While the 2014 Ford Explorer is a far more sophisticated machine than the original Explorer that kicked off America’s love affair with the SUV nearly 25 years ago, its basic mission remains the same. The modern Explorer, and other midsize crossover SUVs like it, are designed to comfortably and securely transport families whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful. Essentially, they are station wagons with higher driving positions and available all-wheel-drive systems that provide extra traction for snow and mud. Slap some fake wood on a 2014 Explorer’s flanks, and it might as well wear “Country Squire” nameplates along the sides.
Though not as popular as it once was, due both to the explosion of competitors over the decades as well as the proliferation of SUV models wearing a Blue Oval badge, the Ford Explorer remains a heavy-hitter among family-size crossovers. To get reacquainted with it, I packed my own family into a 2014 Explorer Limited for a trip to Disneyland and spent a week behind the wheel running pre-holiday errands around suburban Los Angeles. After hundreds of miles covered on a wide variety of roads, it is clear that despite entering vehicular middle age, the Explorer remains among the more compelling choices in its class.