The vast majority of Explorer owners use their SUVs simply as suburban family shuttles and care more about fuel economy than fording streams, so it makes sense for Ford to redesign the Explorer accordingly.
The 2011 Explorer is softer, more comfortable, and more fuel efficient. The problem is, although that's something new for the Explorer nameplate, it isn't breaking much ground for Ford. The idea of a car-based, midsize utility is old news for the company -- anyone here remember the Freestyle, or the (different in name only) Taurus X? Has the Flex already faded into the recesses of our gray matter? Each of these not only share Ford's D-segment platform with the Explorer, but offered nearly the same package and driving experience.
Those who love the Flex's packaging yet loathe its wagon-esque form might find this the perfect solution. And better yet, the (AWD) Explorer bests the fuel economy of the Flex by 1 mpg both in the city and on the highway.
But the Explorer isn't the radical reinvention Ford makes it out to be. Instead, it feels like an old idea quickly repurposed for a different nameplate, although that won't necessarily matter to the majority of Explorer buyers.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor