If you liked the 2016 and now 2017 Ford Explorer Sport with its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 but said to yourself, “I want more”, then the new Explorer Platinum is for you.
What we found in test driving the new high-end Explorer is that you really get the best of the Sport’s higher performance with a Lincoln level of luxury. But you don’t have to saddle yourself with the aged and mature image of a Lincoln.
Where you really see the differences between the Sport and Platinum are inside. The Platinum gets first an upgraded Nirvana leather across the seating surfaces and door panels with a diamond stitched quilting and perforation patterns. Second, the dash and door panels are also wrapped in stitched leather.
The ash wood and aluminum trims you see are the real deal, no fake stuff here and even the steering wheel gets real wood and a brushed aluminum Ford oval emblem.
Front seats borrow the Lincoln multi-contour functionality and massage features. They can be adjusted using the touch screen or controls at the side of the seat. They’re heated and ventilated up front, the rear two captain’s chairs are heated too. The Explorer Platinum also has power folding third row seats that can either fold forward or completely stow away for a flat cargo floor. The second row captain’s chairs can fold flat to extend that flat cargo floor all the way forward.
Entertainment for our 2016 Explorer Platinum tester is the MyFord Touch Sony audio and navigation system. It sounds good but remains difficult to use like all MyFord Touch units. The 2017 model benefits from the new SYNC3 system that is much better. If you care about this, get the 2017.
Exterior trims are unique to the Platinum from the Sport’s blacked out look. There’s a satin chrome finish on its unique front grille and lower fascia skid plate as well as on the mirrors, door handles and roof rails. At the rear are dual exhaust trim elements. You get a uniquely designed 20-inch wheel with 266/50 all-season tires as rolling stock.
Putting those tires to use is the now venerable 3.5-liter. 365 horsepower twin turbocharged EcoBoost V6. With 350 pound-feet of torque it comes with fully automatic all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment.
Like all with this engine, power comes on strong and is delivered well through its transmission. Putting the shift lever set in Sport Mode offers snappier shifts, augmented by the steering wheel paddles that actually respond somewhat quickly.
While fuel economy isn’t likely what most will come here for, it’s rated at 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined which is what we achieved.
On handling, the 20-inch wheels and wider tires do provide more grip along with a suspension tuned for the extra speed of the EcoBoost. This is no Mustang GT however, it remains somewhat top heavy with an SUV level of body roll. Brakes however manage it well.
The ride on the highway is very quiet in terms of road noise. We did get a higher than wanted level of wind noise from its dual moonroof at freeway speeds however.
Our tester was priced at $55,355, including a couple options like metallic paint and second row captain’s chairs. It does indeed push you into the price point of some German makes as well as Japanese luxury brands, but Ford customers aren’t likely to be cross shopping many.