Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2016 Ford Explorer: Better and More Refined than Before

The new Ford Explorer has huge shoes to fill.  For years the Explorer has been a serious fan favorite in the mid-sized SUV segment with its long history of outstanding performance, excellent power, and good off road capabilities all at prices that many can afford.  The Explorer has been a longstanding competitor and continues to improve upon itself to offer more equipment, better interior refinements, and a distinct style that appears to be right out of the Land Rover playbook.  The Platinum model is all new for this year and gives us a great deal more to enjoy, but the top of the line isn’t the only place we see some awesome upgrades as the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine adds more to other models as well.

Since we are talking engines, let’s start there for the Explorer.  The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers 290 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque.  This engine offers a range of fuel mileages from 17 city on up to 24 hwy and can be fitted with FWD or 4WD along with being mated to the only transmission on the Explorer which is a six-speed automatic.

The new EcoBoost engine is a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that gives this SUV 270 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque.  This increase in torque helps make up for the lack of horsepower compared to the base engine, according to Ray Skillman, allowing for this model to behave similarly to a diesel engine.  This may be the choice for more buyers as it is available with AWD and improves the fuel numbers significantly.

The engine offered for the Sport and Platinum models is the 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that offers up to 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque.  This beastly engine gives you a much better power push and still keeps fuel numbers in check from the turbocharges showing up at 16 city/22 hwy mpg.  This engine is set up only in 4WD, making it the perfect choice for just about all driving situations.

New models show up each year for a couple of reasons.  One of which is to improve upon the previous model with newer and better technology which helps to give us as shoppers a better choice than the previous year.  The second is to address problems that may have arisen from some of the technology added to a vehicle.  The Explorer does this by using buttons instead of all touch screen controls.  The change is significant and makes it easier for a driver to control all aspects of the driving experience in the Explorer versus having to read the touchscreen and wonder if you overdid the adjustment you made.

Improving upon the previous year, the Terrain ManagementSystem of the Explorer makes it much easier to enjoy this four-wheel drive truck and experience the driving comfort and performance that resembles that of a car.  The Terrain Management System does this by offering a selection for different driving conditions that can be adjusted with a simple touch of a button to get the driving performance needed whether out in the wilderness or on the road.

The interior of the Explorer allows seating for up to seven across three rows of seats.  This is one vehicle that allows room for full size adults in the third row and the second row is able to be either a bench for three or have tow buckets.  The cargo space is ample, especially when the seats are folded down making it easy to bring home whatever is needed from the store to have a great weekend of projects or camping.

On the outside the Explorer is still one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road.  The new LED low-beam headlights are a standard feature that really upgrade the SUV along with the new grill and bumper.  There is an addition of a front-view camera that allows for the front parking sensors to be aided and make it easy to maneuver into a parking space in just about any lot.  This also is helpful feature when looking to park off road as well, giving you the ability to see obstacles that can be in your path.

The Explorer shows up with five trim levels, base, XLT, Limited, Sport and the all new Platinum.  The standard features offered for the base model are steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, LED low-beam headlights, Led taillights, 18-inch wheels, a rearview camera that uses a washer to help keep it clean, cruise control, air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system, Ford’s Sync, Ford’sMyKey which allows the programming of top speeds and other parameters for younger drivers and a trailer Sway Control for easier towing.  Having all this on the base model makes it easy to see why we have loved the Explorer for so long already.

Moving up the lineup can gain a ton of great features for the Explorer.  The XLT model brings in leather seats, a navigation system, blind spot detection, inflatable rear seatbelts, dual zone automatic climate controls and a dual panel moonroof.  The Limited and Sport add even more features to enjoy while the all new Platinum shows up with a high-end leather seating, a premium audio system, a leather covered dashboard along with many other luxury features to make this version of the Explorer the truly luxury version for those of us with a bit of higher budget to truly enjoy.

Driving an Explorer has gone from being a truck-like stiff ride to one that is honed to be exciting and controlled, almost like driving a car.  As one of the most popular SUVs on the market, the Ford Explorer has always been a favorite among us and continues to offer some of the best features and most active driving for all of us to enjoy.  Whether your Explorer will be taken off road for an adventure or be simply used as a people mover from activity to event for you children, the Explorer continues to make one of the best choices in the mid-sized SUV segment.   

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