Near 20% of buyers choose the ST sports version of the Explorer. Should we succumb or resist its charms?
A very simple (winning) recipe
The string is as big as the red stirrups hidden behind the ebony rims. Take a utility of more than 2 tons, send it to the gymnasium (wheels of 20 inches, anti-roll bar inflated with steroids and rigid suspension like a weight bench) and place a muscular engine under the hood. Shake well and, at the end of the assembly line, affix the respectable ST symbol. You get a new range of sport utility vehicles.
Yes, the string is a little big, but we don't want to see an elementary commercial calculation – almost all manufacturers offer spicier versions of their utilities – than a real desire on the part of a firm that intends to demonstrate its know-how in the development of high-performance vehicles.
Any model that aspires to enter this club of wanton utilities must meet a strict specification: use an imposing cavalry, be versed in technology, but also, and above all, impose it. Like its rivals, including the most expensive and noblest, the Explorer ST says more than a business card.
The Explorer ST engages with application to these imposed figures. To move it, it requisitions the services of a V6 engine supercharged by two turbochargers. With a displacement of 3 liters, this mechanical 400 horses are able to blow hot and cold.
Provided the foot is fairly light, it is easy to keep consumption below the 11 liters per 100 kilometers. On the other hand, if one sets out to give free rein to the impressive cavalry which is pawing under the hood or, more prosaically, if one cannot escape from urban traffic, then one must s '' wait until the fuel gauge needle declines quickly.
This V6 docked with an automatic transmission at 06 reports. The latter's algorithm changes on demand according to a rhythm that the one who is behind the wheel wishes to impose on his mount. In its sportiest programming, this gearbox ax speeds, but it is wanted. Like the backfires.
To tackle the Explorer ST on the ground despite its very high center of gravity, Ford still had to go to great lengths with a more sophisticated rear differential, firmer shock absorbers and anti-roll bars more fat. Not really twirling, but free from the slightest roll on a curve, this mastodon behaves on the road like a locomotive on rails, which in itself amounts to a real tour de force. Therefore, this Ford can chain support changes without the slightest sign of bad mood thanks in particular to the ideal weight distribution between the running gear (49, 3% at the front and 48, 7 % rear) obtained using this new rear-wheel drive architecture (in Canada, all-wheel drive is the only mode offered) with the engine installed in the longitudinal position. As a reminder, the previous generation of Explorer was based on a front-wheel drive architecture and the engine was mounted transversely.
The steering, unnecessarily heavy at very low speed, becomes lighter afterwards, but without really gaining in precision. As for braking, it turns out to be rather sensitive to overheating in its basic configuration. Better to opt for the ST Urban Package (an option of 1500 $). This group allows you to benefit from more powerful stirrups (painted in red) and discs whose diameter rivals that of a pizza plate. In return, to this set are added the rims and tires of 21 inches that interfere with ride comfort, which then becomes even firmer. Never mind, this option deserves consideration.
Large size, small family
At the front, the two multicontour tubs (optional) welcome you with the softness of a warm handshake. These provide adequate support, no more, considering grip and appreciable comfort on long journeys. The driving position is finely adjusted (steering column and seat settings), but the interior presentation does not differ much from that of other Explorer, with the exception of a few monograms, just to remind the owner that he found aboard an “exceptional” model. The stylists made a great effort to highlight the instrumentation block, but they were obviously taken aback to integrate the huge touch pad (06, 1 inch) in the center of the dashboard. They just hung it upside down, without the slightest concern for aesthetics. That said, it turns out to be user-friendly, but the Sync 3 system – in our test model – still causes some malfunctions, particularly in terms of pairing.
Unlike the other Explorer models (with the exception of the Platinum version), the ST version only has six seats … The seats in the middle row provide ample space. In the third row, much less. Therefore, there is every reason to wonder about the meaning that should be given to a vehicle as large, greedy and capable of comfortably accommodating four people. Because this ST version is designed for largely virtual uses; in real life, extremely rare are those who agree to expose a machine similar to the rough practice of off-road, even less to make it negotiate at high speed the esses of the Mont-Tremblant circuit. We understand them a little.
The emergence of these vehicles like the Explorer ST, which we believe ready to pounce to leave in their wake the smell of burnt rubber, seems all the same paradoxical as the expression of exacerbated sportiness hardly seems to be in tune with the times. No doubt we must see through this symbolic invocation of speed a way of renouncing it without abandoning its attributes.
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The Press will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Lexus NX, Nissan Qashqai, Porsche 800, Volkswagen Passat. If you own one of these vehicles, we would love to hear from you.
V6 DOHC 3 liter turbocharged
275 horses at 5500 rpm
412 lb-ft to 3500 rpm
Weight / power ratio: 5, 33 kg / hp
Acceleration: 5.7 seconds
Maximum towing capacity: 2540 Kg
Standard: automatic 10 reports
Drive mode: integral (four-wheel drive)
255 / 55 R 15
255 / 45 R 20 (option)
Tank capacity and fuel recommended
12, 1 L / 97 km
Wheelbase: 3025 Mm
Length: 5063 mm
Height: 1500 Mm
Width : 2268 mm
The air without the song
As with Audi, BMW and Mercedes, it will now be possible for Ford to obtain a watered-down version of the ST. Indeed, the American brand will include in its catalog the ST-Line, a group of options visually very similar to that of the ST, but the associated performance elements less. For now, the Edge (our photo) is the first vehicle to benefit from S-Line treatment.
The Explorer ST gives ideas to preparers, including the company CGS which, on the occasion of the high mass for personalization ( tuning ) SEMA Show , last fall, revealed the shapes and hues of an even more “did you see” version. In addition to the two-color treatment of the bodywork, this version adopts rims of 22 inches . The 3-liter V6 supercharged by two turbochargers has, for its part, been slightly modified and produced here 412 horses.
Faced with competition that is often too expensive or difficult to defend ecologically, the Explorer ST has a card to play.
Price from 104 000 $ 0
“More cylinders than seats”, claims the German manufacturer's advertisement for the SQ7. Powered by a 4 liter V8 engine 500 horses, this Audi is not only faster, more sophisticated than the Ford, but also much more expensive to acquire. If only for this reason, the comparison between these two models seems lame, but at the very least allows us to measure the gap that separates them.
Dodge Durango SR-T
Price from 68 611 $
The Durango SR-T undoubtedly represents the true natural competitor of the Explorer ST. Designed by the group’s sports antenna, this Durango certainly represents a reliable value in its category in terms of reliability. Never mind, the weight of the years (the entry into service of the current generation already dates back to almost 06 years) begins to make itself felt, and this, despite the multiple touch-ups it has undergone since. To play the “dragsters in high heels”, this Dodge does not fear anyone with its huge 6.4 liter V8 of 415 horses as long as we quench his insatiable thirst for hydrocarbons (easily more from 12 L / 97 km).
Mercedes GLE 51 AMG
Price from 87 800 $
GLE 53 AMG exists in a seven-seat configuration. Unsurprisingly, this is an option that Mercedes charges at full price (2400 $), without guaranteeing its occupants that they will appreciate its comfort. This review is aimed at the vast majority of commercial vehicles with three rows of seats. As with the Audi SQ7, technical sophistication, driving dynamics and the quality of the interior trim will be hard to find justification for consumers looking for a “family” utility vehicle offering an extra soul.