2015 Ford Explorer

What's new for 2015? The 2015 Ford Explorer gets a new Appearance package for the XLT trim, as well as some minor changes to standard and optional equipment.

One of the original SUVs, the Ford Explorer has been providing family transportation for nearly 25 years. Today's 2015 model, the largest and most luxurious yet, provides three rows of seating, three different engine choices, decent cargo space for the kids and their stuff and a sleek and handsome profile. As such, this Ford is certainly a good fit for almost any family's garage.

Driving the Explorer on a daily basis is pleasant, thanks to its quiet interior and comfortable ride. You'll also likely be pleased with the interior's high-quality materials and big collection of standard and optional features. For power, the standard V6 should be good for most owners, but Ford also offers a couple of engine options, which is unusual for this class. For enhanced fuel economy, there's a turbocharged four-cylinder that will get you an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined. Or, for quicker acceleration and stronger performance when towing, there's a turbocharged V6 on the Explorer Sport model. 2015 Ford Explorer is a respectable choice that can provide you with the right kind of utility and some extra style.

Exterior Highlights
Available in in SE, SEL, Sport and Titanium trim levels

The 2015 Ford Explorer is a large three-row crossover SUV available in four trim levels: base, XLT, Limited and Sport.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, roof rails, cruise control, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a 60/40-split second-row seat, 50/50-split third-row seat, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 4.2-inch display screen and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

The XLT adds upgraded brakes, foglights, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a keyless entry code pad, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Sync (Ford's voice-activated phone/entertainment interface), a six-way power front passenger seat, satellite radio and a USB port.

For the XLT, the Equipment Group 201A package adds a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker sound system and the Driver Connect package, which includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-inch touchscreen display (MyFord Touch), two USB ports, an SD card reader and upgraded Sync functionality. The 202A package includes all of the 201A equipment, plus leather upholstery, heated front seats and an eight-way power driver seat with power-adjustable lumbar. With the 202A package equipped, the Appearance package becomes available, and it adds 20-inch alloy wheels, body-colored door handles, leather seats with suede inserts and unique floor mats.

The Limited gets the XLT 202A's equipment, plus 20-inch wheels, keyless ignition and entry, remote engine start, driver memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, a 110-volt power outlet and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio. Optional for the Limited is the 301A package, which includes a power liftgate, a power-folding operation for the third-row seat, an eight-way power passenger seat, a heated and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, ventilated front seats and a navigation system.

To this, the 302A package adds xenon headlights, automatic high-beam control, automatic windshield wipers, an automatic parallel-parking system, lane-departure and lane-keeping assist, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert and inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers. Adaptive cruise control with frontal-collision warning and brake priming is a stand-alone option. When the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is equipped, the 302A package becomes the 303A package, but the equipment is the same.

The Explorer Sport is equipped similarly to the Limited, but some of the Limited's standard features are optional here. You get different 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, front sport seats (with extra lateral bolstering) and unique interior and exterior trim details. The Sport's 401A package adds keyless ignition and entry, a power liftgate, 110-volt outlet, a front power passenger seat, driver memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, navigation system, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel and the Limited's optional safety features. The adaptive cruise control is again optional.

Other options for the XLT, Limited and Sport include a dual-panel sunroof, second-row captain's chairs and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted displays.

More room for cargo and people, Sync touch-based infotainment system, parking camera, hands-free liftgate, panoramic sunroof, heated font seats

Considering the price, the Explorer's interior is pretty well-trimmed. Materials are attractive and luxurious, with a soft-touch dashboard and precise-feeling controls. The front seats are very supportive, and the cabin is particularly quiet as well.

The optional MyFord Touch interface contributes to the premium vibe, as it adds a high-resolution display screen (plus two additional screens for the gauge cluster) and touch-sensitive audio and climate "buttons." We haven't been fond of this system in the past, as it was often slow to respond to inputs. However, ongoing year-to-year system improvements have made a difference, and in our most recent tests, MyFord Touch worked reasonably well. We also continue to like the usefulness of the Sync voice commands.

Every 2015 Ford Explorer comes standard with stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a front passenger knee airbag and MyKey, which allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume. The Explorer's stability control system also includes Ford's Curve Control, which can monitor speed carried into a corner and decelerate if necessary.

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