Evacuation Slide Not Shown - 2012 Ford Explorer Long-Term Road Test

2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Evacuation Slide Not Shown

December 29, 2011

Explorer_door panel.jpg

Now that's a door panel. Dig that skirt! I remember our Flex having a tall panel like this, with an exaggerated bottom apron and even the upturned flange.

My first drive in our Explorer a few nights ago was underwhelming. Rather, underwhelmed by its oversize. After a week in the Odyssey, this was a stark contrast. Where the Odyssey feels big and drives small, the Explorer drives big and just feels swollen. From the driver's seat it feels almost identical to the Taurus SHO we had in the office several weeks ago.

No surprise there, since both are built off the D4 platform. But to echo earlier points that Takahashi and JayKav made, the Explorer just seems big for the sake of it. As if Ford product planners decided Americans feel safest and offered the most value when surrounded by bulging seats, dashes and trim panels, with not much regard for maximizing cabin space. It feels like there's an additional six cubic feet in here trapped under plastic. Ford isn't the only one guilty; the Dodge Charger also feels like its retaining water.

To top it off, the Ecoboost-four just doesn't feel like it's got any beans. Plant your foot to the floor and the turbo-four debates a little among its systems before delivering any meaningful passing power. My Ford Touch? I'd pile on, but we've already made glue of that dead horse.

But what do I know? People are buying the Explorer and rappers like it. It cuts a nice muscular form during a walkaround. Still, it makes me nostalgic for when MC's made videos riding around in Impala convertibles, Fatburger in hand and shotgun across the lap.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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