THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Great looking with smooth comfortable ride.
- What’s Worst: Although still attractive the interior is becoming dated.
- What’s Interesting: The Ford Explorer has been the best-selling SUV in the world for over 25 years.
The Ford Explorer has been with us for some time now and has gone through some major changes in its lifespan.
For the 2018 model year there has only been some minor changes and updates from the 2017 model, never the less, it is comfortably holding its own in the busiest market segment in North America and Canada.
The Platinum trim level comes with every convenience, safety and comfort feature available as standard.
This particular test vehicle had the additional dual DVD headrest screens ($2,100), second row captain’s chairs ($500), floor liners with additional mats ($205) and roof rack cross bars ($210). The rear cargo cover also costs an extra $115.
I must admit that I do like the exterior styling of the Explorer, there is still a smidgen of similarities to its long estranged cousin the Land Rover Discovery and this makes it stand out in a crowd.
The Platinum trim level has a specific buyer in its sights. The base Explorer starts at a mere $34,899 so the Platinum, at nearly double the price, will cater to a select few.
The level of technical sophistication and comfort levels certainly make the extra purchase price viable, especially when the option of adding pricey options to a lower trim level can become more expensive rather quickly.
Externally there have been some minor tweaks to the front and rear ends from the last model year but nothing too extensive, the only real indicator that this particular Explorer is the Platinum model are the 20-inch machined aluminum wheels.
Under the hood, the Platinum trim is fitted with the 3.5litre V6 EcoBoost turbo engine that pushes out an admirable 365hp and 350 lb/ft of torque. The engine is matched up to Ford’s six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with intelligent 4WD and terrain management all of which are standard equipment.
Internally the fit and finish is more than you would expect from an every-day Ford with Nirvana leather seats used across all three rows add a touch of class, aligning the Platinum trim more with it’s upscale family member Lincoln.
The brushed Aluminum and real wood trim add to the sophisticated look of the dash with the eight-inch touch screen infotainment screen taking center stage. The driver’s instrument panel is bright and easily read with two information displays that can be changed to the driver’s preference.
The standard twin-panel moonroof adds lots of light that contributes to the airy feeling throughout the cabin.
The second row captain’s chairs are both comfortable and easily moved for access into the rather tight (for adults) third row.
The third row can be easily and quickly folded away by means of easily accessible electrical switches mounted in the trunk.
New for 2018 is the addition of a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that can handle up to 10 connected devices that is enough to keep every passenger connected to the world.
Also included in the Platinum trim is the upgraded premium Sony sound system, Sync3 and in this particular tester the optional headrest mounted DVD screens. There are certainly enough connectivity and infotainment options to keep the whole family entertained on any length of journey.
Every conceivable safety feature comes standard in the Platinum trim that includes: Ford’s Safe and Smart Package, adaptive cruise control, active park assist, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with brake support, rain sensing wipers, voice activated navigation system and a whole lot more.
Getting in and out of the Explorer is easy – no matter what row you are in.
The driver’s seat is comfortable while being supportive and is easily adjusted giving a good driving position with good all-round visibility. Most infotainment and Navigation systems can be voice controlled or by means of buttons on the now crowded steering wheel.
The 3.5 litre engine has more than enough power to get this big truck moving without a fuss, the transmission is remarkably smooth both going up and down through the gears.
The gas-pressurized hydraulic suspension does a good job of keeping those big 20-inch wheels and tires planted firmly on the road eliminating the usual floating sensation found in some other larger SUV’s. The body stays fairly flat going throughout corners with less than expected body roll for such a high truck.
Road and wind noise are kept to a minimum with help of the acoustic-laminate windshield glass.
The overall ride is smooth and quiet even on some of the rougher back roads. Handling is surprisingly tighter than expected from such a large truck.
I was particularly impressed with this Platinum trim level, it certainly lives up to the ruggedness normally associated with the Explorer, but adds creature comforts, refinement and technical sophistication usually only associated with more expensive luxury brands.
2018 Ford Explorer Platinum
BODY STYLE: Three row, four-door, full size SUV.
DRIVE METHOD: Six-speed automatic with intelligent 4WD and terrain management
ENGINE: 3.5-litre EcoBoost turbocharged, V6 (365hp, 350 lb/ft of torque)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 14.8/10.7L/100 km city/highway
TOWING CAPACITY: 2,268 kg.
CARGO: 595 litres (behind third row) 1,243 litres (behind second row) 2,314 litres (behind first row)
PRICE: Base $60,599 As Tested $65,619 (Includes $1,790 destination charge)
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