Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Ford Explorer Platinum AWD: The Model’s Crème Dela Creme

Highlight: This is the Ford Explorer new top of the line trim.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $54,760 (base model $53,815)

Seating Capacity: 6 or 7

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; rain sensing wipers; a rearview camera system; a front 180 degree camera; a hill descent control system; a lane keep assist system; a navigation system; a tire pressure monitoring system; and a perimeter alarm system

Platinum Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; automatic headlamps; fog lamps; moonroof; rear spoiler; roof rack rails; second-row heated seats; dual zone automatic climate control; heated/ventilated front seats; a heated leather wrapped steering wheel; massaging front seats; leather seats; power third row seats; power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; woodgrain interior accents; a radar activated cruise control system; a towing package; an enhanced parking assist system; a hill descent control system; a power steering system; a remote start system; a Sirius satellite system; and a terrain management system  

Options: 20-inch wheels; second-row bucket seats; and a second row console

Other Trim Level: Base; XLT; Limited; and Sport

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 500-watt audio system AM/FM/CD with satellite radio

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/365-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New:  The Platinum trim is the newest addition to the popular three-row midsize crossover. The Platinum model is to the Explorer what Denali is to the GMC brand. In other words, it’s the crème dela crème trim for the midsize Explorer.

Why: Ford’s larger 365-horsepower engine is only available in the Explorers two high end trims, the Sport and the Platinum. For the 2016 model year, this is the first time Ford has offered the Platinum trim.

The roomy family vehicle offers great ride and handling due to its MacPherson suspension system. The crossover also offers an array of high tech and semi-autonomous driving features, too. This premium crossover literally is outfitted with everything from an automatic parallel parking system to a lane keep assist system to even a rain-sensing wiping system. And yes, all of the noted features are standard.

Moreover, the top of the line trim also offers a number of exclusive interior accoutrements that makes the Explorer standout. For one, the high end trim includes for those seeking their own personal masseuse, a multi-contour massaging driver seat with perforated leather. Secondly, the interior is also draped with real ash wood pieces, which lines the door panel and instrument panel, while the heated steering wheel is wrapped in wood and leather.

Added to that, Ford’s lux-crossover is powered by the model’s most powerful EcoBoost engine, the 365-horsepower, 6-cylinder that pushes out 350-lb feet of torque.

But: Ford’s Explorer Platinum is only available in a four-wheel drive configuration. An available front wheel drive configuration would help to lower the price a few grand. Furthermore, paying over $50,000 for a midsize Explorer seems pretty steep, especially since many of its well-equipped competitors are priced below the $50,000 threshold.

Moreover, there are fullsize SUVs, with three rows, which offer a bold looking design, more interior space, added cargo room, extra towing capacity and an 8-cylinder engine for around the same price as the Explorer.

Furthermore, this vehicle goes up head to head against the brand’s luxury alternative, the MKT AWD, which offers a longer new car warranty. Both the Ford and Lincoln are playing in the same price point. Besides the warranty, the exterior styling of both vehicles are drastically different.

Verdict: While the Platinum model offers features that are not available on other trims, consumers should see if the Explorer Limited model offers everything one need. We’re not quite sure if the extra features justify the Platinum model, unless the price point is under $50,000 with rebates and other discounts. Also considering that there are large SUVs, which offer extensively more in a variety of areas consumers should shop around before signing on the dotted line. Essentially, this new premium model from Ford is the alternative to folks who might not be drawn to the exterior styling of Lincoln’s MKT.

Competition: Honda Pilot Elite; Hyundai Santa Fe Limited; Kia Sorento Limited; Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring; and Toyota Highlander Limited  

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