Reviews

2017 Ford Explorer Driving Impressions


The base V6 engine is quick enough from a standstill with your foot on the floor, but on a winding road requiring acceleration between the curves, the weak torque on the lower part of the powerband will have you flailing the shift lever. Most models have a sport mode, and its quicker throttle and shift responses help some; but without that sport mode, the shifts are slow. One really good thing is that the transmission will hold its lower gears when told. No paddle shifters here.

The 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo is way better. It not only gives sharper acceleration, it sounds sweeter, throaty, with amplified engine notes piped into the cabin. It’s got good low end and spurts away from corners. It loves sport mode. If you’re the least bit enthusiastic about driving, you need it.

The suspension uses MacPherson struts in front with an isolated subframe, and multi links in the rear, with anti-roll bars at both ends. The Sport gets a quicker steering rack, firmer suspension bits, and a strut tower brace with stiffer anti-roll bar in front.

The Explorer’s off-road capability is modest (and it always has been). It’ll get you and six friends or family through the snow to a ski resort, and more important, back down off the icy mountain safely. The system has Normal, Mud, Sand, and Snow modes, and electronically varies the throttle and braking to deliver the best traction. Rugged terrain is not its forte.

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