Auto review by Veeno Dewan
The Ford Explorer continues on as one of the best mid-size SUVs available in its sector as it enters a sixth generation revamp. Freshly redesigned from 2020, the Explorer starts out with a brand new rear-wheel drive platform, more added technology, a hybrid option and a high performance ST model with 400 horsepower under the hood. The Explorer remains a handsome, square shouldered premium looking SUV that continues to evolve well.
The Explorer offers two gasoline engines in three configurations, all mated to variously tuned 10-speed automatic transmission setups. There is a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 delivers figures of 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Available on the upscale Explorer Limited Edition as tested is a hybrid powertrain; a 3.3-litre naturally aspirated V6 combined with a hybrid system that’s good for a combined output of 318 hp. There is a $3,000 price premium for the Explorer hybrid that can motor around 55 km/h on electric power for a short time. The Limited model adds 20-in aluminum wheels, power-folding mirrors, a hands-free tailgate, dual exhaust, body-colour door handles and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Other features include leather upholstery, second-row sun screens, heated second-row captain’s chairs, 360-degree camera, heated steering wheel, and integrated garage door opener, 12-speaker Band & Olufsen audio system and a wireless charger for cell phones.
Big changes are also in evidence when it comes to the interior. The dashboard can now be optioned as a fully digital affair. A new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is also an optional extra, with its cool “mindful mode” that can delete unnecessary information. The center stack houses the as standard 8.0 inch touchscreen or the optional 10.1-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen. Fords excellent Sync 3 infotainment system offers ease of use, and crystal clear graphics. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a built-in 4G LTE WiFi hotspot are standard across the Explorer model range, while a wireless charging pad and up to 4 USB ports are available. The Explorer also gets the cool rotary shift knob allowing for more acreage on the center console for storage.
The sumptuous seats were very comfortable, and the slimmer design allows for more rear passenger knee room in the second-row space. Second and third row occupants gain the same level of fit and finish in the trim and seating departments, Ford also offers power-folding second and third-row seats on the Limited model. Seating rows are spacious and easy to move around and reconfigure, and they fold completely flat for a cargo. There’s more storage behind the powered tailgate, with a shallow underfloor compartment.
The 2021 Explorer comes standard with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams as standard equipment under the Co-Pilot360 Safety Suite. Adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system are available as optional extras. Also fitted is evasive steering assist and post-impact braking, which automatically applies the brakes after a crash to prevent the car from rolling. Ford also offers a park-assist system that does not require the driver to touch the steering wheel or pedals.
On the road, the Explorer hybrid is one of the best -handling seven-seat SUV’s I have driven for a long time. The new rear-wheel drive platform gave the Explorer terrific, precise handling. A well- designed chassis, and good shock absorbance. Combined with sharp steering and quick none fade braking – the Explorer proved to be a competent, composed driver on the highway and has a tight turning radius for easy steering in urban areas. The combined hybrid system output of 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of Aiding adds to the decent power and the driving experience is enhanced by a smooth shifting 10 speed transmission.
Overall the hybrid powertrain is a pricey option and offers fuel economy figure of L/100km -10, 1 in the city, 9. 0 highway and 9.6 combined.
The Explorer also features seven driver selectable drive modes. Normal is the default whole Sport liven up things a bit, firming the steering and changing shift parameters. An eco-mode helps in fuel economy, and there is a useful Tow/Haul, mode. To deal with challenging terrain there is are modes for: Slippery, Deep snow/Sand, and Trail. The rough-terrain modes give the Explorer a modicum of help on rough, rocky. Downsides are few, the cramped – child only third row seating is almost a normal in this segment. Otherwise the Explorer is really the total package with a handsome non – polarizing look, great ride and handling, and a nicely detailed hushed cabin. Highly recommended for families everywhere.
2020 Ford Explorer LTD hybrid: Priced from – $53,799 Price as tested with options destination and delivery: $56,949.
More info at www.ford.ca