2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test - Performance

2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

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2012 Ford Explorer: 2013 Explorer Sport Certified At 365 Horsepower

August 28, 2012


The Explorer Sport is the high-performance version of the Explorer, and Ford recently revealed exactly how much horsepower it will have on tap for 2013.

From Edmunds.com News: "The 2013 Ford Explorer Sport is certified at 365 horsepower, Ford has confirmed. The Explorer Sport, the high-performance version of the popular SUV, is equipped with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Ford originally predicted that the Explorer Sport would produce at least 350 hp. It shares the engine with the Ford Taurus SHO sedan."

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer: Second Guessing Ecoboost

August 14, 2012


Way back in October of last year, I declared that the Ecoboost engine in our new Explorer was perfectly adequate for everyday driving.

It still is, but I'm less enthused with it than I used to be. I'm now in the habit of timing its power surge when I'm making a lane change on the highway. Sure, I do this with just about any engine, but in this case the lag time between floored accelerator and actual thrust is annoyingly long.

And that's with just me in the car. With a full house this sucker would feel seriously slow. Now I'm thinking I might stick with the standard V6 and put up with the minor decrease in fuel economy.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Ford Explorer: Vineyard Voyage

July 04, 2012

explorer at vineyard.jpg

The missus and I recently took a day trip to Temecula wine country (about 100 miles southeast of L.A.) and as you'd likely expect, the Explorer proved to be a comfortable choice. The well-shaped, heated front seats deserve props for easing our sore lower bodies on the drive home after a 90-minute horse ride through the vineyards.

As with other staffers, I've mixed feelings about the fitment of the EcoBoost turbo four in the Explorer...

I recently sampled this engine in the Taurus, as did my colleague Bill Visnic and share his sentiment that it works surprisingly well in that full-size, two-ton sedan. Although it's still fairly smooth and quiet and provides decent performance most of the time in the Explorer, running up long highway grades or booting it to merge onto a fast-moving freeway has it laboring a bit like the old Nelly I was astride during our trail ride. Saddling the willing EcoBoost four with another quarter ton of mass (compared to the already pudgy Taurus) is pushing it.

But it gets great gas mileage, right? "Great" might be overstating things, but to its credit, we've pulled 27.9 mpg on one tank, essentially matching the 28 mpg EPA highway number. We're averaging 20.4 mpg compared to the 23 mpg combined EPA estimate, but that's not bad considering our Explorer's steady diet of notorious L.A. traffic and our team of leadfoots.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Needs A Skosh More Boost

June 19, 2012

Explorer arbors.jpg

I was saddled with moving again this past weekend. I like to move every other weekend just because it's so much dang fun.

This time I had the Explorer. Now while I've found the Explorer with the EcoBoost four to be fine scooting around town with just me in it, piled with a truck-full of my assorted crap was a different story. It's underwhelming. Or more appropriately, the engine is bit overwhelmed.

The slow-reacting transmission doesn't help. But for sure there were several times when my call down to the engine department via a floored throttle brought fairly lackadaisical forward progress. Especially when asking for more acceleration at higher speeds.


For those of you freaking out because it appears the Explorer is parked in a red zone...calm down, guys, everything is going to be okay. It was parked there for the length of time it took to crack off a photo.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 16,421 miles.

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: New High for Cruising Range

May 23, 2012


I had a jam-packed schedule during my weekend road trip in our long-term 2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost, and I hadn't built in time for a fuel stop. The distance-to-empty display ticked down to 50 miles, then 30, then 20, then 10 and then this... I was about 5 miles from my destination and running late, so I pressed on. I'd say I drove for a total of 8 miles before finally fueling up somewhere in East L.A. No question, I wasn't monitoring the trip counter as closely as I should have been.

This produced the Explorer's first 400-mile tank -- 415.4 miles. Its previous high was 388.8 miles.

