The acreage of SUVs with three rows of seats is crowded, so aback automakers cycle out redesigned models, they accept to get it appropriate or the antagonism will eat them for lunch. Ford’s 2016 redesign of the Explorer is abundantly successful, accepting focused on a few areas that absolutely bare advance or absolute replacement.
The 2016 Ford Explorer is affable to drive and offers an bigger autogenous and agent option, but accepting the best out of Ford’s improvements will amount you.
The seven-seat Explorer’s advanced end has been restyled, and there’s a new turbocharged, 2.3-liter four-cylinder agent available; the antecedent turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder has been dropped. There’s additionally a new high-end Platinum trim akin in accession to the base, XLT, Limited and Sport trims. Those are the above changes for 2016, and you can analyze the 2016 to the 2015 here.
The Explorer’s competitors accommodate the Toyota Highlander, the redesigned-for-2016 Honda Pilot, the Chevrolet Traverse and the Dodge Journey. Analyze them here, admitting agenda that specs for the Pilot are not accessible as of this writing. The higher-priced Platinum trim competes with cartage such as the GMC Acadia Denali and Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit.
I collection XLT, Limited and Sport versions of the Explorer, as able-bodied as all three accessible engines in the hills alfresco San Diego. I additionally saw an Explorer Platinum, but it was not accessible for alleyway tests.
Ford says aggregate in advanced of the A-pillar is new: hood, fenders, headlights, grille and fog lights. In back, the liftgate and taillights are new. Despite the account of changes, the Explorer still resembles the antecedent model, it’s aloof a bit added sculpted. Ford said the attenuate changes were deliberate, as abstracts appearance Explorer buyers adopted the “SUV-ness” of the antecedent adaptation to wagon-like crossover styling.
From the outside, the easiest way to analyze the trim levels is to attending at the aperture handles and grille. Abject models accept atramentous artificial handles and a gray grille; Ford Explorer XLT models accept body-colored aperture handles and a lighter gray grille; Limited models accept chrome aperture handles and a ablaze argent grille; the Ford Explorer Sport models accept gloss-black aperture handles and a grille with gloss-black bars; and Platinum models accept glassy chrome aperture handles and grille.
Overall, the Explorer looks acceptable and does what Ford said it bare to do: absorb its SUV-ness.
The abject engine, as was accurate in 2015, is a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 255 pounds-feet of torque. It provides appropriate adeptness and pulls accurately abroad from stoplights and to accomplish passes, but shoppers because the Explorer would be brash to at atomic try the new agent option.
The new agent is a 280-hp, turbocharged (“EcoBoost” in Ford-speak) 2.3-liter four-cylinder, which is a $995 option. It, like all added Explorer engines, is akin to a six-speed automated transmission. The aggregate is able-bodied executed.
The 2.3-liter engine’s 310 pounds-feet of torque is what keeps you from cerebration you’re alive article with too baby of an engine. In our arresting analysis drives, it provided abundant adeptness to cull abroad from a asleep stop and accomplish passes adequately easily. The bond with the six-speed manual helps, too, as there aren’t as abounding apparatus to bang bottomward through afore the billow in adeptness happens.
You do faculty that it’s a turbo engine; there can be a slight lag while accelerating, and aback the adeptness does appear it tends to blitz on rather than advance in a beeline fashion. It’s not a bad sensation, but if you’re new to turbos you’ll apprehension article … different. Overall, it’s a smooth, quiet agent that’s agreeable to drive.
The 2.3-liter agent can be had with a tow amalgamation and all-wheel drive (unlike the antecedent four-cylinder models that were front-drive only). That’s a bare change, abnormally as best SUV buyers opt for all-wheel drive in the aboriginal place.
For shoppers who appetite alike added power, Ford continues to action an Explorer Sport with a 365-hp, turbocharged V-6 that makes 350 pounds-feet of torque. It additionally has hardly firmer abeyance affability and a quicker council adjustment than the added models. It was the best fun of the three to drive on absolutely arced roads, as you’d expect.
In all models, alike the Sport, the Explorer’s ride is actual good. It charcoal composed and anticipated over asperous pavement. I never acquainted jolted or jostled while alive or benumbed shotgun in the Explorer, and the SUV was abundantly accommodating to accomplish quick changes in administration aback needed.
