2017 Ford Explorer Platinum Review

Ford Explorer Overview

Perhaps as testament to the good looks of the Ford Explorer, we were asked on more than one occasion if it were a Land Rover. High praise indeed for America’s bread and butter SUV, the model credited with igniting America’s love affair with the segment.

A significant update for the 2016 model year brought a host of new tech to the Explorer, along with the Platinum trim package we’re covering here. The top of the top of the line, Explorer Platinum features smart cruise control, upgraded leather, aluminum and wood interior trim, a top-flight Sony audio system and a dual panel sunroof.

This is all stacked on top of self-parking (both parallel and perpendicular), blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and massaging front seats. In other words, in addition to looking like a Land Rover, the Explorer comes equipped like one too. Thanks to the MyFord Touch interface system, voice activation and a high-res touchscreen provide even more of a premium vibe to the Explorer Platinum.

Interior fit and finish are among the best we’ve ever seen in a Ford product. Soft-touch materials abound. Their look is one of quality and all of the controls feel nice and crisp when operated. The front seats are very comfortable, even over long distances, and the interior is suitably quiet. Happily, the touch-sensitive controls of previous models have been jettisoned in favor of real buttons and dials for the audio and climate control systems.

Opting for the second row captain’s chairs will deliver adequate legroom for adults, even in the third row. However, you’ll only seat six, as opposed to seven as you would with the rear bench seat. On the other hand, the bench makes the third row suitable only for children, so you’ll have to consider the nature of your usage when choosing an interior configuration. Maximum cargo capacity measures 81.7 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded.

Power is served up courtesy of a 365-horsepower 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, good for 350 ft-lbs of torque. All-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission complete the powertrain. We saw a pretty consistent 19-mpg in mixed city and highway driving. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds. Unlike a Land Rover however, we weren’t tempted to go rock crawling in the Platinum Explorer, geared more toward pavement than dirt, we’re pretty sure our test model was happy with that decision, though it easily handled well-groomed trails.

On the other hand, this version of the Explorer rules on the highway. Exceptionally quiet and smooth, if you’re looking for a spacious ride in which to accomplish long distance travel, the Explorer Platinum is solidly up to the task. Handling is also secure, though we wouldn’t call the Explorer particularly agile because the Ford tends to drive larger than it actually is. While this is great on the highway, it can be a bit compromising on narrow roads and in close-quartered city traffic.

On the safety front, NHTSA gave the Explorer five stars for its overall performance, while the IIHS rated the Explorer “Good” in nearly all tests except the small overlap frontal offset, in which it was rated “Marginal” (the second to the lowest ranking). By and large though, you can feel good about pressing an Explorer Platinum into service as family transportation. Pricing for standard models starts at $31,660, Explorer Platinum starts at $53,235.

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