Perhaps no other SUV is as iconic at the Ford Explorer. Once a box on wheels, the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer is totally redeveloped–a stylish, more sophisticated full-size SUV, the new Ford Explorer is like a well-travelled globetrotter with a better (wiser) outlook on life, exuding a whole new level of panache and style. Goodbye Samsonite. Hello Tumi.

Also see: Ford Reviews

Inside and out, the fit and finish of the 2011 Ford Explorer is evident. Producing a good-looking, well-crafted, high-quality SUV, that is not only refined but on the open road, very quiet as well, which Ford claims will rival the much more costly premium SUVs on the market. Ford has inundated the Explorer with technologies and features, including MyFord Touch and SYNC–again, rivalling the premium SUVs on the market. For 2011, the Explorer also finds more head and shoulder room, and the third-row seating is now a standard.

Explorer as tested

My Explorer Limited came with a few cabin options, including all-weather floor mats ($30); 2nd row dual captain chairs (500); a dual panel moonroof (1750); luxury seating package with powerfold third row seat (900); the navigation system (700); and the Technology package (2400) with active park assist, adapt cruise/collision warning, rain sensing wipers, and blind spot monitoring. Also optional, found on my tester, 20-inch polished aluminum rims ($600) and a trailer tow package-class III (500).

The idea that a full-size SUV’s fuel efficiency can be in line with a full-size sedan may sound preposterous. Except to Ford with their introduction of the insane EcoBoost. Available later this year, the 2011 Explorer will be fitted with an optional EcoBoost 2.0L I-4 V6, providing huge fuel efficiency without comprising power. Combining gasoline and turbochargers, the EcoBoost puts down 237HP at 5500 RPM and 255-lb.ft of torque. Ultimately, rendering a 30-percent increase in fuel economy, which Ford claims is playing ball with the likes of Honda Accord V6. And even better fuel efficiency than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid (…Hybrid!).

Under the hood

Standard powerplant in the 2011 Ford Explorer is the 3.5L V6 with four-wheel drive and terrain management at the touch of a button. This V6 delivers 290HP and 255-lb.ft of torque. Mated to a unique six-speed transmission, performance and economy are increased with flexibility of optimum gearing for different situations. Optional in the 2011 Ford Explorer XLT and Limited models is the SelectShift Automatic transmission allowing manual shifting via a shifter-mounted button for thumb activated + or – gear changes.

Safety features

The 2011 Ford Explorer adds an impressive list of innovative safety features, raising the safety bar within the SUV segment. The most notable of these include the industry-first inflatable rear seat belts. Ford recognized second-row passengers, including children and mature passengers, can be more vulnerable to head, chest, and neck injuries. Thus, the world’ first inflatable seats belts. Upon deployment, these belts spread impact forces over five times more than the conventional seat belt, reducing pressure on the chest while helping control head and neck motion.

Here are the standard safety features found in all Explorer models:

  • AdvanceTracwith RSC features Curve Control functionality to provide braking – optimized by each individual wheel
  • Second-generation first-row airbags, side seat airbags
  • Belt-Minder for driver and first-row passenger
  • Front passenger sensing system
  • Energy-management system pretensioning for height-adjustable first-row seat belts
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system for outboard second-row positions, for safely securing child safety seats
  • SOS Post-Crash Alert System
  • Safety Canopy side curtain airbags
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Optional safety features include Adaptive cruise control/collision warning with brake support; and BLIS (Blind Spot Info System) with cross-traffic alert.

Learn more – Ford Explorer Limited

CONS:

  • The knob-less/dial-less MyFord Touch system is super frustrating to use

2011 Ford Explorer Prices ($ CAD MSRP):

Base V6 FWD

$29,999

Base V6 4WD

$32,999

XLT V6 FWD

$35,899

XLT V6 4WD

$38,899

Limited V6 FWD

$41,199

Limited V6 4WD

$44,199

Destination and Delivery

$  1,400

2011 Ford Explorer Optional Equipment Prices:

TIRES
XLT – 20 inch Polished Aluminum Wheels with P255/50R20 A/S BSW

$1,200

Limited – 20 inch Polished Aluminum Wheels with P255/50R20 A/S BSW

$   600

SEATS
Limited – 2nd Row Captain’s Chairs (LTD requires Luxury Seating Package)

$   500

Limited – 2nd Row Console (LTD requires 2nd row Captain’s Chairs)

$   150

Limited – Luxury Seating Package

$   900

XLT – Leather Trimmed Seats

$1,200

OTHER OPTIONS
6-Speed Selectshift Automatic™ Transmission (requires and only available with Trailer Tow

Inc

DVD Headrest (XLT, Limited)

$2,100

Technology Package (requires Luxury Seating package)

$2,400

Trailer Tow Package – Class III (including and requires 6-Speed Selectshift Automatic™ Transmission)

$   500

BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross Traffic Alert (requires Reverse Camera) (XLT, Limited)

$   500

Floor Mats – Carpeted and All Weather (front/rear)

$   100

Moonroof – Dual Panel (XLT, Limited)

$1,750

Power Liftgate (XLT)

$   500

Rear Outboard Inflatable Seatbelts (XLT/LTD)

$   250

Reverse Camera (XLT)

$    500

Reverse Sensing System (Base)

$    400

Red Candy Metallic with Tinted Clearcoat

$    300

White Platinum Tri-Coat (XLT, Limited)

$   300

AUDIO
Voice Activated Navigation System (XLT, Limited)

$    700

SIRIUS® Satellite Radio (Base)

$    200

2011 Ford Explorer Fuel Economy (City L/100 km – Hwy L/100 km):

Ford Explorer 4X2 3.5L – V6 6 speed automatic 11.9        8.0
Ford Explorer AWD 3.5L – V6 6 speed automatic 12.5

8.8

Ford Explorer 4X4 3.5L – V6 SST 6 speed automatic 12.5

8.8

Managing Editor and founder of TL. Also a photographer since 2000 shooting for corporate and editorial. Member of AJAC. More at ameereehal.com and tractionmedia.ca.