Ford: Explorer News

Old 01-15-2019, 10:32 AM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts

Completing Ford’s 2020 Explorer range is the Hybrid version, joining the recently-unveiled ST in Detroit, alongside the regular model.

Powered by a 3.3-liter hybrid unit, the 2020 Explorer Hybrid is said to produced a combined system output of 318 HP. Meanwhile, it also has an EPA-estimated range of more than 500 miles (804 km), although that highly impressive number is strictly for the rear-wheel drive model, as actual range will vary.

“This new generation of Explorer recognizes that every family – and every driver – is unique,” stated Ford exec, Hau Thai-Tang. “With an all-new ST and all-new Hybrid, there truly is an Explorer for every adventure.”

Aside from its all-new 10-speed modular hybrid transmission, the 2020 Explorer Hybrid boasts a specially designed liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery, built directly into its chassis below the second-row seats, unlike with previous hybrid models. In turn, this helps preserve cargo and passenger space.

“Reduced cargo space in hybrids is a thing of the past for Ford costumers,” added Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer.

Future buyers will be able to purchase the Explorer Hybrid this summer, in Limited Edition trim only. Still, you get Active Noise Cancellation, Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+, leather seats with micro-perforation and accent stitching, second-row heated seats, a 14-speaker B&O premium sound system, a wireless phone charging pad and 10-way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Old 01-15-2019, 10:33 AM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts
The smaller screen here flows with the dash better than the iPad tower in the top trim.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Old 03-12-2019, 09:48 AM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts

We’ve all been there, on the side of the road with the jack in our hands getting ready to replace a deflated tire. All that’s about to become history in the 2020 Ford Explorerfor the most part, which is equipped with a very special tire made by Michelin.

Called the Selfseal, it’s lined with a sealant that has been designed to fill some of the most common punctures such as nails and screws, up to a quarter-inch (6.35 cm) in diameter.

This slows down the loss of air pressure to less than 15 pounds per square inch every week, according to Michelin’s internal testing, and will help users continue their journey without leaving the site with gravel on their knees.

“Nothing derails a family vacation like a flat tire”, said Ford’s Wheel and Tire engineer, Joseph Billman. “Explorer is the ultimate road trip family hauler – and it’s the perfect fit for these new Michelin Selfseal tires.”

Explorer Marketing Manager, Craig Patterson, added: “The all-new Explorer is designed to help our customers feel unstoppable and worry-free. The availability of these new Michelin Selfseal tires is another great example of that.”

Ford says the Explorer is the first-ever SUV to use Michelin’s Selfseal tires. Measuring 255/55 R20 in size, they are standard on the Platinum and Limited Hybrid four-wheel drive models, and optional on the two- and four-wheel drive versions of the Limited. Still, despite this new tech, all Explorers come with a regular spare wheel.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Old 03-12-2019, 09:49 AM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts
Maybe this can eliminate the need for the horribly stiff run-flats on some cars. It was such a comfort improvement going to a non-RFT, but not having a spare is a bit unnerving at times.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Old 03-12-2019, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 27,628
Received 2,247 Likes on 1,339 Posts
Hmm, curious to see how this design really works. If it doesn't drastically increase cost and doesn't have the NVH downsides (as you mentioned) of runflats, it could be the way to go.

The sealant and pump kit that some OEMs are using these days is a shitty way about it, but you would be surprised how many people don't know how to put on a spare tire by themselves.
Costco is online now  
Old 03-12-2019, 01:17 PM
Ex-OEM King
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Minnesnowta
Posts: 5,969
Received 1,756 Likes on 1,200 Posts
That sounds like an incredibly expensive tire to replace.
SamDoe1 is online now  
Old 03-12-2019, 01:17 PM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts
I imagine they'll be quite pricey at first, especially with the Explorer being the only OE with them for now.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Old 03-13-2019, 08:45 AM
Senior Moderator
fsttyms1's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Appleton WI
Age: 44
Posts: 81,359
Received 3,005 Likes on 2,085 Posts
Back in the 90s My dad used to have a Buick Park Avenue that had tires that would self seal from nail punctures Id still rather have a spare.

