My poor perception on the Explorer changed with the redesign around 2011 and the quality appeared to have improved. With the Ford Explorer receiving a significant new nose job for the 2016 year, it has finally received my full attention. I now can say that I really like the classy Range Rover front end. That new front end really adds a a nice, new, bold touch. It is about time that Ford, who previously owned Land Rover would finally add obvious upper end Land Rover styling cues onto their best selling SUV, just as Jaguar's and Volvo's design influence added elegance to Ford's car line.
With that in mind, I was curious to know how deep these upper market looks went. Does the look of refinement carry through all the way, or just how far? With this in mind I was eager to put the rig to the road and see what Ford was offering up.
My first drive was in a loaded 2016 Ford Explorer XLT, which I drove over a long 300 miles from the dealer lot here in Oregon, down to sunny California. Sunny is an understatement, as it was an uncomfortable 115 degrees that day. My biggest complaint of the Explorer (by far) was in my attempt to implement the cruise control, which took about 140 miles for me to figure out. This was by far, way more complicated to figure out than Ford's (lower trim line) 2016 F-250 pick-ups I have driven, or any of the other Fords I have driven throughout my life...or any other make for that matter. Towards the very end of my long drive, the last 10 miles in fact, on that hot summer day the tire pressure sensor system ceased to function and just left an error code in it's place.
Like the 2016 Explorer, most of my driving with the 2017 Explorer models were driven a on highways and freeways. I drove the XLT, Sport and Limited trim lines 200 miles plus each on the open highway/ freeway, which has formed my overall opinion.
The typical new car consumer will test drive the car they end up purchasing/leasing less than 10 miles before negotiating; perhaps leaving a knowledge gap and maybe some added anxiety when the negotiating begins.
With that thought in mind, I have highlighted some of my thoughts into a bit of shorthand below, for quick and easy understanding. Hopefully, for those interested in an Explorer it will help you zero in on the issues I discovered.
1. Heated & Cooled Front Seats are a must have in my book, in hot or cold climes.
2. Adaptive Cruise Control is great for long drives
3. The classy upscale Range Rover looks on the outside, now looks more like a Range Rover than a Range Rover does.
4. Cheaper to buy and likely maintain than a gasoline fed Land Rover
5. The long hood perspective from the drivers seat
6. A nice looking interior and dash with useful Information Displays
7. AWD and 4WD options
8. The Sport Trim Package has the best exterior appearance
9. The price is pretty cheap when compared to other SUV's in it's class
10. Safety features are great
The Not So Good, aka Bad:
1. The Engine didn't sound upscale or seem especially powerful
2. The Miles Per Gallon, leaves me wanting for a diesel option
3. Seat Position was off center, or the steering wheel was.
4. Driver Foot well, dead pedal is cramped, amplifying the seat position or steering wheel issue
5. Cruise Control Needlessly complicated to engage
6. Not as quiet on the freeway as I would like, road noise improvements missing
7. The Steering Wheel controls on the right side often accidentally hit while driving, resulting in unintentionally changing the radio selection
8. IIHS crash tests should be better than they are
With regards to item 3 and 4: If you are 6'2 or a taller person as I am, pay particular attention to your driving position. I noticed that on long drives my body was frequently contorted in such a way that my head would routinely almost miss the seat headrest. I would correct my body position and a short time later, because of the footwell crowding my position would be again at an angle and I would almost miss the seat headrest again.