Off-Road Performance
Ford Explorer

What is It?
Full-time all-wheel drive. Mode offered: full-time all-wheel drive.

What We Like
Ahhh...the beauty of all-wheel drive: You never have to touch a switch to engage all four wheels, whatever the weather or road conditions. We're impressed with the quick reaction time of Ford's system, especially on gravel roads or wet twisty pavement. With no switches to push or knobs to turn, you just have to trust that the system is doing its job.

What We Don't Like
There's a price to pay for seamless all-weather security: you can't lock the system into a true 4x4 mode, and unlike a living, breathing human, the system can't anticipate the need for 4WD. Need a lot of torque to pull that 24-foot boat out of a slippery launch ramp? Fuhgeddaboudit. Expect high revs and some funky noises from the AWD system as it searches for the wheels with grip. Another AWD issue: the high gear range makes slippery, steep shale hills nearly impassable, as momentum is easily lost while the system figures out where to send power.

How It Works
The V-8, all-wheel-drive combination was introduced in the Explorer nearly 10 years ago, and for the average commuter, Ford's AWD will do the trick in foul weather or whenever the system detects wheelslip. It's one of the most seamless systems on the market, and it reacts almost instantly. Taking the AWD Explorer off-road quickly brought its limitations to light, where the need for constant power to all four wheels, or the added torque of low range can mean the difference between making it over an obstacle and becoming one to the person in the Jeep that's following you.