You deserve to be spoiled all the time, not just on vacation
My life may be chaos as a rule, but not on the road. When we travel, precision and organization are critical.
Having an organized and prepared car makes the trip fun from the minute we pull out of the driveway. On a road trip we want to be able to take all the necessities, especially things we might leave at home when we fly and also, bring along things that make a long drive more comfortable. The right car is critical for this. While you might be fine around town in your compact fuel-efficient sedan, it’s not ideal for 5 passengers on a 10-day trip.
The bigger challenge is to make peace with the bigger car that is ideal for road trips. Can owning it the other 50 weeks of the year be worthwhile? If you choose wisely, then, yes.
Who The Ford Explorer Platinum is For
- Families who regularly need third row passenger space
- Buyers who need space for 6 or 7 passengers
- Buyers who crave (or need) top safety and luxury features in their car
- Buyers seeking top safety technology in a new car
- Drivers who may need four wheel drive and off road capability
- Buyers who appreciate a a pretty much all inclusive price—only a few options
What This Car Costs
- Starting price: $53,235
- Second row buckets seats: $695
- Second row console: $150
- Delivery charge: $945
- Lease for $497 a month with the following considerations: 39 month lease, approved credit, 12,000 miles per year, $5418 down, $4,500 manufacturer incentive credit
- Explorer base model starts at $31,660
- Explorer XLT starts at $33,775
- Explorer Limited starts at $41,675
- Explorer Sport edition starts at $45,355
- Price of the model we drove: $55,620.
Futuristic Safety Tech? It’s a Great Investment and Standard on this Model
If you ask me, the #1 thing you should buy on any new car is safety technology. Seriously. It’s no longer a huge upcharge, it will save your bumpers and it might save your life. And, it probably costs less than your insurance deductible.
Ford has been on the forefront of developing this technology because the company intends to be on the leading edge of autonomous driving as a key part of the “transportation operating system” of the future. Getting its customers to use these features is important, so they are standard on many models, including the Platinum Explorer.
Explorer Platinum’s safety features include:
- Adaptive cruise control, which adapts the car’s speed to the traffic ahead of you
- Lane keep assist gives the steering wheel a little tug when you drift out of your lane
- Drowsy driver warning, which illuminates if the system senses you’re not actively steering or driving the car
- 180 degree front view camera gives you a wide view ahead of the car so you can see curbs or other obstacles
- Rear view camera
- Blind spot monitors
- Rain sensing wipers
- Active park assist, or self parking: the car prompts you to assist it in parking either parallel or perpendicular; all you do is control the acceleration and braking
How active park assist works—Watch the Ford Fusion park itself!
Never Lift a Finger or Break A Nail: Automatic Everything
This is where the Explorer earns its Platinum badge: Everything you can think of is automatic. Need to switch from street driving to snow driving? Just dial the terrain management system to the snow setting.
Need to open the lift gate? With key in hand, pocket or handbag, kick your foot under the rear bumper and voila, it opens.
When a spritz of rain dots your windshield, or worse, a torrential downpour comes out of nowhere, rain-sensing wipers hop into action.
Need to jump into the third row? Push a button and the center seat flips forward and folds, giving you access.
Need to put down the third row seats for cargo? Buttons in the cargo space fold the seats, stow them in the cargo floor and put them back up, together or one side or the other, whichever you need. This is so super easy and fun you might even get someone else to do it for you.
Passenger Comforts, and a Few Things to Consider
When buying a 3 row SUV, seating is a top consideration. You want room for everyone and for them all to be comfortable. You want them to be able to get in and out easily. Beyond that, if there are a few luxuries that make seats even more comfortable, all the better. We found the Explorer’s seats to be sublime, with beautiful leather upholstery and some fun surprises:
- Heated and cooled front seats
- Heated second row seats
- Captain chairs in the second row in the model we test drove
- Massaging front row seats
- Third row seats that stow flat on the cargo floor
Child Car Seats in the Explorer: What you Need to Consider
If you have kids in car seats, carefully consider your seating strategy. With the center row captains chairs passengers can easily get in and out of the third row through the center aisle. However, the model we test drove had a center console in the second row, making the only access to the third row via flipping one of the seats forward. This would not be possible with a car seat installed.
As much as we liked the center console, it fits tight between the seats so plugging the seat belt tongue into the buckle was a challenge; this might be difficult for kids in booster seats and it was a bit more work to install a car seat. With more than four regular passengers and/or kids in car seats, I’d pass on the second row console option.
Also, Ford’s seat belts have built in air bags. Make sure your child passenger car seats can work with this type of seat belt (not all do).
If you have three kids and need the third row for a car seat, it’s better suited for an older child who is in a booster seat or is beyond the weight of a LATCH anchored seat, since the third row does not have LATCH anchors.
Yes, This Car Has Had Recalls and No, You Shouldn’t Worry
It’s been a big couple of years for the Ford Explorer; it’s been the #1 selling SUV and the vehicle of choice for police departments around the country. But many police departments have reported carbon monoxide creeping into the cabin and making officers sick. As they’ve been alerted to these reports, Ford has actively investigated the issue and worked to correct it to ensure the Explorers are safe. Most often the issues were due to modifications made to meet individual police department needs, but the investigations are ongoing.
Be sure that ANY car you buy, new or used, does not have open recalls and that all recalls have been repaired. Look for recalls yourself and if there’s been a reacall, ask to see the paperwork, even on a brand new car. And yes, I’d buy a car that has had recalls as long as they’ve been fixed!
Easy to Drive, Even for a Large 3 Row SUV
So, here’s the thing about those other 50 weeks of the year: this car needs to be as fun and easy to drive when you’re by yourself. Heading to the store for groceries or for that much deserved post-vacation mani-pedi, you don’t want to feel like you’re driving a house on wheels when you’re alone.
The Explorer didn’t feel like that at all. In fact, the engine is powerful enough that both fully loaded and by myself, it felt the same, capable and powerful either way. On our way to our family reunion we were fully loaded, but dropping off kids at the airport and at summer camp left us empty as we headed home. This was guilty-pleasure time: we cranked up the massage seats and the sound system and enjoyed having the Platinum all to ourselves for those sweet last couple of days.
What We Loved
- The panoramic sun roof
- Apple Car Play
- Second row captains chairs
- Household plug and two USB ports in the second row
- Heated massaging front seats
- So much safety technology including adaptive cruise control and active park assist
- Push button everything, including flip-and-fold center and third row seats
- Beautiful Platinum styling
- Awesome premium sound system
- Fun to drive alone or with a crew
What You Need to Know
- Price of the model we drove: $55,620
- Platinum is the top of the line Explorer model
- Fuel economy 16 MPG city/22MPG highway; we experienced about 20 MPG but drove mostly on the highway
- Center row seat configuration should be a consideration if you have kids in car seats
- Check all recalls before purchasing
- Excellent crash ratings
Disclosure: Ford provided the Explorer Platinum for our test drive; all opinions expressed are my own.