2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Waiting
February 22, 2012
One one-thousand...two one-thousand...
The Explorer takes its sweet time feeding out the speed. Give it throttle, then wait for the turbo to spool and for a committee to decide if more speed is a prudent use of fuel. Your request is granted, but it's too late. You committed to the lane change and the car that was 100 feet behind is now hard on the bumper, giving you the lights and a salute. Hate being that guy.
The only real workaround is to drop into "L."
But that only buys you a few milliseconds and only if the turbo is cooking. Otherwise, the EcoBoost turbo-four feels under-gunned for everything except steady-state cruising at 70 mph or loping between stoplights. This engine makes about the same power and torque as the new BMW 3-Series turbo-four, but carries an extra 1,100 pounds.
There's still a lot to like about the Explorer, though. Cushy ride, plush cabin. Tons of space (and seemingly tons of usable space covered in plastic). My Ford Touch is still unloveable, but it queues up Bluetooth music pretty quick. I haven't yet driven the V6 Explorer for comparison, so maybe I don't know what I'm missing. I'd find the EcoBoost's power delivery pretty maddening in daily use, though.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor