Ford’s rapid product rollout this winter continues today with the reveal of the 2016 Explorer in Los Angeles.
Packing freshness outside, inside and under the hood — the Explorer is even sporting a new badge for 2016.
Improvements center of style with LED lighting front and rear, a new grille design and completely fresh bumpers and fascias, along with standard LED low-beams for the first time. LED accent lighting and LED foglamps are also in the mix up front, where the Explorer is now much crisper and more modern via a chiseled and sharp lighting design.
In profile, the Explorer is relatively familiar, but newness abounds in back as well. On the new-for-2016 Platinum luxury trim, the Explorer shows a tasteful lower bumper accent, new taillamps and a clean single bar of brightwork across the trunk and extending visually into the lamps.
Inside, comfort and safety rule the new Explorer — with active tech everywhere and super-soft and cushy new luxury accents on the Platinum.
Under the hood, the Explorer will continue with three engines: a base V6, a new optional 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo and the potent and torque 3.5-liter EcoBoost at the top of the ladder.
Stay tuned for the Explorer Sport info — but overall the 2016 Explorer and its new LED lighting will cut a very dashing new face on the highways for the all-star seven-seat crossover.
2016 Ford Explorer
FORD EXPLORER MARKS 25 YEARS OF INNOVATION WITH MORE TECHNOLOGY, NEW ENGINE, ALL-NEW PLATINUM SERIES
- New Ford Explorer makes global debut today at Los Angeles Auto Show with even more smart technology, available 2.3-liter EcoBoost® four-cylinder engine and all-new Platinum series
- Innovative new features make parking easier, speed charging time on smart devices, boost aerodynamics and give every adventure an even better soundtrack
- New 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine delivers more horsepower and torque than the four-cylinder it replaces, with no compromise in fuel economy anticipated; for the first time on Explorer, four-cylinder EcoBoost can be paired with available tow package and intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System™
- More than 7 million Explorers have been sold in the United States, which makes it America’s best-selling SUV for 25 years
Building on 25 years of innovation and sales leadership, a new Explorer is on its way, with even more smart technology, a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine and an all-new Platinum series. The new Ford Explorer goes on sale next summer.
The new Explorer, revealed today at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, builds on the strength and leadership of Ford’s new vehicle lineup – the freshest in the industry – and provides SUV customers even more versatility, capability, smart technology and efficiency.
“Explorer helped define how the world thinks about SUVs,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president and chief technical officer, Global Product Development. “Explorer is the centerpiece of Ford’s global utility vehicle lineup because it delivers an ideal combination of form and function. And with 7 million already sold, nearly everyone has an Explorer story.”
Introduced as a 1991 model, Explorer featured generous interior space customers were looking for, and was engineered specifically for people seeking adventure for their families and a way to express their individuality. For a quarter century, Explorer has been America’s best-selling SUV.
Ford Explorer is built in North America at Chicago Assembly Plant, as well as in Venezuela and now, Russia. It is sold in more than 100 markets across the globe. Ford expects to export 56,000 Explorers from the United States this year alone.
“Customers love Explorer, and expect this SUV to lead the way in innovation, performance and fun,” said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer for the new Explorer. “It’s a tall order, but we’re aiming to build the best SUV in the world.”
More innovation for new adventures
Even more smart technology – that’s what customers will get with the new Ford Explorer. It offers more technologies than previous models – features that enhance the driving experience. These include:
- Front and rear cameras with washers: Both front and rear cameras have wide-angle lenses and come equipped with a washer – an industry-first
- Enhanced active park assist with perpendicular park assist, park-out assist and semi-automatic parallel parking: The system uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers with parallel parking and perpendicular parking maneuvers. Enhanced active park assist now includes park-out assist to help a driver pull out of parallel parking spots. The system controls the steering wheel, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals, and shifts the vehicle into gear
- Smart-charging USB ports throughout: Located in the front and rear of the vehicle are USB ports to charge smart devices
- Hands-free liftgate: A customer need only kick his or her leg below the center of the rear bumper to unlock and raise the liftgate
- Industry-exclusive 500-watt Sony Audio System: Explorer Platinum will be the first Ford vehicle to get an all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics™ and Clear Phase™ technology
- Active Grille Shutters: Upper and lower fascia openings close at highway speeds to reduce drag. At low speeds, the shutters open to deliver airflow to cool the powertrain. Shutters allow for larger front end openings to cool the engine while reducing drag
- Air curtains: Standard air curtains create a high-pressure region of air that impacts the outer surface of the wheels and tires. The result is airflow held close to the vehicle body, minimizing drag
2016 Ford Explorer
These current Explorer features provide a foundation for innovations on the new model:
- Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support: Uses radar to detect moving vehicles directly ahead and changes the cruising speed if necessary
