We all know that pickup trucks are selling for more than ever and that luxury versions are commanding big bucks. It’s a trend that’s been great for trucks like the GMC Sierra Denali and the Ford F-150 Platinum. Buyers can choose all the options they would normally get in a luxury sedan, but they still get the added ride height and utility of a pickup truck. With engines getting even more efficient, they don’t have to give up much in terms of fuel economy, either.
This trend isn’t just limited to pickup trucks, though. Automakers are offering more and more luxurious versions of their SUVs, and even though they’re also charging more money, buyers are eating it up. It almost feels like there’s no end in sight for how nice these kinds of vehicles can get.
Not content to leave sales – and dollars – on the table, Ford hasn’t just fancied up the F-150. It’s also created a Platinum version of the Explorer. It’s a very expensive Explorer, starting at $56,200, but it’s also the nicest Explorer you’ve ever seen.
“Platinum is the ultimate expression of refinement,” said Mike Arbaugh, Ford Explorer chief designer. “This is the most upscale, high-quality interior we’ve ever offered on a Ford vehicle in North America.”
So what all goes into making the Ford Explorer Platinum a more-than-$50,000 SUV? Until now, that was all a mystery, but now that Ford’s released the details, we can get a glimpse into what a $50,000 Explorer looks like. The question is, though, is it worth it?
The interior is the most important part of a luxury vehicle, and the Explorer Platinum promises not to cheap out. If it looks like aluminum, it’s probably aluminum. If it looks like wood, it’s probably wood. If it looks like leather, it’s probably leather. In the most premium of Explorers, there’s no room for imitation.
The leather, by the way, is something Ford is calling “Nirvana leather.” It’s micro-perforated and promises to be the softest leather ever offered on a Ford product. In addition to covering the seats, the leather also covers the instrument panel, console armrests, quilted door bolsters, and upper door trim. Hopefully that’s enough leather for you.
The Explorer Platinum also comes with a 500-watt Sony sound system that claims to recreate the experience of the world’s greatest concert halls. If you’re looking for more technology and driver aids, though, the Explorer offers plenty of them, including front and rear cameras, active park assist, and quick-charge USB ports.
Under the hood is Ford’s venerable 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V6 engine. It has 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque that make it surprisingly fast, but it isn’t just built for paved roads. According to Ford, you can actually take an Explorer Platinum off-road.
“The Explorer name has long been synonymous with off-road capability,” said Craig Patterson, Ford utilities marketing manager. “Explorer Platinum continues that reputation and adds so much more.”
The Ford Explorer Platinum comes with an intelligent four-wheel-drive system that continually monitors wheel speed, throttle position, and steering wheel angle to distribute torque appropriately for the conditions. With the help of Ford’s Terrain Management System, you can expect handling and traction to be excellent for a three-row SUV.
The exterior isn’t changed much, but it does come with LED headlights, a dual-pane moonroof, front and rear skid plates, and 20-inch wheels.
At the end of that long list, you have the makings of one incredibly nice Ford Explorer. You’ll have to part with more than $50,000 to buy one, but if you want the nicest Explorer ever, you’re unlikely to walk away disappointed. At that price point, though, you’re going to encounter the classic conundrum – do you buy the regular vehicle with all the options or a very lightly-optioned version of the luxury vehicle.
If you’re willing to spend more than $50,000 on an Explorer, you’re also in the same price range as SUVs like the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Infiniti QX60, and Volvo XC90. Is the Ford Explorer Platinum really worth it when you could buy a luxury SUV instead?
Looking at F-150 sales, something tells me it isn’t going to matter. Ford’s probably going to sell as many of them as it can build. Personally, I’d probably buy a Porsche Boxster instead, but something tells me Ford isn’t targeting millennial car bloggers with the Explorer Platinum. Who’s actually going to buy it, I’m not exactly sure, but we’re all about to find out.