what any Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot offers--even beyond what you'll find at some luxury brands.Each Explorer comes with standard features you'd expect for a $30,000 crossovers. It has power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; steering-wheel audio controls; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel; and an AM/FM/CD player with an auxiliary jack. The Explorer XLT adds on 18-inch wheels; satellite radio; a sport-shift mode for the automatic transmission; and reverse parking sensors.
For about $40,000, the Explorer Limited gains leather seating; pushbutton start; ambient lighting; a Sony sound system; a media hub with twin USB ports (one for 3G or 4G dongles that turn the Explorer into a mobile WiFi station), an SD card slot and RCA jacks; power-adjustable pedals; SYNC and MyFord Touch; and a rearview camera, all standard
MyFord Touch is a complex and controversial system in any Ford, and in the Explorer it behaves as temperamentally as in any other applications. The idea is to trade buttons and switches for LCD touchscreens, voice commands, and steering-wheel controls, so that drivers can run functions like audio or navigation more safely. Not only does it take time getting used to, the benefits of the system don't emerge after short stints at the wheel. Even since Ford's major update to the system in 2013, we've experienced difficulties connecting to Bluetooth audio with some very new iPhones--and as it has since launch, the voice-command system only has about a 75-percent accuracy rate for our natural speech patterns. The good news: if you're tech-eager it's available, and if you're not, it's an option on lower-trim Explorers. And if you still want the SYNC Bluetooth features, Ford's now offering that separately on less pricey models.
Other Explorer options include a power sunroof; a heated steering wheel; automatic headlamps; navigation system; premium audio; 20-inch wheels; ventilated seats; active park assist; and a power third-row seat. Inflatable rear seat belts now come in a package with blind-spot monitors.
On these models, Ford offers an engine option too, its EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. It provides more torque and nearly the same horsepower as the V-6 engine, but acceleration with more than a passenger or two can be labored. If fuel economy's a concern, and you tend to drive alone, it could be a reasonable choice.New for 2013, the Ford Explorer Sport offers a turbo V-6 drivetrain, with standard all-wheel drive and Terrain Management. Along with its own wheels and styling filigrees--the "Explorer" name across the nose and 20-inch wheels--the Sport adds standard SYNC, MyFord Touch, and a media hub with dual USB ports, an SD card slot and a set of RCA jacks. Safety equipment includes a standard rearview camera and options for blind-spot monitors, active park assist, and a set of inflatable rear seat belts. As for luxury touches, the Explorer Sport has power front heated seats; automatic climate control; and a Sony audio system with HD radio and 12 speakers. Options include a navigation system; a DVD entertainment system; remote start; a dual-pane sunroof; a power tailgate; a tow package; active park assist; blind-spot monitors; inflatable rear seat belts; and adjustable pedals.