Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted September 09, 2013 17:04
By now you're seeing many examples of the Ford Explorer on our streets. For 2 years since the new, crossover-ized Explorer went on sale, the upper and middle classes have warmed to Ford's midsize ute, particularly to its pricing, value, features, seating and style.
So why are we reviewing another Explorer then? This one is a new variant of the EcoBoost-powered Explorer, and it has far better features than the original EcoBoost variant it replaced.
Style-wise, this new EcoBoost Limited is identical to the original GTDi Ecoboost variant and V6 versions that we drove a couple years back, with the rather wide, commanding yet futuristic design. What's changed is that the wheels are now 20-inches in diameter as well along with a color-keyed front grille, matching the now more expensive V6 model (more on that later) while the previous GTDi had 18-inch rims and a matte silver grille.
The real update to the Explorer EcoBoost Limited is in the features, and you can tell that by stepping inside the cabin. The interior of the new Explorer always a nice place to be in, though the features of the EcoBoost have been significantly upgraded to match the list of equipment found in the range-topping V6 version.
At first glance, I can spot the Sony audio system with the piano-black touch-sensitive panel, the panoramic glass roof and the comfort access key system with push start/stop. The Ford SYNC system that was developed with Microsoft's help has also been upgraded, significantly improving the response time between pressing the touchscreen LCD and the system carrying out the function. The voice command system is one of this SUV's (or CUV, rather) neatest party tricks, and can select any song, playlist or even call a person via Bluetooth just by saying so.
It's still a three-row affair, allowing the Explorer to have 2 people in front, 3 in the middle and 2 in the back. What's changed is the added convenience of the motorized folding mechanism for the 3rd row, while the tailgate is also motorized. From the smart keyfob, the driver can open the trunk or even start the engine as you walk up to the Explorer.
The EcoBoost Limited has really stepped up in the features department, prompting the need for Ford to upgrade the range-topping V6 version. The Explorer 4x4 V6 now gets the 'Limited+' designation, and has added functions like rain-sensing wipers, DVD playback with headrest monitors, a blind spot warning system (lights on the wing mirrors to alert the driver to the presence of a vehicle in the blind spot), a lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control (maintains a fixed distance to the car ahead on the highway) and even Active Park Assist for hands-free parallel parking. Given the added features, the price of the V6 went up to PhP 2,695,000. It's really an SUV made for comfort and convenience in mind.
As stated, powering this variant is one of the larger versions of Ford's new EcoBoost line of engines. 'Larger' is relative, of course, as this one is a 2.0L, DOHC, 16-valve 4-cylinder motor with a 6-speed automatic driving the front wheels. In terms of displacement it's tiny when compared to the 3.5L V-6 you would find in the top of the line version, and it's also half the size of the previous generation's 4.0L V6.
The EcoBoost system is the trick up this Explorer's sleeve as -thanks to turbocharging, direct gasoline injection and variable valve timing- the EcoBoost 2.0L delivers a pretty potent 240 PS at 5500 rpm and 366 Newton-meters of torque at 3000 rpm. To put that in perspective, the 3.5L V6 Explorer makes more power at 294 PS but less torque at 346 Nm when compared to what the 'tiny' 2.0L EcoBoost has.
Acceleration is good, considering this is a very heavy crossover vehicle. There's a bit of torque steer if you activate the turbo a little too hard (i.e. foot to the floor), but other than that, it's a great powertrain. Wondering about efficiency? This stint in the Ford Explorer EcoBoost returned slightly better city driving economy (moderate traffic) at 6.8 kilometers per liter if you're being casual about your pedal pressure. Try harder to be more efficient and it goes up to 8.0 km/l; same as before. Fuel economy on the highway remained consistent at 13 km/l for a 100 km/h cruise.
The upgrades to the Ford Explorer EcoBoost Limited are definitely welcome, and only boosts the value proposition of an already value-packed, midsize American crossover SUV.