In spite of a 41-pound weight disadvantage, though, our Platinum test car managed to better or equal the acceleration times we recorded in a 2016 Sport fitted with the summer rubber. The zero-to-60-mph run takes a brisk 5.8 seconds, the century mark is reached in 15.2 seconds, and the quarter-mile is crossed after 14.4 seconds at 98 mph, besting the Sport by 0.2 second, 0.6 second, and 0.2 second and 2 mph. The only acceleration test in which the Platinum wasn’t quicker was from 50 to 70 mph: both twin-turbo Explorers did it in 4.4 seconds. Similarly, the Platinum matched the Sport in clawing its way around our 300-foot skidpad at a respectable 0.83 g. The Sport’s summer tires proved advantageous only in our braking test—stopping this Platinum from 70 mph required 174 feet, 8 feet longer than the Sport on its stickier Continentals.
While the Platinum’s interior is filled with premium materials, build quality is less than stellar. Our test car’s door panels were misaligned with the dashboard, the leather of which showed signs of wear at the seams before the odometer reached 2500 miles. On the plus side, the addition of Sync 3 to 2017 Explorers is a boon to ergonomics. Menus within the central touchscreen are logically arranged, and touch inputs never needed a second or third tap of the screen to confirm a request. The Platinum also comes standard with features such as a dual-panel sunroof, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, lane-keeping assist, a front-mounted camera, and an automatic parking system that can steer the Explorer into an open spot.
Despite providing more legroom in all three rows than the 2.9-inch-longer Dodge Durango, as well as an additional four cubic feet of cargo space behind its rearmost row, the Explorer’s interior can feel cramped. Exceptionally wide side sills make entering the cabin somewhat awkward. Once inside, the Explorer’s broad dashboard and a seating position that’s slightly offset toward the center make this mid-size crossover feel especially big and ungainly to navigate. Adding salt to the Explorer’s packaging wound is a front wheel well that invades the space for the driver’s left foot more than in most modern vehicles, rendering the small dead pedal all but useless to those with big feet or even average-size feet clad in boots. While our test car’s optional ($695) second-row bucket seats were comfortable, they lacked integrated armrests, resulting in arms hanging listlessly when the ($150) second-row center console was open and in use. Choosing the buckets also deletes one seating position, reducing our test car’s capacity from seven to six passengers. Meanwhile, the Explorer’s cushy, power-folding third-row seats offer a meager 40.7 inches of hiproom, 3.9 inches less than the Honda Pilot’s despite the vehicles’ virtually identical overall widths.
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