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. 


  • 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
2023 GMC Canyon 1

2023 GMC Canyon

Canyon Goes Bigger

Episode 4303
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!

Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.

Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.

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The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.

At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.

But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.

Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.

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The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.

Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.

So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!


  • Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 310
  • 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
  • Transmission: 8-speed auto
  • Torque: 430 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
  • EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined