Back in 1962 in the heat of the Mad Men era, rental car company Avis made some waves with its new slogan: “We Try Harder.” Its point was simple: because it was second fiddle to rental giant Hertz, Avis had to work harder and offer up more to its customers to take on the big boys.
Under its hood, the Explorer Platinum packs a powerful EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces a V-8-like 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 is paired with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The combo is good enough to get this almost 5,000-pound porker up to 60 mph in a respectable 6.4 seconds, while the quarter mile falls in 14.8 seconds at 93.1 mph. The 60-0 mph panic-stopping test takes 127 feet.
Enabled by that twin-turbo V-6, the Explorer Platinum’s acceleration performance is impressive. Although not the quickest Explorer we’ve tested (that honor goes to the Explorer Sport and its 5.7 second 0-60 mph run), our 2016 Explorer Platinum is among the quicker three-row crossovers we’ve tested. Despite being down 85 horsepower, our 2016 Honda Pilot Elite long-termer, a rough-equivalent to the Explorer Platinum, does 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds thanks to a significantly lighter curb weight and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Notable competitors close behind the Explorer Platinum are the V-8-powered Dodge Durango R/T (0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds), and the new 2017 GMC Acadia (0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds). Other segment competitors, such ass the new 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature, trail this Explorer in acceleration tests.
When it comes to corners, the Explorer Platinum gives up ground to some of its newer, lighter competitors such as the aforementioned Acadia and CX-9. Our Ford tester needed 27.1 seconds to round the figure eight while averaging 0.66 g, and it completed the skidpad averaging 0.79 g.
What do these numbers tell us? That the Explorer is going to be a great boulevard and highway cruiser and not quite so fun on rural back roads or tight inner-city streets.
The Explorer Platinum might be the king of the hill of the Explorer line, but its luxury touches disappoint. Sure, there’s your expected uprated leather, cross-stitched paneling, and wood trim, but the quality of the materials left much to be desired considering its $55,155 sticker price. Newer competitors like the GMC Acadia Denali and Mazda CX-9 Signature undercut the Explorer Platinum on price while beating it in opulence and comfort.
Ultimately, that might be the single biggest problem with the new Explorer Platinum and the Explorer as a whole; for every one thing it does well, someone else does it better. Want something roomier? There’s the Honda Pilot. Want something more fun to drive? Look at the Mazda CX-9. Want something more luxurious? Check out the GMC Acadia. The Ford Explorer line might be thoroughly competitive on paper, but its dominance has ultimately led the competition to simply try harder. With others overtaking the Explorer in comfort, packaging, luxury, and dynamics, it’s now finally time for Ford to show “we try harder” when the next-generation Explorer hits the streets in 2019.