I like the new ST model. Ill try to wait a year to see if there are any issues then probably look at replacing the 13 sport. Hopefully Livernois tuning will really be able to turn up the wick on this thing.
fsttyms1 is offline  
Old 03-13-2019, 01:57 PM
Currently Post-Acura
MaxMike93's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Bergen County, NJ
Age: 26
Posts: 937
Received 105 Likes on 81 Posts
Originally Posted by SamDoe1 View Post
That sounds like an incredibly expensive tire to replace.
Wonder if this is going to be a repeat of them putting PAX on the Odyssey - incredibly expensive tire/wheel system put on a pedestrian "everyday" vehicle. But at least it doesn't sound so proprietary and difficult to replace with something else.

Side note: Dunlop RFTs for my Q50 run $400/each and there was no way I was going to buy a replacement set of them when the originals wore out, sounds like these will run even more.
MaxMike93 is offline  
Old 03-18-2019, 01:41 PM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts
^ IIRC, the Odyssey PAX tires were incredibly heavy as well. I too bypassed the RFT on the C, saved >$400 that way, and ended with a better ride.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Old 03-20-2019, 09:38 AM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts

Migraine headaches, fatigue and dizziness were sidelining Bert Henriksen several times a week. Evenings were the worst, after his 30-mile commute home in his 2017 Ford Explorer.

His behavior grew erratic. He’d get angry over minor things. “We were getting scared that he had some kind of a brain problem,” said his wife, Megan.

An answer came last March in a phone call from his doctor: A blood test revealed that Henriksen had been exposed to toxic levels of carbon monoxide gas. But how? The result was consistent with someone who’d been in a house fire, his doctor said, but Henriksen hadn’t been through anything like that.

He says his prime suspect was parked in his driveway.

Henriksen is among more than 3,000 Ford Explorer owners who’ve complained to Ford or federal regulators that they suspect exhaust fumes have seeped into their sport-utility vehicles’ cabins. Many fear carbon monoxide gas may have made them ill, and dozens of drivers have complained to regulators that the company’s recommended fix wasn’t effective. Explorer owners have filed more than 50 legal claims nationwide against Ford. And some police departments in the U.S. said in 2017 that Explorers used as cruisers were exposing officers to carbon monoxide.

The complaints, which cover vehicles built between 2010 and 2018, carry high stakes for the second-largest U.S. automaker. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating drivers’ claims in 2016, then expanded the probe a year later after saying it had “preliminary evidence” of elevated carbon monoxide levels in some driving scenarios. If NHTSA finds a safety defect, Ford would face the prospect of recalling more than 1 million vehicles, costing perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ford, which in January debuted a redesigned Explorer for the 2020 model year, says there’s nothing wrong with the previous version. “All of our testing to date has shown these vehicles are safe,” company spokesman Mike Levine said in a statement. “Ford’s investigation has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day.”

The claims aren’t easy to investigate. For one thing, hospitals and doctors seldom test patients for exposure to carbon monoxide—Henriksen’s test was rare. Also, the U.S. has no regulatory standard for how much of the odorless, colorless, toxic gas would create a health risk for drivers, and scientists say the answer varies depending on individuals’ health and age. And drivers say the seepage problem comes and goes, complicating attempts to verify their allegations.

NHTSA’s task includes evaluating both what might be causing the alleged defect and what sort of health risk is posed to occupants by any pollutants in the cabin, a subject that global experts have just begun to study in recent years.

The fact that the agency’s investigation is well into its third year is “extraordinary,” said Allan Kam, an independent auto-safety consultant who retired as a senior enforcement attorney at the agency in 2000. It may signal that the probe isn’t a high priority—or it may reflect resource constraints at NHTSA’s Office of Defect Investigations, Kam said.

“It could be a serious problem,” he said, “and because it’s not like a crash where there’s an obvious impact or moment of danger, this is something that builds up over minutes but potentially could be very serious or deadly.”

Ford’s response to the claims has served to deepen some drivers’ mistrust. The company’s first attempt to quell the concerns—through repair instructions the company provided to dealerships in 2012 to respond to customers’ complaints—was followed by repeated updates and several additional instructions. Ford said it’s confident in its most recent repair campaign, which was offered in 2017 and is still in effect. Complaints have dropped dramatically since this latest effort, the company said, and the fix “effectively resolves the matter.”

And yet, for drivers like Bert Henriksen, it hasn’t. He now drives with a portable carbon monoxide detector in his Explorer, and he said it occasionally shows elevated levels of the gas. He invited Bloomberg News along for a ride.

There was very little sign of carbon monoxide during a 76-mile test drive near Henriksen’s home in South Lyon, Michigan, in January. One of two detectors in his vehicle registered only tiny amounts of the gas. The other showed zero.

“That’s the problem—it’s so sporadic,” he said. Ford twice sent engineers to examine his Explorer, Henriksen said, and they found no problem.

Explorer owner Dallas Haselhorst of Hays, Kansas, had a similar experience. Ford’s engineers twice found no issue with his vehicle, he said, even though his own carbon monoxide detector—which he attached to a third-row headrest after his wife said she smelled exhaust fumes—detected elevated levels every few weeks.

“It was a very frustrating experience,” Haselhorst said. “We knew what we were smelling.” Weeks would go by without any exhaust fumes or carbon monoxide readings and then both would appear, seemingly at random, he said. Haselhorst pressed his case nonetheless, and the company bought back his Explorer in December 2017.

In Henriksen’s case, Ford offered to buy his Explorer back after he sued the company under Michigan’s lemon law. He’s in the process of closing that deal now.

As of mid-2016, Ford had bought back roughly 100 Explorers from complaining drivers, according to federal records. “We have made buyback offers to certain customers as goodwill gestures,” Ford’s Levine said.

When it was introduced in 1990, the Explorer helped usher in an American obsession with SUVs, and Ford has sold more than 7 million of them. The fifth-generation Explorer arrived in the 2011 model year. The first complaints about exhaust fumes seeping into its cabin followed soon after.

One came from a Ford manager who was leasing an Explorer. Company engineers tested his vehicle and confirmed what they described as a slight exhaust odor under specific driving conditions: full-throttle acceleration while the climate-control system was in “recirculation” mode. Ford described those circumstances as outside “typical customer usage,” according to a letter the company sent NHTSA in August 2016.

Using recirculation mode created negative air pressure inside the cabin, which could draw in outside gases through gaps in the rear of the Explorer’s body, Ford’s letter said.

That letter didn’t address any potential flaws in the Explorer’s exhaust system itself, but records the company turned over to NHTSA indicate that Ford dealers found exhaust system leaks in roughly 50 Explorers between December 2011 and April 2016—all on vehicles with fewer than 100,000 miles.

That’s a “fairly high failure rate,” said Ed Kim, a senior analyst with industry consulting firm AutoPacific Inc. “These components should not be failing at such a high rate prior to reaching 100,000 miles.”

The records summarize about 2,300 warranty claims, and a Ford spokeswoman said the list of claims doesn’t represent an acknowledgement by the company that any of the vehicles had a safety issue.

The leaks were mostly found in the exhaust manifold and the catalytic converter, which in the Explorer are welded together to form a single part. Problems identified in the records included porous welds, cracks and poor fits with other components that allowed exhaust to escape before exiting the tailpipe. The reports indicate that installing new parts resolved owners’ complaints.

In a statement, Ford said its testing hasn’t found exhaust leaks “to be a contributor to the concern.”

Regardless of the cause, Explorers’ exhaust issues made national headlines in 2017: Police officers who used Explorers in California and Massachusetts tested positive for exposure to carbon monoxide. And police in Austin, Texas, pulled almost 400 so-called Explorer Police Interceptors from their fleet over carbon monoxide concerns. Austin police had Ford repair the vehicles and began returning them to service in late 2017. But as recently as last September, an officer from the Fall River Police Department in Massachusetts was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning after driving his police-issue Explorer, a department spokesman said. The department hadn’t sought repairs for that vehicle under Ford’s recommended service for police cruisers to address the carbon monoxide risk, he said.

Ford says the police problems differ from civilian complaints and stem from after-market modifications to the vehicles—like holes drilled in their bodies to allow for special wiring.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers argue otherwise. “It is an Explorer defect issue, period,” said Brian Chase, whose client, Brian McDowell, a former police officer, is suing Ford. McDowell passed out behind the wheel of an Explorer Police Interceptor at almost 50 miles per hour in 2015. He veered across several lanes of traffic before crashing into a tree. Ford has denied responsibility for McDowell’s accident or his injuries, according to court papers filed in the suit.

Spurred in part by media reports, some Explorer drivers around the country, like Henriksen, have used portable carbon-monoxide detectors to measure air quality in their vehicles. Some have reported alarming results.

