The Blue Oval has revealed their freshly re-imagined 2016 Ford Explorer at the Los Angeles Auto Show, taking their most important sport utility brave into the next few years with crisp new styling and important new tech features.
Right up front, if you ever thought the Explorer looked like a Range Rover before, it looks like one more than ever now. Its new face takes on less sculpted lines than before and pushes decidedly into a new design direction for the brand.
Forms are more flushly aligned and lines a bit more crisp surrounding thinner headlights which are now available in LED. The grille which has active shutters for better aerodynamics is more horizontally proportioned and raised visually, making the front appear taller than before.
While the side profile remains the same, the rear view gets a new look with revised tail lamps that tie into a new rear lift-gate. The lower fascia is gets a fresh dose of style too, with a more integrated look for the exhaust outlets.
New 18” and 20” wheel designs complete the package of exterior styling updates, but it’s under the hood where the big news is. Ford has replaced the 2.0 liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a larger and more powerful 2.3 liter version.
The optional engine provides the combination of 270 horsepower and higher fuel-economy than the base 3.5 liter V6 engine. And because of its increased 300 lb.-ft. of torque, the 2.3 liter EcoBoost can now be had with a tow package and all-wheel drive.
While the 2.3 liter EcoBoost will have more horsepower and torque than the 2.0 liter engine it replaces, Ford says that no sacrifice in overall fuel efficiency is expected.
The standard engine remains Ford’s 3.5 liter V6 which offers 290 horsepower. The 2016 Explorer Sport and the new Platinum edition come standard with the rip-snorting 3.5 liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 which belts out 365 horsepower.
All three power-trains come paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and can be optioned four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System for various off-road and low traction scenarios. The latter is standard in the Sport and Platinum models.
The system operates passively in front-wheel drive mode for improved fuel efficiency and can automatically lock to divert torque to all four wheels in milliseconds depending on traction needs. For those OCD drivers, the instrument cluster has a gauge display which can show real-time power distribution.
The interior receives strategic design changes that improve comfort and livability more than a complete re-design. One needed change includes a higher door armrest level with the center console and now wrapped and stitched for better comfort.
Best of all, real and genuine push buttons replace the aggravating touch sensitive buttons on the old MyFord Touch infotainment system. These two changes really address most of the complaints we had with the previous Explorer’s cabin.
A new Platinum trim level for 2016 raises the bar for luxury substantially with warm and beautiful design features like multi-contour Nirvana leather with quilted stitching. Brushed aluminum and satin-finish wood really look nice.
The Platinum’s Nirvana leather flows over the instrument panel, console armrests, and door panels with a soft and expensive hand stitched sense of craft. The look is finished with a wood inlay and leather steering wheel which is heated for those winter mornings.
Technologies available in the new 2016 Ford Explorer will expand exponentially with niceties like front and rear cameras and a myriad of park assistance programs that go well beyond what is offered in today’s model.
Available driver assistance programs will include adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, lane-keeping assistance and blind spot information with cross-traffic alerts – all the good stuff.
Ford’s hands-free lift gate also comes to the party where you kick your leg below the rear bumper to unlock and open it automatically.
One of Ford’s most important cash cows, next year the 2016 Ford Explorer celebrates its 25 year anniversary. The new model carries in its three rows of seats now over 7,000,000 sales and decades of lineage to take forward.
The new 2016 Ford Explorer goes on sale next summer.