2017 Ford Explorer

2017 Ford Explorer

Episode 3620
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Since it first arrived for 1991, the Ford Explorer has been a top seller among larger SUV’s and crossovers, with over 7 million sales to date. But, the market for three-row family utilities is bigger and more cut-throat than ever. So, the latest Explorer is outfitted with lot of little changes that Ford hopes will bring big results, with less exploring and more conquering. 

2016 marked the 25th anniversary for the Ford Explorer. And while it was far from the first SUV, it was clearly one of the first that made a case for being a family vehicle more than just a rutted roads runabout. 

Today’s Explorer bears little resemblance to that truck-based original, now riding on a three row crossover platform that debuted for 2011. Styling updates for ’16 included more than just the usual front fascia; as hood, headlamps, and fenders were new as well. 

Most everything got freshened in back also; lift gate, bumper, and taillights. And of course there’s some new wheel styles to choose from. 20-17 adds a Sports Appearance Package with 20-inch wheels and Magnetic Grey highlights for the XLT trim.

A straightforward 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 is still the base engine. More entertaining is this twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 with 365-horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque. 

The newest option, is the Mustang’s 280-horsepower 2.3-liter I4 EcoBoost that replaces the 2.0-liter.

If your budget is not restricted, by all means opt for the 3.5 EcoBoost. It makes the Explorer feel like a true performance-style SUV. Though all engines offer adequate power as well as all-wheel-drive; and come equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Max towing is a class-norm 5,000-lbs. 

The all-wheel-drive system features Ford’s Terrain Management System with settings for Normal, Snow, Sand, and Mud. In our experience, you pick your road conditions and the Explorer responds.

Now, there seems to be no limit to how far manufacturers will go to add poshness to utilities, nor buyers’ appetites for same. So, Ford brings the Platinum series to the Explorer.  It features real wood and aluminum trim, as well as premium Sony sound and quilted leather.

And it’s altogether very nice, almost Land rover spec. inside. The brushed aluminum accents are gorgeous, and the animal hides are Nirvana leather, but think more of the place you want to spend eternity in, not the alternative rock band playing right now on Lithium.  

7–passenger seating is standard, with 2nd row Captain’s chairs, an option. 

Being one of the larger 3-row crossovers means that cargo space fairs well at 21.0 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 43.9 behind the 2nd row, and maxing out at 81.7 cubic-ft. A hands free lift gate is available with XLT and Sport trim; standard on Limited and Platinum. 

Platinum trim also includes enhanced Active Park Assist; and on the safety front, inflatable 2nd row safety belts are now available on all models.

As before, the Explorer won’t yet apply the brakes for you if a collision is imminent; but it will give plenty of warning, and provide full braking pressure once you initiate the stop.

Turbocharging may not me a total replacement for displacement, but our twin-turbo V6 felt plenty V8-strong at our test track. There’s good torque down low, and grippy all-wheel-drive hookup, for a 6.5-second sprint to 60.

There was plenty of high-end grunt as well, accompanied by urgent shifting from the 6-speed automatic; taking us to the end of the ¼-mile in 15.0-seconds flat, at 94 miles-per-hour. 

Through the cones, the Explorer still feels big and heavy compared to its many more nimble rivals. But there are still plenty of people out there who want their Bronco-type vehicle to still feel like a truck. 

It’s certainly manageable, though. Just keep the speeds down and your inputs smooth.  

Despite that big-truck feel, a 121-foot average stopping distance from 60 is quite good for any family-size utility. Nose dive was moderate, with pedal travel on the long side. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the EcoBoost V6 with all-wheel-drive are 16-City, 22-Highway, and 18-Combined.  Our average with Regular grade was right on, at 18.1 miles-per-gallon. That makes for a poor Energy Impact Score at 18.3-barrels of yearly oil consumption with 8.2-tons of CO2 emissions. 

There’s a wide variety in pricing, as you might expect, starting at $32,105 for a base 2017 Explorer; all-wheel-drive adds $2,150 more. While Platinum trim comes with a tag befitting the name, at $54,180

Even after a quarter of a century, Ford has managed to find ways to significantly improve the Explorer without any turnoffs. The luxury intentions of the Platinum are obvious, while the rest of the lineup still plays the large family vehicle part perfectly. We think that will keep Explorer’s market-conquering ways intact beyond the horizon. 

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.5 liter
  • Horsepower: 365
  • Torque: 350 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 15.0 seconds @ 94 mph
  • EPA: 16 mpg city / 22 mpg highway,
  • Energy Impact: 18.3 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 8.2 tons/yr
2024 Mercedes AMG GLA35

2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35

Baby AMG SUV Brings The Performance

Episode 4336
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Back in 2015, buying an AMG-tuned utility vehicle was not unheard of, but finding one as affordable as the then-new AMG GLA 45 was an entirely new phenomenon. Since then, they’ve only enhanced their AMG profile, so let’s check in with the latest Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and see if we can keep up.

A quick look at the Mercedes-Benz lineup reveals they currently have more than a dozen SUVs for sale, most of which can get some level of high-performance AMG treatment. This 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is the least expensive one you can buy, but it certainly doesn’t feel, look, or behave like a budget ride.

Styling updates are mostly limited to a new front fascia, though both head and taillights get freshened up, and there are some new wheel designs, plus a unique AMG crest on the hood for the first time. The base Mercedes-Benz GLA also gets updated, just with a much milder theme for those that are looking more for the luxurious experience instead of the AMG’s sporty theme.

Inside, drivers can take in all the carbon fiber accents, as well as put their hands on a new AMG Performance steering wheel. Mercedes has gotten rid of the touchpad controller on the center console and put a much more practical phone charger in its place, as well as added an additional USB-C port with faster charging speed. The touchscreen shares its housing with the 10-inch digital instrument cluster.

The GLA 35’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 has been retuned by AMG for 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. It’s the same setup found in the CLA 35 four-door Coupe we recently tested. The base GLA 250 makes do with 221 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbo-4. The GLA 35 comes strictly with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AMG-tuned 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

At our test track, with AMG Race Start engaged, we hooked and booked to 60 in just 4.9-seconds despite a slight hesitation in full power delivery off the line. It launched hard even without Race Start, and the engine strongly pulled all the way down the track. Shifts were plenty quick, yet still very smooth, as while we could barely feel when they were happening, the bassy bark from the exhaust gave us a much-appreciated audible cue. Our best quarter-mile run was a 13.5 at 102 miles-per-hour.

As for handling, it was easy-peasy for this AMG. We were able to carry quite a bit of speed through our cone course with very minimal body roll and a planted feel that had us pushing harder and harder until we got it to step out on us just a little.

You can get into a base front-wheel-drive GLA for as little as $43,000, but this AMG 35 will cost you at least $57,600.

When we hear things like “the best or nothing at all,” we tend to dismiss it as Mercedes marketing speak, but that was actually a quote going all the way back to Gottlieb Daimler in the late 1800s prior to his firm joining up with Karl Benz’s. And, for the most part, it’s still the philosophy behind Mercedes-Benz today. And you can certainly feel it behind the wheel of the 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4
  • Horsepower: 302
  • 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 112 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 27.6 MPG (Premium)
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.5 seconds at 102 mph
  • EPA: 22 City | 28 Highway | 24 Combined