Don't Call It A Comeback...

2011 Ford Explorer – Click above for high-res image gallery

At least a few eyebrows were raised when Ford first let on that it was bringing the Explorer back in a radically different form for 2011 – but not all of the quizzical looks were for the same reasons.

For one thing, the Explorer franchise had been seriously damaged because of the very public Firestone tire rollover controversy of the early 2000s, something that ostensibly made the 2011 model a prime candidate for a new name. In addition, early rumors had the Blue Oval transitioning the vehicle to a unibody chassis and away from the very body-on-frame architecture that helped establish it as the archetypal sport utility vehicle for two decades. It simply wasn't clear that a crossover-based vehicle would still be able to make an authentic claim to the same core values that helped the previous four iterations of Explorer sell millions of copies. Finally, Ford already had a very competent three-row CUV in its arsenal – the Flex. Were its dealers really looking for another one?

And yet... here we are, with a spanking-new and very different sort of Explorer for 2011. Have Alan Mulally and Co. made the right call? Click through the jump as we try to find out.

Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

First, let's deal with the damaged brand issue: Since it's such a different product, why didn't Ford call the new Explorer something else? Dearborn researched the issue and found that the Explorer nameplate had more currency among consumers than any other model in the Blue Oval's lineup with the exception of the F-150 and Mustang – two monikers that have been around far longer than the Explorer. With 96-percent name recognition, 'Explorer' was simply too good of a title to pass up – even with substantial negative baggage stowed in its cargo bay.

The real reason? Cost. According to industry expert Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics, establishing a new brand name in the eyes of buyers can cost hundreds of millions of dollars – particularly when done on a global basis. According to Hall, "VW learned this lesson the hard way when they attempted to switch from Jetta to Bora. It was estimated that the marketing costs were equal to the total sunk engineering costs of the car." Yipes.

For the second issue, the transition to monocoque construction also came in response to customer feedback – specifically, the chief gripes of current Explorer owners centering around its subpar ride and handling, along with noise and vibration concerns and unsatisfactory fuel economy – the solutions to which all spelled C-U-V.

2011 Ford Explorer side view2011 Ford Explorer front view2011 Ford Explorer rear view

To drive home the Explorer's reinvention, Ford designers have wrapped the 2011 in muscular sheetmetal that makes the exit vehicle look as dated and dowdy as... well... it is. Using the D4 chassis shared with the Flex and Lincoln MKT limited Ford's designers somewhat, as the architecture's hard points dictated a high cowl and nose, and that naturally contributes to a slab-sided look. Ford has mitigated this through design tricks like prominent fender flares, deep-draw indented door panels and a clamshell hood.

Ford's now trademark grille form has been given an update with a pair of slim chrome bands between the three bars, along with wraparound wing-shaped headlamps that give the Explorer a technical, modern appearance. An aggressively raked C-pillar and blacked-out B- and D-pillars imbue the profile with a sense of forward motion and cut visual weight. Out back, the story is more conventional, with a traditional one-piece liftgate and full-width chrome garnish bookended by taillights that echo the headlamps' wing form. With a lower and significantly wider form than the outgoing Explorer, this new fifth-generation model appears more masculine than most crossovers – doubtlessly an intentional tack, as Ford will continue to market this vehicle as an SUV, not a CUV.

2011 Ford Explorer headlight2011 Ford Explorer grille badge2011 Ford Explorer wheel2011 Ford Explorer taillight

In order to do that, Ford had to make sure there was some starch in the Explorer's trousers. For the moment, the sole powerplant offering is Ford's all-aluminum 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6, an engine that incorporates twin independent variable camshaft timing to realize a solid 290 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 255 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. For reference, that's the same horsepower figure as the 3.6-liter V6 in its archrival, the similarly crossoverfied 2011 Dodge Durango (the latter makes out with five additional pound-feet, albeit with 800 more revs on the counter).

