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November 29, 2016

Review: 2016 Ford Explorer Sport V6 EcoBoost

Driving the Ford Explorer, particularly the Sport, feels like meeting an old friend. After driving it extensively at the height of Michigan winter, I feel like I’ve known its ins and outs quite well. So when Ford Philippines offered me an Explorer Sport for a week, one single question popped in my head: what new story can it tell? What more can I discover with this giant 7-seater luxury crossover with the heart of a muscle car?

As the Magnetic Metallic-colored Explorer Sport arrived at my doorstep, I can’t help but smile once more; it’s still quite the looker. In the US, Ford says that one in five Explorer customers also owns another luxury vehicle, so it’s been a challenge to give this vehicle a more premium feel. Compared to when I first saw the refresh, I’m now warming up to the new front-end. The larger headlights and squared off grille create a visually cohesive look while still keeping its proportions that’ll keep a top-league baller happy. The rear-end has been generally cleaned up as well, though it takes a back-to-back comparison to notice. And since I’m not a big fan of chrome, I love the blacked out look that’s standard on the Sport.

Inside is where the Explorer starts to feel dated. Though I feel the build quality is still generally good, the P 2,870,000 is now looking like a high price to pay for this cabin experience. The configurable instrument cluster, the large 8-inch touchscreen, and numerous voice commands all felt like science fiction in 2012, but now, everyone’s got it de rigueur. Still fitted with MyFord Touch, the entire infotainment experience is still laggy, but I do commend the new physical buttons on the center console; they work way better than the old Star Trek-style touch sensitive ones.

While the infotainment system is still something left to be desired, there’s no problem with the overall ergonomics. With every aspect of the Explorer Sport electrically adjustable (steering wheel, seats, pedals), finding a comfortable driving position is easy. Plus, I find the seats to be quite comfy; though those with bigger builds may say otherwise.

Differences to the US-spec model that I drove are fairly minimal. In fact, it can be narrowed down to the second row seats. While you can spec up the Explorer Sport with outboard Captain’s Seats in America, you get bench seating in ours. Don’t fret though; this configuration is perfectly comfortable with seats which are plush and wide enough for spending hours of traffic in. It also adds one more soul to its maximum capacity (7 as opposed to 6). Oddly enough, only one side: the 40 percent in the 60/40 split, slides fore and aft. Though the intended use of this feature is for mounting child seats, it also means the third-row occupants will have to live with a surprisingly small amount of leg room.

Time and time again, I’ve summarized the Explorer Sport as a 7-seater muscle car and it still pretty much is. With 370 horsepower and 475 Nm of torque on tap, it’s got copious amounts of power for just about any occasion. Whether it’s for that quick overtaking pass on EDSA or cruising leisurely on the expressway, the twin-turbocharged V6 obliges with a hint of roartiness mixed in. It’s also mighty high on refinement with impeccably smooth acceleration. Sadly, it also has the thirst of a muscle car. In the wide-open Michigan and Illinois roads, it barely eked out 6 km/L. That figure is cut down to 3.84 km/L when stuck in the confines of Manila. Add to that a 70-liter tank, and I found myself filling up with petrol every four days or so. A fuel loyalty membership card is a must with this vehicle.

In the handling department, the Explorer Sport does receive its own unique steering and suspension tune, but it still pretty much behaves as its size suggests. Yes, you can push it with a bit more confidence through a series of winding roads (the Intelligent AWD is very transparent), but it’s clearly not built for that. It’s more for the relaxing drive when you endlessly soak up the scenery and the potholes while enjoying some Taylor Swift tunes on the radio. That is, until you run out of gas, which you quickly will.

The Explorer’s five-meter long frame and two-meter wide girth feel perfectly suited for American roads, but for our streets, it does take some getting used to. Generally though, the sightlines are all quite good (better than the Everest’s even) and this makes it easy enough to maneuver around in all but the smallest of side streets. During those times, it’s got cameras front and back which even have their own washers as not to get the lens obstructed. If there’s one thing I’m missing, it’s Active Park Assist. Though my parallel parking skills are fine for a compact crossover, but once I’m dealing with an Explorer, it can be challenging. Besides, if the P 1.2-million Focus has it, why not the P 2.8-million Explorer Sport?

