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Roseville, CA- The Ford Explorer has emerged from some difficulties in its past to once again be a popular choice among American car buyers looking for a people-moving sport utility vehicle.

Rollover crashes, caused by defective tires, and a preference for crossover SUVs presented challenging times for the Explorer. The tire issue eventually faded from memory and Ford transformed the Explorer into a crossover SUV in 2011, which signaled renewed interest. It helps the overall appeal even more that the family-friendly 2016 Ford Explorer arrived with some updates and changes, furthering its appeal.

The Explorer freshening includes minor interior alterations, exterior changes, updated safety features, and a new turbocharged engine. That’s enough changes to give car shoppers a reason to consider purchasing the Explorer, one of the vehicles that helped ignite the SUV boom in the 1990s. Some of the current competition includes the Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse.

Exterior changes include a revised bumper and grille that makes the Explorer look a bit like the Land Rover Range Rover. Another change is new rear taillights. But it’s not like you won’t recognize the 2016 Explorer – it still has a distinctive look and remains a three-row SUV that seats seven people.

The most notable addition is the new turbocharged EcoBoost engine. It’s not for everyone, but should attract some new buyers who will like an efficient turbo 2.3-liter, four cylinder that generates 270 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. This engine gets the best gas mileage (19-28 mpg), but the tradeoff is it’s the least powerful of the Explorer’s three choices. Note that unlike the previous turbo model, this one can be equipped with all-wheel drive.

2016 Ford Explorer

  • Performance: 3.45-liter, V6, 290 horsepower; turbocharged 2.3-liter, four cylinder, 270 horsepower; 3.5-liter, V6, 365 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 17-24 mpg; 19-28 mpg; 16-22 mpg
  • Price estimate: $31,500 to $53,500
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited

The Explorer’s premium engine offers excellent performance, but predictably heads to the pumps more frequently (15-22 mpg). It’s a turbo 3.5-liter, V6 engine that puts out 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, and covers ground quickly, evidenced by going 0-60 mpg in 6.3 seconds.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with the standard Explorer engine that was test-driven here. We enjoyed the solid performance of the 3.5-liter, V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. This Explorer performed well on some challenging uphill climbs and seemed faster than its 0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds. Both V6 engines can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

We enjoyed the smooth and quiet freeway ride the Explorer provides. It also offers secure handling and maneuvers fairly well for its size. 

The Explorer’s backseat has an option of a three-person bench or two bucket seats. Third row seating is fairly comfortable, although it depends on what’s happening in the second row. There’s not much space behind the third row, but overall the Explorer provides 81.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Interior improvements include more soft-touch surfaces, a 10-inch digital screen, and eliminating touch-sensitive controls and going with buttons.

A solid remodeling job makes the 2016 Ford Explorer a midsize SUV to consider. The changes are good ones and give the Explorer an update that it needed to stay competitive with some highly regarded rivals.

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