Last month, our family had the opportunity to check out the 2011 Ford Explorer Limited for a few weeks.
When asked to check out the vehicle and give my feedback on it, of course I was game. Actually, I think in the case of this review my husband was probably more excited than me.
Guys seem to go gaga over new vehicles, and my Twitter followers read how he and I would argue over who got to go grab the morning coffee from Tim Hortons since it meant that person could take the Explorer out first thing in the morning.
I’ll leave all the stats and performance discussion on the 2011 Ford Explorer for reviewers who actually know what they’re talking about. The truth of the matter is, I’m like many moms who, when looking for a vehicle, have an entirely different set of criteria. The 2011 Explorer may have a projected 290 horsepower and 255 lb of torque…but is there enough space between the seats to keep the kids from wacking each other? Are the seats leather (i.e. projectile vomit-proof?) These are the kind of questions on my mom checklist.
The interior of the 2011 Explorer Limited is indeed leather-trimmed, but thankfully I had no reason to test it’s durability against anything projected from the kids. Still, given the choice between fabric and leather for a vehicle interior, I’ll always choose leather. I know many people don’t like leather because it can be very cold in the harsh winter weather and painfully hot in the summer months.
Car manufacturers have countered the winter issue with heated seats but it wasn’t until driving the Explorer that we learned how awesome having cooled leather seats can be! Imagine getting into a hot vehicle in July and being instantly cooled off like that! Add to it the 10-way memory power front bucket seats (seriously, how many angles can your seat be?) and an available memory feature for 2 drivers (no more adjusting the seat every time you get in after your husband moves it…again), and you’ve got one happy mom (and dad). Our weather has been cool so far this spring, so there wasn’t an opportunity for me to check out the cooled front seats but my husband tried it driving home from the gym one day and was impressed…and chilled. 😉
The available My Ford Touch system was really advanced, and we didn’t even explore all the options with it in the time we had the vehicle. Music, maps, phone contacts, a personal calendar, temperature adjustment – it’s all there and easily accessible with just a tap of the finger or voice command. The home screen is full of info including what street you’re on at every moment, the song/artist on the radio, a list of favorite channels, and even the temperature on either side for the driver and passenger.
When I told people, both in my every day life and through this blog, that I was reviewing a Ford Explorer one of the first questions inevitably was, “Does it have a third row?” I’ve come to learn that a third row isn’t just necessary because we have 3 kids. In the past, I drove an SUV with just two rows that seated 5 people. At the time we had 2 kids, yet we were outgrowing our vehicle. Even though 2 car seats fit fine in the back seat of the vehicle, having no third row meant that it was impossible to take a third adult with us anywhere and if I needed to hop into the back seat to comfort an upset toddler – as experienced when we traveled from Saskatchewan to BC in the summer of 2009 – it was a very uncomfortable fit.
Of course, once there are 3 children in a family a third row becomes necessary. Even with 2 kids though, I think it’s so much more convenient to have. Now, with a second and third row and three kids some planning and organization is in order. Who should be seated where?
Because there is a console in the middle of the second row of the 2011 Ford Explorer Limited (seen here in the photo above), one of the second row seats needs to fold forward in order for anyone to get to the third row. However, with a permanent infant or children’s car seat on the actual seat itself, it can not fold forward. So, in our case we had to have the two oldest kids sit in the third row so that one of the second row seats was left open (without a car seat on it). If the console was removed, folding the seats forward wouldn’t become an issue and two children’s car seats could be in the second row. This is the only feature of the 2011 Ford Explorer that I would like to see changed in order to make it more attractive to families.
This actually didn’t prove to be as big of a deal as I initially thought it was, because of the awesome way the second row seat folds forward to allow the kids to get in the back. With just the push of a button, the seat folds forward and out of the way with ease. Mom (or dad) doesn’t have to pull on any levers or try and maneuver the seat forward. In fact, I could easily hold baby in one arm and move the seat because all it took was the push of a button – this is definitely something that can not be done in our van.
With the seat folded forward, I could easily lean in and buckle up my daughter’s car seat. The added benefit of two kids in the third row and a seat left empty in the second row is that, should the baby fuss, I could hop into the empty seat which is exactly what I did on our drive back from a shopping trip an hour away. So, it depends on the family and their needs. If you have two very young children and require them both in the second row, yet a third child that needs to sit in the back, the console may be problematic.
The same simple push-button feature is available should you need to fold down the third row. It’s absolutely genius that Ford utilizes this in the Explorer because I can tell you that since we purchased our new van this past winter, I have never folded the third row seats down in it myself because I can’t figure out how to do it. I know it’s a “simple” process of pulling a lever, folding something and pulling another lever, but I just avoid it altogether. Pushing a button and having the work done for me? Priceless.
The area behind the third row seat gives you 16 cu. ft. of cargo volume according to the site, but what does this mean for a mom? It means you can easily fit a stroller and groceries in the back (depending on how shop-happy you get at Costco, you can store the stroller vertically if needed!) However, for bigger shopping hauls, there’s always the option of folding down the third row seat, as mentioned.
Other features that we liked in the 2011 Explorer include the Advanced Navigation System (the kids loved plotting out our route and watching along the way), the Rearview Camera (which is much better than the one in our van) and the available BLIS (Blind Spot Information System). The BLIS with Cross Over Traffic Alert uses sensors in the rear quarter panels that actually monitor your blind spots for you (!!!) and illuminates a light on your side mirror if a vehicle is detected. It surprised me when the alert sounded as I was backing out of a parking space alerting me that a vehicle was approaching.
Curious about other features? Check out the FAQ section on the Ford.ca site for more information on the 2011 Ford Explorer. We had a great time driving this vehicle and it was sad to see it go. The 2011 Ford Explorer is worth checking out if a crossover SUV is something you are considering. It’s definitely family-friendly but with a ton of features that help mom and dad maintain their cool…and their sanity.