2011 Ford Explorer 4WD Review and Specifications
THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG
The Auto Channel
Ford's new 2011 Explorer makes the old one look like a crossover. This one looks more like a sport utility, and since Explorer is credited with inventing the four-door SUV, it's only right that it should look the part.
SPECIFICATIONS - 2011 Ford Explorer 4WD
Model: 2011 Ford Explorer 4WD
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 290 hp @ 6,500 rpm/255 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 112.6 in.
Length/Width/Height: 197.1 x 90.2 x 70.4 in.
Cargo volume: 80.7 cu. ft. (behind front seats)
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway/19.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gal.
Curb weight: 4,695 lbs.
Sticker: $45,060 (includes $805 destination and delivery plus $5,065 in options)
When you have a vehicle that essentially defined the four-door sport utility segment, you're naturally expected to come up with something spectacular to replace it.
Well, Ford hasn't necessarily come up with something spectacular, but the new Explorer is as worthy as the old one was with a couple of extras.
First, the new Explorer looks more like a sport utility. Granted the old one was no slouch, but the new one really looks as if it would be at home on the Outback, or at least off-roading through some American wilderness roads.
And it's comfortable. We spent most of our Explorer time, sadly, not exploring, but mostly on Interstates, where, by the way, we averaged 19.2 mpg. We had eight 2-hour trips that contributed to the good fuel economy numbers. the trips also cured backaches rather than create them. On the Interstates, the Explorer was comfortable, but not too comfortable. We had power to spare from the 3.5-liter V6 engine, and with the 6-speed automatic transmission we had smoothness. I never felt the need for more power and always felt I had some in reserve.
In addition, the four-wheel disc brakes did a good job of stopping the 4,695-pound Explorer.
The Explorer has a terrain management system knob on the center console that allows you to modify driving characteristics for snow, sand, mud or normal driving. All we encountered was normal with rain.
But why does Ford muck up its vehicles with MyFord Touch and Sync and a Sony audio system that offers great sound, but whose screen is useless? And I couldn't get the navigation system to work. BMW had similar user-unfriendly problems with the first generation i-Drive, but has worked through the kinks to evolve a workable tool. Let's hope Ford can do the same.
Other than the center stack controls, the Explorer is user-friendly. You can use the steering wheel controls to control audio functions (there is a small screen to the right of the speedometer that tells you what you have done). Still, the USB settings don't come up automatically and you have to work at it. To the left of the speedo there's another small screen that can alternate among cruise info, a tachometer, fuel economy, compass and climate.
Built on a wheelbase that's about an inch shorter than the previous version, the Explorer is larger than the old one. Parked next to one, it even looks larger.
I like the size of the Explorer. It's good for passengers (up to seven or eight), plus cargo. Like some minivans, there's a well behind the third row seats that helps with cargo. The power tailgate also helps access to whatever you may have back there.
I love Active Cruise Control. It slows the Explorer when the vehicle in front isn't going as fast as you are. If a collision is imminent, a string of red warning lights appear at the base of the windshield and an alarm sounds. It got me once when I wasn't concentrating and once when I was.
There are blue accent lights around the interior that lend a calm air to the Explorer. These are in the cup holders and door pulls.
The redesign shows some Land Rover influence, particularly in the grille and ride height. However, the Explorer is more user-friendly in the driving department.
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