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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Ford Explorer XLT 4WDA new Explorer for a new era.
-2011 Ford Explorer. New from the frame up especially since it doesn't have one. That's right, buona sera truck DNA, a little something more refined. Let's drive this 2011 Explorer XLT four-wheel drive and check the tech. This all started with the Ford Explorer America concept we saw back in 2008 and I gotta say, overall, the proportions and kind of the flavor and even the tail lights came across to market rather intact. Now, there's definitely some Taurus DNA in the face and a smoothness all over that lets you know this is no longer a truck thing. Okay, the Explorer has the new MyFord Touch interface which is on just a few vehicles right now in the Ford and Lincoln lineup. Different from a Lincoln MKX though, you've got a couple of knobs here--not those little slidy touch strips that did not work out for me in the Lincoln MKX. This, of course, is all part of controlling your center stack. We've had some issues with how busy it is. You can just see from the audio sources alone, a lot is rammed in there. Sometimes, the text overlaps an icon in kind of an unreadable way. Response on the screen just tends to be too slow. Things are kinda agonizingly slow and, every once in a while, they'll kinda glitch on the screen. We feel like it needs more performance, more guts behind it. The nav system has really nice layout. You've got live traffic. You've got great voice command through SYNC. You've obviously got a 3D bird's eye here. Not the most populated in terms of 3D buildings if you like that--I think it's a gimmick. Now, about that navigation, here's how you get it. Down in here is what they call the media hub. We have RCA's for auxiliary. We have two USB jacks. I've got media plugged into one. You can also put a USB thumb drive with a 3G modem in it-- in there giving your car its internet connectivity that way. And right next to the-- you see that SD card slot? That's an SD card that has U.S. and Canada navigation on it and because you're only adding your car to a system that has the existing guts in it, it's relatively inexpensive--under $1000 to add nav to this car which would normally be like 2 grand. Now, the other part of MyFord Touch are the two displays here on either side of the speedo and these controllers that go with them. We've shows you these before, but they allow you to get different modes of information, either the left or the right side, with dedicated controllers and the one on the right gives you modes from entertainment to communication to navigation to your climate controls. One choice only on this guy. It's a 6-speed automatic. Now, it'll vary slightly depending on whether you have a front-wheel drive explorer or an all-wheel drive like we have right here. One of the first indications of that is you've got a terrain management knob right here. As you turn that, you go from your standard mode to things like sandy or ruts or snowy and you've also got a button right in the middle there which gives you hill descent control. So if you're going down something steep, it'll basically walk itself down there without you getting on the binders. Going into reverse, you will hear the telltale sensor sound for the parking but you've also got a rearview camera as part of an option package on this. It is not standard even though this car does come with an LCD standard; and as you can see, there's no trajectory that goes with the steering angle but you do have zones and the zoom button lets you zoom in or out. It's kinda useful. Now, a big part of a reason you buy a vehicle like this is whether or not you can carry stuff. Let's see how the new Explorer does the cargo bag. Here's how you create a load area in the back--kind of an interesting little bit of origami. You yank this one to get the headrest to go down, then you pull the red one to push the seat back forward, then you pull the other black one and then pull the long black one to drip the whole thing back like that. Do the other side that way and you've got a flat load floor, but what meets us on the second row. Let's take a look. Okay, now in here, it's another spring-loaded funhouse, so mind your fingers and limbs. Pull this strap to drop the headrest then there's a lever here that lowers the seat back and that gives you your flattest load floor. It's a little bit of a jump here and it's a little inclined but it's pretty good. Now, to get access to the third row. When you're climbing back there, you'd pull on this and lift the seat up that gets you up there. Okay, up front. 3.5 litre V6 but don't get excited. It's not the EcoBoost motor with the twin turbos and the direct injection. No, it's just a modern V6. It does have Ti-VCT--that's Ford's Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing setup. So it's a modern motor but not a stunning motor--283 horsepower, 252 of foot-pounds of torque. You get this guy up to 60 about 8.3 seconds while delivering 1723 mpg. If you were going front-wheel drive and not all-wheel drive, you'd get 1725. Definitely car-like and they weren't all-wheel-drive Explorer but your mind is like a car. This is where Ford was aiming the bullet on this one. They're going after your average American family that wants an SUV that has kind of a chunky sporty look and definitely has some, you know, heavy dutiness to it but that's different than being a truck. The auto response is pretty loopy. This is a car that I'd put in the manual mode a lot, not 'cause I was sporting around with it. I'm not thinking that this is a sports car but because, otherwise, this is just really known for auto response. You gotta push that pedal down, what, 30% of travel to get any decent response and in traffic when you're trying to dice your way around in and out of traffic on the freeway and such, that's just too numb. So you will find-- in my estimation, you're gonna use the shift ability on this gearbox quite a bit. Under throttle, the engine isn't the prettiest sounding thing. It's a little, I don't know, a little clattery up on the-- up on the high end of RPM. Not awful but it does kinda detract a little bit from this vehicle's big presence and really nice interior and then you get this kinda straining engine sound that is in odds with the sleekness of the rest of this vehicle, I think. Okay, let's price this 2011 Explorer. Our guys in XLT, the middle trim level, and it's all-wheel drive--that adds $2000--bringing us to $32,000 base with delivery. Now, you're gonna want what they call Rapid Spec 201A for $1850. That's gonna bring you dual-zone climate control, a better audio system (the Sony Rig) with a few more choices and better sound, also a rear camera, and you're also gonna get a little better implementation of SYNC (the driver connect package) into the head unit. There's also an $800 option for navigation. As I showed you, all you're buying is an SD card but that's a lot cheaper than a $2000 system that's more elaborate than that, so I think I'd go for that. It's a good Nav Rig. It just suffers from a pokey, complicated interface. And the last option to consider and say no to would be rear-seat entertainment. $2000, I'd run from that like a case of syphilis.