BE­GIN­NINGS

Ex­plorer has mor­phed far from its

The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS -

The Ex­plorer has come a long way from its be­gin­nings way back in 1990.

Orig­i­nally built on the same body-on-frame plat­form as the Ford Ranger it was smaller, rougher, but for it’s time, per­fectly ca­pa­ble for a rough and tum­ble truck.

gen­er­a­tion 2017 model and things couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent.

The Ex­plorer is a now a full sized SUV and is now built on a uni­body plat­form mak­ing it more akin to a smooth run­ning mini­van than the old rough and ready truck.

Even with the smooth­ing out of the Ex­plorer, Ford is still mar­ket­ing it as an SUV rather than a crossover.

The Ex­plorer Limited I was driv­ing came with the op­tional 2.3-litre in­line four-cylin­der Eco­Boost en­gine ($1,000) that pumps out a re­spect­ful 280 hp and 310 lb/ft of torque. This is matched nicely to a sixspeed Select­shift au­to­matic trans­mis­sion with the in­tel­li­gent 4WD sys­tem.

Ex­ter­nally there is still a re­sem­blance to the Land

back. The roof rack now comes as stan­dard and this one came with the op­tional twin panel moon roof ($1,750). The $650 20-inch alu­minum wheels also help en­hance the ex­te­rior ap­pear­ance.

In­ter­nally the Ex­plorer has more than enough room for seven pas­sen­gers – although the third row is far more suited to kids.

pated with the black leather seat­ing on all three rows giv­ing it that ex­tra lux­ury touch. The Limited also in­cludes du­al­zone au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, power tilt-and-tele­scope steer­ing wheel, power pedal ad­just­ment, a Sony 12-speaker sound sys­tem and Ford’s Sync 3.

The dash is log­i­cally set out with most of the con­trols be­ing mounted onto what has be­come a busy steer­ing wheel. The cen­trally mounted eight-inch touch screen con­trols the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem or it can be voice con­trolled elim­i­nat­ing the need to re­move your hands from the steer­ing wheel.

The driv­ers and pas­sen­ger seats are com­fort­able of­fer­ing enough sup­port for long drives and are both heated and cooled.

There is oo­dles of room in the sec­ond row with the third be­ing pretty tight in the legroom dept.

When you start fold­ing the seats the Ex­plorer comes into its own – from a cargo space of just 595 litres with all seats up it ex­pands to a colos­sal 2,314 litres with all the seats folded giv­ing it pickup truck like ca­pac­ity.

One thing I did no­tice was the all round vis­i­bil­ity, is ham­pered by big thick A-pil­lars at the front and the D-pil­lars at the back.

The rear vis­i­bil­ity is eas­ily coun­tered by proper side mir­ror place­ment but the thick­ness of the Apil­lars up front can make it easy to miss a cy­clist or ob­sta­cle at the side of the road.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is smooth and nim­ble for a big ve­hi­cle and doesn’t over work the smaller Eco­Boost en­gine. Add a few pas­sen­gers or a bit of weight to the Ex­plorer and the en­gine makes a lit­tle bit more noise but still takes it in it stride.

The same goes for rapid ac­cel­er­a­tion, the en­gine noise does in­crease but it doesn’t seem to ham­per per­for­mance es­pe­cially with the 4WD sys­tem kick­ing in to elim­i­nate any wheel spin. Gearshifts tend to be early to be in favour of fuel econ­omy.

The softer sus­pen­sion makes any long drive more com­fort­able

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rougher roads.

Go­ing into cor­ners at speed does en­cour­age some body roll, but no more than you would ex­pect from a ve­hi­cle that sits fairly high.

Just in case you are tempted to push it that lit­tle bit too hard the Ex­plorer comes with Curve Con­trol as part of the sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tem; it con­strains the throt­tle and ap­plies the brakes to help main­tain con­trol when you en­ter a corner too fast.

Ac­cord­ing to Ford, this can take as much as 16 km/h off in one sec­ond if needed.

This tester also came with the op­tional equip­ment group 301a ($2,250), which added a num­ber of tech­ni­cal and safety en­hance­ments such as; ac­tive park as­sist, lane de­par­ture and keep as­sist, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, rain sens­ing wipers, auto high beam and sec­ond row in-

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The In­tel­li­gent 4WD sys­tem, un­der nor­mal con­di­tions, pushes the power to the front wheels, but when slip­page is de­tected it will au­to­mat­i­cally split the power be­tween front and rear wheels.

This is fur­ther en­hanced by Ford’s Ter­rain Man­age­ment sys­tem, which of­fers Nor­mal, Snow, Sand and Mud/Rut modes. Each is de­signed to get the best out of the avail­able trac­tion in a num­ber of off and on-road sur­faces. The Ex­plorer lacks a low-range gear­ing thus hin­der­ing any re­ally heavy off-road driv­ing.

The Ex­plorer has mor­phed into a so­phis­ti­cated and com­fort­able ve­hi­cle far from its rough and ready be­gin­nings.

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of the ve­hi­cle was way above what I was ex­pect­ing, han­dling for a 7-seater was good and had an abun­dance of space with the seats folded. If you like get­ting off the beaten track and a mini­van just doesn’t cut JU UIJT JT EFlOJUFMZ BO PQUJPO

The Ford Ex­plorer Limited 2017 has mor­phed into a so­phis­ti­cated ve­hi­cle.

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