And while the Dodge gets by with an elderly five-speed automatic transmission, all Explorers receive a six-speed 'swapper. The XLT and Limited models even receive a +/- thumb rocker on the gearshift lever, but we'd have preferred a PRNDL gate and/or paddles. Of course, Dodge also offers a more powerful 5.7-liter Hemi V8, while Ford will go the other direction when a 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder goes on sale later in 2011, an engine that should deliver similar performance to the 3.5 (237 hp @ 5,500 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. from 1,750 rpm) with fuel economy that's better than the V6's already commendable 17 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway ratings (front-wheel drive).

2011 Ford Explorer 3.5-liter V6 engine

Thus far, we've had a couple of opportunities to sample the new Explorer – first at Ford's Romeo, Michigan proving grounds both on- and off-road, and secondly on the winding roads outside of Hell (yes, really) during a big roundup of nominees for North American Car and Truck of the Year. (Oh, and our photographer, Drew Phillips, took these photos at a media event in San Diego). Having experienced the Expy over a wide variety of conditions, it's impossible not to be struck by how well-rounded a package it truly is.

When driven back-to-back with a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Ford's handling course, the Explorer was at once more composed, quieter and confidence-inspiring. Portions of the Blue Oval's circuit have been deliberately designed to upset a vehicle's balance, with mid-corner bumps, blind corners and whooping sections where the road quickly rises and falls. Admittedly, comparing the three-row Ford to the two-row Jeep is less-than-ideal (the new Durango was not yet on the market for testing), but given their somewhat different sizes and missions, it's impossible to ignore how much more settled the longer-wheelbase Ford felt across big road undulations, and indeed, how much quicker and keener its electric power steering system's turn-in felt (2.8 turns lock-to-lock vs. 3.67 does that sort of thing).

2011 Ford Explorer sideview mirror2011 Ford Explorer door handle2011 Ford Explorer rear badge2011 Ford Explorer exhaust pipe

A particular part of the course where the tarmac dropped away to the right immediately after cresting a ridge allowed for some sphincter-clenching moments at highway speeds. We experienced some disconcerting behavior in the Jeep when it unsettled a bit as we turned starboard to make the corner, as if the rear suspension was oscillating both vertically and somewhat laterally as well. Despite sounding like something out of a Victoria's Secret catalog, Ford's Curve Control technology repeatedly helped the same maneuver feel much less unnerving in the Explorer.

Basically, Curve Control is a program that ties into the Explorer's stability and roll control hardware network that works to detect when a driver enters a corner too quickly. The system reacts by applying braking individually to all four corners as necessary – far more aggressively than ESC alone would. We were able to deliberately and more confidently take the same section of the circuit at higher (frankly inadvisable) speeds and not end up in the trees thanks to CC.

2011 Ford Explorer off road2011 Ford Explorer off road

The story was much the same on the bucolic country roads around Hell, where back-to-back drives against the Grand Cherokee again revealed a more agreeable ride and handling balance – even on 20-inch Hankook Optimo tires. The long and short of it is that this chassis has been very well-sorted, and it could probably deal quite handily with more power than what the 3.5 or the 2.0T will be able to dish out.

All-in, Ford says it benchmarked premium 'utes like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 for dynamics, and while we're not ready to put the Explorer in that company, we wouldn't turn down the chance for a back-to-back comparison drive, either.

2011 Ford Explorer off road2011 Ford Explorer off road

With the Explorer's transition to a unibody, improved on-road performance was all but a given – but how about off-road? Ford put us on a portion of its off-road course for back-to-back drives of an all-wheel-drive Explorer against a Toyota 4Runner. The battery of challenges included a couple of deeply rutted rails, a particularly steep hill descent and a dirt playpen of sorts. The body-on-frame Toyota is decidedly off-road oriented, and Ford officials we rode along with couldn't deny that both it and the Jeep are ultimately more capable for traversing hostile terrain – after all, both were designed with that functionality as a primary goal. But what surprised us was how well the skid-plate-free Explorer handled the course – and seemingly with much less drama.