I put in 18.434 gallons of 87 octane. Ford's published fuel tank capacity is 18.6 gallons, so if true, I apparently wasn't very far from stranding myself and my passenger for no other reason than poor planning. I actually stopped at one gas station, realized the pumpside credit card swipers weren't working, and was too lazy to go inside and wait in the long line. I then drove 2 miles to another gas station.

Notably, I didn't come anywhere close to laying down our best-ever mpg. I got 22.5 mpg. We've logged one strange tank at 39.1 mpg thus far, though I suspect that must have been recorded on one long downhill grade, and plenty of tanks in the 24-25 mpg range.

Had I drive efficiently enough to get 24-25 mpg, this easily could have been a 450-mile tank -- which would be quite impressive in a 4,458-pound SUV with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that has to work hard in fast-moving freeway traffic.

I know cruising range doesn't mean as much to some of you as it does to me, but when I think back to the Explorers I was driving 10 years that were struggling to get 15-16 mpg and certainly weren't approaching 400 miles of range, I do think this is progress. Mind you, the Explorer isn't as popular as it used to be, but I'm betting that the people who do buy the new ones are using them the same way -- as family vehicles. And having 400 miles of range in your family vehicle is simply convenient.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,384 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Gets a Passing Mark for Road-Tripability

May 23, 2012


My decision to drive our long-term 2012 Ford Explorer to La Jolla, California, and back last Saturday had as much to do with my wanting to try something new as it did with the vehicle's availability. My inclination is usually to take something like the Mazda 3 or Sonic on these adventures, but when I thought about how many errands I had to run after the trip, I realized it was going to be a 300-mile day on L.A. freeways and I just wanted something cushier.

Our Explorer filled the bill. Yeah, there were only two of us most of the time (though we also carried a set of parents for a couple hours), but man was it comfortable.

I like the driver seat a whole lot. It's well shaped and supportive. The driving position is also good -- well, good considering the Explorer's tall hood and large D-pillars limit visibility. My only complaint about the seating is that I bumped my knee on the steering column trim a couple times while getting in and out of the Ford -- most likely, that's a consequence of my decision to crank up the seat height to get a better view over the hood.

Ride quality is also very comfortable -- as it should be on a family crossover with P245/60R18 all-season tires.

But you pay a price for the compliance. The Explorer doesn't feel nearly as steady through corners as some of the minivans that have passed through our fleet recently (Sienna, Odyssey). I was a little put off by the amount of body roll around cloverleaf ramps. It still feels better than the older, truck-based Explorers, but compared with the current population of 7-passenger crossovers, it's not so great. This thing may share a platform with the Flex, but it feels like a different team of chassis engineers did the tuning. I really like the steering, though. It feels accurate at highway speeds and in parking lots.

Acceleration is adequate with the EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Full-throttle it up an entrance ramp and you'll arrive at 65 mph in a reasonable amount of time. Trouble is, when you need to pass, the torque just isn't there regardless of the rating on this engine. The six-speed automatic isn't lighting-quick with downshifts, either.

I can see how this drivetrain would work well in a lighter vehicle like the 2013 Escape, but in vehicles that are well past the two-ton mark, I'm not ready to advocate for getting a turbo inline-4 over a V6 -- unless it's a diesel.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in the Ford. I even liked the MyFord Touch interface; the menu system is logical to me and I appreciate how much information I can see on the screen at any one time (our Quest's nav-audio system shows you a lot of info, but Ford displays even more). My one complaint is the one you've heard over and over -- the touchscreen's glacial responses to finger input.

Fix that one thing (and eventually, our turn will come up and we will), and swap in the right engine, and I'd be pretty content in the Explorer.

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: I want the 2013 Explorer Sport

March 28, 2012

13ExplorerSport_05_HR (1).jpg

There are two big complaints about our 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost that don't involve MyFord Touch: 1) It's kind of sluggish. 2) No way to get AWD and a turbo.

With "at least" 350 horsepower from a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, AWD and some unique tweaks (including an upgraded MyFord Touch), the 2013 Explorer Sport fixes both of those issues.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Ford Explorer: Maybe We'll Like This One Better?

