2008 Ford Explorer 4.0 V6 XLT 2WD (USA)

Having handed the Grand Prix back to Mr Hertz on Friday evening, I put myself at the tender mercies of Delta Airlines and an overnight flight to Orlando, which was not a good experience, but that’s another story. Arrival meant an opportunity for another rental car. I’d booked a Group “F”, another full-size, but when I went to see what Hertz had allocated to me, I found this:

I’ve never driven an Explorer before, and I wasn’t entirely convinced that today was the day to rectify this lacuna, so I had a quick wander around to see what else was parked up. Not a lot of anything proved to be the answer to that, so I decided that the Gods clearly wanted to give me another dose of Americana, loaded up, adjusted the things you adjust, and headed out.

The model I have is the 4.0 V6, and it would seem to be a 2 wheel drive version.

First impression is that it is BIG. There’s a running board, which is useful, as it’s quite a step up into it for someone like me who is not that tall. Once inside, I was able to admire the quality interior that was presented before me.

During the afternoons, a massive storm came over the area, and there was a veritable cloudburst, so I can also express extreme irritation at the awkward wiper controls, which are activated by twisting the end of the indicator stalk through several intermittent setting, before finally getting to continuous wiping. At least the high up driving position did help somewhat in getting above the worst of the spray. For such a large vehicle (though remember that this is far from the largest Ford SUV), it is surprisingly easy to drive, and to manoeuvre. All the controls are light, and visibility in all directions is good. However, it most certainly is not a nice vehicle to drive, as I found out in one scary moment when I approached a not very tight bend at a not very fast speed, and experienced the car running very wide, and feeling alarmingly like it would not take a lot more to lose control. Lesson learned that you really cannot drive this like an ordinary car, or even like smaller SUVs. When I collected the Explorer, the rearmost set of seats were up, which leaves precious little space for luggage.

Looking at the seats from the other side, there’s not a lot of space for the poor souls who may be asked to sit in them either!
Pulling a catch on the back of each seat allows you to fold them down, and then there is a capacious luggage area:

The central row of seats are much more generous, and I was pleased to see that the central seat belt was supplied from the top of the seat, and not via some roof mounting point, which always means that the belt is in your rear vision!

Folding down this row of seats as well does yield an enormous load area indeed.

So, it’s a spacious vehicle, and quite practical, but not nice to drive and with handling characteristics that verged on the alarming………… not, therefore a car I can recommend at all!

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