The secret? The Explorer's new Terrain Management rotary controller that allows the driver to pre-select the best powertrain performance parameters for a given terrain. Among those parameters that Terrain Management has its silicon hands on? Engine and throttle calibrations, transmission shift patterns and the stability and traction-control systems. The four modes on the center console-mounted dial consist of Normal, Mud and Ruts, Sand and Snow. If that sounds eerily similar to Land Rover's Terrain Response system, it should come as no surprise because the English marque was under the Blue Oval's control when the system was first developed.

2011 Ford Explorer Terrain Management

Throughout the challenge, the Explorer faithfully scrabbled everywhere the 4Runner did, but with notably less head-toss from its four-wheel independent suspension and indeed, fewer creaks from its body structure. There was even less teeth-gnashing during the hill descent, as the Ford's technology was both easier to summon (the Toyota requires a surprising amount of button and lever pushing to optimize it for downhill performance) and quieter in operation. Again, none of this is to deny that the 4Runner (or indeed, the Jeep we left back on the handling course) is ultimately more capable off-road than the Explorer, but we were struck by the surprising amount of capability that's built into the Ford – certainly plenty of capability for weekend woodsmen, beachgoers and ski holidays. Either way, when it comes time to pack up the weekend cottage and escape from the Dueling Banjos on a snaking dirt road, we'd take the Explorer every time.

Speaking of cabins, the Explorer's is a fine one – so fine, in fact, that it not only feels several generations ahead of the interior in the outgoing model, it might just be best-in-class. Sporting an uncluttered look and high-quality, feel-good plastics, it's a pleasant place to be. Second row accommodations are similarly comfortable, but despite the Explorer's substantial footprint (it's 197.1-inches long, shadowing its predecessor by nearly four inches), the third row access and accommodations are competitive but won't thrill those used to minivans.

2011 Ford Explorer interior2011 Ford Explorer front seats2011 Ford Explorer gauges2011 Ford Explorer cargo area

We've recently come to expect top-drawer tech from Dearborn, and it's here in force, with an improved SYNC system vying for dashboard space with available niceties like MyFord Touch (tremendously powerful but still a bit fiddly) and Wi-Fi, along with a battery of available safety features like industry-first seatbelt airbags in the second row and a blind spot and cross-traffic detection system.

One note: On uplevel models with the Sony stereo system like the Limited seen in our photos, all of the HVAC functions are operated via capacitive touch switches that look sleek but can be hard to locate by feel. Models without the premium audio share many similarities but enjoy a simpler rotary knob for fan speed. At least SYNC can also be used for voice-command temperature changes.

2011 Ford Explorer climate controls2011 Ford Explorer navigation system2011 Ford Explorer stereo2011 Ford Explorer speakers and door locks

With its transition to stressed skin construction and a smaller displacement engine, the Explorer has lost towing capacity – the 2010 could be outfitted to pull up to 7,115 pounds and the new one cries uncle at 5,000, though the 2011 also has trailer brake and sway control for added safety. For comparison's sake, a V8 Durango can actually haul substantially more at 7,400 pounds. Still, 5,000 pounds is more than enough to tote around a good-sized boat, and if you're really into towing huge loads, chances are you aren't looking at a mid-size sport utility anyhow.

With three trims (base, XLT and Limited), pricing on Explorer ranges from $28,995 for a front-wheel-drive entry-level model to $39,995 for a limited AWD before options – numbers that put the Explorer right in the thick of the hunt.

2011 Ford Explorer rear 3/4 view

So, has Ford made the right bet by keeping the Explorer name for such a different vehicle? After some initial reluctance, we think so. First off, Ford has already shown that it can successfully market and reinvent a tarnished brand with the 2010 Taurus. Secondly, the new Explorer has been comprehensively improved in nearly every aspect of how most people actually use their vehicles, and it should be far more attractive to crossover buyers who would have never considered the 2010 model. With some six million Explorers built since 1990 and a truckload of returning buyers, Ford now has an excellent new model to sell them – buyers that might have otherwise been turned off by something as different as the Flex.