An Eastlake, Ohio, driver found a concentration of 141 parts per million, according to an Oct. 19 complaint to NHTSA. Another in Kane, Pennsylvania, in 2014 reported a range of 75 to 100 ppm. One in Las Cruces, New Mexico, cited levels as high as 43 ppm in a 2013 Explorer, and one in Hughes Springs, Texas, reported 38 ppm. Carbon monoxide concentrations in the air typically register less than 2 ppm, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Levine, the Ford spokesman, said carbon monoxide should only be measured with scientifically calibrated detectors—which can cost several hundred dollars—and added that chemicals inside vehicles, such as vapors from cleaners, solvents and air fresheners, could cause false readings.

The deadly effects of exposure to high carbon monoxide levels are well known, but experts say chronic exposure to lower levels can also be unhealthy. While there’s no U.S. standard for interior air quality in motor vehicles, various agencies have set workplace limits, ranging from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 50 ppm to California state regulators’ 25 ppm. Both limits are average exposures over an eight-hour shift.

Even lower levels can still cause harm, especially to vulnerable people, such as the elderly, babies and people with heart disease, said Dr. Lindell Weaver, a physician and carbon monoxide expert in Salt Lake City. Workplace standards were written to protect otherwise healthy adults, not those vulnerable groups, he said, and they presume workers are at sea level, not higher elevations where carbon monoxide’s effects can be magnified.

“The situation and the individual factor into much of this, and that’s why having a hard and fast rule is difficult if not impossible,” he said.

In its August 2016 letter to NHTSA, Ford said the carbon monoxide it had found was well below established limits, but it cited an air-quality standard that experts say they can’t verify. Ford’s letter said the “Global Vehicle Interior Air Quality Standard” allows for continuous exposure to 25 ppm for an hour. But Google searches for that phrase showed no official use of it anywhere—except by Ford in its letter to NHTSA. A spokesman for Underwriters Laboratories, a U.S.-based product-safety certification company, said its subject experts were also unaware of any standard by that name.

Asked for more information about the standard, Ford didn’t provide any. Instead, its spokesman, Levine, said: “There is no single government standard specifically for vehicle interiors. Like all other automakers, Ford references a variety of government standards, guidelines and sources to ensure the safety of our vehicles.”

That’s not the only potential misstep the company has encountered. In a Louisiana case, a Ford representative attributed a couple’s problems with exhaust fumes in their Explorer to “a design issue”—just the sort of question NHTSA investigators are examining.

James and Faith Cassidy filed a lemon-law complaint against Ford, alleging that a defect in their 2013 Explorer allowed fumes and carbon monoxide to seep into the cabin, making Faith Cassidy ill. In non-binding arbitration, Ford representative Bob Gray testified in January 2015 that the Cassidys couldn’t pursue warranty claims because the company had tried but couldn’t solve the problem.

“It’s a design issue, not a defect,” Gray told the arbitrator, according to a transcript of the proceeding. “The fact that it’s being reported across the large number of vehicles would show that it’s not a defect in this particular vehicle.”

The arbitrator rejected the Cassidys’ claim, but Gray’s words will no doubt be used as evidence against Ford, said Chase, the lawyer for McDowell and several other police officers who say they were injured in Explorer crashes. “It’s a good admission, on the record,” he said.

Ford now says Gray was a contractor who misspoke, and that there is no design problem with the Explorer. Even so, when the Cassidys filed a lawsuit in 2015, the company sought a dismissal, arguing in part that the vehicle’s warranty didn’t cover alleged flaws in design. A federal judge denied Ford’s motion to dismiss, saying the warranty “does not actually exclude defects in design.”

The Cassidys’ case was settled as part of a 2016 deal to resolve a national class-action lawsuit alleging carbon monoxide problems in 2011-2015 Explorers. That nationwide settlement, which was finalized last September, provided $175 to $500 to customers who paid for repairs that didn’t work; extended warranties for the exhaust issue; and required Ford to issue a new bulletin to dealerships recommending repairs, which it did. In the settlement agreement, Ford didn’t admit to any liability.

Drivers of 2016 and 2017 Explorers not covered by that settlement filed a separate case seeking class-action status in federal court in Detroit in October 2017. That case is ongoing. Meanwhile, proposed class-action suits have been filed in federal courts in New York State and New Jersey, both on behalf of law enforcement personnel who used Police Interceptor models.

