2017 Ford Explorer – Driven
Okay, mom and dad – you need a vehicle that can carry six or seven people, but isn’t a minivan. What left on the menu? Three-row crossovers and SUVs, of course. And which SUV has been SUVing longer than most? Yep, the Ford Explorer. It debuted back in 1991 and has evolved from a utilitarian two-row brute to a plush,
lined, power-everything family hauler. The current generation has been around since 2011 and received a mid-cycle refresh for 2016, which brought the high-end Platinum trim with Lincoln-like levels of refinement and the 365-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost.
Nothing changes for 2017, but that didn’t stop me from spending a week with Ford’s grandest mid-size SUV. The Explorer is sandwiched between the smaller Ford Edge and the body-on-frame, F-150-based Ford Expedition. The Platinum trim comes equipped with nearly every major option as standard, only leaving customers to choose from the $695 second-row bucket seats, the accompanying $150 center console, and the $1,995 rear-seat entertainment package. Fitted with all but the rear TVs, my Ruby Red tester stickered at $55,420. That’s a sizable price for a family hauler, but few SUVs come packed with such utility mixed with luxury backed by a name with heritage.
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To say Ford has a lot riding on the F-Series pickup is a gross understatement. The full-size trucks are some of the most popular models for the automaker, representing between 600,000 and 800,000 units sold each year. While those numbers include the entire F-Series lineup, made up of the Super Duty models and the half-ton F-150, much of the sales can likely be attributed to the F-150. I say “likely” because Ford doesn’t publish the breakdown between the two classes. Still, the F-150 is an immensely popular truck.
That’s why it was so critical for Ford to nail its next-generation F-150. Completely remade from bumper to bumper, save for some carryover powertrains, the new-for-2015 F-150 took the leap into aluminum, ditching its steel body for high-strength tin foil.
Well, calling it tin foil might not be accurate. Ford will quickly point out the aluminum used on the F-150 is “military grade” stock. While that sounds great, the basic premise is this: the truck is lighter without its strength being compromised. Much of that strength doesn’t actually come from the aluminum, however. The F-150’s new frame is comprised of high-strength steel. Fully boxed, the frame is stronger than before, yet weights nearly 60 pounds less than the 2014 F-150’s frame.
All this is designed to let the F-150 do work. Configured correctly, the pickup truck will haul 3,270 pounds of cargo and tow 12,200 pounds worth of trailer. Those are numbers one-ton trucks like the F-350 couldn’t match a decade ago.
Despite those outrageous numbers, the F-150 is no stripped-out tractor. In fact, I had the chance to sample Ford’s range-topping trim level for the 2015 model year, the Platinum. While 2016 is bringing the even-more-luxurious Limited trim, the Platinum rivals the best mid-level luxury sedan in terms of comfort and equipment.
Let’s take a look
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The Detroit Auto Show brought us both the announcement new 2017 Ford GT and Forza Motorsports 6, and it was glorious. The announcements came together as the Ford GT is going to be the hero car of the new Xbox One racing game, and it will appear on the box art. The Ford GT is more than a simple model for the front of the game as Ford and Turn 10 studios are working together to make sure the Ford GT in the game is as accurate as possible to real life.
Part of that collaboration means exclusive access to the car and its design team. This was shown today with a new video from Turn 10 and Microsoft that goes in depth into the design and creation of Dearborn’s newest supercar. The video features interview footage of several of the key people involved in bringing this carbon-fiber supercar to life, and it gives you an idea of just how passionate and dedicated they are to their craft. It’s a great watch.
Plus it gives you a really nice and really close look at all the interesting and subtle details that make this car special and unique. I think I need to go watch it again, actually.