March 26, 2012


You might have read that Ford will be showing off a new variant of the Explorer on its Explorer Facebook page in two days time. Common speculation seems to be it'll be an Explorer Sport with the twin-turbo V6 Ecoboost engine.

Makes sense. You can get one in the Flex, so why not the Explorer? But seeing as how most of our staff's complaints center around MyFord Touch and the Explorer's "drives big" personality (and not our comparatively puny EcoBoost four-cylinder), I'm not sure if more horsepower would cure what ails our vehicle and its relationship with the staff. We've got the teaser video on Straightline.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 11,938 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Waiting

February 22, 2012

Explorer_center gauge.jpg

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

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2012 Ford Explorer: Video Review

February 21, 2012


Here is Senior Editor Erin Riches with a video review of the Ford Explorer. The video covers the entire Explorer model range but the action footage features our long-term Explorer XLT EcoBoost.

See the video after the jump...

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: No Ecoboost for Me

January 27, 2012


Let me explain.

Like most of the staff members here, I have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of the 2.0L turbo I4 Ecoboost engine. It pumps out 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, and gives great low-end response.

But there is no way that if I ever got an Explorer that I would get the Ecoboost I4.

You know why? It is not because it's a $1000 option (although that doesn't help either.)

(Photo by Scott Jacobs)

It's because you can't get 4-wheel drive if you order the turbo I4 engine. That's right -- front drive only with Ecoboost. I also checked for 2013 and it's the same deal -- 4WD with the 3.5L V6 only.

Yeah, I know, most Explorers are used as Mommy cars to go to the mall and the kids' soccer practice. And if I got an Explorer myself I would probably use it 95% of the time for mundane tasks that would require only FWD.

But for this size SUV, even if you call it a unibody crossover or whatever, I want off-road capability. I want to be able to go in the snow, sand, or mud, and 4WD gives greater performance and security in those environments -- of course.

The 4WD Explorer's off-road capability is evident in this video showing the Ford Police Utility in action on a low-friction surface.

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT: Ecoboost Isn't Always Enough

January 23, 2012


A few months back I wrote a post saying that I thought the four-cylinder Ecoboost engine in our Explorer was perfectly adequate for day-to-day driving. I, of course, was exactly right.

But I reserve the right to make adjustments to my observations at a later date, which is what I'm doing here. Turns out the Explorer sill feels perfectly adequate for city driving after all these months. No shocker there as it has solid low- and mid-range torque. It's the highway performance that I'm less enthused with these days.

After getting some additional highway miles under my belt, it's obvious that the Ecoboost engine struggles to pass on the highway. And this is with only one person aboard. With a full-sized family I'm guessing it would be so slow that you would simply forget about passing anybody at all.

Now that isn't necessarily a bad thing, sounds kind of relaxing actually. But most owners like to have the ability to get around that lumbering semi truck and the Ecoboost isn't going to make that very easy.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Steering Is a Deal Breaker for Me

January 06, 2012


I drove our long-term ecoboosted four-cylinder Ford Explorer for the first time this week. The power's adequate with the turbo four, but I won't be in a hurry to drive it again -- certainly not on a road trip.

I don't care for this SUV's electric-assist power steering. It's limp and vague on-center to the point that I don't have confidence in my directional heading (on the freeway), so I'm continually making small corrections to keep the big lug pointed straight. This got old after 50 miles of commuting.

Obviously, it's important to keep your expectations in proportion -- in this case, with the realities of driving a 4,700-pound vehicle. Still, Mazda does a better job with the CX-9, as does Dodge with the Durango. Mind you, neither of these vehicles is getting its power steering assist solely from an electric motor (the Durango's steering uses an electric motor to drive a hydraulic pump).

Our long-term Flex, by the way, used hydraulic steering assist, but Flexes with the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 have electric power steering.