The Explorer is the nicest to drive of its boilerplate competitors, alms a composed ride and dynamics that animate you to advance the vehicle. The competitors are about able to bout the Explorer’s adequate ride, but I acquisition them awkward aback I appetite to accomplish a quick lane change. The Explorer aloof feels added buried and secure.
The abject 3.5-liter V-6 agent gets 17/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined ammunition abridgement with front-wheel drive and 16/23/19 mpg with all-wheel drive. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder agent gets 19/28/22 mpg with front-wheel drive and 18/26/21 mpg with all-wheel drive. Finally, the turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 in Sport versions gets 16/22/18 mpg ammunition abridgement and is alone accessible with all-wheel drive.
Aback compared to the all-wheel-drive Traverse’s, Journey’s and Highlander’s figures, the accumulated breadth of the Explorer’s abject agent (19 mpg) matches the Traverse’s and Journey’s 19 mpg, and it’s aloof abaft the Highlander’s amount of 20 mpg. The breadth accretion with the alternative agent is alone a brace mpg, but the alive characteristics — rather than the breadth — would be abundant to amplitude me in its direction.
The arch allotment of the autogenous is how adamant the architecture is in the XLT, Limited and Sport versions we tested. Trim pieces don’t aloof end at the dashboard; they blanket about to the doors. Likewise, all doors — including the rear ones — accept three trim elements to them, and if there’s a allotment of trim that extends the breadth of the advanced doors, it additionally extends the abounding breadth of the rear doors. For too long, rear cartage accept been larboard out of nice styling, and the 2016 Explorer works to actual that.
The trim pieces in the Explorer are of acceptable quality. There’s an aluminum-like accomplishment in XLT models, a carbon-fiber-esque artificial in the Sport and a copse trim in the Limited. All are able-bodied executed.
The Platinum adaptation is a aggressive access into the affluence class. It looks flush to the point that I admiration if Ford’s affluence Lincoln analysis will be appropriation addendum on how the autogenous is done. Notably, the Platinum adaptation appearance absolute copse and aluminum inlays, and the copse trim has a bright accomplishment instead of the Limited’s matte finish.
Second-row allowance is additionally noteworthy. Alike in models with the second-row moonroof, I wasn’t bankrupt for headroom. Knee and accept allowance was additionally good, and I was able to sit up as if I were in a chair, which is nice. Abject models appear alone with a 60/40-split folding additional row that accommodates three passengers; all added trims accord you the advantage of two captain’s chairs for a absolute of six occupants rather than seven.
It’s not accessible to ascend into the third row, and already built-in it’s absolutely bound and the added acquainted appealing uncomfortable. I’d acclaim it alone for baby accouchement and/or the abnormally agile association amid us.
Likewise, Ford additionally redesigned the driver’s footrest (called a asleep pedal). The footrest now has a steeper (more vertical) bend to it, which has the aftereffect of blame it aback about 2 inches, aperture up added attic space. Ford says that provides allowance for bodies who adopt to put their larboard bottom collapsed on the floor. The new footrest is additionally narrower, and I acquainted it captivated my bottom at a hardly aberrant angle, as if the top of my bottom were pointing entering against the anchor pedal. I accept ample feet, but I’m not awash on this adjustment for anyone.
Lastly, afterimage is abundantly good, admitting the A-pillars crabbed the windshield abide large. They weren’t an affair on my drive, but we didn’t absorb abundant time in a city, breadth pedestrians dispatch off the barrier unpredictably is the best analysis of visibility. Like the footrest, I wouldn’t adjudge the Explorer’s afterimage outright, but I’d appetite to analysis it added afore giving it a brand of approval.
Ford abundantly nailed the updates actuality aloof by active to bodies and bringing aback absolute buttons for the altitude controls and added functions. What acclimated to be a console of touch-sensitive curve now has automated buttons and knobs that accord you aplomb that you have, in fact, angry on your cooled bench and not aloof larboard fingerprints on your interior.
What I absolutely like about this is it makes alive with the touch-screen easier. What’s on the touch-screen now — navigation, multimedia, etc. — is what should be on the screen. That’s a above advance and article added automakers adeptness appetite to booty a attending at.
A new alternative affection for the Explorer is a front-facing camera that offers a 180-degree view. Mounted in the advanced of the grille, the camera provides a appearance that helps aback you’re affairs out of an alleyway assimilate a alive street, for example. It’s a accessible affection that I achievement becomes added accepted in affordable vehicles.
Likewise, Ford has washers that apple-pie the lenses of both the advanced and rear cameras, and that’s additionally a accessible affection that I achievement will accretion accepting beyond the automotive industry.
The Explorer’s alive parking abetment affection additionally gets an update, abacus park-out abetment and perpendicular-parking abetment in accession to semiautomatic alongside parking, which allows the car to handle action into and out of a spot.
Finally, Ford has brought its hands-free liftgate affection to the Explorer. With the feature, a bang of the leg beneath the bonanza triggers the adeptness liftgate aback your calmly are abounding of advantage or added items. It’s accessible on the XLT and Sport and accepted on Limited and Platinum trims. I’ve had little luck accepting the arrangement to assignment consistently on added Ford models, though. It seems I’m rarely able to bang my bottom in aloof the appropriate abode to accomplish the arrangement activate, and appropriation a bottom while captivation article abundant isn’t consistently the best move. Hyundai adeptness accept the bigger arrangement on the Santa Fe; the powered liftgate there opens automatically aback you angle abaft the agent for a few abnormal (and a few aural beeps) with the key fob on your person.
The adeptness to backpack burden in any three-row SUV comes bottomward to whether you accept the rear seats up. If you do, the Explorer has aloof a baby breadth abaft the third-row seats that Ford says offers 21 cubic anxiety of space. (Just to accord you an abstraction of how baby a amplitude that is, it compares to 23.8 cubic anxiety in a bunched Ford Focus SE hatchback.)
Compared with the 2015 Chevrolet Traverse, 2015 Dodge Journey and 2015 Toyota Highlander, the Explorer trails the Traverse’s 24.4 cubic anxiety but beats the Journey’s 10.7 cubic anxiety and the Highlander’s 13.8 cubic feet.
While the Explorer’s amplitude is small, a bigger affair for me is the arresting able-bodied beneath bonanza akin that would accomplish loading abundant items aback there a bit of a chore.
With the third row stowed, there’s a abundant beyond breadth that would calmly absorb up several roller accoutrements additional added luggage, so I don’t anticipate a ancestors of four activity to the airport would accept to scrimp on what they agitated unless they were heavy packers.
Lastly, with all seats folded, the Explorer has a best burden accommodation of 80.7 cubic feet. This trails the Traverse (116.3 cubic feet) and Highlander (82.6 cubic feet), but beats the Journey (67.6 cubic feet).
The 2016 Ford Explorer has not been crash-tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Assurance or the National Highway Traffic Assurance Administration.
Notable assurance appearance accommodate accessible forward-collision admonishing with free braking, lane befitting assist, dark atom ecology and rear cross-traffic alert. You can analysis all the assurance appearance and options here.
Ford isn’t adopting the amount of the abject Explorer, but every added trim sees a amount increase. The new top-of-the-line Platinum archetypal will alpha at $53,495 (all prices accommodate an $895 destination charge). Ford fatigued that it’s not anxious about accepting a $53,000-plus Explorer, because analysis indicates buyers appetite article richer than the aforetime top-of-the-line Sport. Time will tell.
The Platinum archetypal will be absorbing to watch, as I anticipate both its autogenous affection and all-embracing autogenous architecture are bigger than either the GMC Acadia Denali or the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. The ultimate analysis will appear aback we can drive a Platinum model.
I was afflicted with the achievement of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder to the point that, alike admitting it’s a about $1,000 option, I anticipate all shoppers because the abject 3.5-liter agent should at atomic try the alternative engine.
And speaking of options, that’s apparently the Explorer’s better shortcoming: Yes, it’s got a lot of well-executed technology, but the amount adds up quickly. I configured a Ford Explorer Limited with the options I’d absolutely appetite — the rear cross-traffic active system, advanced cameras, moonroof and the 2.3-liter EcoBoost agent — and the sticker amount was $48,785.
That’s big-ticket for this class, and alike added so aback you accede some options — conspicuously adaptive cruise ascendancy — that I skipped. However, competitors such as the Grand Cherokee, Acadia Denali, Highlander and Traverse don’t alike action a advanced camera.
In the end, the accommodation to buy the Explorer will be based on how abundant shoppers like the alive acquaintance and options, and how accommodating and able they are to pay for them.
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