MSRP: $47, 379.00 for the CXL model tested
Competition in its class: Honda Pilot, GMC Acadia, Toyota Highlander
The exterior upgrades to the all-new Ford Explorer are evident at first glance. The smooth clean lines and chrome detailing update the look of the explorer exponentially. I was initially intimidated by the size; the spacious interior provides the front passengers a great deal of room while the second-row seating could use a little more. Personally, I would love to see that the second-row seating would allow for the seats to move back and forth to give the occupants of the second row a little more leg room. But, with third-row seating available for additional riders, the Ford Explorer is the perfect alternative to the mini van.
Technology, technology and more technology!
As with the Edge, Ford has included the all-new MyFord Touch™ technology as well as Bluetooth® capabilities and Sync voice activated technology within the Explorer allowing for hands-free driving and navigation of the vehicle's main functions like navigation and audio controls. Ford has seriously stepped up their game leaving the competition far behind in terms of keeping up with the fast-paced group of Generation-X buyers.
In keeping with that, one cool feature which Ford has included - similar to that in the Edge - is the ability to create a wireless network within the vehicle allowing travelers to use laptop computers, gaming systems and WiFi for their mobile handsets.
Ford not only keeps safety in mind: they excel.
The Explorer now comes with more safety features than ever, including the MyKey technology that allows parents to implement limitation on the audio and speed the vehicle can travel while driven by someone using one of the designated keys.
With the 2011 Explorer, Ford has introduced another amazing safety innovation: inflatable second row seat belts. Honestly, I read about this post-test drive; I had no idea they existed. Even using the seat belt for my 5-year old, I never realized there was anything different about them, which is kind of amazing considering the look like conventional belts, but provide such protection.
"Ford's inflatable rear seat belts spread crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seat belts; this helps reduce pressure on the chest and helps control head and neck motion for rear seat passengers."- Ford Motor Company
There's just so much I could tell you about how Ford has worked to reduce fuel consumption by: reducing the weight of the Explorer by using lighter materials (like aluminum for the hood); equipping it with a variable-displacement air-conditioning compressor, which eliminates the weird lagging that happens when the air conditioner is turned on while you're driving; and equipping it with a powerful V6 engine delivering 20 per cent better fuel economy than last year's model while still delivering a whopping 290 horsepower. But, how about I just tell you that this Explorer blew my mind; the gas mileage is unbelievable, especially considering the size.
But Ford's innovative advancements haven't stopped there. They've employed a team dedicated to improving the quietness of the cabin using Noise Vision technology. Using a ball with hundreds of tiny cameras and microphones, Noise Vision allowed Ford's team of engineers to address potential issues throughout the development phase. And it worked. One morning I even turned off the radio to enjoy that little bit of silence between dropping the kids off at daycare and getting to work.
Available options for the Explorer include many that were also available in the Edge: Power liftgate, review view camera and reverse sensing system, dual panel moon roof, blind spot monitoring system, navigation and Sync voice activated system making this full-sized SUV a very comfortable and stylish ride.
I know it say it often, but really: Ford gets it. The stylish interior is beautifully designed, the exterior is noticeable and eye-catching, the touch screen and sleek black console are really trendy, yet timeless.
It's so cliché so don't kick me, but: have you driven a Ford lately? Because you totally should.
Stop by my flickr for more images of the Explorer.