all new 2011 Ford Explorer coming out this winter. As you can see from the photo, she loved it.
As in, did not want to get out of the driver's seat. As in, mommy had to peel her little fingers off the steering wheel and drag her wiggly body out of the car to give other people a chance to test it out.
To be honest, Pippi wasn't the only one who was impressed. The Explorer is clearly no convertible, but seems like a great alternative if we decide to go for a vehicle with more seats. It's loaded with safety features, including second row seat belts that inflate to soften the impact in a collision. The third row seats move at the touch of a button, hiding one or both seats to allow for more storage space. And it's a sleeker design than past Explorers, which makes it seem less hulkingly big.
When I did manage a brief turn in the driver's seat, I was pleasantly surprised. Don't get me wrong -- it's still a big ass vehicle, particularly compared to the convertibles I love best. But it didn't feel as big as I expected. As in, it felt like something I might actually be able to drive and maneuver into a parking space without crashing into everything around me.
They're claiming it will get better gas mileage than any other SUV -- which may be true, but is still a far cry from my Honda Accord. One of the Ford promotion guys hanging around told me there's a second version of the SUV scheduled for release in summer with an EcoBoost engine that will get even better mileage (you won't be able to tow anything, which is not a problem for me). That option has me intrigued.
When I asked the first few guys my most important question -- can you fit three car seats across the middle row -- no one knew the answer. But when I got to the VP who was at the event, he assured me that you can. Sadly, they didn't have three car seats on hand to test his answer, but I'm hoping he's right.
For now, we're going to keep driving the (paid-for) cars we have. But I'll be watching the release of this new Explorer and am curious to have a chance to actually drive one.
Maybe Ford would like to let me (ahem) borrow one for a few weeks? You know, take all those cup-holders for a spin and see how comfortable I could get? Lure me in so that I can never go back to not having seven seats again? Give my kids a taste of riding in big-rig super-safe luxury? Anyone?
Note: Ford did not pay me to write this post. They did give me a free Jimmy John's sandwich at the event, but they were giving those to everyone who walked by to look at the car, so I hardly think it counts as a bribe. However, I would happily take a loaner Explorer for a bit to see how it fits.