Unfortunately, I haven't driven a Flex with the latter setup, so I can't comment on which is better or worse. But know this: The steering in our Explorer needs fine-tuning, because right now, it makes this SUV feel ungainly and larger than it actually is. Drive a Durango and you'd swear you were driving a smaller vehicle.

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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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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: Drives Big

December 27, 2011


Oddly enough, up until last week I'd never driven our longterm 2012 Ford Explorer. Or any 2012 Explorer, for that matter. And my first go was a 1000-mile holiday trip.

My first impression? Poor use of space. It's big on the outside, but the cabin is strangely un-big, or at least it feels that way. Could be the bulky dash or the tall beltline or deep cowl or the thick door panels or all the above.

This is a 3-row crossover/wagon, so physical bigness of all stripes is expected. But it doesn't need to drive so big.

You might be thinking that I'm referring to the powertrain. You would be wrong. The Explorer's big feel stems from the chassis, which feels like it's 600 pounds overweight or has wheels made from a neutron star. It's got a numb and ponderous feel everywhere you wheel it.

A Mazda CX-9 doesn't drive big. The Explorer doesn't have to.

The plus side of its chassis density is a very quiet ride. At 80 mph, there's surprisingly little wind noise, and road noise is largely nonexistent. This kind of refinement will play well with the target buyer.

I do wonder if re-tuning the suspension calibration (and steering) would help the Explorer drive less big.

More trip notes to come.

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: Ecoboost Payback Period

December 16, 2011

ford explorer ex.jpg

Our Explorer has a four-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost engine, an option for those who want better fuel economy than a V6 without excessive performance compromises. Combined EPA-rated fuel economy with the Ecoboost is 23 mpg; with the V6, that figure drops to 20 mpg. The one big drawback to signing up for this four-cylinder is, of course, its price; with our XLT, choosing the Ecoboost engine adds a price premium of $995.

This begs the question: Is it worth it? I was curious as to how long it would take for our Explorer's Ecoboost to pay for itself via fuel savings so I tapped the expertise of one of our crack Edmunds analysts.

He assumed that an average of 15,000 miles would be driven each year, and used a gas price of $3.29. The Ecoboost engine netted annual fuel savings of $321 which translates into a payback period of 3.1 years. Note that this includes only the $995 price premium and doesn't take into account any additional tax expense.

What do you think? Does this payback period make the Ecoboost engine worth the extra coin in your eyes?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: Ecoboost Is Here To Stay, Apparently

December 15, 2011

ford explorer bw.jpg

Ford has been enjoying a great deal of success lately with Ecoboost engines like the one seen in our Explorer. At a recent press event discussing the upcoming Ford Focus Electric and other "green" models, the manufacturer mentioned that the engine is especially popular in its F-150 model line; it's the best-selling engine in the truck's lineup, with a 40 percent take rate.

To fully exploit all this love, the manufacturer plans to offer Ecoboost on 90 percent of all Ford models by 2013. The one thing that's struck me most about the engine in our Explorer is that it doesn't feel like a compromise. It delivers perfectly adequate performance, and while behind the wheel, I've never once found myself longing for a V6. Guess there are lots of other people out there who feel the same way; people who don't mind paying a little bit extra for the experience.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost: Worth the Wait?

December 02, 2011


Twice recently 2011 Explorer owners asked me about our 2012 Explorer EcoBoost. Since the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine was added as an option for 2012, their 2011 Explorers have the standard V6.

Should they have waited, both wanted to know?

While not wanting to encourage a case of buyer's remorse, I personally think it was worth the wait and the extra cash.

What would you say?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Roadmaster

November 30, 2011


(It's hard to get a picture of yourself driving down the road, so I have to resort to one stolen from our photographers to illustrate my point, sorry.)

This is what the 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost looks like when driving down the road. What it feels like, though, is completely different.

I remember two things very vividly from our full test of the 2012 Ford Explorer Limited: The first was that the Explorer was impossibly smooth at highway speeds. So smooth that you had to constantly monitor your speed lest you want to wind up doing 40 over for no reason. The second thing that's stuck in my mind was the way the car felt on the highway: huge, wide, imposing.