There may have been a lot of arched eyebrows leading up to the 2011 Explorer, but after driving it, the only looks of surprise are likely to be accompanied by feelings of delight.

Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think this will find an audience but personally I prefer the rebooted Durango.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This new Ford SUV wouldn't last 10 minutes off-road on my beach!! It has no ground clearance! I've owned Sports, Bronco's, F150's etc... It just doesn't appear to have the ground clearance....
        • 4 Years Ago
        The new 2011 Explorer has 8.3 inches of ground clearance (with the 20 inch wheel & tire group, which it standard on the Limited, optional on XLT), the same as the old Explorer it replaces. Under body components have been tucked neatly up under the vehicle for good useable obstacle clearance, thanks to Land Rover engineering. Also note the fixed running boards are gone, no longer offered to help increase the Explorer’s side obstacle clearance.

        The Land Rover Freelander 2/LR2 and Range Rover Sort have similar ground clearance at 8.3 and 8.9 inches, respectively.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Jared

        The new 2011 Ford Explorer 4x4 has full-time Intelligent four-wheel drive.

        The front & rear differentials are open differentials with 3.39:1 gearing and use 4-wheel electronic traction control (ABS braking) to transfer torque. The ABS braking forces the open differentials to behave like limited-slip differentials, transferring up to 50 percent of the "x" amount of torque being supplied by the infinitely-variable electronic locking center coupling. The result of 4-wheel electronic traction control is that the 2011 Explorer perform as if it has both front & rear limited-slip differentials.

        The infinitely-variable electronic locking center coupling is a software-controlled multi-plate clutch pack that is not technically in the "center" of the vehicle. It allows for differential speeds between the front & rear drive wheels acting like a center differential and it also controls the torque distribution (front-to-rear torque split) allowing the 2011 Explorer to be either 100 percent front-drive, 100 percent rear-drive or anywhere in-between.

        The end result of 4-wheel electronic traction control and the infinitely-variable electronic locking center coupling working together is that the 2011 Explorer performs as if it has both front & rear limited-slip differentials with a center locking differential.

        The power take off (PTO) unit has it’s own heavy-duty dedicated cooling system (not found on the Taurus, Flex, MKS or MKT's all-wheel drive system) so that continuous, non-stop torque delivery can be supplied to all four drive wheels indefinitely for off road use without overheating the system.

        The selectable Terrain Management system controls, adjusts and fine tunes the engine, transmission, infinitely-variable electronic locking center coupling (which controls the front-to-rear torque split), throttle response, 4-wheel electronic traction control and electronic stability control (ESC) to adapt the Explorer for optimal performance on the corresponding terrain. There are four modes: Normal Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud & Ruts and Sand.

        The 2011 Explorer's off road crawl ratio is 15.19:1 with high range gearing. Low range gearing is absent.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, you sure have a lot of questions kido. Hope I can answer them all.

        Firstly, that link provided information taken from wikipedia, I always make sure the information provider there is citied. A multi-plate clutch, multi-disc clutch, multiple-plate clutch, multiple-disc clutch or multiple clutch are all virtually the same thing using the same technology, just different terminology.

        If they are used in a differential, you may run across the term infinitely-variable differential or something like infinitely-variable electronic locking center differential, a Land Rover favorite, catchy name too.

        Since they can perform just like a center differential on full-time four-wheel drive/all-wheel drive vehicles (allowing the front & rear drive shafts to operate at slightly differential rotational speed to eliminate drive train binding and torque windup), they have in some cases, replaced the center differential entirely.