- Lane-keeping system: The system automatically detects left- and right-hand road lane markings using the front camera system. A vibration in the steering wheel alerts the driver if the vehicle begins to drift out of the lane. The system can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed
- Blind Spot Information System: BLIS® uses radar to trigger a warning when another motorist is in the driver’s blind spot
- Cross-traffic alert: Uses radar to help alert drivers to oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space
- Auto high-beams: Automatic high-beams use windshield-mounted cameras to automatically switch between high-beam and low-beam settings when oncoming traffic is detected
- Inflatable rear safety belts: Inflatable rear safety belts, introduced on 2011 Explorer as an industry-first, deploy an airbag over the torso and shoulder of an outboard passenger to help distribute crash forces over up to five times more area than a traditional safety belt. Spreading forces over a larger area helps reduce pressure on a passenger’s chest, and helps control head and neck motion
All-new EcoBoost engine
Capability – that’s what customers will get even more of with the new Explorer, thanks to an available 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine delivering at least 270 horsepower and at least 300 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost replaces the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder available for the current model.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost is available on the base, XLT and Limited series. The new powerplant is expected to give customers 12.5 percent more horsepower and 11 percent more torque over the current 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. It improves highway passing times 10 percent at speeds between 55 mph and 75 mph.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost will deliver a noticeable improvement in horsepower and torque; while EPA results are not yet certified, no sacrifice in overall fuel efficiency is anticipated. The current Explorer is a gas mileage leader on the highway.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost benefits from technology that makes it more efficient and optimizes performance. It employs an active oil control system to optimize pressure when less fluid is needed. An active wastegate controls boost more precisely during light load operation to help save fuel. A higher compression ratio results in more efficient fuel combustion.
“The new Explorer isn’t giving up its reputation as a leader in highway fuel efficiency – especially for the customer who wants a vehicle that is also a capable trail warrior,” said Groeneveld. “Customers will not only get the performance of a larger engine, they won’t sacrifice efficiency because of it.”
The standard 3.5-liter V6 engine for base, XLT and Limited models – with an estimated 290 horsepower and estimated 255 lb.-ft. of torque – is paired with a six-speed SelectShift® Automatic transmission. Explorer Sport and the Platinum edition get a standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with an estimated 365 horsepower and estimated 350 lb.-ft. of torque – also mated with a six-speed SelectShift Automatic.
New Platinum series
Style – the all-new Platinum series further elevates the full-size SUV in look and feel, with changes to both the Explorer exterior and interior.
“Bringing Explorer Platinum to market is a natural extension of the Explorer lineup, giving our customers even more of what they want,” said Matt Zuehlk, Ford Explorer brand manager. “There’s a market for more upscale SUVs, as 90 percent of today’s Explorer Sport buyers purchase the most expensive package available. That’s a strong signal customers are ready for Platinum.”
From new multicontour front seats wrapped in Nirvana leather with micro-perforation, to special quilted stitching used throughout, to advanced standard technologies, Platinum elevates Explorer in ways customers can see and feel.
“Platinum is the ultimate expression of refinement,” said Christopher Svensson, Ford design director, The Americas. “This is the most premium, high-quality interior we’ve ever offered on a Ford vehicle.”
The interior incorporates brushed aluminum and satin-finished ash wood in multi-piece appliqués on all door panels and the instrument panel. The wood-trimmed, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel includes unique stitching that matches the stitching used throughout the interior.
For the first time in a production Ford vehicle, a brushed aluminum Ford oval is centered on the steering wheel.
Nirvana leather wraps the instrument panel, console armrests, quilted door bolsters and upper door trim. The instrument cluster features a large 10-inch digital display supported with analog displays – a first for a Ford-brand vehicle.
The new Explorer Platinum will be the first Ford vehicle to get an all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics and Clear Phase technology. Clear Phase eliminates sound dispersion throughout the vehicle, so the music occupants hear is precisely pinpointed, just as the artist intended. Live Acoustics engineering re-creates the sound dynamics of some of the world’s greatest concert halls for a more enveloping, realistic sound.
Explorer Platinum also gets standard advanced technology features including enhanced active park assist, lane-keeping system and rain-sensing wipers.
For the exterior, signature lighting surrounds the LED headlamps, giving Explorer Platinum a continuous glow. Other features include a standard dual-panel moonroof, premium silver-painted front and rear skid plate elements, and 20-inch wheels with bright machine face and tarnished dark painted pockets.
The integrated exhaust is designed to reduce the appearance of soot collecting at the rear of the vehicle. Inside the chrome bezel of the exhaust, engineers designed a shield that catches the soot so it doesn’t collect around the outlets.
Intelligent four-wheel drive: Ready for any adventure
Explorer’s intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System™ reassesses conditions about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye, providing precise handling and traction.
