Steve was in shock from the moment he sat in the new Ford Explorer. My friend owned a rugged old Explorer and liked it, but this was the Platinum edition and it oozed luxury. With this big smoothie, Ford has evolved past its utilitarian roots.
Initially, I had hoped to review the Sport edition, with its tough-guy, blackened grille, but in the Platinum Explorer I found style to spare. Ford has simply been on a tear lately, revamping everything in the showroom. Yet while the eye-pleasing lines are fierce, the ride is especially notable. Jagged potholes pass by, as unnoticed as shadows. I can’t remember a vehicle that so disguised its speed. At 75 mph, you feel like you’re easing along at 55. The seats, heated front and rear with a free massage thrown in, help make an all-day drive a painless matter. The 500-watt Sony sound system is also a beauteous thing, even transforming satellite radio, which in some cars can sound a trifle thin, into a robust concordance.
The Explorer is a big boy but it feels nimble in town. Rearward visibility is good. Besides its standard all-wheel drive, helpful equipment includes AdvanceTrac with RSC, an electronic watchdog to get you through the mud and snow and provide rollover prevention. One blessing of the Explorer’s size is third-row seating that is actually usable, although you wouldn’t ask the star fullback to sit back there. At $54,760, the Explorer offers a classy but less costly option in today’s ultra-competitive SUV market. Built in Chicago, Ford is moving into new neighborhoods.
FORD EXPLORER PLATINUM
Price as Tested: $54,760
Drivetrain: 365-hp 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6
EPA Mileage Ratings: 16 city / 22 hwy