        Doing so, you may hear them referred to as active differentials, center multi-plate differentials or infinitely-variable coupling or electronic center coupling and so forth.
        The only problem with these names is that they become confusing to buyers.

        The computer control system for the multi-plate clutch system can detect traction loss between the front & rear drive wheels in as little as 20 milliseconds (faster than the human eye can blink), traction loss is detected via sensors placed at the propeller (drive) shafts, throttle, brake and steering inputs. Since the ‘90s with advancements in software programming (advanced algorithms), multi-plate clutches can transfer engine torque before traction loss (drive wheel slip) is detected.

        About the durability question of multi-plate clutches (in all its forms and names), they have been around for a long time, since the mid-80s, as computer & software technology had progressed enough in the ‘80s to control the advanced multi-plate clutches. They have been used in all manner of four-wheel drive vehicles as well as off road racing trucks & SUVs. They have gone largely unnoticed, and are in vehicles you probably would not suspect had them. They are not something to laugh at.

        The company accredited with pioneering multi-plate clutch technology is the American company known as BorgWarner, who is no stranger to 4x4/AWD systems and torque management. BorgWarner has supplied (in the past and present) 4x4/AWD systems to all major auto markers, such as Jeep, Land Rover, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz (the list goes on and on). Other companies like Haldex also offer 4x4/AWD system with multi-plate clutch technology.

        The Ford Explorer Land Rover’s Freelander 2/LR2 and new Range Rover Evoque use a Haldex based full-time four-wheel drive system. The new 2011 Explorer also uses this system.

        The Ford Explorer gained BorgWarner’s full-time ControlTrac (yes BorgWarner developed ControlTrac, not Ford) four-wheel drive system in late 1994 for the 1995 model year. No surprise, it used an infinitely-variable multi-plate center differential (the center differential is the multi-plate clutch) and could transfer all torque rear-to-front or front-to-rear or anywhere in-between. Transfer of torque was done in 10 percent increments. As with any true 4x4, it could lock-up 100 percent, locking the front & rear drive shafts together for a permanent 50/50 torque split.

        In short multi-plate clutches are so effective, they have, in some cases, replaced Torsen differentials. The 2003-2006 Range Rover boasted having a Torsen center differential, but by the 2007 model year, Torsen was out, and the infinitely-variable and lockable multi-plate center differential was in, controlled via Terrain Response, giving the Range Rover even greater off road capability.

        The Explorer’s infinitely-variable and lockable multi-plate clutch coupling is controlled via Terrain Management, so it locks the system as needed depending on the off road mode selected (in Sand mode for example), same operation as all Land Rover vehicles equipped with Terrain Response.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Your welcome for the info, but I don’t understand the negative criticism of the Explorer’s 4x4 system.

        Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Sequoia, Lexus LX 570, Range Rover, Discovery 4/LR4, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Nissan Patrol (the all-new one) and so on use open front & rear differentials with ABS traction control. They are all just as/if not more capable that vehicles with mechanical limited-slip differentials.

        Toyota even posts on the window sticker of the 2008-onward Land Cruiser that it has open front & rear differentials with traction control.

        A locking rear differential is purely optional on Range Rover except on the Supercharged version where it is standard. Land Rovers leave the factory with open front & rear differentials, unless specifically optioned with the available locking rear differential.

        Also, most of those SUVs list above, like the Range Rover, Discovery, Expedition, Armada and Patrol use multi-plate clutches either inside the center differentials or as center differential replacements as they can transfer all available torque, better than a Torsen (torque sensing) center limited-slip differential, and they do not wear out like simple clutches use in limited-slip axle differentials (which typically need replacing after 50,000+ miles, or they allow the differential act as a open diff) Electromagnetic multi-plate clutches are much more heavy-duty which is why they are preferred. Unfortunately, the complexity of the multi-plate clutches (they are still simpler than a Torsen differential) and long life span, and insane torque transfer capability, make them more expensive than simple clutch packs.

