4500 mile Road Trip Driving Impression | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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4500 mile Road Trip Driving Impression


Well-Known Member
August 31, 2011
Reaction score
City, State
Los Angeles, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
2012 Limited 4x4
I just came back from a 4500 mile winter trip from Los Angeles, to Portland, to Central Washington, to Missoula, to Swan Valley Idaho, to Salt Lake City and back to Los Angeles.

2012 Limited 4x4 with 2500 miles on it.

GAS MILEAGE: X was sporting a Thule cargo box with 150lbs, myself, wife, baby and 500 lbs of gear. On average all highway miles were speed limit plus 8-10 mph. LA to Portland 14.9 mpg. (head wind I guess). Portland to Wenatchee, 15.9. Wentachee to Missoula 15.9. Missoula to Swan Valley Idaho 16.9. Swan Valley to Salt Lake City 16.9. SLC to LA 17.9.

POWER: the X cruises nicely at 80 mph at 2k rpms, but with any uphill grade, 3 to 4000 rpms really eat up the gas. I wished it had a couple more cylinders. It really needs to be hammered when going up 6500 passes and trying to maintain 70 mph.

RAIN: The sound of hard Oregon rain hitting the tin pan roof line reminded me of this Jamaican steel drum band I saw on MTV in the 80's. It kept waking my sleeping baby. When is this TSB going to come out? How long does it take to orchestrate some corrective sound proofing? The Hankooks everyone complains about handled nicely.

SNOW: The hankooks everyone wants to replace -- handled beautifully. 7 in snow, or solid ice, (down a 15 % grade 500 ft driveway) with the proper driving technique worked fine for "all weather" designation. Prior experience is AWD FX 35 with Toyo proxes,(crap) and Yokahama Prada spec x (great). Also did well on highway 60 mph snow, ice mix.

TERRAIN MODE: fantastic. Snow mode directs power nice and evenly. Got stuck once momentarily in ditch but simply switched to sand mode and powered right out.

HILL DESCENT: fantastic. Used X down solid ice 500 ft, 15% grade driveway as shuttle for night time sledding. X never felt out of control.

MFT: air recirculation never stays on for more than a couple minutes. This really became a problem when passing countless farm/cattle properties. Wife and baby did not like the smell of manure. Countless navigation card faults. Countless usb stick faults (even bought SANDISK USB and still getting faults). On one occasion the heater decided that it wanted to go to MAX air and heat. I kept resetting it and it would fight me to return to max heat. Finally after holding climate OFF button for 5 minutes, it stopped. On prior occasion, full MFT melt down. The Ford tech indicated that I had to disconnect the battery for 5 min for it to unfreeze. So there I was by the side of the road, screaming baby in one hand, trusty leatherman juice in the other.

CARGO: significantly better than my AWD FX 35 but not enough for all the crap I carry. Adding baby stuff to sports gear really had me wanting larger vehicle, even with the large Thule roof box I have. My friends 2005 Grand Cherokee is narrower over all, but interior trunk space is wider. I wished I had extra space after seeing a couple Yukon Denali's go by. I chose the Ford for the gas mileage but it appears I will not get anything near as advertised with the gear I carry. I assume it will get around 10 mpg while towing anything of interest. 18 gallon gas tank sucks! For the real life gas mileage I attained, it needs at least 24 gallons.

BABY SEATS: The second row is woefully inadequate and poorly designed. A Britax rear facing car seat in the middle hits drivers seat and I'm only 5'10. Also, when placed in that location, the seat base covers the left rear passenger seat belt latch. You cannot fit a rear facing britax baby seat behind driver unless you're around 5'0". For 2013 I hope they make the 2nd row sliding.

TOW HITCH : good height. In conjunction with zoom on rear camera it's a one man job. Towed 1000lb snow mobile trailer (empty) up same snowy/icy driveway, 500 ft, 15% grade no problem. Used snow mode and power was redirected nicely.

COMFORT: fantastic. Overall comfort and ride are fantastic. Plush ride and pretty quiet even with roof box on. Leather is ok. Plastic prevalent through out is cheap and getting looser by the minute.

3rd Row seat: button was accidently activated 9 times by luggage. What a poor design/location. 45k should not get you this level of stupidity.

ROOF RAILS: fantastic. Used my Yakima bars with Thule box. Nice level fit. Looks sporty. Most roof rails are not level, these are. Great job.

TOW HOOKS: I wished the designers would have put real tow hooks on front rather than screw in eyelet. Didn't use but would like to have.

There you have it.

MY OVERALL OPINION: the car met my expectations--even with all its faults. I wished it had a larger gas tank, more power, better gas mileage, more cargo room, a refined MFT, better child seat accomodations and sound proofing at the roof line. But in the end, it did want is most important--it got me and my family home safe through some pretty harsh weather.


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Great review! Those are some really low MPG's for highway traveling. Maybe it was the thule cargo bag.....

wow sounds like an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing!

Good write-up. I agree with your assesment of the Hankook tires.

Your milesage sucked because you were driving very fast (70-80 MPH).

Very good post, I agree with the larger fuel tank for sure.