Intelligent four-wheel drive continuously monitors wheel speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle to determine vehicle conditions and driver intent. The system then determines the optimal amount of front and rear torque for the given conditions to prevent slip from even occurring, which helps keep the vehicle sure-footed on virtually any terrain. In sand, grass or gravel mode, the antilock braking system changes its pulse rate, which allows material to build up in front of the wheels, acting as a doorstop of sorts to help slow momentum.
To help maintain efficiency, in most steady-state cruising conditions the new Explorer equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive seamlessly and quickly transfers torque between the front and rear wheels.
A newly refined, intelligent four-wheel-drive gauge display shows power being distributed to front and rear wheels under all conditions – from heavy four-wheel-drive system usage to when the system is not transmitting power at all – for improved efficiency.
For added convenience, the Terrain Management System automatically defaults to normal mode whenever the vehicle is started to ensure it is ready for normal driving conditions.
Using a dial located on the center console, the customer can shift on the fly, selecting one of four terrain management modes – normal, snow, sand or mud – to set how the engine, transmission, brakes and four-wheel-drive system will operate. A fifth setting is for navigating hills.
Comfortable and capable
The new Explorer benefits from an improved suspension for better handling and a quiet cabin, enabling a comfortable ride even when the pavement turns to dirt.
Ford completely retuned the Explorer chassis to clearly differentiate the driving experiences of XLT, Explorer Sport and Platinum models.
The suspension uses MacPherson construction with an isolated subframe and 32-millimeter stabilizer bar at the front, while an independent multilink rear setup uses a 22-millimeter stabilizer bar.
Explorer Sport customers looking for a more dynamic driving experience will benefit from a unique steering gear, front and rear springs, struts and rear dampers.
Explorer also features a tower brace that provides additional stiffness between strut towers. The tower brace for Explorer equipped with four-wheel drive is three millimeters thicker for even more stiffness – providing better control and a smoother ride on rugged terrain.
The new Explorer, with standard 18-inch and available 20-inch wheels, offers new tire options for improved ride and handling, while reducing road noise in the cabin.
Interior changes help enhance quietness in the cabin. There are new door seals, and an enhanced sound package includes engine subframe mounts specially tuned to reduce vibration, as well as a specially tuned exhaust for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Acoustic glass is used on the windshield and front doors on XLT and higher trim levels.
Rugged – that’s the word that inspired the designers creating the look of the new Ford Explorer.
Exterior style updates – such as positioning the grille and LED headlamps even higher, adding a new closed-off lower roof rack with channels that cascade rainwater off the vehicle and a new rear spoiler – also improve aerodynamics.
Explorer features more robust headlamps, with available LED signature lighting, standard LED low-beams and available LED fog lamps.
Visible heat-sink structures for cooling the LED headlamps are a meaningful detail. These radiator-like grilles are typically hidden behind the light cluster, but on Explorer they are part of a complex headlamp design that puts innovation on display.
Interior design changes reflect desires customers expressed through Ford consumer research, which shows one in five Explorer Sport customers previously owned a luxury vehicle. Changes include a higher wrapped and stitched door armrest, real buttons to replace touch-sense buttons on the infotainment system and more refined detailing throughout.
Series overview and standard features
The new Explorer features five trim series. These are:
- Base: 3.5-liter V6 engine with six-speed SelectShift Automatic, LED low-beam headlamps, LED taillamps, 18-inch aluminum wheels in sparkle silver paint and rearview camera with washer
- XLT: 3.5-liter V6 engine with six-speed SelectShift Automatic, heavy-duty front and rear brake calipers, fog lamps, LED signature lighting, 18-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels with sparkle silver paint, leather-wrapped steering wheel and reverse sensing system
- Limited: 3.5-liter V6 engine with six-speed SelectShift Automatic, premium 20-inch aluminum painted wheels, ambient lighting, cargo net, heated steering wheel, multi-piece satin chrome with Rosewood film accent appliqués, perforated leather-trimmed seats, heated and cooled front row seats, 12-speaker Sony Audio System, front and rear 180-degree camera with washers, and hands-free liftgate
- Explorer Sport: 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System, sport-tuned suspension, trailer tow package, Explorer badge on hood, fascia-integrated dual exhaust tips, 20-inch wheels, perforated leather-trimmed seats with red accent stitching, multi-piece satin chrome with carbon fiber interior appearance inserts and 12-speaker Sony Audio System
- Platinum: 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System, dual-panel moonroof, satin chrome lower bodyside cladding insert, satin chrome mirror caps, 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, real wood accents and unique stitching on steering wheel, 500-watt Sony Audio System, leather-wrapped door and console armrests, leather-wrapped instrument panel and upper door trim, Nirvana leather seats, all-digital instrument cluster, enhanced active park assist with park-out assist and perpendicular park, and lane-keeping system
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.