It doesn't look it, but from behind the wheel, the Explorer is 12 yards long, 2 lanes wide and some 65 tons of American pride. I felt like I was within a millimeter of crossing both lines at the same time at all times.

Our Ecoboost version, unsurprisingly, feels exactly the same in regards to its road-hogging size (a trick due to big, flat hood and high seating position) and somewhat surprisingly, almost the same in cruising prowess. The only real difference is you wind up doing 10 over the speed limit before realizing what's happened instead of way, way over.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com @ 6,150 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost: Tires Don't Let Go...of Mud

November 29, 2011


"I don't care if it's FWD, c'mon, kick up some mud!" Niebuhr's egging me on to have some fun in a big muddy patch and it's all I can do to be a grown up and say "OKAY!"

But about ten seconds later he comes over the radio again. "Dude. Man up."

But I can't. "The second I hit the dirt this thing turns into an ice skate. I've got no steering, no braking, I can hit the gas, but it doesn't kick anything up or grip at all."

Stepping out of the car and into the barely inch-deep mud, I see why...

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2012 Ford Explorer: More On Highway Driving

November 08, 2011


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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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Great Steering

October 31, 2011

Ford Explorer STW.jpg

I love SUVs. Does that make me a bad person? Don't answer that. Anyway, I've driven a lot of SUVs, and most of them didn't have good steering.

But our long-term 2012 Ford Explorer does: good effort build-up and on-center feel, with a comfortable ratio of 15.75:1.

And the big surprise is that it is electrically-assisted EPS. The Explorer show that a good EPS system can be achieved. And that SUVs don't have to steer like crap.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~3,500 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: Road-Trip Pick

October 20, 2011


With another road trip planned for yet another far-off 24 Hours of Lemons race (this weekend's is at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma), a list of which long-termer I'd like to take runs through my mind. Once again we'll be bringing my dog Mya (puppy!) and since we no longer have a vehicle that can tow our Lemon (Raptor, you'll always have a special place in my heart) we only have to worry about getting a car with room for the pup, some race gear and our luggage.

But after driving our 2012 Ford Explorer last night, I'm daydreaming about it as a road-trip possibility. Traveling with a passenger, that much-complained-about MyFord Touch system wouldn't be too much of an issue. And hooray for seat heaters, Sirius Satellite Radio and iPhone charging capabilities.

The best thing, however, is that backseat for Mya's comfort. The rear seatbacks recline to afford her more leaning room and there's also rear A/C and rear ventilation ducts with fan control to get her some air. Plus, even though we'd throw a blanket and doggy bed in the back, leather seats are always nice for traveling with pets. No pet hair and easy to clean if there's an accident (knock on wood).

Anyhoo, which of our long-termers would you pick for a road trip?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT: Ecoboost is Enough

October 06, 2011


The idea of turbocharging a big ol' family SUV would have been unthinkable in the early days of the Explorer. All that technology and cost for nothing more than some extra fuel mileage? And whoever heard of turbocharged truck anyway?

Well, now these days turbos are the wave of the future, or at least the near future and our Explorer is on the front end of the wave. After a good chunk of miles behind the wheel I'm liking it more than I thought I would.

It is not a quick crossover by any means. There are times on the freeway when it struggles to build speed and your average family sedan will smoke you away from a light every time. Then again, most of that doesn't matter. In most driving situations our Explorer feels adequately powered without any noticeable peaks or valleys in the delivery. The engine is pretty smooth, too, so it doesn't feel or sound like a typical four-cylinder either.

I'm guessing it would be just fine for the average family, although I don't see the average buyer paying up for it. That little badge on the back isn't that cool.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Second Impression

September 26, 2011


The inside of the 2012 Explorer may be cavernous but Ford has done a good job of making it comfortable and keeping out engine and road noise. It offers a quiet, relaxing ride and smooth sailing as it keeps bumps and road imperfections from being bothersome. And it can take a curve without too much lean.

