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An Honest review of 5th generation Explorer (long)

Maybe gm owners have lower expectations?
 



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With the sales of Explorer increasing every year, I've got to believe this only happens to a small percentage of vehicles. Otherwise, Consumer Reports would be all over them. Seems like all they complain about is MFT.
 






I have to say after spending time on this forum, I have never seen so much negativity. I have been on several GM forums and have never seen members so disappointed with a particular vehicle. Is the latest explorer generation the worst Ford has ever made? I am guilty of also not doing my due diligence, if I had I would be driving a Chevy Traverse.

I see a lot of negativity from Sport owners, not so much from those with the less expensive models. I think people are disappointed in the fit and finish of a vehicle that is listing for north of $50,000. I tend to agree.

I have an XLT that stickered for right at $33,000. It's a leased vehicle for 3 years. Is the fit and finish 100%, no it is not. But is it truly horrible, again, no it's not. For the price point of an XLT, it's not a bad vehicle. It has ample room, rides much better than any of the previous generation Explorers I have had, and has decent equipment for that price point.

If, however, I had bought a Limited or a Sport that listed for over $50,000, I'm sure I would be much more critical because now you are in the league, price wise, with some low end luxury vehicles and people buying these expect perfection.

When the Explorer was strictly a truck, it could get by pretty well with mediocrity, but now that it's in the land of the high dollar crossovers, people simply expect more, and if they don't get it they find a forum like this one and complain.
 






I see a lot of negativity from Sport owners, not so much from those with the less expensive models. I think people are disappointed in the fit and finish of a vehicle that is listing for north of $50,000. I tend to agree.


I have to agree with this, the fit and finish is the big issue with the Explorer.

I paid 55K for our full option Limited which is driven by my wife. Its a great car overall, but the exterior build quality especially is far from what I would consider acceptable, even compared with other SUV's half the price. I have owned many Ford's and Lincoln's before, and non of the exteriors where as poorly finished by the factory as our Explorer; making me think that is particularly related to the Chicago plant.

Its a petty, the Explorer is great driving car, materials used are good too... its let down by how its exterior is put together.
 
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I don't think it's just the exterior. There are lots of slightly misaligned pieces in the interior, as well. Compared with my Nissan Murano, it is pretty poor workmanship.
 






I have to agree with this, the fit and finish is the big issue with the Explorer.

I paid 55K for our full option Limited which is driven by my wife. Its a great car overall, but the exterior build quality especially is far from what I would consider acceptable, even compared with other SUV's half the price. I have owned many Ford's and Lincoln's before, and non of the exteriors where as poorly finished by the factory as our Explorer; making me think that is particularly related to the Chicago plant.

Its a petty, the Explorer is great driving car, materials used are good too... its let down by how its exterior is put together.

These are the kind of things that should be noted when you go over the delivery checklist with your salesman. These things are expected and a good dealer will gladly address them. It's not a bad idea to look over the entire car as soon as possible. Some suggest washing and drying the car by hand. That way, you get to see and feel all areas.
 






I see a lot of negativity from Sport owners, not so much from those with the less expensive models. I think people are disappointed in the fit and finish of a vehicle that is listing for north of $50,000. I tend to agree.
Maybe from the people posting in this forum that bought the Sport thinking that 'Sport' meant trim and high end luxury options, but for those of us that bought the Sport for reason it was built (suspension, transmission, engine, quicker ratio steering, untapped modding potential, etc.), it seems we're pretty happy campers. Just scoot across the aisle to the 'modified' forum to check us out.

The fit and finish is acceptable, not the best, not the worst, but you can really rock the Sport with a few mods (it's no slouch stock) and that is what owning a Sport is really all about. If someone bought it for any other reason, they're going to be disappointed. Just like people who buy an Audi S5 rather than an A5 and they are disappointed because the interiors are pretty much the same. As with the Sport, it's what's under the covers that justifies the extra $$$$ not the fluff on top.
 
