Durango, CO to Albuquerque, NM – Ford’s Explorer was one of the first SUVs to come to market some 25 years ago, and since its debut, more than 7 million have been sold. To celebrate the iconic Explorer’s 25th anniversary, the Blue Oval team orchestrated an amazing “Explore More Tour”, designed to introduce the new 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum edition to members of the global automotive press. The Platinum Adventure Tour series was spread out over a 25 day period, including 9 focus cities, in which 187 drivers participated, covering a minimum of 2,738 miles. The tour was comprised of six individual routes: Vancouver, British Columbia to Kamloops, BC; Kamloops BC to Calgary, Alberta; Bozeman Montana to Jackson, Wyoming; Grand Junction, CO to Durango, CO; Durango, CO to Albuquerque, NM; and a final circle loop that took in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos NM. Each tour was pre-programmed with scenic and historic attractions along the way, affording pairs of journalists to the flexibility to pick and choose while evaluating the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum.
With the addition of the new Platinum trim level, the Ford Explorer for 2016 is available in five trim levels: Base; XLT; Limited; Sport; and now Platinum. The Base, XLT, and Limited models come with a 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine, but are available with a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost in-line four cylinder engine. Both the Sport and Platinum models draw their motive force from a standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 that delivers 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, while developing 350 pound feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission (paddle shifters for Sport and Platinum). All engines are mounted forward in a longitudinal orientation. Base, XLT, and Limited Explorers are available in either FWD or 4WD, while the Sport and Platinum trims come with Ford’s Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System™.
We’ll deal here with the new Ford Explorer Platinum edition. The suspension componentry consists of MacPherson struts with an isolated subframe and 32-mm stabilizer bar up front and an SR1 independent multilink setup with a 22-mm stabilizer bar. Whoa power is courtesy of four-wheel vented discs with ABS and AdvanceTrac®, and the Platinum rolls on Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 – 255/50 R20 tires mounted on 5 “V” spoke with small separator spokes in between for a total of 15-spokes.
Visually the new 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum displays a rugged new look, but with a refined air about it. Updates in exterior styling include placing the grille and LED headlamps in a higher position, the addition of a new closed-off roof rack with channels that direct water off the vehicle and a new rear upper roof rear spoiler lip that enhances aerodynamics. The new Ford Explorer Platinum also features a bolder headlamp assembly, with available LED signature lighting, standard LED low-beams and available LED fog lamps. There are visible heat-sink structures for cooling the LED in the form of radiator-like grilles that are typically hidden behind the light cluster, but on Explorer they are an innovative part of the complex headlamp design. Other features include a standard dual-panel moonroof, premium silver-painted front and rear skid plate elements, and 20-inch wheels with bright machined face and tarnished dark-painted pockets.
The exhaust is integrated and is designed to reduce the appearance of soot collecting at the rear of the vehicle. Engineers designed a shield inside the chrome bezel of the exhaust that prevents soot from collecting around the outlets. Door handles, the roof rack, mirror caps and rear appliqué are executed in a Satin chrome finish.
Interior design changes include a higher-mounted, wrapped and stitched door armrest; real genuine buttons that replace touch-sense buttons on the infotainment system and more refined detailing throughout. Fine quality materials are employed, including real aluminum and real ash wood multi-piece appliqués on door panels and the instrument panel. A wood and leather-wrapped heated steering wheel comes with unique stitching matching the stitching utilized throughout the rest of the interior. A brushed-aluminum Ford oval is centered on the steering wheel for the first time in a Ford production vehicle. Nirvana leather wraps the instrument panel; console armrests, quilted door bolsters and upper door trim, and even the A-pillars are wrapped in fabric. The instrument cluster features a large 10-inch digital display supported with analog displays – also a first for a Ford-brand vehicle.
An all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System for Explorer Platinum features Live Acoustics technology that re-creates the sound dynamics of some of the world’s greatest concert halls for a more realistic sound. Clear Phase eliminates sound dispersion throughout the vehicle, so the music is precisely pinpointed. Explorer Platinum also gets standard advanced technology features including enhanced active park assist, lane-keeping system and rain-sensing wipers.
My driving partner and I commandeered a 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum finished outside in a Ruby Red metallic and inside in Medium Soft Ceramic and Charcoal tones with aluminum and Ash wood trim accents. The base price was set at $52,970 with the as tested price coming to $53,900 after adding the Destination and Handling charge. There are really only two options on the Explorer Platinum – the color palette and seating choice – 5 or 7-passenger.I later tested the same model on the home front, but with the extra seating option, which elevated the final tally to $55,155.
SUMMARY: The 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum sends the clear message that “If it’s not here, you really don’t need it”. Everything comes as standard fare: Technology includes: Enhanced Active Park Assist with Perpendicular Park, Park Out Assist and Side Sensor; Adaptive Cruise Control; Lane-keeping system; Hands-free liftgate; Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System; front and rear 180-degree cameras with washers; front and rear Smart-charging USB ports; Blind Spot Information System; Cross-Traffic Alert; SYNC® with MyFordTouch® and Auto High Beams.
Creature comforts include: Nirvana leather Multi-Contour massaging front seats with quilted inserts; reduced NVH; heated second row seats; a genuine wood heated steering wheel with a leather wrap; heated and cooled front seats; and improved front seat and second row leg room.
In terms of performance, the new Ford Explorer Platinum’s 3.5-liter, twin-Turbo EcoBoost V6 engine delivers power on par with many V8s – it even emits a V8-like note when prodded with gusto. And, it does so with an EPA estimated 16 mpg-city and 22 mpg highway (18 mpg combined).
Suspension tuning is specific to the Platinum Explorer, and the vehicle is extremely stable and remains flat and planted during even spirited driving, with a good on-center steering feel. The Platinum edition also comes with a Class III Trailer Tow rating.
The 500-watt Sony® Premium Sound System with Clear Phase® and Live Acoustics™ serves up one’s favorite tunes in concert-like quality for the ultimate in listening pleasure while tooling from state to state, enjoying the scenery and Exploring More.
The new Ford Explorer is built in North America at the Chicago Assembly Plant, as well as in Venezuela and Russia. It is sold globally.
Bottom line, this latest Explorer in the new Platinum trim would definitely have made Henry most proud.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum Edition
|Price as Tested:||$55,155.|
|Engine Type and Size:||3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve EcoBoost Twin Turbocharged V6 with Direct Injection.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||365 @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||350 @ 3,500 rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed SelectShift automatic.|
|Drive Train:||Longitudinally-mounted front engine / 4WD.|
|Suspension:||Front – MacPherson strut with isolated subframe and 32-mm stabilizer bar.
Rear – SR1 independent multilink with 22-mm stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Four-wheel vented discs with ABS and AdvanceTrac®Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 – 255/50 R20 mounted on 5 “V” spoke with small separator spoke between (15-spokes).Wheelbase:112.8 inchesLength Overall:198.3 inchesWidth:78.9 inches – excluding mirrorsHeight:71.0 inchesCurb Weight:4,571 lbs.Fuel Capacity:18.6 gallonsEPA Mileage Estimates:16-mpg city / 22-mpg highwayDrag Coefficient:Not listed.0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.