Best-selling three-row SUV in America? The Ford Explorer, you bet. Available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the Explorer is offered as a 3.5-liter V-6 (290 horsepower); 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 (365 hp); or the 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder turbo (280 hp). As you can see, that’s plenty of choices to “explore” the horizon.
But, the crisp-shifting 6-speed auto is still the only transmission. In fact, for a vehicle that weighs over 4,500 pounds, this Ford moves with remarkable agility and sure-footedness. Some of the credit goes to the MacPherson strut front and independent multilink rear suspension.
Indeed, the Explorer delivers a civilized and composed ride with impressive handling, crisp steering and superb balance. For an excellent on-center response, the SUV is equipped with the electric power steering, making it effortless to dodge sharp and sudden turns on the road.
How come it is so quiet in the cabin at highway speeds? We wondered. That can be attributed to low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. If you are looking to haul a small boat to the beach during those warm months, then count on a 5,000-pound tow capacity. And, for that trip up north this winter, you can securely select ‘snow’; other modes are normal, mud and sand.
The Explorer sports a robust but pleasing-to-the-eye appearance, thanks to LED headlights that surround a distinct grille with satin chrome finish. But, what we find even more appealing is the EXPLORER embossed in the lift gate applique. It truly stands out.
We found the interior to be good-looking with plenty of comforts and stylish enhancements, from real wood and aluminum appliques to Nirvana leather, in the Platinum trim. Though manual, the robust tilt/telescopic steering column in the base trim is functional.
Need to access the third-row 50/50 seat? That should be trouble-free with the seatback moving forward for stress-free ingress/egress. Well-placed cubbies are plentiful, plus you have the hefty center console to store personal items out of sight.
No one can quibble about the 4.2-inch touch screen, which displays audio, phone and navigation controls. It is bright and crystal-clear to read and operate. We liked the especially large, centered volume knob in the center stack.
Basic safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for all rows, front-passenger knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, rearview camera, trailer sway control, antiskid system with rollover sensors and a blind spot monitor.
Any road, anytime, anywhere. That’s how the Detroit carmaker has summed up the Explorer in the past. Whether you are testing its off-road prowess or on-road capability, this best-seller has you covered.
An accommodating cabin, athletic looks, and array of power trains and models (base, XLT, Limited, Sport, Platinum) are further incentive to sign on the dotted line.
EXPLORER (Base, 3.5-liter)
Wheelbase: 112.8 inches
Length: 198.7 inches
Height: 70 inches
Width: 78.9 inches
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gallons
City: 16 mpg
Highway: 22 mpg
Starting price: $32,365
Web site: FordOfWesleyChapel.com
Test drive the Explorer and other Ford vehicles at Parks Ford of Wesley Chapel, 28739 State Road 54, Wesley Chapel. For more information, call the dealership at (813) 907-7800.
Published December 19, 2018