More On Highway Driving - 2012 Ford Explorer Long-Term Road Test

2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

2012 Ford Explorer: More On Highway Driving

November 08, 2011

explorer_hills.JPG I did a four-hour drive in our Explorer yesterday. It was mostly highway driving, and the Ford was a pretty agreeable companion. The driver seat is comfortable and the suspension smoothers out most of the nasty pavement.

Ed recently did a long highway drive as well, and a lot of people commented on his 22.7 mpg average. Unfortunately I don't have a number for my trip as a fair amount of the miles on our trip odo was from previous driving. But I will be doing this route again in a couple weeks and will fill up beforehand to get an accurate observation of miles per gallon.

I do have a little more commentary about how the four-cylinder engine managed when going up hills, though. 

I did my drive over the Tejon pass. Indeed, the four-cylinder was "adequate." But I did notice one odd aspect: there was more than one occasion where I'd set the cruise control while climbing a grade and the Explorer wouldn't (or couldn't) match my desired speed. Say I'd set the cruise control for 73 mph; the Explorer would only maintain 70 mph.

I was fairly annoyed by this, though I don't know if I can actually blame this on the engine. Maybe it'd be the same with the V6, or maybe it's a programming or transmission issue. Actually, when I'd prod the throttle to get my desired speed up, not much would happen. The transmission was pretty reluctant to downshift. So maybe the goal of fuel economy and staying in top gear was trumping the cruise control's desire to hit 73 mph? Again, I only noticed this when climbing grades.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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