2011 Ford Explorer

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2011 Ford Explorer — Flash Drive

By Staff of MSN Autos

View Pictures:  2011 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer feels much bigger than it really is. Modern cars almost always have sightlines from the driver's seat that hide the hood and provide expansive views of the road. But the Explorer doesn't provide a good view for the driver. It's intimidating to drive and hard to park. In all other respects the Explorer is wonderful. It's spacious and comfortable. The updated Ford SUV has a smooth engine and may not be overpowered, but it is able to accelerate briskly enough to be safe on the freeway. Yet I keep coming back to the poor sightlines and the SUV's intimidating effect on the driver. Overall, I was disappointed. – Paul Hagger

Ford's top-selling Explorer is all-new for 2011, and has evolved into a very attractive 7-passenger crossover with a design that makes it look smaller than it is. The first impression you get of the new Explorer is that it is much bigger than the last generation, and more specifically, it is wider, which translates directly into additional passenger room for all three rows. The attractive design continues on the inside with a simple layout that incorporates soft-touch materials and shows excellent fit and finish. The Explorer is a big vehicle, and it feels big on the road, although it does drive well for its size. The Explorer is responsive and well-controlled, with good power from a 3.5-liter 290-horsepower V6 engine and a thoroughly modern 6-speed automatic. The Explorer is intended as a modern family vehicle that splits the difference between a minivan and a traditional SUV, and Ford has done a good job at hitting that target. – Mike Meredith

Ford has been building Explorers since the early 1990s, but the 2011 model completely redefines the SUV. The new Explorer looks great, and at first glance it seems smaller than the outgoing model, but up close it's actually quite large. This isn't a bad thing — large means there's plenty of room in both the second and third rows. There's not a lot of cargo space behind the last row, but it easily folds flat to provide plenty of space. The second row can seat three comfortably, and with just one hand can be folded flat or out of the way to provide access to the third row. While it does have a 290-horsepower V6, I was surprised to find that the Explorer feels a bit heavy and underpowered. But the big SUV does handle well and provides a smooth, comfortable ride. Overall, I think Ford's done a good job of evolving what was once the best-selling SUV in America. – Perry Stern

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BB06 - 7/28/2014 9:24:21 AM