Despite being a four-cylinder, the EcoBoost engine doesn't have to struggle to get the boat moving. When driving in the city you feel like you're cruising along slowly but then look at the speedometer and realize you're really moving.

The seats are comfortable and cushiony but firm and supportive. I haven't sat in the third row yet, but I have played around with their configurations. They seem more robust than what you usually find in the back of the bus.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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IL Track Tested: 2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost

September 24, 2011


Four-cylinder fuel economy. V6 power. V8 price. OK, Ford would rather you not think about the $1,000 price increase when ticking the box on the 2012 Ford Explorer XLT that says "EcoBoost," which replaces the Explorer's 290 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with a turbocharged, direct-injected, turbo four-cylinder. Instead, they want you to focus on the 240 horsepower, 270 pound-feet of torque and the 20 mpg city and 28 mpg fuel economy rating by the EPA.

We just wanted to know what this little motor could do on the track when tasked with motivating 4,458 pounds of front-wheel-drive SUV.

Vehicle: 2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost

Odometer: 1,351
Driver: Chris Walton

Price as Tested: $38,485

Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injected, inline-4, gasoline
Redline (rpm): 6,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 270 @ 1,750
Brake Type (front): Ventilated discs with two-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front) Independent double wishbones, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs
Tire Size (front): P245/60R18 (104H)
Tire Size (rear): P245/60R18 (104)
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Latitude Tour HP
Tire Type: All-season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,458

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 3.3 (3.5 w/TC off)
0-45 (sec): 5.6 (5.8 w/TC off)
0-60 (sec): 9.1 (9.4 w/TC off)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 8.7 (9.1 w/TC off)
0-75 (sec): 13.7 (14.1 w/TC off)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 16.7 @ 83.1 (16.9 @ 82.4 w/TC off)

30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 130

Slalom (mph): 56.7 (nondefeat stability control)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.71

Db @ Idle: 42.6
Db @ Full Throttle: 69.3
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 62.6

Acceleration: While wheelspin is possible, it occurs well after launch and then the boost gets carried away and really lights the tires, making the run slower. Very smooth and moderately quick upshifts. Engine noise is well isolated and never sounds strained. Appears amply cooled as trap speeds barely dropped across five runs.

Braking: Medium-firm pedal, immediate jump-in, but slow-cycling ABD causes noticeable sound and pulsation through the pedal. Pronounced dive and feels light in the rear, but every stop was straight. Good fade resistance but plenty of odor.


Skid pad: Non-defeat ESC (traction control is truly off) means holding speed at the electronic threshold of what's permitted -- which is not much. Steering weight is on the light side, but that's preferable to too heavy/syrupy. Friction-free and rather precise, actually.

Slalom: ESC is on, but i tried "trac off" and trailer-sway "off" but it matters not. ESC is the limiting factor here, so smooth, singular steering inputs upset the system the least. Rather slow to transition but steering remains precise and effective. Still, this is incredibly slow -- even for non-defeat ESC.

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: Plenty of Power

September 19, 2011


We haven't track tested our new long-term 2012 Ford Explorer Ecoboost yet. Fact is, we haven't tested any Ford Explorer Ecoboost yet. That will change tomorrow as our new silver long-termer hits the track for the first time. We'll report the numbers ASAP.

I don't expect the acceleration numbers to wow anybody. But those of you that think this SUV is underpowered should save your rants until you drive one.

I just spent the weekend in our Ecoboost Explorer, fully expecting to dislike it. I was already writing my Monday morning blog post before I even grabbed the key Friday afternoon. It was going to call it "This Thing is Sloooooooooooow."

But I was wrong. Is isn't slow. In fact, it burns the tires from a stop if you lead foot it. I was screeching away from every stoplight until my wife asked me to stop embarrassing her.

Bottom line? I drove the Explorer 200 miles in three days and not once did I wish it had more power. This is fine engine. And it works in the Explorer.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 1,256 miles

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Past Long-Term Road Tests