I go Exploring with the new Ford

Last week the MINI saga kind of took centre stage, but in actual fact it was Ford I was meant to focus on. And after I dealt with Cooper S debacle, I was able to turn my attention to the brand new 2011 Ford Explorer — and I have to say I’m glad I did.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ford’s got its head on its shoulders. It knows what the market needs and its producing vehicles that answer a calling few have listened to. Modern designs, tech-loaded interiors and affordable prices make Ford the true American leader (in my mind). And the new Ford Explorer only adds to that lead.

As the micro-minis and ecoboxes take over the market, the SUV segment has slowly been pushed to the backburner, but Ford is about to change all that. With a fuel-efficient SUV that offers all of the space and performance of a big vehicle without the gas-guzzling and the environment-killing, the Ford Explorer has set the SUV mark.

But is it all they say it is?

Ford invited me out to Quebec City to really get a good look and feel for the Ford Explorer, and I have to say I think they picked a great locale.

In the city, the Explorer felt a bit big. I’ll admit I was a little unsure of fitting down a few of the more narrow, old city streets, but it wasn’t horrible. I’m impressed that Ford kept the size of the Explorer intact. With all the crossovers flooding the market and smaller being “better”, I’m happy that they kept the Explorer’s large stance and big size. There will always be a place in the market for a vehicle this size.

From the city we made our way out into the rolling hills of the Malbaie region outside Quebec City.

What a gorgeous backdrop the Malbaie region offered for our drive.

To prove the Explorer’s exploratory capabilities, we were taken to a winding, narrow, snow and ice-covered road through the woods. It was a fantastic stretch of road and one that allowed us to really get a feel for what the Ford Explorer could do. With 4 traction settings — sand, snow/gravel, mud and normal — we were able to put said settings to the test.

While the snow/gravel setting soon became labeled “nanny mode” my driving buddy and I quickly realized the best mode was sand as it allowed for a bit more play and fun round the corners, which is really what you want in a good winter ride, right?

At the end of that glorious, snowy patch we were greeted with hot coffee and maple sugar in snow (sugaring off is a tradition here in Quebec) — bliss!

From there we moved onto a specialized driving course at an airport where we were told to really put the Ford Explorer’s traction control system to the test.

And here’s where my disappointment kicked in.

I’m always a little biased when it comes to AWD vehicles. Because I drive a WRX regulary, I am constantly comparing all AWD systems to that of the Subaru — and they rarely match up.

While the AWD system acted as any AWD system would, what annoyed me the most was the “nanny mode” that would completely cut the power as soon as a slide was detected.

For anyone who can drive, this is the absolute pits.

I would have given anything for a handbrake and some power to make my corners and avoid the ever-menacing cones strewn about the course.

Sometimes a press event can sugarcoat opinions, but I think for once Ford truly showed the strengths and weaknesses of their vehicle. They truly left it up to us to form our own opinions about the Ford Explorer.

From the MyFord Touch system to the inflatable rear seatbelt airbags (a first), the Ford Explorer isn’t just pretty to look at, it’s also rolling gadget. I much prefer the middle console of the Explorer to that of the MKX as well, which is a definite plus.

I can’t wait to spend more time behind the wheel of the Ford Explorer to really form some solid opinions about Ford’s latest SUV. First impressions for me, oh faithful reader? Ford’s got a winner. Add another notch to their Euro-inspired belt.

Drive on,
– M.

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~ by drivingmsmiranda on March 6, 2011.

2 Responses to “I go Exploring with the new Ford”

  1. I simply want to mention I am very new to weblog and seriously loved this blog. Likely I’m likely to bookmark your site . You certainly come with great stories. Cheers for revealing your blog.

  2. Bonjour,

    J’ai bien aimé votre commentaire sur votre visite à Québec. Le contexte du Ford Explorer se prête très bien à nos régions. Merci pour votre billet. Vous semblez avoir apprécié votre séjour!

    Mario

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