2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Tonka Truck

October 04, 2011


Tonka Truck.

That's what you get when you send a designer into the studio to make a truck before he's really figured out what a truck is. You get a kid's perspective on truck architecture, every aspect and proportion overstated to be as oversize and clumsy as possible.

Pretty much like something that you push around the sand pile in the backyard when you are four years old.

Tonka 4x4.jpg

Too much about the Ford Explorer is trying to persuade me that it's tougher than its crossover platform might suggest. And this is definitely a tough crossover, with far more cargo capacity and towing potential that most people will realize.

But when you make the door sills too high, you can't see the ground. And when dash looms in front of you like an enormous climbing wall of plastic, you can't see over the hood. These accentuated truck cues might seem relatively harmless if all you ever do with your truck is park it in a garage, but if you're in a place where you care about what a truck can really do, the Explorer's toylike proportions get in the way.

There's far more substance to the Explorer than almost any truck guy will believe. But the way to get him interested is not with this Tonka-style execution. The look of the light-duty pickup truck is a little bit cartoony these days anyway, what with the ever more extreme execution of the big rig look, and this crossover shows us the consequences.

I know the Explorer is a challenging piece, since it's supposed to combine the truck themes of its past with the modern, family-friendly cues of GM's Lambda-class crossovers. But the styling execution makes this vehicle more challenging to drive than you want in either a truck or a crossover.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Ford Explorer in VA is:

$134 per month*
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