Reviews

2018 Ford Explorer Driving Impressions


It’s easy to find the limits of the base V6. It’s quick enough around town, but on a winding road under acceleration between the curves, there’s not enough torque at lower rpm, demanding constant downshifting of the transmission to find it, and the shifts are slow unless you’re in Sport mode, which most models have. That mode brings quicker shifts and throttle response. Paddle shifters aren’t available at all.

The 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo has sharper acceleration with good low end, so it spurts away from corners. It loves Sport mode. It has a sweet sound: throaty, with amplified engine notes piped into the cabin. If you’re the least bit enthusiastic about driving, you need this engine.

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. Rugged terrain is not its forte. But it will get you and six friends or family through the snow to a ski resort, and back down off the icy mountain safely, an achievement maybe not so modest. The system has Normal, Mud, Sand, and Snow modes, and electronically varies the throttle and braking to deliver the best traction.

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