I love camping and have been setting up tents amongst the trees for the past 30 years, translating into three decades of collecting the camping essentials in neatly-packaged containers of the must-haves and might-needs. I must admit, when I started my wilderness adventures, I was less refined and my “required” necessities list was more simplified. I also could manage to load all of my camping gear in the trunk of my 1966 Ford Mustang. Well, times have changed. Space is the place and I need plenty of it when I begin to load up a vehicle to hit the trail.
Over the fourth of July, my wife and I were fortunate enough to acquire a 2014 Ford Explorer 4WD loaner from Livermore Ford-Lincoln located at 2266 Kittyhawk Rd in Livermore. Our Explorer was loaded with tech features and the power to take us wherever we needed to go. And yes, it also had plenty of room with 43.8 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the second row of seats or 80.7 cu. ft. with the second row seats folded down. We laid the seats down, loaded it up and hit the road. I spent over eight hours total behind the wheel and felt as if I were sitting in the comfort of my favorite recliner.
The Ford Explorer had held the title of being the best-selling SUV in North America due to its rugged reputation. As demands from SUV buyers changed, the desire to have truck-base sport utilities began to waver for the more vehicle-like feel of the crossover vehicles. After some debate, Ford recreated the Explorer a couple of years ago on its D3 architecture, morphing it into the popular crossover category that over-took the SUV market. Does it work? Boy does it!
The 2014 Explorer is available in four trim levels and in 2-wheel/FWD drive and 4-wheel drive: Base FWD ($30,015), Base 4WD ($32,015), XLT FWD ($32,900), XLT 4WD ($34,900), Limited FWD ($38,100), Limited 4WD ($40,100), and Sport 4WD ($41,675).
The 2014 Ford Explorer, in my opinion, is the best looking Explorer and SUV/crossover out there. It rides on a modified unibody platform shared with the Taurus and Flex that delivers a smooth and confident ride. The exterior styling is muscular and intelligent with hints of Land Rover design cues. The clamshell hood has wide-spaced Explorer lettering and flows into one of the best-looking Ford grilles. The front headlamps are positioned next to the grille and bleed in the front fenders in a tiered fashion upward and backward. It almost looks cat-eye like.Dominating softer surfaces along the side bodylines blend into masculine shoulders. The entire profile looks refined and sculptured. The Limited and Sport enhances its image with 20-inch wheels up from 17-in (Base) and 18-in XLT.
The cabin of the Explorer features space for seven passengers with its three rows of seating. The third row is suited best for children. All trim levels except for the base model come standard with SYNC, Ford’s Bluetooth-based system that allows users to command the Explorer to make, change, or request operations including setting a radio station or the cabin temperature. MyFord Touch replaces the conventional radio knobs with an eight-inch touchscreen.
Ford offers two engine options on the 2014 Explorer. The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft. of torque. The V6 features direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing that Ford claims boost the fuel economy by around 20 percent. The FWD earns 18/25 mpg and the 4WD gets 17/23 mpg. The second optional engine is the EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. of torque. The 4-cylinder produces 20/28 and is only available in front-wheel-drive. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
• Second-row Heated Seats (standard on the Limited)
• Adaptive Cruise Control (optional)
Safety on the 2014 Ford Explorer comes standard with AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™), Safety Canopy® System side air curtain technology for all three rows, dual-stage airbags for driver and front passenger, tire pressure monitoring system, SOS Post-Crash Alert System™, MyKey® programmable vehicle key allows parental controls on driving speed, and SecuriCode™ keypad entry system. Available second-row inflatable belts offer improved comfort and protection for passengers.
The 2014 Ford Explorer manages to fit in both the off-road and Broadway play roadhouses. In other words, the Explorer is the sophisticated interpretation of the SUV with both grit and bling. Beautiful and bold on the outside, soft-touch and high quality materials with high-tech features on the inside. Teamed up with efficient and powerful motors and tight suspension makes the 2014 Ford Explorer an excellent choice. I want to give a special thanks to Sara Schleske, Marketing Manager, at Livermore Ford Lincoln, for her assistance with our test drive.
2014 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD
Base price: $34,900 as driven: $42,020 (including destination & optional
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 290 @ 6,500 RPM
Torque: 255 @ 4,000 RPM
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: 4WD Drive
Turning circle: 39.2 feet (FWD) 38.9 feet (4WD)
Cargo space: 43.8 cubic feet
Curb weight: 4,503 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gallons
EPA mileage: City17/Hwy 23
Wheel Base: 112.6 inches
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles powertrain limited
Also consider: Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander