The iconic Ford Explorer, totally reinvented in 2011, continues in 2012 to lead its class in style, features and functionality and now, with the 2.0 liter EcoBoost™ four cylinder engine, also in fuel efficiency.
This past week we have been driving a new 2012 Explorer Limited AWD in Sterling Gray Metallic and Pecan Perforated Leather interior equipped with the 3.5 liter V6 and six-speed Selectshift Automatic transmission, around Central Texas.
This Ford Explorer Limited is loaded with just about everything a discriminating SUV buyer might want for adult or family use.
The 2012 Explorer comes in a base trim starting at $28,870, the XLT ($32,345) and the Limited starting at $37,855.
Our test vehicle was the very well equipped, top of the line Limited AWD that started at $39,855 with the following equipment: 20 inch polished aluminum wheels, intelligent four wheel drive with a dial in terrain management system, three row leather appointed seating for seven, fog lamps, power folding and heated mirrors with marker/signal lighting, 10-way passenger power seating and 6-way passenger power seating with heating and cooling, dual zone climate control, power adjustable pedals, adjustable ambient interior lighting, leather wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, overhead console and dual lighted vanity mirrors.
Additionally it included reverse sensing and rear view camera, intelligent access with push button start, premium Sony 390 watt audio system with 12 speakers, Sirius satellite radio and voice activated Sync™ with MyFord Touch™ voice activated driver connect technology. The audio system also includes a media hub with two USB ports, SD card reader and audio/video input jacks.
There are four 12 volt power points (2 in first row, 1 in second row and 1 in cargo area). A 110 volt power outlet is in the first row dash. The third row seating is 50/50 for easy fold flat for storage. The second row seating is 60/40 and has one touch flip up and stow capability to facilitate easy access to the third row.
The Limited also has AdvanceTrac™ with Roll Stability Control™ and Curve Control. Additional performance and safety items include trailer sway control, hill start assist, power assisted steering, hill descent control and a 200 amp alternator.
Our test drive Limited also came with Equipment Group 302A ($5,310) and added voice activated navigation system, power fold third row seating, power liftgate, BLIS™ blind spot warning system with cross traffic alert, inflatable rear seat belts, active parallel parking assist, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake assist, rain sensing wipers and HID projector head lamps.
The optional Trailer Tow Package (tow capacity 5,000 pounds) added another $570.
With freight, this Limited AWD priced out at $46,560. In our estimation, a whole lot of SUV style, features and functionality for the money.
This was one very capable premium SUV. The 3.5 liter V6 delivers 290 horsepower@4,800 rpm with 286 lb.-ft of torque@3,500 rpm. Fuel efficiency ratings for this power train with the 6-speed SelectShift™ automatic transmission are 17 mpg City and 25 mpg Highway.
During our week of driving in city and country, we averaged 19.8 mpg.
High points were the driving comfort overall, acceleration and power, responsiveness of the steering and braking on the highway and country roads, easy to use active (parallel) park assist, storage capacity with third row flat and even more with second row flat (81.6 cubic feet), power lift gate, power folding third row seating, easy fold second row seating enabling access to the third row, cooled seating first row, adjustable ambient lighting and the Ford Synch dual screen information system in the instrument cluster.
When you go to the Ford Explorer website, you are going to see the 2013 model which will be available a little later this year. It is almost exactly the same as the very complete and capable 2012. There will be new Ford technologies available in the 2013model. They are the Lane Keeping System, Lane Keep Assist and Driver Alert systems. These features coupled with those already available on the 2012, make the 2013 Explorer one of the most driver focus safe vehicles on the road.
We would be remiss to not mention the availability of the EcoBoost engine as an option in the Explorer. The four cylinder 2.0 liter engine delivers 240 horsepower@5,000 rpm with 270 lb.-ft of torque@3000 rpm. Mated with the same 6-speed transmission, this power train offers very capable performance with fuel efficiency of 20 mpg City and 28 mpg Highway.