6TH PLACE: FORD EXPLORER
Before we get to the specifics of why it finished last, let's go over some of the new Explorer's good points. Everyone likes its looks. It's bold, stout, aggressive. Very SUV-like, in fact. Most of us also agree that the all-encompassing MyFord Touch system is best in class. Says editor at large Ron Kiino, "I like the IP and the center stack; they're modern and functional. Overall, the interior is very handsome and high quality."
Still, there was a bit of dissent. Associate road test editor Carlos Lago logs, "When MyFord Touch works, it's brilliant. When it doesn't it makes you facepalm repeatedly." By "not working," Lago means having to hold a string of annoying conversations with a talking female computer. And he makes one final point on which we all agree: "Give me knobs for volume, tuning, and temp. Please." Still, it must be said the optional Sony-branded controls look fantastic.
We didn't like driving the Explorer very much. "Holy torque steer, Batman!" shrieked executive editor Edward Loh. "Why is this AWD beast pulling under wide-open throttle?" Because more so than any other vehicle here, the Explorer is primarily FWD, with power routed to the rear tires only when the fronts lose traction. Hence, massive, freaky, comical torque steer. The big Ford also rode worse than much of the competition. Says Williams, "The chassis needs some refinement to give it the level of sophistication and playfulness most of the others deliver." From my own notes: "Car feels wobbly at speed-not confidence inspiring."