The High Life: 2024 Ford Explorer 2.3L Ecoboost – Drive Feature

When it comes to motoring institutions, the Ford Explorer is certainly one of them. During its debut decades ago it became an instant success for the brand and has carried on being a top-seller family SUV ever since, especially in America where it’s a common car.

In the Philippines, the Explorer is considered “sosyal” or something the upper crust of society would own and use. It too became a well-liked model and still enjoys a steady stream of sales. A new model was launched sometime in 2020, and with more stocks now available Ford Philippines is now pushing the model for 2024.

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Yachting and Cruising with the Ford Explorer

Eager to sell more of the Explorer locally, Ford PH invited us on a chill drive from Manila to Subic that promised to encapsulate what an Explorer owner would do. Besides cruising the long highways we would be yachting along Subic Bay in time for the afternoon sunset, (cue Sailing by Christopher Cross).

We first met up at the Ford BGC dealership, where we were briefed, fed, and introduced to our vehicles. When I see the Explorer out on the road normally I’m quite nonchalant about it, such is the way it has ingrained itself in local people. However, when I glanced upon this latest model close-up I noticed how big the Explorer actually is. The length and width of the vehicle really give it road presence, while the design is muted in a modern minimalist way.

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When I stepped inside, I remembered why the Ford Explorer is such a popular model. The seats are huge and adorned in supple fragrant leather, while the amenities are complete for both the driver, the front passenger, and the rear occupants. For the first part of the journey, I decided to be a passenger, and the 2nd-row space was extra good even for someone tall and somewhat wide like me.

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I settled into my seat for the journey ahead and as we drove along we noticed the other features, like the 12-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, the multiple connectivity options, charging ports, cubby holes, etc. Despite only coming in 1 variant for the Philippines the Explorer Limited is packed to the brim with creature comforts.

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Along SCTEX I finally took my stint behind the wheel and immediately noticed that the mass I was talking about earlier also translates to how big it feels to drive. My peripherals were adjusting to the size of the long and wide hood, while my body was adjusting to the weight it felt every time I turned the steering wheel. I didn’t mind the size of the Explorer, it felt reassuring on the highway, I liked how planted and grounded it felt despite the heft.

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Sailing on sea and road

I’ll dive deeper into the drive later, but for now, we arrive at Subic Bay where we pulled into one of the main attractions a yachting port. All dressed in white, our contingent boarded a medium-sized vessel for a sense cruise around the bay area, which allowed all of us to relax and glimpse into the lifestyle an Explorer owner would have.

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We spent the next 2 hours taking in the sights of Subic from the water, eating, and generally just spending time together on what would be a rare chance for the media to truly relax.

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It was around 7 pm when we alighted from the yacht, and my weary passengers seemingly drugged and sleepy by the sea told me to drive the stint home. I gladly accepted because night driving along SCTEX is one of my favorite things to do, with a loose convoy I began the trek home at a brisk but comfortable pace.

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This is where I think the Explorer really shines, the straight open road is where it is most comfortable. Let’s first talk about the peach of an engine, the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged unit provides a healthy 304 HP, and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Explorer owners of old may lament the lack of a V6, but I’m happy to report that the 2.3 is smooth and purposeful, the power delivery isn’t a ‘shove you in your seat experience’, but rather a gentle surge forward. The dynamics of the body and NVH levels are also very good, driving at 120 kph feels like 80 kph, ensuring a smooth cabin experience.

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Lastly, the Ford Explorer comes with 360-degree safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and everything else in between. This allowed me to set the car at highway speeds and relax for most of the journey back.

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Final thoughts

I do have some complaints about the Ford Explorer, namely the ride is much harsher than I thought it would be, and the engine isn’t as fuel-efficient as I want, but I’ll dive deeper into those when I get to fully review the vehicle.

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Where it does make a case though is the fact that as an SUV it is the complete package, it has the space, it has the features, and most importantly it has the pedigree. The latter shouldn’t be taken for granted because Ford really does make an effort to top itself with every generation of the Explorer, they know how important it is to the automotive world, and I’m glad to say that it feels that way with this generation.

All this for just PHP 3,498,000 isn’t such a bad proposition for those looking for a little more plush-ness compared to the Everest. After all, if it’s one thing Ford is really good at is making big, comfy, and capable SUVs.

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo's first word was probably "Car", and this has developed into a personal passion that has consumed his professional life as well.

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