After 25 years of SUV leadership, you’d think Ford would have the Explorer down pat. With the refreshed 2016 Ford Explorer debuting at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the world (it’s Ford’s fastest-selling export vehicle) can enjoy the same familiar utility combined with an all-new Platinum trim level, the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, and new smart technologies.
“Explorer helped define how the world thinks about SUVs,” said Ford group vice president and chief technical officer for Global Product Development, Raj Nair. “2016 Ford Explorer is the centerpiece of Ford’s global utility vehicle lineup because it delivers an ideal combination of form and function. And with 7 million already sold, nearly everyone has an Explorer story.”
New Platinum Series
“Bringing Explorer Platinum to market is a natural extension of the Explorer lineup, giving our customers even more of what they want,” said Matt Zuehlk, 2016 Ford Explorer brand manager. “There’s a market for more upscale SUVs, as 90 percent of today’s Explorer Sport buyers purchase the most expensive package available. That’s a strong signal customers are ready for Platinum.”
From the new multi-contour front seats to special quilted stitching and advanced standard technologies, the Explorer Platinum is “the ultimate expression of refinement,” according to Ford design director for The Americas, Christopher Svensson. “This is the most premium, high-quality interior we’ve ever offered on a Ford vehicle.” You’ll find brushed aluminum and satin-finished ash wood on the door panels and the instrument panel, plus a wood-trimmed, leather-wrapped, and heated steering wheel.
Also included with the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum are enhanced active park assist, lane-keeping system, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights, dual-panel moonroof, premium silver-painted front and rear skid plate elements, and 20-inch wheels.
New EcoBoost Motor Option
First seen in the 2015 Mustang, Ford’s new 2.3L EcoBoost four, which replaces the 2.0L EcoBoost four, will put out at least 270 horsepower when it hits the street. Available on the base, XLT and Limited series, the new powerplant is capable of Class II towing − impressive for a four. While EPA results are not yet certified, Ford does not anticipate any sacrifice in fuel efficiency, which means the 2016 Explorer can be expected to have the highest highway gas mileage of any vehicle in its class.
Of special note are three interesting features of the 2.3L EcoBoost:
- It employs an active oil control system to optimize pressure when less fluid is needed
- An active wastegate controls boost more precisely during light load operation to help save fuel
- A higher compression ratio results in more efficient fuel combustion
“The new Explorer isn’t giving up its reputation as a leader in highway fuel efficiency – especially for the customer who wants a vehicle that is also a capable trail warrior,” said , chief engineer for the new Explorer, Arie Groeneveld. “Customers will not only get the performance of a larger engine, they won’t sacrifice efficiency because of it.”
Although it seems counter-intuitive, the standard motor for the base, XLT, and Limited models is a 3.5L V6 that is expected to have 290 horsepower once it hits the streets; shifting duties will be handled by a six-speed SelectShift automatic. The Explorer Sport or Platinum edition receive a standard 3.5L EcoBoost V6 that is expected to have 365 horsepower; it too is mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic.
The 2016 Explorer will offer the following technologies that are new for the SUV:
- Front and rear cameras with washers
- Enhanced active park assist with perpendicular park assist, park-out assist, and semi-automatic parallel parking
- Smart-charging USB ports
- Hands-free liftgate
- 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics and Clear Phase technology for the Explorer Platinum
- Air curtains that hold airflow close to the vehicle body to minimize drag
“Customers love Explorer, and expect this SUV to lead the way in innovation, performance and fun,” added Groeneveld. “It’s a tall order, but we’re aiming to build the best SUV in the world.”
The 2016 Ford Explorer goes on sale in the summer of 2015.