Let’s say you’ve started a family, and now you miss performance cars. This is a common dilemma in the car enthusiast world — whether to give up the coupe or the convertible for a minivan. Fortunately, Ford has you covered with the new Explorer ST.
First, a little overview: The new Explorer just went on sale a few weeks ago, and it’s the sixth generation of the Explorer. It’s hard to believe, but the Explorer has now been on sale for 30 years, and it’s remained an absolute mainstay in the family life of many Americans since the beginning.
While the new Explorer is impressive in its own right, the model that stands out the most for car enthusiasts is undoubtedly the Explorer ST. That’s because it uses a twin-turbo V6 with an amazing 400 horsepower, which is 100 more than most rivals offer. This means it’s among the first performance family SUVs. It has a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds, and on paper it just seems wonderful. With that in mind, I decided to check it out in person.
Before I reviewed the Explorer, I knew a bit of what to expect, as I had recently driven the new Lincoln Aviator only a few weeks before. I mention this only because the Aviator’s interior was absolutely fantastic, and I was curious about how the Explorer would measure up to its luxurious cousin.
I wasn’t surprised, however, to find that the Explorer was a bit more "regular" on the inside. It was also around $20,000 cheaper than the Aviator, and, of course, it hails from the "everyman" Ford brand rather than upscale Lincoln. But the Explorer still has a lot of nice touches and materials inside, and I’m impressed by the look.
One potential drawback, however, became apparent after a few minutes inside: the infotainment screen. Ford decided to mount this Explorer’s screen vertically — like you would hold your cell phone — rather than horizontally, like most screens are. Now, this isn’t the only car with a vertical screen. Volvo has it too, and so do Tesla, McLaren, and some Ram models, but it doesn’t always work the best with each screen. For instance, it compresses the backup camera image, which forces it to fit into a tight space. Generally, though, I prefer a vertical infotainment screen because it mirrors what we’re already accustomed to with a cell phone, but for some drivers, it may take a little time to get used to it.
That’s a minor gripe, though, and there’s a lot more to love. The driving experience, for example, was probably the best part. The Explorer ST truly is fast, and not just a little fast. The experience was truly exciting and enjoyable, as the vehicle has acceleration suited to a sports car. Handling, of course, isn’t like that of a sports car, but it’s more nimble than I expected from a midsize crossover with three rows of seating. The only drawback was some surprisingly loud wind noise at highway speeds, which felt disappointing for the price point. This was something I’d listen carefully for on a test drive if I were considering a new Explorer.
As for comfort, I’m happy to report that it isn’t compromised by the sporty driving experience of the Explorer. On the contrary, I found the crossover exceptionally comfortable with excellent seat support and a supple ride. It’s also loaded with a lot of great technology, including an advanced adaptive cruise control system and a responsive version of Ford’s MyFordTouch system, which are all impressive features.
In the end, I think the new Explorer is a great vehicle, and I’m especially impressed with the ST model. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s exciting. It’s really a great family crossover, and I think Ford has once again made another great Explorer that can shuttle around children effortlessly — and this time they’ve done it with a bit more spunk. Find a Ford Explorer for sale
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