2011 Ford Ex­plorer XLT

The Washington Post Sunday - - AUTOMOTIVE -

re­birth Bot­tom of line: the mass-mar­ket The re­birth of mid­size the Ex­plorer sport-util­ity rep­re­sents ve­hi­cle, the and Ford. it’s likely to be­come the halo model of a born-again

Ride, ac­cel­er­a­tion and han­dling: Ex­cel­lent marks in

all three.

Head-turn­ing quo­tient: The new Ex­plorer can be parked in any po­lit­i­cally cor­rect drive­way with­out fear of op­pro­brium or other reprisal. Even avowed SUV haters con­ceded that this one looks good.

Body style/lay­out: The new Ex­plorer is a work of car­like uni­tized-body con­struc­tion. It is a front-en­gine, five-door (rear tail­gate) ve­hi­cle avail­able with fron­twheel or full-time four-wheel drive. There are three trim lev­els — Base, XLT (the “pop­u­larly equipped” model driven for this col­umn and the lux­ury Limited.

En­gine/trans­mis­sion: The 2011 Ex­plorer comes with a stan­dard 3.5-liter, dou­ble-over­head-cam 24-valve V-6 (290 horse­power, 255 foot-pounds of torque). It is mated to a six-speed trans­mis­sion that can be used au­to­mat­i­cally or man­u­ally.

Ca­pac­i­ties: There are seats for up to seven peo­ple. Mid­dle seats have a 60-40 fold-down split. Third-row seats have a 50-50 split. Cargo ca­pac­ity with mid­dle and rear seats raised is 21 cu­bic feet. With mid­dle and rear seats folded, cargo ca­pac­ity is 80.7 cu­bic feet. The Ex­plorer XLT can be out­fit­ted to pull a trailer weigh­ing 5,000 pounds. The fuel tank holds 18.6 gal­lons of gaso­line (reg­u­lar is rec­om­mended).

Mileage: I av­er­aged 23 miles a gal­lon in mostly high­way driv­ing in the four-wheel-drive Ex­plorer XLT.

Safety: Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes four-wheel ven­ti­lated disc brakes with anti-lock pro­tec­tion; elec­tronic brake-force dis­tri­bu­tion; elec­tronic sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol; side, head and third-row air bags; rear in­flat­able seat belts; dusk sens­ing head­lamps; and tire-pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing. There also is an ar­ray of op­tional safety equip­ment, in­clud­ing blind-side and cross-traf­fic mon­i­tor­ing, which can avoid crashes caused by er­rant lane changes or by back­ing into mov­ing traf­fic. This col­umn highly rec­om­mends both blind-side and cross-traf­fic mon­i­tor­ing.

Price: The base price of the 2011 Ford Ex­plorer XLT with four-wheel drive is $31,190. Dealer’s in­voice price on that model is $29,178. Price as tested is $31,845, in­clud­ing $540 for Ford’s Class III trailer-tow­ing pack­age and an $805 des­ti­na­tion charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $29.855.

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