10.03.2016

Seduced By An SUV: The 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4WD

Front 3/4 view of the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum
The 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4WD.
I didn't stand a chance.

When I walked out of my office building to meet the delivery guy who was picking up the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid and dropping off the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4WD, I saw the Explorer sitting in the lot, the sun gleaming off its gorgeous Ruby Red Metallic paint.

"Man, that's pretty", I told him as I took the key fob and signed the paperwork.  I glanced at the bottom line of the window sticker and was shocked.  $55,155 is big SUV money, at least in my mind. Psychologically, subconsciously, I expect something in the Explorer's size class to stay on the sane side of $50K.



Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4WD
2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4WD.
Truth is, though, that's a largely unfounded expectation on my part.  You can certainly option a Jeep Grand Cherokee into this price range.  It'd be tougher to crack $50,000 with a Toyota Highlander, but you could.  The Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are pretty much mid-upper $40,000s all-in.

Regular TireKicker readers know that I have no deep need for luxury.  I can appreciate it, but I don't crave it.  Or didn't until I drove the Explorer home from the day job on night one.

Audio and HVAC controls for 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum AWD
2016 Ford Explorer Platinum AWD audio and HVAC controls.
Pictured above is the panel that spoiled me rotten for a week.  It controls the vastly improved Sony/SYNC/MyFordTouch 500 watt audio system that's unique to the Explorer Platinum.  It is every bit as good as audio systems costing thousands of dollars that I've sampled in high-end luxury cars.

The automatic climate control needed zero fiddling....set it and forget it.  Virtually instant comfort, which given that Sacramento was going through its (hopefully) final burst of 100-degree days this year, was no mean feat.  On top of that, the Explorer Platinum has both heated (red buttons) and air-conditioned (blue buttons) seats.  Heated seats are fairly common.  Ventilated ones less so, and truly chilled ones are still something of a rarity outside the luxo crowd.

Interior view of 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4WD
2016 Ford Explorer Platinum 4WD interior.
But the topper...the "I'm a goner" moment...came when I discovered that the gorgeous, comfortable and well-named Nirvana leather seats with quilted inserts had a massage function.  Not just some rolling pin going up and down my back either.  No, a fully adjustable massage from both the seat and the seatback.

Decadent.  Unnecessary.  Frivolous.

I want it every single day for the rest of my life.  And $55,155 sounds like a perfectly reasonable price to pay.

In all seriousness, if Lincoln had made its customers feel as pampered in its vehicles the past 40 years or so,  we'd still be talking about driving a Lincoln in envious, reverent tones.

Base price for the Explorer Platinum 4WD is $52,970 with all the above, a twin-panel moonroof, 20-inch machine-faced wheels, heated second-row seats, adaptive cruise control, a Class III trailer towing package, a front 180-degree camera, hill descent control, lane-keeping system, rear view camera, remote start, reverse sensing, voice-activated navigation and a full complement of safety features.

The only extra cost options were the Ruby Red Metallic paint ($395), 2nd row bucket seats ($695) and a 2nd row console ($150).  Add $945 destination and delivery and there's your $55,155.

The 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission has plenty of power and gets fairly grim mileage...the EPA says 16 city/22 highway...we managed 18 in a 50/50 mix of city streets and urban freeways...which, coincidentally, is the EPA combined average.  The window sticker says you can expect to spend $3,500 more in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle.

Were I to be able to give in to my newfound hedonism and sign on the dotted line for the Explorer Platinum, I'm sure that added gas expense wouldn't worry me a bit.



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