Roadtrip Review: 2012 Ford Explorer

So road trip time! We drove to Ft Lauderdale, FL in a brand new Ford Explorer. This thing was sweet, lemme tell ya!

It’s got leather seats that are heated, tons of room, customizable features, tons of cup holders (12!!) a USB port, push-to-start button, voice command system, Sirius radio, panoramic sunroof, backup camera, it can parallel park itself,  integrated GPS… oh I can list the features all day. Let’s just say this is not at all like my college-kid Honda Civic Coupe, which doesn’t even have power locks.

We got the car stuffed for the trip. By “stuffed” I mean 3 overweight adults (I’m regular sized) and 2 small children as well as a week’s worth of stuff. First thing we found out was that there wasn’t enough leg room in the third seat for an adult over 5 ft tall (fortunately, there were two adults in this car that were only 5 ft tall!) Also, you must evacuate and clean off the second row to load up the third row. That’s a pain when you have to stop every two hours on a twenty-plus hour one-way trip!)

Now, as far as cargo space went, there’s plenty of room to haul the kids to practice or transport large-format artwork. But as far as vacations go, we LITERALLY had to smash the rear door shut. The floor of the trunk area actually dips down to form a crater so you can pack in more stuff, but we still failed to keep the legal obligation of a clear rear window. However, the backup camera saved us many a time and was very accurate and helpful.

I spent most of the time in the second seat. I was mildly annoyed that I was caught in the crossfire between front-seat radio and rear-seat Disney movie, but that was remedied with headphones. I loved that the second row had a possible 8 cup-holders as well as seat pockets, It was inevitable that you quickly run out of cup holders with water bottles, soda cups and sippy cups. The boy had an additional two cup holders in the rear seat. One caveat: the leather seats have a perforated design in them and therefore do not wipe clean easily. Most of the spilled milk/juice seeped into the holes and soaked butts for the next several hours.

Passenger seat was comfy and roomy. Here’s my BIG issue: driving. In an attempt to make cars safer, more efficient and more loaded with options, this car got overloaded quick. In the center of the dash is a touch screen that controls GPS, heat/AC and radio, among other things. It works like your high-tech phone, with a myriad of menus and options. You can even pinpoint which seat will receive music! Pretty cool. Not awesome when you need to fix something on a barren stretch of road and you’re the only one awake. The car has a feature that slows itself down when you get to close to another car with cruise control on. So that 18 wheeler you’re trying to pass on this steep incline? The cruise control continually knocks you back down to like 35 mph in an attempt to keep you from getting within a certain number of feet of the truck. Horrible idea!

So you get in and spend 10 minutes adjusting a million options, searching for a destination, setting up the GPS, talking to the car to get the right station, selecting the level of heat on your bum,  turning off options, and adjusting the seat, fixing the mirrors, raising the foot pedals, (which all go back to a neutral position EVERY time you stop).

Another issue? The push to start engine requires the key fob to be close by and the break pedal to be depressed. Several times, I was packing up the kids and leaned over the passenger seat to start the car to get the heat running, only to realize that someone’s butt had to physically be in the driver’s seat. Also, being that it auto-locks, the fob can be easily accidentally left in the car. This creates a panic: “Do you have the fob?” “No! You?” It’s a borrowed car, and we are a million miles from home. No one wanted to forget the fob. But inevitably, one of us would have to walk out to the parking lot to dig the fob out of the center console to prevent the car from getting stolen.

It feels like the car is the one in charge!! My advice? Ride in the backseat and close your eyes :)


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