Although the Explorer Sport hasn’t told me a new story this time, it still makes for pretty good company. Like meeting a close friend for the first time in almost a year, there’s no need to get reacquainted and there are no uncomfortable silences too. It’s all about reminiscing about the good times and looking forward to even better ones. The Explorer has become such a huge hit for Ford Philippines, and I think it’s down to how the formula translates well for our roads. It may have been designed and engineered originally for American roads, but it’s also quite at home here in all but the fuel economy aspect.

2016 Ford Explorer Sport V6 EcoBoost
Ownership 2016 Ford Explorer Sport V6 EcoBoost AWD
Year Introduced 2012 (Refreshed: 2016)
Vehicle Classification Mid-sized Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 3.5
Aspiration Twin Turbo
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders V6
BHP @ rpm 370 @ 5,000
Nm @ rpm 475 @ 3,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 3.84 km/L @ 10 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 5,036
Width (mm) 2,004
Height (mm) 1,803
Wheelbase (mm) 2,865
Curb Weight (kg) 2,218
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut, Sport Tuned
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link, Sport Tuned
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2 255/50 R 20 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7 + 2nd row seatbelt airbags
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear, with Front and Rear Camera
Other Safety Features Hill Descent Control
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic, Electric
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (front, driver w/ memory)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); 50/50 (3rd row, electric)
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Front, Dual Zone; Rear, Manual
Audio System Stereo
SD Card
# of Speakers 12, Sony
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Favorite SUV ng mga spoiled rich kids na mahilig mag bar hopping.

  2. The seats are quite comfy? So that means that this is doesn't have that level of comfort for the price? In short, if I am after a more comfortable ride, I'd better get a D-segment sedan?

    1. quite
      to the utmost or most absolute extent or degree; absolutely; completel

  3. Great car but a friend complained that his 8k fuel expense account couldn't feed this beast

    1. You should expect it for a vehicle like an Explorer and an engine that thirsty.

  4. Passenger seating comfortable?

  5. Hi sir ulysses..i wanna comment on the ads.. the ads is annoying and keep on pop up..the ford ad

    1. mobile version, even though I have closed the ad, when I click anywhere on the article the ford ad still pops up and take me to their site

  6. Hi Uly!

    Do you have feedback on the 2.3L model? Also Ford is under investigation in the US for exhaust funes entering the cabin at high rpm acceleration. Have they fixed it?

    1. Sorry, I wanted to test the 2.3L, but Ford let me have a go in the Sport again. Will try to get my hands on it...

      As for the exhaust fumes, I didn't experience that problem. According to forums, just manually override the automatic climate control and keep the vents to recirculate mode to prevent exhaust gases from coming in.

      When I had the Explorer, I turned off the car without turning off the A/C. This enables the A/C to keep my desired setting without me having to fiddle with the controls again.

  7. Hi Uly!
    I hope this request for advise gets to you soon.

    I've been reading up on your reviews on the the Ford Explorer since its transition from SUV to CUV back in 2012 if I remember it correctly, and been saving up since.

    Model year, higher hp/tq/towing numbers, and newer tech aside, I'd like to focus more on value and reliable performance.

    With that in mind, which do you think is better overall?

    2014 3.5L v6 NA limited OR
    2016 2.3L ecoboost?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Paolo,

      I presume that you're in the market for a used one given the year models that you mentioned.

      The original 3.5 V6 is okay, and the main consideration is its lower acquisition cost as Explorers don't hold value that well.

      That being said, I would go for the newer 2016 model because it's still within the warranty period. Not to mention, it does come with more toys and will be more fuel efficient compared to the V6.

  8. Thanks for the reply Uly.

    However, I also came across other vehicles in the same class, which I think is worth looking into as well. Based on your reviews and others', these are competitive in their own way. But if it was your money and given the requirement above, which would it be:
    2014 Explorer v6
    2014 CX9 Kodo with same MZR v6
    2013 Pilot v6

    Thanks again in advance.

    1. There would be a lot more Explorers available second-hand so you'll be spoiled for choices.

      That said, long-term reliability with Ford electronics are still questionable (I've heard things like the power tailgate and even the infotainment screen failing after 3 years).

      The CX-9 Kodo is good, but it's not exactly a beacon of value. Neither is the Pilot V6. The CX-9 feels like a better drive than the Pilot, but it's not really a stand out. In terms of space, the Pilot can seat 8 in a squeeze while the CX-9 can only manage 7.

      I cannot really comment on the CX-9 and Pilot's long-term reliability, but based on other countries, the Honda does better.

  9. Leaning towards the Explorer first, CX9 second. Thanks again Uly!


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