I traded in my 2008 Honda Odyssey for the new 2015 Explorer Limited and boy do I love it! As much as I loved the function of the minivan, I was ready for something "cooler". It was really hard finding a midsize SUV that could compete with the space of the minivan and believe me I looked! I was just about sold on the Toyota Highlander, but then I decided to look at the Explorer. I'm so glad I did because there is a lot more room in the back and the seats are much more comfortable. With 3 children, I had to have something with 3 rows up all the time. It is extremely fun to drive and the boys on my son's baseball team fight over who gets to ride with us. I'm finally a "cool" mom! :)
We just drove our 2015 Ford Explorer XLT on an 800 mile trip. The ride is very comfortable for a 6 foot tall 200 pound driver. Lots of room and support in the seat. The touch controls took a little getting used to the sensitivity but once that was accomplished they are intuitive and easy to operate. Without studying the owners manual in detail I was able to operate everything except the windshield washer button which I found after reading the manual. The car rides and handles very well at highway speeds and on twisting roads. The gas mileage averaged 23.4 mpg for the trip. The ride was quiet and conversations were easily conducted at all times.
I test drove a bunch of SUVs in this class during my search and I must say the overall design and appeal of Explorer captured my attention and made it stand out. I test drove a fully equipped sport edition first and while I absolutely loved the performance of EcoBoost, it lacked some safety features such as lane assist or blind spot monitoring and only came in AWD, which here in Phoenix area isn't needed much. So I opted for Limited Edition for its safety/equipment/price and settled for the somewhat mediocre performance of the regular 3.5L V6. Purchase process was smooth and I drove off the lot at Bell Ford in Phoenix same day. First few days were fine and I bragged to everyone I know how much I love the vehicle. Engine performance was nothing to write home about, but brakes were great, instrumentation and sound system were great, the vehicle was very roomy even with 7 in the car. 3rd row is one of the most spacious in the class for sure. Overall ride quality is very nice. Ride softness could be improved as during otherwise very quiet operation one could feel every crack in the pavement. But that stiffness gave it very stable ride, which is a great plus on highways and in tight turns. My whole family loved the car!
Now the bad - At around 700 miles things went south and have been deteriorating since. I spent years working on cars when I was younger, and bought / sold many in the last 25 or so years of driving. So I may feel the car a bit more than an average driver but I don't consider myself picky when it comes to overall performance of any vehicle. I don't normally look for perfection but what I started experiencing is something completely off. The transmission began slipping from second to third gear, pretty badly at that too. It felt like the definition of slippage. Torque was almost completely lost while shifting from second to third gear, RPM would shoot up another 1000 or so, and then the gear would re-engage a second later. I'm not heavy footed either, by any stretch of imagination. And the tranny would do this at any level, higher or lower RPM, gunning or taking it easy. I brought the car to Bell Ford for inspection at 800 miles and after a day in the shop was told that no issues were found. I drove off and given that it's all under warranty continued driving as-is. Things, got worse with milage and soon more symptoms of trouble were apparent. Transmission would jolt and jerk shifting during very easy driving shifting from second to third, and even later in the stack from 4th to 5th. Slippage still occurs to this day although a lot more prominent while cold and less when hot. Jerking and kicking happens at any temperature. I took the car to another dealer at 10K - Peoria Ford, after leaving the car there for two days while paying for my own rental, I was told the specialist could not re-create any of the issues I mentioned :(. This was the last draw as even my 10 year old could sense the abnormal, unpredictable behavior with the tranny while riding around with me. My wife refuses to drive the car now altogether. I'm afraid to drive it long distances. I just drove to Denver and back and after couple of hours on the freeway if I got off to get food or gas, the transmission shifting issues were more pronounced than ever. The slipping, hesitation, jolting got worse. I'm not sure where to go from here but I would hesitate to ever buy another ford given the dealer support and expertise I received so far. This is actually my second run-in with Ford transmission issues as I had problems with a 2011 Taurus I owned before with very similar issues but at around 55K miles. But all that is for another review.
Update 10/27/16 with 26K miles:
Transmission issues persist but two different dealers could not identify it, so we're still driving it around until it completely dies, which seams to be the only way for Ford to "look into" it. I'm really starting to dislike the Sync system as it's getting slower and less responsive with age. Every touch takes one to few seconds to respond, and since 95% of all function manipulation is through Sync touch system, it really gets to you after a while. I know on 2016 models they improved instrumentation with more real buttons for stereo, climate, seats...etc, but the '11-15 gen is all touch. A very recent new development (haven't had a chance to have our dealer look into this) - every once in a while I'll start the car, and as soon as gear is shifted to R the moonroof opens, literrally slides back by itself with no input whatsoever. I just close it and move on with my life for now, but it's certainly one of the weirdest things I've experienced with this car.
Now the good - milage per gallon is still great, around 21MPG mixed driving, which is awesome for this size vehicle. It is still very comfy for long drives. Mountain driving in steep hills is a bit challenging still due to engine performance, but overall our long drives to CA, northern AZ, CO, NV, NM were all fun.
I purchased new, a 2015 Ford Explorer Limited. This is my 18th Ford Vehicle, my second Ford SUV. Ford's just keep getting better. I'm a 6'4 male driver, and have no complaints with this SUV. Entry and exit is roomy and once inside, seat belted in, I'm very comfortable in the leather, air and heated individual seats with great visibility in front, side, and rear windows. Driving position is comfortable and all the limited features are very nice. Climate control, adjustable seat, steering wheel, foot pedals, window controls and center console covered storage bin are well placed and well thought of. The driver position of all controls can be set to three other drivers without having to readjust driver positions from one person to another person. When the engine is shut-off, the drivers seat automatically retracts for easier exiting.
The voice activated controls is well received for driver control. The radius monitoring keeps a watch full "eye" of objects surrounding the vehicle. The adaptive cruise control keeps Explorer at a safe set distance between the other vehicle in front. Also, the cross traffic collision avoidance system is a great aid.
Entertainment system with either stereo or surround sound is so appreciative of those that enjoy listening to music as music was intended to be heard. Surround sound is the way to go using the benefits of the 12 speakers placed strategy through-out the vehicle.
The driver alertness monitoring signal sets off a tone to advise the driver to pull off and take a break when it detects less driver alertness.
The new 2015 Ford Explorer is a well defined vehicle for driver and passenger enjoyment. The engineers at Ford have put the driver and safety to the top of the "list" of ownership and drivability of the 2015 family member of Ford. I forgot to mention how quiet the interior is on all types of road pavements. And the automatic windshield wipers adjusting to the amount of wetness and vehicle speed is also a great plus along with the automatic headlight dimming from high beam to low, then back to high beam.
Expert reviewers have 2nd and 3rd seat leg room comments wrong. Not only is almost 40 inches for 2nd row plenty, you can adjust them. And 33 inches plus in the 3rd makes an adult possible for the 3rd row. Plenty of space for storage with 3rd seat down and useful space with it up. Bucket seat configuration for second seat allows access to 3rd row without having to fold seats. Push button option for 3rd row makes very easy to use. Limited model has great features to include heated and cooled front seats and heated 2nd row seats. Push button folding rear view mirrors helps in tight parking spaces. Back up camera great size and easy to use. Ride is smooth, comfortable, and quite. Gas mileage is low to mid-20's in combination of city and highway driving. Brakes are solid. Functionality of design and fun to drive and ride in are hard combination to beat. While competitors may have some features that stand out more than the Explorer in some areas, few are able to optimize the real world usefulness that this car has. The standard for the 3 seat SUV is here.