Car of the week – February 11 - Ford Explorer Sport

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The Ford Explorer Sport is becoming a popular car for many people in the UAE.

The mid-size SUV market is overloaded with the good, the bad and the ugly with so much choice that unless you go top-end, and even then it can be tricky, choosing the one which is going to tick all the boxes, can be a real headache.

So let’s take Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Range Rover out of the equation for a minute, and have a look at the best of the rest. I am a huge fan of the Jeep Grand Cherokee because apart from looking pretty cool, it offers excellent value for money.

However, I couldn’t help noticing while driving around Dubai and Abu Dhabi that there are an awful lot of Ford Explorers out there – so many in fact, that I decided to find out what makes this vehicle so popular and with a little help from my friends at Al Tayer Motors I found myself behind the wheel of the new Ford Explorer Sport.

The Explorer has been around for 25 years and with more than seven million of them sold worldwide it has played a huge role in defining all that is good about affordable SUVs. And it is that word ‘affordable’ combined with everything else that comes with this vehicle that really does take the Explorer Sport in territory that cannot be ignored.

When it was introduced in 1990 it was designed to have generous interior space and engineered specifically for people who wanted to escape the hum drum of normal driving and experience more of an adventure in a vehicle that could handle a bit of offroading and accommodate the kids, pets and all the paraphernalia that goes with a trip into unknown terrain.

It obviously worked because, as mentioned, the Ford Explorer seems to have invaded the UAE without anyone really noticing and having driven the Sport model it is easy to see why. For starters, I love the way the 2016 Explorer Sport looks, particularly from the front which has a refined, yet rugged Range Roverish appearance with the cool looking grille and more robust LED headlights positioned slightly higher than its predecessor.

The other subtle styling updates include a new closed-off lower roof rack with channels that clear rainwater (what little there is in this part of the world) off the vehicle and there is a new rear spoiler to improve the aerodynamics.

Sitting on 20-inch wheels, the side profile is unremarkable yet nicely designed and the rear, with its integrated, chrome tipped exhausts looks classy.

Inside, Ford have made a concerted effort to move things upmarket a little bit after they discovered that one in five Ford Explorer Sport customers previously owned a luxury vehicle. Don’t expect lashing of the highest quality leather and carbon fibre because that is not what this vehicle is about, but they have done a great job with very comfortable leather seats, a wrapped and stitched multi-functional steering wheel, and something I really like – they have ditched touch-sensitive buttons on the infotainment system which so often don’t work properly and drive you bonkers, with real ones.

There are also nice trims all around the cabin which give it a refined, yet thoroughly practical feel. It is very spacious but feels compact so it’s not like driving a bus which you get in so many mid-priced SUVs these days.

As is the norm these days Ford are quick to point out that as well as providing a more dynamic drive the new Explorer comes with even more technology which includes front and rear cameras with wide-angle lenses so you can see more of what is going on outside the car, enhanced active park assists that uses ultrasonic sensors to help you in and out of spaces.

There is also a hands-free system where you kick your foot below the centre of the rear bumper to open or close the rear tailgate.

The Explorer Sport comes with a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine with 365bhp and 470nm of torque, mated to a six speed SelectShift gearbox with paddle-shifts and it is impressively responsive, much more so than I expected. Put pedal to metal and this vehicle does not hang around. It is fitted with a sport-tuned chassis and handles really well, with little bodyroll going through corners, and is comfortable in all conditions.

It has intelligent four-wheel drive which uses a terrain management system which is constantly monitoring driving conditions to provide maximum handling and traction, assessing wheel speed, throttle position, and steering wheel angle to determine the environment and driver intent in all terrain. It’s clever stuff.

So now I know – the Ford Explorer is so popular because it is the perfect combination of practicality, good looks, spaciousness, reliability, efficient performance and cutting edge technology.

The Sport model provides extra grunt with that brilliant EcoBoost V6 and at a price of Dh205,000 with a three year or 60,000km complimentary service package you can’t go wrong.

Know more about Sport360 Application


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