2016 Ford Explorer Comfort & Quality

9.0
Comfort & Quality

The Explorer can seat up to seven passengers, but it's sized between the usual five-seat crossovers and the truly large seven- and eight-passenger 'utes—like the Ford Flex, the Honda Pilot, and the General Motors triplets (Acadia, Enclave, Traverse).

By the numbers, the Explorer measures 112.8 inches long between the wheels, 198.3 inches overall, and weighs between 4,400 and 4,900 pounds

The Explorer has very good front seats; the middle row is roomy but the cushion needs a touch-up.

In the first two rows, the Explorer never feels cramped for space, though we might ask Ford to put a little more effort into the rear-seat cushioning. The front seats feel like a parting gift from Volvo, which Ford used to own, and from which the Explorer's architecture is derived. The Explorer's front seats, even in basic versions, are supportive and comfortable. Softer cushions are paired with just enough side bolstering where you need it, and the seats are power-operated with heating control.

The Explorer's also designed with ample head room and leg room. Even ticking the sunroof on the options list won't cut into the overhead that much—and the same goes for the wide console, which doesn't trim leg room and knee room.

The seats in the second row are where things get a little limited. Three people can sit comfortably across the second row, but the middle person should be young or small, or both. Knee room is fine, head room is great, but the bottom cushion of the seat could be better tailored. It's short and angles down at its front edge. A pair of buckets can be ordered for the second row, and have the same cozy feel as those up front—without the optional ventilation, though.

The third-row seat is pretty cramped for adults, but it's more than adequate for children, who can climb into the narrow space created when you flip the middle row forward via an easy lever.

For cargo duty, the Explorer comes with a fold-away third-row seat, power-operated if you want. Power or fold the back seat and the middle seats, and the Explorer lays bare more than 81 cubic feet of cargo volume—almost all of it available for big, flat packages, since the seats fold nearly flat and wear an invulnerable grade of carpeting on their backs. With 21 cubic feet of space with the third row occupied by people, the storage space is fairly large, and lined with durable if inexpensive-looking plasticky material.  

While there’s no radical redesign that applies to the interior, there are some noteworthy changes. Real buttons have replaced touch-sensitive ones in many cases, and armrests have been raised and made softer. Ford has redone the door seals and introduced new engine subframe mounts that are tuned to reduce vibration, and the 2.3-liter EcoBoost models get a specially tuned exhaust system. All but the base model get acoustic glass for the windshield and front doors.

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