2016 Ford Explorer Review

2016 Ford Explorer - The 2016 Ford Explorer gets upgrades to help it retain its popular status.


Prices: $31,050-$52,970

The Ford Explorer is one of Ford's top-selling vehicles, and Ford intends to keep it that way with exterior and interior changes.

The Explorer is sold with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD) and comes in a variety of trim levels. List prices range from $31,050-$52,970, which is the price of the new top-line Explorer Platinum AWD model I drove.

The appearance of the new Explorer appears to be inspired by the prestigious Range Rover, with such things as a new grille with a satin/chrome finish, redesigned hood, new headlights and new fender and fog lights.

Other items include a new tailgate, new tail lights and new exhaust tips. There are five new wheel designs. The Uptown interior for the Platinum version includes Nirvana leather with perforated and quilted seats.

Standard Nirvana equipment includes a sunroof, heated and cooled supportive driver and front-passenger seats, second-row heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium audio system, power tilt/telescopic wheel and a clever power split third-row seat.

Functional items include adaptive cruise control, active park assist, front 180-degree camera, rearview camera, lane-keeping system and reverse sensing system.

Safety items include airbags and a safety canopy.

A new 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 280 horsepower is essentially from the Ford Mustang. The rear-drive Explorer with this engine delivers an estimated 28 miles per gallon on the highway.That highway figure is a major Ford bragging point. City fuel economy is estimated at 19 miles per gallon, which really isn't bad for a big SUV that weighs approximately 4,800 pounds.

Other engines are a 3.5-liter 290 horsepower V-6 and a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that kicks out 365 horsepower and gives the Explorer Platinum AWD model fast acceleration.

However,my test Platinum is rather gas-thirsty, providing an estimated 16 miles per gallon city, 22 highway.

Engines work with a smooth, responsive six-speed automatic transmission with easily used paddle shifters.   

It takes extra effort to enter the tall Explorer, but occupants have good visibility once aboard. First and second-row seat areas provide plenty of room, but the folding split third-row seat is too tight to comfortably accommodate practically anyone but kids. But it folds completely forward and sits flat to provide an extra-large cargo area.

The hatch flips up high so you don't bump your head and has a wide opening. But cargo space with the third seat in its normal position is only adequate for such things as a  week's worth of family groceries and such.The cabin has conveniently located cupholders and plenty of storage areas.

My test Explorer handled much like a big, quiet sedan. The steering had the right amount of power assist and didn't make me wish it was faster or slower. Handling for such a big, high fella was pretty good. On- and off-ramps caused little body lean when taken at twice the posted speeds.

The ride was fairly supple, but I could still feel as if I was in a truck. The brake pedal had a nice linear action.

The 2016 Explorer has enough improvements to continue its winning ways.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.