2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Mirror Dependent
May 07, 2012
I can't think of another car in the fleet in which I'm almost entirely dependent on the mirrors and rearview camera when backing up. Not even the Quest. Even as rearview cams become more common and my reliance on them grows, I still by force of habit twist around, throw an arm around the passenger seat for stability and crane my neck to see just where the hell I'm pointing the vehicle.
But it's a pretty futile effort in the Explorer. You can turn and twist, but the beltline on this car is so high, you still don't see much out the rear windows. Taller drivers can maybe see a little more of the greenhouse of the car they're about to back into, but good luck trying to find a bumper or hood for visual reference. And that shopping cart or fire hydrant, forget it.
We've beat on the Explorer for feeling big and driving big. But that's apparently what many Americans want: Ford sold 13,400 Explorers last month, its best April since 2005, and has sold 47,000 Explorers year-to-date. But the Explorer's compromised visibility, especially the thick C-pillar and second-row headrest combination, only contributes to a sensation of navigating a bulk carrier up the Colorado River.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor