By Olivia Garcia
For quite some time, I had been curious about the 2014 Ford Explorer. Having four sons, my husband and I have found ourselves limited in what kind of car could easily accommodate the six of us. Meanwhile, I had seen the Ford Explorer around town, and I was impressed with its look and style.
The new Ford Explorer has undergone a major makeover, moving away from its somewhat boxy, comfy and safe look to a more eye-catching, bold, powerful and luxurious feel.
Mileage: 16 city, 22 highway.
Price tag: Starting at $42,780.
What makes the 2014 Ford Explorer stand out from others?
Our V6 Ecoboost out performs the V8 competition, inflatable second row seatbelts, better towing capacity at 5,000 pounds, Powerfold third row and powerfold second row seats and a truly advanced 4WD system.
Three words that define the 2014 Ford Explorer Sport 4WD: Stunning, surprising, fearless.
5 best features:
1. EcoBoost 3.5-liter, 365 horsepower engine
2. Ability to comfortably seat seven
3. Adaptable to all terrains via the Terrain Management System
4. Killer looks
5. Loaded with technology
Target customer: Families coming from high-end competitive makes and models, performance seekers, anyone who wants the highest end with our low Ford pricing.
The 2014 Ford Explorer is perfect for... Anyone looking for a roomy, high performance, high quality, fully loaded vehicle that you save thousand of dollars on compared to the competition.
What do you like most about the 2014 Ford Explorer?
The fact that a family can own a high-end vehicle without paying the high-end price, and that it's from an American Company that has been around for 110 years.
Source: Kyle Galaz, New Vehicle Sales, Jim Burke Ford Downtown
Adding to my interest was a business blog from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reported that the yearly owner satisfaction ratings from Consumer Reports ranked Ford Explorer among the top.
My curiosities, of course, centered around the details. I mean, we can all agree that we can't judge a book by its cover, so I was curious in what the inside of the Ford Explorer had to offer.
When Kyle Galaz of Jim Burke Ford contacted me to see if I was interested in test-driving the 2014 Ford Explorer Sport 4WD, I was pretty jazzed. Indeed, I wanted to know if this midsize SUV could handle my family -- and yes, it did. And I have two elementary school-aged boys and two growing teenagers who have passed me up in size and are a tad behind their dad.
I like to gauge test-drive reactions from my teenagers, Diego and Mateo -- we all know how very opinionated teenagers are. Mine immediately loved the car. They hopped in the middle row bucket seats (this Ford Explorer seats six), and the little guys sat in the third-row seating. However, the Ford Explorer can seat up to seven depending on the seating style you pick. In addition, if you want less seating, the back row folds down, allowing you to make more space for travel or gear items, as we parents of active sports kids truly understand.
My teenagers also liked the Sony 12-speaker audio system and the entertainment center's Bluetooth capability so they could, of course, play their music from their iPhones. I learned that the Sony system comes with a HD Radio Technology, which allows you to tag songs for purchase later from iTunes store.
The boys also liked the ability to control the air-conditioning and heating system from the back seats. The same feature is offered for the front-seat passenger. But an even bigger incentive is the cooling and heating seats for the front two seats. You can imagine what a battle it was for my teenagers to fight for the front passenger each time. I test-drove the Ford Explorer during Bakersfield's chilly winter temperatures, and I was amazed how fast the temperature control system works, as well as the heating seats. Once you get your hands on heating seats, you won't want to go back.
While my boys were in awe of the technology, the roomy interior and leather seating, I was impressed with other features, including safety and power.
Now, I don't like to speed, but this Ford Explorer comes with 365 horsepower and a V6 EcoBoost engine. It drives with so much ease, smooth handling and power. Driving my older SUV feels top heavy at times, but I don't get this feeling at all with the Ford Explorer. Highway and freeway driving has never been easier to cruise through, and you have driving modes designed to specifically handle snow, sand and mud.
As far as safety, this is my favorite topic. The Ford Explorer comes with adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system, the reverse camera and sensor, and an alert sensor for your blindspots. In addition, the second row seats have inflatable seatbelts designed to protect children if an accident were ever to occur.
And if credibility is important, Galaz tells me that law enforcement agencies, such as the California Highway Patrol, are now using the Ford Explorer on patrol.
"That speaks volume of reliability, performance and style," Galaz said.
He added that the biggest buyers of the Ford Explorer are former owners of Range Rover, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz.
The Explorer comes in four models: Limited, Sport XLT and base. Galaz describes the Ford Explorer as having good looks, power, comfort and convenience.
"(Customers) like the price, and it appeals to the high-end family," said Galaz, noting that the average price for a Ford Explorer is between mid $40s to low $50s.