2016 Ford Explorer Sport | CarGurus Test Drive Review

2016 Ford Explorer Sport | CarGurus Test Drive Review

Hi. I’m Chris Wardlaw for CarGurus, and
that SUV parked behind me? Well, that’s the revamped 2016 Ford Explorer Sport. Get used
to how that Explorer looks, because if you drive faster than the speed limit like I
typically do, you’re going to need to be able to identify that front end. Police
departments now favor the Explorer in big numbers, and this Sport version that’s
built for civilians reminds me a lot of the movie “The Blues Brothers.” With its cop motor, cop steering, cop suspension, and cop tires, the Explorer Sport is like a
modern-day Bluesmobile. Let’s go for a drive, but not to Chicago. Instead of driving to Chicago, we are on a Los
Angeles freeway – so much fun. We’re in the Explorer Sport, it’s painted Magnetic
Metallic, and what makes the Sport special is that it’s got a lot of
performance upgrades. The price starts at just over $44,000 – that includes all-wheel drive – it comes standard on this model, and then my test vehicle’s got the
401A package, it’s got the forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise control
system, it’s got a panoramic sunroof, and the price tag comes
to more than $51,000, and that’s a big chunk of change for a Ford Explorer, but
it’s basically fully loaded, so just like the Police Interceptor version of the
Explorer, this has got a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine. It makes 365
horsepower, and it makes 350 pound-feet of torque. Now under normal circumstances that would
sound impressive, but the Explorer weighs like you know 4,500 pounds, so it’s got a
lot of weight to move. It’s not fast, but it is quick, and when you punch it, it sounds
terrific. The way they’ve got this dual- exhaust system tuned, it sounds great.
It doesn’t sound like a V6 – it sounds more like a V8 – take a listen. And it’s fairly muted. Wow, we got up to…
I don’t wait to say. I should slow down. Passing power’s pretty good, obviously, but it’s fairly refined and
isolated. You really don’t hear the engine unless you put the accelerator
pedal to the floor, the transmission downshifts, and off you go. Now in addition to the twin-turbo engine, you’ve got a 6-speed automatic
transmission, you’ve got the all-wheel-drive system, and you’ve got
revised steering and suspension tuning. Now fuel economy is not great with this
vehicle. I averaged 16.7 miles per gallon – that’s less than the 18 miles per gallon that the EPA says I should have gotten, but I will admit that I had a lot of fun. I
mean I spent a lot of time engaging those twin turbos and revelling in that V8-ish sound that the exhaust system makes. I took the Explorer on my regular test loop
and took it down a lot of twisty mountain roads, and the grip really was
extraordinary. I was not expecting this vehicle of this size to handle that well,
and it speaks to why the police use the Explorer as a police vehicle and a
pursuit vehicle. But one thing that this civilian version of the Explorer Sport needs is
the upgraded braking system that the Police Interceptor gets, because my testing
day was really hot, and after repeated use of the brakes going downhill toward
the beach, from the mountains to the beach, the brakes faded pretty badly – a lot worse than I was expecting. This is a true 6- or 7-passenger vehicle,
depending on how it’s configured. Adults actually fit in the third-row seat, and
because the third-row seat operates kind of like a minivan’s seats in that they
kind of tumble into a well in the floor, you’ve actually got decent trunk space
behind the third-row seat. You can carry more than just a few bags of groceries
and a full load of people. If you fold the seats down, obviously, you’re going to get a
lot more room, and for the midsize crossover SUV class, the amount of space
behind the second-row seat is generous, and then if you fold all the seats down,
you get right around 83 cubic feet, which is par for the course in this
class. Now safety is an important consideration when you’re buying a
vehicle like this that’s obviously designed to transport your family, and
Ford installs a lot of technologies that are designed to help you avoid an
accident. If an accident does occur, one of my favorite features is the 911
assist system, which means basically when the airbags deploy following a
collision, a paired smartphone will automatically dial out, contact 911, and
then rescuers will respond even if you’re not able to make call yourself.
The best thing about it is that it’s subscription-free. You do not have to pay
a monthly service fee to get that feature. All you have to do is have your
smartphone paired to the Sync and MyFord Touch system. One thing you have to keep
in mind about the forward-collision warning system that’s available on this vehicle
is that it offers only brake support, not automatic emergency braking. What that
means is that when the forward-collision warning system detects that a collision
could be imminent, it readies the breaks for full braking
power. It does not automatically engage them. The driver still has to respond to the
warning and hit the brakes and then when he or she does that, then full braking
power commences immediately. Now the thing that irks me the most of anything
about the 2016 Explorer is that Ford reworked the sheet metal forward of the
windshield and gave the Explorer an entirely new look up front. What they didn’t do is
make any structural changes that would have improved the small-overlap frontal-impact crash-test rating, which remains at Marginal. Because it
remains Marginal, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will not give this a
Top Safety Pick rating, and I have a hard time recommending the Explorer to
anybody who’s going to use it for a family vehicle. Now had Ford done something to improve the Explorer’s crash-test rating, I could heartily recommend this SUV. From its
stylish design to its comfortable and practical interior, the Explorer’s exactly the
kind of vehicle that most American families need most of the time. But
because families favor a vehicle like the Explorer, it needs to provide the very
best possible occupant protection that it can. Unfortunately, that is not the
case. Be sure to check out my full review of
the Explorer on CarGurus.com, and feel free to offer comments at the bottom of this
video. If you like what you see, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube
channel. For all of us here at CarGurus, thank you for watching.

30 Replies to “2016 Ford Explorer Sport | CarGurus Test Drive Review”

  1. Chris, nice to have found your reviews again since your last stint.

    I find your reviews thorough and entertaining. Keep up the good work.

  2. Chris, nice review. I would love to see you add objective sound measurements to your reviews. It's very difficult to get data on sound and while dba is a measure of loudness only, it would be great to have it plus your opinion on sound quality.

    I'm still trying to figure out what is the quietest mid-size sedan and mid-size 2 row SUV under $35K.

    Thoughts anyone?

  3. baaaddddddddddddddd car my 2011 explorer well maintained engine failed without any warnings or dash board lights at 64550 miles total loss of money and time ford warranty wont cover it it was dealer mainatained with records dont buy this junk

  4. Nice review. I still went and bought a 2015 Dodge Durango R/T not as fast but you gotta love that v8. My warranty is well beyond what Ford offers and then some. I felt the Ford was too much money for a vehicle in this segment. Dodge on the other hand I got for 40k (loaded) with the HEMI V8 that gets 23-24 on freeway and 16 mpg mixed driving. On top of that that I can use 87 octane. You can also use 87 on the turbo charged Ford but 91 is recommended to get the full benefits of the engine (horsepower) kinda defeats the purpose if you are performance minded and not practical. My opinion is that the Dodge wins. Yours may be different but I will say this; go and try both vehicles and make your own decision.  Mine was made based on sticker price, what was included in the price and the v8 with 8 speed transmission.

  5. Bought a 2016 Explorer and thank goodness I was able to return it. Driver seat is very uncomfortable. Very bad blind spot issues. Not as significant but didn't expect headlights to fog up in a light rain, but they did. Really wanted this car, after 17 years of trouble free ownership of 98 Explorer. Surprised he didn't mention seat comfort and visibility. See US News review to verify I am not blowing smoke.

  6. Tire pressure monitoring system only tells you that there is a tire with low tire pressure it does not tell you which tire is low on pressure

  7. Just so you know, the majority of all mid to large law enforcement agencies' new ford explorers do NOT have the Ecoboost motor.   Just seems you mention it over and over again.

  8. 4888 lbs plus a marginal small offset test probably means it's safer for you than higher scoring but smaller vehicles. Remember, this is head-on collisions, where mass matters most. So buy that Hyundai Tucson (3500 lbs) at your own risk.

  9. Here is the link to the US News article that notes the uncomfortable and tight front seats (and the cramped rear seats), and the poor visibility: http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Ford_Explorer/

    Note: I originally referenced this information in this video comment section a while ago. This week I received a response from someone who said they couldn't find this article I referenced. They also couldn't believe any dealer would take a new car back. For some reason their post is not shown questioning my comment is not shown.

  10. Wow this is so inaccurate it makes me question all your reviews Chris. I was a fan up till I saw this, you haven't got anything right. Its called a Police Interceptor Utility not a Police Explorer dude! (PI Utility)

    First, you said the front end of the Police Explorer is the same as retail so we better watch out, it's not, the PI Utility has a totally different front clip. So much so they can't be swapped. Grill is all different.

    Then you said the civilian Explorer has the same programming and components as the PI Utility. This is 100% wrong, the Police calibration is totally different for the EPAS steering, Transmission, Power Transfer Unit, cooling, and engine.

    Then you said the Sport's EcoBoost Twin Turbo is the same as the Police Utility. Wrong again, the PI Utility is the 3.7L Lincoln engine and a completely different 3.5L EcoBoost is available as an optional engine. 90% of PI Utility's in service are not Twin Turbo's.

    Then you said the Sport isn't fast but it's quick…..WTF does that mean?

    In the SUV class it's in it would kill the competition.

    Then you said the brakes faded after several hot stops so you think the brakes should be upgraded to the Police brakes. Guess what, the Sport and the PI Utility have EXACTLY the same brakes except for the pads. The police pads are rated for hotter operations but the hardware is identical. Calipers, rotors, hoses, even the caliper piston seals are high temp silicone in both.

    Man for a guy who prides himself in giving honest and accurate reviews you gotta check your facts man!

    Bottom line is the Chicago Assembly Plant is working 3 shifts to keep up with demand for this vehicle and few SUV makers can make that claim.

  11. having hard time deciding between Explorer and Grand Cherokee. I donrt nesseserily need 3rd row but would be nice to have.
    One thing that worries me about Grand Cherokee is rollover, it kinda sits high and it narrow.

  12. Quick, but not fast? Hmm,what do you mean? It is faster than Mazda 9, Honda Pilot, Durango V-6 and even Durango V-8/ However, paying 50K for Ford is insane

  13. Not fast? My explorer sport does the 1/4 mile in 13.01 and tops out at over 140mph! ,,,,,,not fast? Plz,,tune into my channel you'll see real explorer content

  14. Wow, that storage space is pitiful. I have more space in my sedan. Who is this made for? They can't possibly have to grocery shop at all.

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