        About the 2011 Explorer’s torque split, the Terrain Management system can lock the center coupling for a permanent 50/50 torque distribution, the same as a locked, locking center differential. The new Explorer has near perfect torque control capability. If only it had low range gearing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        TorqueTransfer, thanks for the information.

        That said, open diffs with ABS traction control do not provide the same capability as limited slip diff, and a multi-clutch pack (which will wear out) does not provide the same capability as a Torsen. Furthermore, from additional reading, it is my understanding that the Explorer normally sends 100% of torque to the front axle, only sending it to rear when slip is sensed. That's a great way to get stuck.

        Thank you for confirming what I expected, that the Explorer AWD system just sucks.
        • 4 Years Ago
        tt: Thanks for the added information.

        You'll have to forgive me for being skeptical of clutches, based on my experience with clutch-based limited slip differentials -- they wear out quickly and require expensive repair.

        When you say "continuous, non-stop torque delivery can be supplied to all four drive wheels indefinitely for off road use without overheating the system", my reaction is that 1) I'm also rather skeptical of a power-takeoff system that requires a cooling system, and 2) a Torsen doesn't need to be cooled, and I haven't heard anything about them wearing out in normal use. What is the expected lifetime of a multiplate clutch pack in heavy use? Clutches use friction materials, so by definition, they wear out. If the system is heating up, then it isn't it wasting power and efficiency?

        Also, this page suggests that the 2011 uses a multiple clutch system, rather than a multi-plate clutch:

        Is that page incorrect?

        Can the 2011 Explorer system be manually locked to turn both driveshafts at the same speed? Or is the terrain selector the only manual input to the system?

        I have a 4Runner with a lockable, limited-slip, Torsen center diff. I prefer a system that is always sending torque to both axles and allows you to lock the center diff. Systems that require some slippage before sending torque to the rear axle can result in enough delay that by the time they lock up you have already lost momentum and are stuck

        As for sending 100% of torque to one axle and 0 to another, explain to me why that is necessary and why that is better than a lockable, limited-slip center diff. Once I've locked my center diff, even if one axle has no traction I can move the truck because the other driveshaft is still turning. I'm having a hard time understanding why you think a multi-plate clutch pack is better than a lockable Torsen (other than being cheaper).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Open front, open rear (brake actuated traction control to mitigate that)
        clutch coupled rear differential, does it matter if it Haldex brand or JTEKT?
        The pre-sets for the coupling are adjusted by the rotary dial.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Your review seems somewhat biased, like you're trying to make up for the bashing you did when it first debuted.

      1. While you do mention that the G.C. is more off road oriented, you fail to note how the different lock to lock ratio is more desirable while off-roading. (You don't want every rock you hit to knock the steering wheel out of your hands)

      2. Undoubtedly the off road course was set up to emphasize ride quality, not capability. (Probably not very challenging, but a very rough riding road. Did they let you drive the body on frame SRA 4Runner on the course, but not the Unibody IRS G.C.?)

      3. "if you're really into towing huge loads, chances are you aren't looking at a mid-size sport utility anyhow." Really, I shouldn't be looking at Midsize SUV's to comfortably tow? My experience is that you want to be significantly under the tow rating. Remember everything in the vehicle reduces the tow rating (people, cargo, even additional options). I believe many people buy bigger vehicle like the Tahoe for it's tow rating, but would buy something smaller like the 7,400 lb rated Durango.

      It just seems like you're trying to put a positive spin on all the car like changes. This could be a very successful vehicle, filling the gap between Chevy Traverse like vehicles and Durango like vehicles. However, it will be interesting to see a direct comparison of Explorer v. G.C. v. Durango v. 4Runner (v. Traverse, Pilot and Highlander?) in a more unbiased setting. These vehicles sort their emphasis of on-road dynamics, off-road capability, towing, and passenger comfort very differently.

      On a side note I really don't like the brown color. It reminds me of a Ford Granada.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nice looking station wagon.

