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What’s Hot: The new Platinum trim Ford Explorer is the latest addition to the popular three-row midsize crossover. The Platinum model is to the Explorer what Denali is to the GMC brand. In other words, it’s the crème de la crème trim for the midsize Explorer. Ford’s larger 365-horsepower engine is only available in the Explorer’s two high-end trims, the Sport and the Platinum.

The roomy family vehicle offers great ride and handling due to its MacPherson suspension system. The crossover also offers an array of high-tech and semi-autonomous driving features. This premium crossover is outfitted with everything from an automatic parallel parking system to a lane keep assist system to a rain-sensing wiping system. And yes, all of those features are standard.

The top of the line trim also offers a number of exclusive interior accoutrements. For one, the high-end trim includes a multi-contour massaging driver seat with perforated leather. The interior includes real ash wood pieces, which line the door and instrument panels, while the heated steering wheel is wrapped in wood and leather.

Ford’s lux-crossover is powered by the model’s most powerful EcoBoost engine, the 365-horsepower, 6-cylinder that pushes out 350 pounds of torque.

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What’s Not: Explorer Platinum is only available in an all-wheel drive configuration. An available front wheel drive configuration would help lower the price a few grand. Paying over $50,000 for a midsize Explorer seems pretty steep, especially since many of its well-equipped competitors are priced below that threshold. And there are full-size SUVs offering a bold-looking design, more interior space, added cargo room, extra towing capacity and an 8-cylinder engine for around the same price.

The Explorer goes up head to head against the brand’s luxury alternative, the MKT AWD, which offers a longer new car warranty. Both the Ford and Lincoln are playing in the same price point. Besides the warranty, the exterior styling of both vehicles are drastically different.

Verdict: While the Platinum model offers features that are not available on other trims, consumers should see if the Limited trim offers everything they need. We’re not convinced that the extra features in the Platinum model justify its price, unless rebates and heavy negotiations get the truck under $50,000.

There are larger SUVs that offer more in a variety of areas so consumers should shop around before signing on the dotted line. Essentially, this premium Ford Explorer is the alternative to folks who might not be drawn to the exterior styling of Lincoln’s MKT.

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Competition: Honda Pilot Elite; Hyundai Santa Fe Limited; Kia Sorento Limited; Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring; and Toyota Highlander Limited

Highlight: This is the Ford Explorer new top of the line trim.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $54,760 (base model $53,815)

Seating Capacity: 6 or 7

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; rain sensing wipers; a rearview camera system; a front 180 degree camera; a hill descent control system; a lane keep assist system; a navigation system; a tire pressure monitoring system; and a perimeter alarm system

Platinum Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; automatic headlamps; fog lamps; moon roof; rear spoiler; roof rack rails; second-row heated seats; dual zone automatic climate control; heated/ventilated front seats; a heated leather wrapped steering wheel; massaging front seats; leather seats; power third row seats; power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; wood grain interior accents; a radar activated cruise control system; a towing package; an enhanced parking assist system; a hill descent control system; a power steering system; a remote start system; a Sirius satellite system; and a terrain management system

 Options: 20-inch wheels; second-row bucket seats; and a second row console

 Other Trim Level: Base; XLT; Limited; and Sport

 Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 500-watt audio system AM/FM/CD with satellite radio

 Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

 USB Connectivity: Yes

 Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/365-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

 Standard Fuel Mileage:

16-city/22-hwy

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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