Explorer Weekend

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recently I had the opportunity to test drive a 2011 Ford Explorer for a few days. I jumped at the chance. I love my Mazda 3, but it's four years old and I'm starting to get that 75,000km feeling, where you begin noticing other shinier, bigger, prettier cars on the road and in parking lots and thinking about making a switch.

I picked up the Explorer on a Friday and my first impression of it was that it was mammoth - way bigger than I'm used to. My second impression? This thing does everything but make toast. The particular model I was driving had the most options available on an Explorer, including lots of cool safety features and other gizmos that are fun to play with.

Safety is obviously a big selling point of this vehicle. I was told it was designed by two moms, who put a lot of thought into what kind of features they'd value in a car. For example, a light on your side mirrors illuminates when there's a car in your blind spot. When you put the vehicle in reverse, the navigation screen switches to a rear camera view of what's behind your vehicle to help you back up - perfect for backing into parking spaces (I used this a LOT over the few days and it was definitely my favourite feature - when I got my Mazda back I felt like I couldn't back up anymore).

This is me backing out of my driveway. See how I'm not running over any kids or the garbage can? #winning

Speaking of parking, there's a parking assist feature where the car actually parallel parks for you. I was too scared to try it out but when it comes to parallel parking, who doesn't need all the help they can get?

It's a really practical SUV as well, with seats that stowaway completely, making it perfect for transporting equipment, pets, furniture, whatever you're lugging around. The SYNC system was also cool, enabling drivers to sync up the car with their mobile phone and use the navigation screen or voice-activated commands to answer and make calls, text, and so on. The hands-free phone was a nice feature especially now that using a cell phone while driving is illegal here in NS.

Sorry about the glare/fingerprints! This shows the synced-up phone - also accessible by voice commands

In addition to being practical there were a lot of just cool features. I don't know why it is but every time I get in a vehicle with Sirius I head right for the hip-hop stations. Something about driving a big SUV makes me feel like a ballin' p-i-m-p.

This usually doesn't happen, I promise. And don't mind the fingerprints

The navigation feature was handy as well. Not only can you plug in your destination and get directions there but it will also tell you what street you're currently on and what the speed limit is wherever you're driving. Handy for those of us who have a bit of a heavy foot. Ahem.

The one and only thing that freaked me out about this car was the key. It doesn't have a lock you turn in the ignition; instead you just push a button and as long as this little fob is on you, the car will start. I kept patting my pocket and digging in my bag every time we went out to make sure I hadn't dropped the key. It just made me a little paranoid. Losing it, and worrying about the battery dying (I'm sure there's a feature somewhere that tells you when your battery's getting low but this girl still fretted about it).

Remix to Ignition

I was sad when I had to turn the Explorer back in and go back to my old car, which suddenly felt very, very tiny and underequipped.

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