2016 Ford Explorer

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This year, the Ford Explorer celebrated its 25th anniversary. Thus, it's not surprising it received a myriad number of updates and changes. The exterior has been extensively refreshed while the interior gets some milder revisions. More safety features have been added, acknowledging the crossover SUV's primary role as a people mover. Finally, there's a new engine option and new Platinum trim level for buyers to choose from.

The 2016 Ford Explorer seats up to seven with adults finding the first two of the three rows to be especially comfortable places to be. Shoppers get to choose from a base model, the XLT, Limited, Sport and Platinum trim levels. The full-size crossover received high marks from both the NHTSA and the non-profit IIHS. The former gave it five out of five stars in most crash tests while the latter organization scored it highly in similar situations like roof-crush and side impacts. This is unsurprising, given the standard safety features include front and front-side airbags, side curtain airbags and a front passenger knee airbag. Trailer sway, traction and stability control systems also come standard. Curve Control, which is part of stability control, assists drivers in handling corner turns at high speed.

A rearview camera and Ford's MyKey driving mode configurator are also found throughout the lineup.

Notable conveniences found standard on the base Explorer include automated LED headlamps, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, Ford's infotainment Sync system and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and column setup just to name a few. Step up to the XLT and buyers get push-button ignition, power front row seating, foglamps and rear parking sensors.

Larger wheels, ventilated or cooled front seats, and a hands-free power liftgate and premium audio system come in the Limited. Same with a navigation system and a power steering wheel column. The Explorer Platinum, which is the new this year, comes with virtually everything from the lower trims. Items exclusive to it include nicer upholstery, top-notch audio, and an entertainment system for the rear row passengers.

The Explorer Sport is a sporty variant of the Limited. It comes with its own exclusive wheels plus a sport-tuned suspension system.

A 3.5-liter V-6 is the standard engine for all trim levels except the Platinum and Sport. The 2.3-liter inline-4 turbo is new this year. It can be had on the base, XLT and Limited. Buyers who prioritize fuel economy should give it a look. Finally, Explorer Platinum and Sport models come with a powerful 3.5-liter V-6 twin-turbo underneath the brawny hood.

New Car Test Drive may have summarized best the appeal of the 2016 Ford Explorer: "The Explorer is smoother looking than ever, and offers a state-of-the art four cylinder engine that makes plenty of power and gets 22 mpg, a smooth six-speed transmission, and the best handling in its class."