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Maybe from the people posting in this forum that bought the Sport thinking that 'Sport' meant trim and high end luxury options, but for those of us that bought the Sport for reason it was built (suspension, transmission, engine and untapped modding potential), it seems we're pretty happy campers. Just scoot across the aisle to the 'modified' forum to check us out.

The fit and finish is acceptable, not the best, not the worst, but you can really rock the Sport with a few mods (it's no slouch stock) and that is what owning a Sport is really all about. If someone bought it for any other reason, they're going to be disappointed. Just like people who buy an Audi S5 rather than an A5 and they are disappointed because the interiors are pretty much the same. Just like the Sport, it's what's under the covers that justifies the extra $$$$ not the fluff on top.

Meh. I have an XLT - albeit a loaded one, and find the fit/finish/paint not acceptable for a $42k XLT. I would not find it acceptable for a base XLT. For a vehicle in the mid $20k range or below I can see some of these problems as understandable. Not when you get $35k plus.

My $25k 2009 Escape XLT has a better fit and finish (albeit less expensive hard plastic interior parts and cloth seats) in and out than my $42k MSRP 2011 Explorer.

I think there are some big QoS issues in the Chicago plant that have gone unaddressed for years.
 






Maybe from the people posting in this forum that bought the Sport thinking that 'Sport' meant trim and high end luxury options, but for those of us that bought the Sport for reason it was built (suspension, transmission, engine, quicker ratio steering, untapped modding potential, etc.), it seems we're pretty happy campers. Just scoot across the aisle to the 'modified' forum to check us out.

The fit and finish is acceptable, not the best, not the worst, but you can really rock the Sport with a few mods (it's no slouch stock) and that is what owning a Sport is really all about. If someone bought it for any other reason, they're going to be disappointed. Just like people who buy an Audi S5 rather than an A5 and they are disappointed because the interiors are pretty much the same. As with the Sport, it's what's under the covers that justifies the extra $$$$ not the fluff on top.

Couldn't have said it better. I went with the sport for the extra power. Granted I didn't mind the leather seats and all the goodies haha. But I'm a happy camper. I really don't have any complains
 






Meh. I have an XLT - albeit a loaded one, and find the fit/finish/paint not acceptable for a $42k XLT. I would not find it acceptable for a base XLT. For a vehicle in the mid $20k range or below I can see some of these problems as understandable. Not when you get $35k plus.

My $25k 2009 Escape XLT has a better fit and finish (albeit less expensive hard plastic interior parts and cloth seats) in and out than my $42k MSRP 2011 Explorer.

I think there are some big QoS issues in the Chicago plant that have gone unaddressed for years.
All valid points. My explo sport is rough around the edges and cheapy-cheesy in some ways (the creaky plastic exterior door handles come to mind), but I forgive the shortcomings for what I have at the core. Having said that, I just spent $400+ in materials and I will spend no small labor on my part to try and resolve the painted silver plastic/embossed fake carbon fiber metal mashup interior on the Sport. Watch for a future post on these efforts in the 'modified' forum.

Will I succeed? is it worth the effort? should I need to address this issue on a 50k suv? Who knows. I went in with my eyes open, knowing what I was buying and knowing that I was going to treat it as a blank canvas and basically rip it apart from the start. I really enjoy this type of endeavor and I usually end up with something relatively unique.

I guess the point I'm getting to is that it is important for anyone dropping 50k on a vehicle to do their research and due diligence in advance of their purchase to insure that they are getting what they want. I wanted something with raw potential that spoke to me on an indescribable level. If your looking for refined elegance with top quality fitting and assembly, you probably need to look somewhere else. If you are not primarily interested in the performance aspects, you will most likely not be happy with the Sport.
 
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Couldn't have said it better. I went with the sport for the extra power. Granted I didn't mind the leather seats and all the goodies haha. But I'm a happy camper. I really don't have any complains
Thanks, I'm a happy camper too, with no complaints. The highest quality, best dealer support, best materials, best construction, etc., SUV I've ever owned was a AWD Lexus RX300. It was impeccably constructed. It was also the most boring car I have ever driven. Couldn't wait to get rid of it. Traded it for my Merc ML430 which was much lower in quality but a blast to drive. There's a reason that the Merc is in my signature line and the Lexus is not. Perspectives and priorities, life is too short.
 
