Ford decided to give the 2016 Explorer new styling and the heart of a Mustang. But throwing some more attention on this crossover seems to highlight how 1990s it feels.
There was a lot of attention on the facelifted Explorer, reflecting that it is a very popular vehicle for Ford. The California Highway Patrol and people who want to look like the California Highway Patrol may have something to do with that. In fact, it’s almost like the Explorer hasn’t been this noticed since, well, the 1990s when it defined the SUV class in the U.S.
Key things the facelift fixes on the Explorer consist of four-cylinder Ecoboost availability with AWD, someting that comes with the addition of the 2.3-liter turbo four from the Lincoln MKC and 2015 Mustang.
The new Platinum trim also adds Ecoboost, in this case the 3.5-liter turbo V6 from the Explorer Sport. It swaps that model’s monochromatic theme for more silver and chrome, with obligatory quilt-patterned seats and door inserts. It looks nice, but feels pretty ho-hum. The new MyFord Touch buttons feel like the afterthought they are. There’s no denying that this car feels as old as the Volvo platform it’s based on.
And that kind of sums up my feelings on the Explorer. It’s fine, but it’s not nice. But sitting in it this week sort of transported me back into 1997, when the vast majority of the parents near my school had Explorers. And if they wanted to be perceived at the top of the parents pecking order, they got an Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition, named for the American outdoor clothing and fanny pack maker. It came complete with different trim and two-tone paint that said it was more expensive (but not much nicer) than the commoner’s XLT.
The two-tone paint is dead, but the Eddie Bauer Edition is alive with this Explorer Platinum. For $50,000 or so, a mid-spec Acura MDX or a Volvo XC90 will be far nicer three-row SUVs. But they won’t be this feature-laden.
By Zac Estrada
Photos: Zac Estrada/Carscoops