From its sport-utility roots, the Explorer has evolved into a proper family crossover in its current form. It's done a better job than most at preserving some of the authority of its SUV roots in a look that's taut and modern.
The softer lines have a more convincing silhouette than, say, a Chevrolet Traverse. There are clean edges, sharp corners, and a fair amount of texture applied to the Explorer's grille and details. We wouldn't go so far as to call it rugged, but the outline is a fond reinterpretation of what made the Explorer a success in the first place. The Explorer's visual DNA may be purely on loan here, but the tall body, big glass areas and the three-bar grille peg it as a Ford as much as its outline.
Explorer-spotters will notice the differences in trim levels. Sport versions have a darker grille and special wheels, while Platinum models get LED lighting and distinctive trim.
Inside, the current Explorer makes no attempt to give nod to the past—and that's perfectly fine. Early Explorers had miserable, plasticky interiors, which got better as it was groomed upmarket. This one's up there with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango in tailored good looks, with maybe a half-degree more of the contemporary in its win column, thanks to those exclamation points of metallic plastic on the center stack. Audi and BMW are in its crosshairs, Ford says, and the Explorer delivers, in almost the same way the Flex and F-150 do.