The Ford Explorer is not, at its core, a bad vehicle. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a bad choice when it comes time to select an Explorer.
Ford’s heralded EcoBoost branding has done wondrous things for the F-150 and should also bring about pleasant changes in the second-generation Escape. Unfortunately, Ford’s powertrain department offered the Explorer’s engineers the wrong EcoBoost powerplant. This 2.0L four-cylinder is too weak to handle the Explorer’s 4500 pounds and makes its power felt at the wrong rpm.
Yet there are other underpowered vehicles which haven’t made the list, so what gives? Imagine Chevrolet asking you to pay more for the less powerful Z06 than they do for the ZR1. How offended would you be if Porsche charged more for the 911 Carrera S than they did for the 911 Turbo? Consider how you’d react if Honda made the Civic Si just about as fuel efficient as the regular, less-powerful Civic, but then made the regular, less-powerful Civic more expensive than the Si.
Ford, in daring fashion, has decided to make this still-thirsty EcoBoost 2.0L a $1000 option. Go ahead and improve your mileage – slightly – but Ford will charge you an extra thousand dollars for lopping off two cylinders and adding a turbo that’s not capable of making this 2.0L as powerful as the artificially-aspirated 2.0L you’ll find in numerous Hyundais and Kias. Add to this the fact that, in base form, the Explorer looks so base. Thanks, but we’ll pass. And so so should you.
Alternatives: Kia’s V6-powered Sorento offers an awful lot of stuff for the money. Though usually rejected, the Flex is a stylish Explorer relative. And imagine how much more fun this EcoBoost powerplant could be in the attractive 2013 Ford Escape, if you can forget your third row requirements.
Base USD/CAD Price: $29,275 / $30,999
It Sucks, But… there’s something about an Explorer, an upper-trim level Explorer, that looks so right when it’s parked in a suburban driveway.
Sales Stats: 2011 marks the rebirth of the large-volume Explorer. Though it’s far from being the dominant SUV it was just a decade ago, the Ford Explorer now finds itself on American best seller lists as a matter of course. Monthly and yearly sales figures for the whole Ford Explorer range can be viewed here.
Ford F-150 EcoBoost 4×4 – Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback – Jeep Wrangler
Kia Rio 5-Door – Land Rover LR4 – Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
Honda Crosstour – Lincoln MKS – Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Nissan Versa Sedan – Toyota Corolla CE