Ford Explorer 2016: Bring It In!

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Ford-Explorer

The Ford Explorer Platinum edition went on sale last month promising to solve multiple problems for Ford. Problem One: The strongest engine offered in the popular Explorer SUV, the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V 6, would sell in greater numbers if Ford made it more broadly available.

The obvious solution is now at hand: a more sybaritic, more expensive Explorer. They have sold 7 million Explorers in 25 years, after all by establishing a huge and loyal customer base that contains many who are ready to spend whatever it takes to get all the comforts and luxury trimmings.

The way Ford marketers tell the tale, the new Platinum combines the luxury characteristics of the Limited with the increased functionality of the Sport. Just adding the EcoBoost V 6 option to the Limited trim level would have executed that.

The Platinum has a slower steering ratio tuned for a more linear response curve, so it does not dive into a corner or swap lanes quite as sharply as does the Sport. The suspension tuning also is more comfort-oriented, but not in a sloppy, wallowy way.

Braking and handling felt secure and safe through high mountain passes and switchbacks, where excitement is not really the priority for those driving a 5000 pound SUV full of family and gear. Even though the normal position seemed to adapt pretty well on its own. We did not get quite so adventurous as to need the hill descent assist, but it is there for those who have more time to drift.

It also contains as standard a dual panel sunroof, lane keeping assist, rain sensing wipers, and adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and braking. While Ford makes much of the washers for the front and rear cameras, we wished more for headlight washers to clear a full day of dust and bug accretion when darkness fell in the mountains south of Silverton.

Platinum buyers will at least find that the oval badge on their steering wheels is executed in classy, brushed aluminum.