Redone Three-Row Ford Aims to Right Some Wrongs
We Like: The quiet cabin, comfy ride, and surprising dirt road chops.
We Don’t Like: Its poor build quality and oddball interior packaging.
At our 2012 Sport/Utility of the Year, the Ford Explorer, with its Taurus wheelbase and interior packaging and a disappointing 240-hp, 2.0-liter, turbo engine that proved to be painfully slow, underwhelmed each and every judge. With a face-lift, a new engine, and new features, Ford sought to right those wrongs for 2016.
Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com as the 2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year contenders and finalists are revealed in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16. Learn about other SUV of the Year contenders at the links below. Check out the SUV of the Year evaluation process HERE, and read about the evolution of our Of The Year awards HERE.
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that few Explorer customers opted for is gone. In its place is a 2.3-liter, turbocharged EcoBoost I-4 making 280 hp with optional all-wheel drive. Although we aren’t sold on its fuel economy benefits versus the standard 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, the small engine is now most certainly capable of motivating the Explorer on the road. Combined with Ford’s Terrain Management System, the engine also proved plenty capable of getting the Explorer around on our off-road loop.
“I am favorably impressed with the performance of the 2.3-liter, both climbing the hill and accelerating onto the freeway,” Markus noted. Fine in the dirt, the Explorer was happiest on the interstate, where Chris Walton said it “felt right at home, quiet and smooth.”
Our first impressions of the upgraded interior were positive. At face value, the new digs impressed us with a nice mix of soft-touch materials and cool tech, but a closer examination revealed the quality found in competitors such as the Honda Pilot wasn’t there.
From a packaging perspective, most found the second and third rows relatively commodious, but the front-seat ergonomics were awkward. Said Chris Clonts: “How is it that I’m sitting so far away from the door? It seems like I shouldn’t be.”
|2016 Ford Explorer Limited AWD|
|Price As Tested||$52,215|
|Vehicle Layout||Front-engine, AWD, 6-pass, 4-door SUV|
|Engine||2.3L/280-hp/310-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|Length x Width x Height||198.3 x 78.9 x 71.0|
|Curb Weight (F/R Dist)||4,525 lb (53/47%)|
|Acceleration, 0-60 mph||8.2 sec|
|Quarter Mile||16.3 sec @ 84.5 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||123 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.7 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||18/26/21 mpg|
|Energy Consumption, City/Hwy||187/130 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 Emissions||0.93 lb/mile|
2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contenders:
- BMW X6
- Chevrolet Trax
- Fiat 500X
- Ford Edge
- Ford Explorer
- Honda HR-V
- Hyundai Tucson
- Jeep Renegade
- Kia Sorento
- Land Rover Discovery Sport
- Mazda CX-3