For three busy days this past December, I drove the 2016 Explorer 4WD SUV. It’s a sizable beast that handles remarkably well for its girth, powered by that rumbling and responsive 3.5L V6 Ecoboost Engine. But let’s face it: the reason you’d consider a trimline that opens the bidding at $58,599—that’s more than $20,000 over the base model XLT—is for the bling.
So let’s talk about some of it.
The Explorer sports a masculine squat design, enhanced by the scowling grill up front and (necessary) rear spoiler. The chaps in your cul-de-sac will marvel at the blindingly buffed 20” aluminum wheels, standard only with the Platinum trim.
Mind, if you live in a condo, neighbours will also marvel but for different reasons. You’ll need to drive gingerly to keep it from getting scratched—it’s big for city folk, even if it is merely midsized by Ford’s standards—but you’ll appreciate the folding mirrors.
Then again, it’s not like Ford’s engineers have ignored the space-starved urban animal. The trim includes enhanced park assist with pull out assist, perpendicular park and flank guard. Eventually you do have to drive, but the Platinum is happy to eliminate much of the tricky stuff.
In winter, you never need suffer the cold
There’s a remote start that should work from the comfort of your bed and the steering wheel’s heated. The leather seats too, of course. Plus they massage you, bless them. Even the second row of this tester eschewed yon ghetto bench for dual captain chairs (a $500 premium over the model’s starter charge—plus all the ‘Nirvana’ seat leather was an extra $450—but they were all truly comfortable.) At the end of your day, the universal garage door continues to ensure the cold remains where it belongs.
My favourite weather-trumping feature: The rearview and 180-degree cameras has a washing system built in! Here’s why you’ll love it. The trouble with most (especially rearview) cameras is that: a) they get filthy fast b) they only get filthy when the weather’s foul and you truly need to see; therefore c) when you least want to clean them, you have to. Welcome to d, you one-percenter: you’ve skipped c!
Other features solving first-world problems
I’ve really never understood why you’d need a power tilt/telescoping steering column. It’s really not that hard to pull a manual switch and slide the mechanism. But such is the joy of Platinum. You are pampered, perhaps unnecessarily.
Then there’s the family-sized grab bag of safety features among the usual suspects of driver-intervention technologies and intelligent four-wheel drive. Tire pressure monitoring is very smart and, while helping you stay safe—provided you keep the tires properly inflated—also help you spend less on fuel. (You spent enough on the trim.)
Most of what you need to keep your eyes on the road is thoughtfully built into the leather-festooned steering wheel, including cruise control and audio necessities. The Premium Sony audio system with satellite radio can easily distract you; controls in the steering wheel save precious microseconds. Sure, you can rock n roll, kids, but safety first!
The SOS post-crash alert is something I’ve never noticed before (and, no, did not actually test out). After a serious crash, it will sound the horn and flash the hazards continually at timed intervals, until it is either deactivated by the driver or simply runs down the battery.
Imagine awaiting first responders in such style
The continued bleating would be annoying as the dickens if you were pinned into your seat and couldn’t move, but could well end up saving your life if you drove off the road at night.
Besides, you could probably drown it out with the deafeningly powerful Sony stereo, supplemented by the rear seat DVD playing system—which this tester had for another $2,100. It includes noise-canceling headphones. 360 degrees of bling.
2016 Ford XLT base price $36,999.
2016 Ford Platinum 4WD base price: $58,599.
As driven with options, taxes, delivery and other charges: $63,589.