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Motoring: Space of a minivan, appearance of an SUV, introducing the 2016 Ford Explorer

Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ

If you can get over the expensive fuel economy, the 2016 Ford Explorer is definitively worth the purchase.


Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 4th, 2016



The 2016 model of the Ford Explorer is not an all-new vehicle. However, it is a heavily revised version of the model that went on sale back in 2011.

For 2016, the sheet metal has been revised. Park the 2016 model next to a 2011 model, and you’ll see that the two vehicles are related in size and appearance; the latest model seems a bit more aggressive, more like an SUV and less like a tall wagon.

Open the door, and you’re greeted with an interior that is familiar, only improved in certain areas. Gone are those silly soft touch buttons, replaced by proper buttons and knobs. The layout is clean and intuitive, just how it should be.

Just like the previous model, one of the best features about the 2016 Explorer is interior space. There is lots of room front and back, and even decent space for adults in the third row. If you have the need of a minivan in your life but want something with more style and capability, then this Explorer might be ideal for you.

Speaking of capability, the 2016 Explorers are available with strong engines. The base motor is a normally aspirated 3.5 litre V6 that is good for 290 horsepower and 255 pounds per foot of torque. Next step up is the smaller turbocharged 2.3 litre I4 motor that develops 280 horsepower, but 310 pounds per foot of torque. My recent tester had the top-trim motor, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5 litre V6 that produces 365 horsepower and 350 pounds per foot of torque.

While the base and mid-trim models come with front-wheel drive as standard, with all-wheel drive as an option, the top trim motor is only available with all-wheel drive. In each Explorer, power is fed to the wheels via a six-speed automatic, which features Select- Shift, a feature that allows you to play with gear ratios.

During my week-long test, I hardly ever felt the need to play with the gearbox because I found the vehicle to be quick enough on its own. Ford’s EcoBoost motors are phenomenal performance engines, and no matter which vehicle these engines are fitted to, it’ll turn them into speed machines. However, as I’ve also mentioned in the past, these motors are less about ‘eco’ and more about ‘boost’. As a result, I averaged 14.9 litres per 100 kilometres during my test week, which is quite poor even for a vehicle this size.

If the fuel economy numbers are something you can live with than you should seriously consider the new Explorer, especially with its top motor, because from a driving point of view, this vehicle is hard to beat.

The ride and handling is much better than you’d expect from a big SUV, and the cabin is extremely quiet, an area where Ford is leading the pack these days.

Couple that with plenty of gadgets that are not just for entertainment, like the available navigation and rear seat DVD system, but also gadgets that can save your life, such as adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring, and what you have is a complete vehicle that the whole family can appreciate.

Prices are not bad either, starting at $33,499. However, that can climb quite quickly, and my nearly loaded tester stickered at about $63,000, and there are some that are worth even more than that.

If you had asked me before I spent any time with it if an Explorer can be worth over $60,000, I’d have said no. After driving it though, I say, if you’re not a badge snob, it is worth every penny.
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