A handful of personal-injury suits are also pending, mostly brought by police officers. McDowell’s suit is scheduled for trial in November. And several individuals have filed lemon-law complaints in state courts, seeking reimbursement for Explorers that they claim are too defective to repair.

Ford declined to comment on pending litigation.

In 2017, a year after NHTSA began investigating the Explorer, the agency started a more in-depth review for a potential safety defect, known as an “engineering analysis.” At that point, the agency said, it had found 2,719 Explorer drivers who’d complained about exhaust seepage to Ford or to the agency.

Those complaints included claims of three crashes and 41 “injuries,” including headaches, nausea and “unspecified loss of consciousness.” Since July 2017, those numbers have increased, Bloomberg News found: Now the complaints allege more than 80 injuries; at least 11 of them claim drivers crashed after losing consciousness. Dozens of complaints since Ford’s last repair announcement in 2017 claim that drivers continued to feel ill, smell exhaust or register carbon monoxide on portable detectors even after getting the repairs.

While NHTSA’s probe and Ford’s repairs have focused on model years up to 2017, more than a dozen drivers of 2018 Explorers have complained to NHTSA about exhaust fumes in their cabins, records show. Ford says it continues to monitor customer complaints, including those lodged with NHTSA, and that customers with concerns should contact their dealer for inspections.

The agency said in 2017 it had no proof that carbon monoxide caused any of the crashes or injuries described in the complaints. NHTSA declined to comment on the progress of its probe, but said it’s testing and inspecting several Explorers driven by consumers and police officers and reviewing crashes involving police Explorers. It’s also monitoring the effectiveness of Ford’s campaign to repair the SUVs, according to a NHTSA statement.

The agency has completed about 90 such engineering analyses on various vehicle models since 2008; more than two-thirds of them resulted in manufacturers issuing recalls, according to the agency’s records.

Recalling the 1.3 million fifth-generation Explorers would be costly, but precise estimates are hard to come by—chiefly because it’s unclear what any fix might entail if NHTSA requires a new one. For context: Ford said in September that it would take a $140 million charge to recall around 2 million F-150s for faulty seatbelt components that could cause fires. In 2017, the company took a $267 million charge to recall 1.3 million F-Series pickup trucks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to correct faulty door latches.

In Michigan, Bert Henriksen is still waiting to complete his buyback. Meanwhile, he’s driving his Explorer to and from work each day and keeping an eye on the carbon monoxide detector that sits on his dashboard. When it registers, he says, he rolls down the windows.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Old 06-18-2019, 09:15 AM
Registered Member
00TL-P3.2's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Age: 33
Posts: 11,951
Received 1,653 Likes on 1,220 Posts

The automotive industry's constant babbling about vehicle platforms and architectures can sometimes sound like a whole lot of hair splitting and baloney. The sixth-gen Ford Explorer arriving for 2020 is neither. It may look like a modest step forward from its predecessor, but there's a lot going on underneath that makes this transformation more significant than it appears. Its new unibody platform with a longitudinally-mounted engine and standard rear-wheel drive mimics the layout found in many luxury SUVs, marking the third major change to the Explorer's construction after it went from being a body-on-frame, truck-based SUV for its first four generations to being a transverse-engined crossover for its fifth.

It was about time. The previous-gen Explorer aged less than gracefully over a life span stretching from 2011 to 2019, and its ancient Volvo-derived architecture—with origins dating to before the turn of the century—was largely to blame. Those bones, which are fossils by automotive standards, have finally given way to this new sixth-generation model's rear-wheel-drive-based (all-wheel drive is optional) layout, which brings a wide range of improvements.

Chief among them is the way that the new Explorer drives. Ford engineers say that the rear-drive chassis brings a newfound sense of balance thanks to its improved weight distribution, and they're right. Where the old model was ponderous and unwieldly, the new one is composed and collected over a variety of terrain. Over-boosted steering prevents it from feeling particularly agile, but proper damping keeps body motions minimal and the ride fluid and stable. While it is far from playful, the Explorer inspires confidence on a twisty road and has gone from being one of the worst-driving three-row family SUVs to being one of the best.

The Explorer ST made headlines with its 400-hp V-6 (we will review that model separately), but engine choices for the rest of the lineup include a 300-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four, a detuned 365-hp version of the ST's twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, and a hybrid drivetrain that uses a 3.3-liter V-6 with a single 44-hp electric motor. The Ford/GM co-developed 10-speed automatic is the sole transmission choice for every engine, and all Explorers can tow between 5000 and 5600 pounds when equipped with an optional towing package.

Thanks to a claimed curb weight that's about 200 pounds lighter than the old Explorer, the 2.3-liter engine is perfectly adequate, with smart transmission mapping making the most of the available mid-range torque. The hybrid offers a bit more output, at 318 horsepower combined, but its added weight offsets that so its acceleration feels about equal to the turbo-four's from our seat-of-the-pants perspective. But the hybrid's lack of refinement is a letdown; perhaps the rough transition between electric and gas power and the spongy brake pedal can be solved with better tuning. And they should be, given its $4150 premium over the four-cylinder.

The Explorer hybrid introduces a new type of gas-electric drivetrain setup to the Ford lineup that the company refers to as a "Modular Hybrid Transmission." Rather than the power-split setups seen on many smaller, more economical hybrids, the Explorer hybrid doesn't use a planetary gearset or dual electric motor-generators. Instead it places a single 44-hp electric motor between the V-6 gas engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission. Intended for larger vehicles that are meant to tow and haul, this hybrid system relies less on the electric motor and focuses more on power and capability than fuel sipping. We suspect that similar gas-electric powertrains will make their way into the promised hybrid versions of the next-generation F-150 pickup and upcoming Bronco SUV.

The twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine available in the Platinum, meanwhile, packs a real punch. Despite being detuned slightly from the ST's 400-hp version, the 365-hp tune in the Platinum moves the Explorer around with authority and sounds good to boot

Some of the Explorer's static improvements are due less to its layout change than to its new platform, which isn't a hack job like its predecessor's. Because the old model's platform had been dramatically stretched to create such a large SUV, its interior was oddly proportioned. Wide side sills and a high cowl created a bathtub-like feeling in the front seats, and there wasn't as much useable cargo space inside as its large footprint suggested. The new car's seating position is far more natural, and outward vision is improved. Cargo space is effectively a wash compared with the old Explorer, as the new car has more cargo volume with all seats folded but fewer cubic feet behind the second and third rows when they're in use.

Still, many of the Explorer's front-wheel-drive-based competitors are packaged better, and the Ford's third-row seat is especially disappointing. Although getting back there is easier than before thanks to a button that easily tumbles the second-row seats (offered either as a three-place bench or individual captain's chairs), the back row's bottom cushion is low and unsupportive. This problem, in which passengers' knees are forced into their chests, plagues many third-row seats, but rivals from Subaru, Volkswagen, and Chevrolet give occupants more space to uncurl from the fetal-tuck position.

We found the first two rows to be more pleasant than before. Even in lower trim levels, the door panels and dashboard use mostly soft-touch materials and everything fits together well enough. The dashboard lacks design flair, but we're willing to give it a pass because it's so functional and easy to use. The climate-control buttons are logically laid out, the radio can be controlled by real tuning and volume knobs, and the central touchscreen display looks crisp and has well-organized menus. A cool but slightly gimmicky vertically oriented 10.1-inch touchscreen also is an option.

The few driver-assist systems that don't come standard are offered as reasonably priced options, and desirable features such as a power liftgate and three-zone automatic climate control are included across the board. Mainstream four-cylinder XLT and Limited models are priced competitively in the high-$30,000 to high-$40,000 range, and for that kind of money the Explorer is a compelling contender in the nonluxury three-row SUV throng. (A less expensive base model that starts in the low $30,000s is forthcoming.)

Paying nearly $55,000 for the hybrid or even beyond $60K for a fully loaded Platinum model is a tougher sell. You can get the closely related and more nicely appointed Lincoln Aviator with the same twin-turbocharged V-6 for similar money, not to mention some seriously posh European SUVs for just a few thousand more. But the fact that we can even discuss the Explorer in this sort of company with a straight face means that this domestic SUV has entered a new milieu, not least of all because of what's going on underneath it.
00TL-P3.2 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread Starter
Last Post
3G MDX Discussion (2014+)
03-15-2019 01:27 PM
First Generation RDX (2007-2012)
10-09-2017 07:15 PM
Second Generation RL (2005-2012)
12-23-2016 08:36 AM
02-04-2002 01:42 PM

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Quick Reply: Ford: Explorer News

Contact Us - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

© 2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.