By Cars.com EditorsNovember 19, 2014
About the video
From the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2016 Ford Explorer.
(upbeat music playing) The Ford Explorer is America's best selling three row SUV, and a number of years into the current generation, Ford has made some significant updates in terms of engines and styling.
We'll take you through what's different and what's not. Now, the Explorer loses it's old kind of three bar grille for what you see right here. Sort of feels really connected to the headlights here. Kind of a little bit of a Land Rover look, similar to the new Discovery, the LR2. Every trim level, there's five total, has its own unique grille, Ford says. This is an Explorer Limited. That's kind of the middle of those five trim levels. The bottom here kind of separates some elements here, loses kind of the cladded look of the previous Explorer. Let's take a look at what's different in back. Not as many big changes in back, but a few details I'll point out. Check out these tail lights and the D pillars. They're both kind of lifted a little three-dimensionally off the bodywork. That's to improve aerodynamics, which Ford says is up about 5% over last year's Explorer. Now, check this out. Backup camera, right? Most SUV's have them now. There's actually a washer for the backup camera as well as for the front camera, and Ford says this is the first vehicle with two available cameras, front and rear, that have washers. Kind of cool and if you've ever tried to back up in the winter with a dirty camera, you know that that's going to be helpful. Now, a few of our longstanding complaints on the Explorer involve visibility, front seat comfort, and electronics. On the electronics front, Ford appears to have dealt with a major issue, which was the capacity of controls on it's MyFord Touch system. These are real buttons now, as you can see. Not terribly attractive, they look a little outdated already, but we'll take them over what used to be here in the center stack of the Explorer. Now, seats. Ford said it redesigned the front seats to improve back seat leg room, also to improve overall comfort. I got to say they still feel a little bit too small, especially in these cushions. They need to go out a few more inches for good thigh support. Visibility. Still really, really thick A pillars. I wish these had been narrowed a little bit, kind of swallows up a significant swath of your vision around you. Overall, cabin materials kind of remain the same here upfront. Ford says it now offers multi-contoured, Nirvana leather in the Explorer. I've heard that the tanning process involves using a lot of lithium, and the results sort of smell like teen spirit. Now, second row leg room actually pretty good here. I'm six feet tall, that's where I'd sit to drive. As you can see, I've got some knee room leftover, and the seat has a nice high seating position thanks to a low floor here. Unfortunately, the seat cushions kind of the same issue as the front one's, a little bit too short. Could be a little bit longer for better thigh support. Ford did upgrade door materials on the second row here, nicer feeling than they used to be. Still a little odd that it didn't improve, kind of, some of the workability of the second row seats here. The passenger side, 40 section of the seat, goes forward and backward. The 60 section here in the 60/40 split doesn't. Both sides do recline a little bit though. A little bit of an odd set up there. Another odd thing, Ford still hasn't worked in some kind of walk-in feature to the third row. That means you still have to do this kind of tumbling forward feature here with the second row and that's how you get in, then you gotta reset the whole thing. Not as simple as a walk-in feature, which a lot of three row SUVs now have adopted. Third row space, kind of an issue in the Explorer. I'm surprised Ford didn't at least address it, again, with a moving second row seat on this side here. Still pretty tight back here for adults. A little odd because Ford has another three row SUV in the Flex that actually has a pretty good third row, so do competitors like the Dodge Durango. Now, Ford expects more shoppers to be able to buy a turbo four cylinder Explorer than last time because it's got a bigger engine now, EcoBoost and Ford Speak. There's also naturally aspirated and EcoBoost V6s available. All of them we'll get a chance to drive, hopefully, once the Explorer goes on sale in summer of 2015. (engine revving)
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