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I think you're hinting at a very important difference in types of owners. Perspectives and priorities.

I typed a bit more but deleted it. There's certainly a difference in perspectives: that pretty well covers it without causing controversy.
 






I think explosportguy is quite contradictory in his posts, especially in 50 and 51. He knows that the Explorer in general has some quality issues, but he wishes to rationalize those away and continue to dump more money into the vehicle to overcome those problems. I don't think he is a happy camper at all.
 






I think explosportguy is quite contradictory in his posts, especially in 50 and 51. He knows that the Explorer in general has some quality issues, but he wishes to rationalize those away and continue to dump more money into the vehicle to overcome those problems. I don't think he is a happy camper at all.

I'm sorry, but you have no basis to debate him or hypothesize about how or why he feels the way he does about his sport.
 
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I think explosportguy is quite contradictory in his posts, especially in 50 and 51. He knows that the Explorer in general has some quality issues, but he wishes to rationalize those away and continue to dump more money into the vehicle to overcome those problems. I don't think he is a happy camper at all.
Hi Halwg. Your entitled to your opinion and I respect it. I'm a realist. Of course the Sport has some quality issues. There are aspects of the Sport I feel could be improved. I knew this going in, and as I have already commented in prior posts, if your priority is top build quality and materials, your money could probably be better spent somewhere else.

I am a happy camper and I am not rationalizing anything. What I'd like to convey to you is that motorsports is a long time hobby for my wife and me, and we do 'dump' a fair amount of discretionary income into it. There's $10K worth of classroom training, track time, pad time and good times shared behind my avatar photo alone. That's my wife in the track prepped white Camaro SS behind me in the track prepped yellow 1LE. We autocross, we drag race, we do track days, we do club rallies, we modify anything with wheels and we have this in common with a close circle of friends.

I'll try to reframe my perspective regarding the Sport in order to address your observation that I appeared contridictory in some prior posts: We needed an SUV. I specifically selected the Sport because it provided a relatively inexpensive, oddball, technically capable platform with a lot of potential for modification. To say another way, the point of my buying the Sport from the start was so that I could modify it. It was the plan from the beginning.

Anyway, we're really in agreement regarding the Sport's overall quality. Thanks for your comments and I'm looking forward to 'seeing' you in the forums.
 
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I'm sorry, but you have no basis to debate him or hypothesize about how or why he feels the way he does about his sport.
Thanks Hugh, it's ok for me. I did respond to Halwg in my comment above. Looking forward to continuing our dialog in the forums.
 
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I think you're hinting at a very important difference in types of owners. Perspectives and priorities.
:thumbsup: Yup, Different strokes for different folks. Great avatar btw. Sometimes I really miss my 351 Bronco. Hey, I need to add it to my signature line!
 















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Honestly, I posted a ways back I could look beyond some of the fit and finish issues with my Ex since I got such a great deal on a loaded XLT used with only 30k on it. I figured paying $27k for a $42k MSRP only 2.5 years old with 30k on it, I could live with the fit and finish issues. Not real happy, but I could live with it. I understand those paying $50k who are displeased, but I felt I could live with it personally.

That being said, and as a buy and hold owner who looks to own 8 or even 10+ years, some of the other issues that have cropped up when you combine it with the fit and finish (hood paint bubble issue I am getting fixed with $500 out of my pocket) makes me wonder how long this vehicle will hold up. I'm not so concerned about the engine, but interior and exterior panels and molding quality along with the paint really concern me now.

For someone leasing and turning over every three year or so, or a someone who will take the Ex to a track or offroad (that's what my Escape is for) where you expect a bit of a beating and dings, then these things may not be such a concern.

It would seem, though, that the vast majority of buyers are every day drivers who want a vehicle without problems that they can be proud of and not worry about.
 






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