The Ford Explorer made its name as an old-fashioned, truck-based SUV. But times have changed, and the current Explorer has, too. The 2014 Ford Explorer employs a carlike structure for a civilized drive, and it has more 3-row passenger space than those Explorers of yore. Whether you just want to avoid the minivan blues or even do some light-duty off-roading with your family, the Explorer hits the spot. Here are five reasons to explore one yourself.

Turbo Power

Brisk acceleration is a rarity in this class, but this Explorer breaks new ground. The Explorer Sport boasts a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 that pumps out an astounding 365 horsepower. If trips to the mall have lost a bit of their luster over the years, the Explorer Sport will add some excitement in a hurry. There's also the EcoBoost 4-cylinder turbo to consider in other trims; it's not nearly as quick, of course, but it does return an impressive 28 miles per gallon in highway driving.

True 3-Row Seating

Although a lot of crossovers are said to have three real seating rows, we've learned to take these claims with a grain of salt. The truth is, third-row seats in crossovers are often best left for the kids. But that's not what you get with the full-size Explorer. There's even room for a couple adults back there if you need it. Only minivans are more generous to their third-row occupants, and let's be honest, no minivan looks as cool as this Ford.

Top-Notch Technology

The Explorer can be equipped with the voice-controlled MyFord Touch infotainment system, and we think it merits serious consideration. The crisp, colorful touchscreen is an attraction in itself, and the touch-sensitive buttons below it are another highlight. You also get high-tech configurable displays in the gauge cluster that have similarly sharp graphics. It's not for everyone, but if you love figuring out the latest tech, MyFord Touch is worth the stretch.

Cargo-Crazy

If you need to haul a bunch of stuff on a regular basis, the Explorer does that, too. The power fold-flat third-row seats expand the cargo bay at the touch of a button, and if you fold the second row as well, you basically have an enclosed pickup truck. By the numbers, the Explorer offers a healthy 80 cu ft. of maximum cargo space, which is more than enough for most tasks.

Perfect Crash Scores

Crash tests aren't the sort of thing that goes viral on the Internet, but they're a top concern for crossover shoppers. Happily, the Explorer is a straight-A student. Ford's biggest crossover scored perfect 5-star ratings from the government, and it also got top Good ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That's a performance that every family can appreciate.

AutoTrader Says

The 2014 Ford Explorer is a must-drive if you're shopping for a large 3-row crossover. It ticks all the boxes for crossover fans, and that optional twin-turbo V6 is a special treat.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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