Review: 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum

– Detroit, Michigan

For a long time, the Ford Explorer was the de-facto family SUV – think about how many you saw at every soccer practice in the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s still a hit today, holding its ground as the nation’s best-selling three-row SUV, but it’s starting to feel like the Explorer is no longer the cutting edge of family hauling. Especially with the stylish and efficient new Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9 on the market, the Explorer looks like the old man of the group.

Ford has attempted to freshen up the Explorer’s appeal by updating it inside and out, including the addition of a high-zoot Platinum trim level. But this pricey trim has me wondering if crossover shoppers’ $54,760 wouldn’t be better spent elsewhere.

Pros

  • Six years into its life, this generation of the Ford Explorer still looks smart. It has a commanding presence on the road, especially when dressed up with the Platinum model’s 20-inch wheels, LED head- and taillights, chrome trim, and satin-chrome grille. Where so many crossovers have gone curvy and swoopy in search of wind-cheating aerodynamics, the Explorer stays loyal to its original boxy silhouette.
  • The Platinum treatment also pays dividends in terms of cabin design. Who ever thought we’d see quilted cream leather and brushed-metal trim in an Explorer? Of course, it’s a huge risk getting cream-colored leather in a car that will carry snack-spilling tykes.
  • Fighting against 4,890 pounds of mass and diluted by a lazy automatic transmission, the 3...