The Explorer is a big deal. And not just to Ford. It was the first mainstream SUV and as it navigated the ever-evolving automotive landscape over the last 25 years, it has been sold seven million times. That’s a lot of Explorers!
Ford decided to do something special for the Explorer’s 25th anniversary. And to check it out, I got to “Explore More” in British Columbia – in the new Ford Explorer Platinum. The Explorer’s trim levels used to top out with the Limited, but for this model year, Ford has added the Platinum as the new pinnacle of the lineup.
The best way to explain it is that Ford took the best of the loaded-up Limited trim and the best of the surprisingly capable Sport trim, combined it and then cranked it up a notch to make up their new top-of-the-line package.
While the Explorer retains the same three-row, seven-seat configuration on the same unibody platform launched in 2011 and generally similar exterior styling, the Platinum does get some special touches. Perhaps the most noticeable is the all-new grille – handsome and slightly aggressive, it’s surrounded by restyled lights. All the chrome details on the Platinum are satin and while there’s quite a bit of it (grille, door handles, sills, roof rails and rear fascia trim), it never gets too blingy. The muscular-looking integrated exhaust tips are new, and both front and rear fascias get skid plates to visually reassure the buyer that they are in fact getting a serious SUV. And yes, those sweet 20-inch rims are Platinum-specific and do a pretty good job of looking classy, rugged and sporty all at the same time. Which, I’m guessing, is exactly what Ford is hoping for.
If you’ve been in a current Explorer, the interior will feel familiar, but again, the Platinum kicks things up a notch with some new upscale features. Fit and finish appears to be world-class, and many of the materials are really upper crust. Fancy-schmancy details like a leather-wrapped dash, a heated steering wheel, real ash wood accents, dual-pane sunroof and a digital instrument panel are nice, as are the gorgeous leather seats. In the front they’re heated, cooled, vastly adjustable and offer a massage function and I found them to be tremendously comfortable – even after nearly 10 hours on the road.
Want tech? The Explorer Platinum has it all. And then some. Smart-charging USB plugs that charge your devices twice as quickly. ParkAssist that easily pulls this behemoth into (and out of) parallel and perpendicular parking spots. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and on and on. Oh hey, and how about 180-degree cameras in the front and back – that can be washed with washer fluid? Yes, that’s a thing and in Canadian winters, that alone might feel like it’s worth the price of admission into the Platinum world.
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The easiest way to say it is that the Platinum is fully loaded. Actually there is only one option for the Platinum trim Explorer – you can choose whether you’d like bucket seats or a bench in the second row. That’s it. And yes, it comes complete with pricing that puts it square into luxury brand territory.