      Only comparison would be are the GM Acadia/Chevy Traverse or Dodge Durango as far as 3 row seaters.

      However, this sucker can't tow what a Durango can.

      Good job Phord; now do something w/the Expedition.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I love the look of the new Explorer and you're certainly giving it a favorable review here. I'm also a big fan of the EcoBoost engine ideals (and the V6 itself). But this statement you make:

      " engine that should deliver similar performance to the 3.5 (237 hp @ 5,500 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. from 1,750 rpm)..."

      I mean, really? 290 HP in the V6 is "similar" to 237 HP in the EcoBoost? I completely agree that the 2.0t should give more than adequate performance, especially in the not-full-throttle driving situations that most people enjoy most of the time. But a 53 HP gap is pretty significant too.

      Having said that, if I were to get one, I'd get the booster. But then again I'm a 520d fan, so what do I know ;)
      • 4 Years Ago
      While I've never owned one, I've always liked the Explorer. Until now. That front end is just too damned ugly.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed, It could be another GM Lamda based CUV and really it looks like an updated Saturn Outlook.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree. There's just too many shapes going on in Ford's current truck/SUV design language. The interior looks fantastic, but I don't know what to make of the exterior and the shape of the head- and taillamps.

        This article seems to rant on and on about how the unibody Explorer handles better on road than the body-on-frame Grand Cherokee, but is still "okay" off-road.

        Well duh, that was the point. That's no surprise.

        But there's no doubt -- I'd rather have the Jeep in my garage.
        It doesn't look like a clown car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree, too much going on in that front end. Although VW's are criticized for being too toned down, their design lasts decades. (well until recent views of the most recent blandish VW's) But point being this Explorer will not age well like many Fords. I support US automakers, but create something that I'll still like in 10 years. For the millions of explorers that have sold I rarely see any old ones on the roads. old Fourrunners however are everywhere and still look aweseom over a decade old. Landcruisers - not much change there and the design still works. Too many changes and a fan base is lost.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've ownedthe last two gen explorers. First, why are the numbers missing? I love the keypad access system.

      Second, at first I didn't like so much this new direction. IF they can put out a v-8 version or the eco-boost v6 with the near 400 hp, maybe i'll get it. I don't know why, I just like power.

      And numbers! I want my numbers!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm almost positive that the Securicode is "built-in" to the C-pillar like it is on the Taurus. It's touch sensitive, etc.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, the number pad is embedded in the B pillar. It's touch sensitive and lights up when you brush your hand over it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Shockingly the only desirable CUV on the market right now. Kudos, Ford.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am not a SUV/CUV guy but they really knocked this one out of the park. Very impressive and only time will tell if moving down on power/performance of the 2.0 turbo and the 3.5 will be the winning combination vs the 3.5 and 5.7 of some of it's competitors. It's a bold move for the brand but Ford cannot seem to do anything wrong lately...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm sort of anti-SUV. But I'll readily admit that I was thinking about how to get this car to fit in my garage.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think the smaller engines is a good idea. They aren't really small... just not huge. It's a much more practical example of an SUV than I'm used to seeing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Need a SHO version.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm not an SUV guy at all, but I find the design of this thing gives me the "Apple product, must have it" feeling. Something about the design is just immensely pleasing to me, the thing is just nice to look at... all of it EXCEPT the headlights, which is too bad. But the overall proportions, the side profile, the floating roofline with hidden pillars and forward raked C-pillar, the rear-3/4 view, all of it plucks all the right strings for me. I'm sorta getting used to the headlights, but it's too bad about that, that's a pretty important detail. Powertrains are pretty solid too, can't wait to see how the 2.0 does. And ya, that brown is amazing!
        • 4 Years Ago
        It is always a roulette when you put direction indicators above headlamps. It makes the vehicle different but sometimes it just does not work. Explorer is OK in my opinion, Super Duty not so much.
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