Creature Comforts
Ford Explorer

What is It?
Four-door, seven-passenger midsize SUV. Notable features on test vehicle: Puddle lamps, adjustable pedals, all-wheel drive, rear climate control, and reverse sensing system.

What We Like
When driving long distances, having a deeply padded seat is worth its weight in gold, and the Explorer's captain's chairs deliver in spades. The back seat also is supportive and was a favorite on this test, with good leg-, knee, foot, and headroom. An added plus: a fold-flat third-row seat that'll accommodate two kids in a pinch. Some may think the interior's design is a bit staid, but its uncluttered design and simplistic controls won the editors over, and the large dials and buttons will be appreciated in the winter months, when gloved hands tend to make small-button selections a near-impossible task.

What We Don't Like
There's a lot of hard plastic in the cabin, and the door panels could've been trimmed in soft-touch materials--the rock-hard plastic makes arms and elbows sore after a few miles on the road. We aren't sure if the interior designers at the Blue Oval were trying to mimic carbon fiber or a bad leisure suit, but the plastic trim on the center stack and door panels is downright ugly. And you can save the $510 on the stereo upgrade: some transistor AM radios sound better. Our tester's seats were trimmed in leather, albeit industrial grade that sharply resembled vinyl from a 1966 Mustang.

How It Works
Like a family vacation, a Truck Trend test travels over hundreds of miles and to several destinations, albeit in a few days instead of weeks. That said, we truly appreciate seats that don't leave backsides aching, arms numb, and legs tired. Ford almost did it right: The seats are comfy for the long haul, but some of the hard plastic pieces left editors searching for jackets, pillows, or anything with an ounce of padding. Having a third row of seats is great when you need them in a pinch, but if they're used often, don't expect to have any real usable cargo area for a long trip.