SUV Spotlight: Ford Explorer

2017 Ford E XLT Sport

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package ©Ford Motor Company

As promised, February is the month of SUVs on  I will be reviewing all types of SUVs. Everything from the practical and affordable to the super luxurious and pricey.

First up, Ford Explorer, the best selling SUV in the world over the past 25 years.  That’s quite a claim, and quite a bit of time in the world spotlight, however, with the new 2017 Explorer XLT Sport Appearance package, they prove why they deserve it.

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Rear

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package ©Ford Motor Company

With SUV sales expected to grow over the next decade, Ford is ramping up options for the 160 million boomers and millennials who will be lining up to buy this type of vehicle.  “As members of the 80-million-strong millennial age group enter their prime child-rearing years, a leading indicator of more SUV sales, nearly 80 million aging baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Company vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service. “It’s a demographic double whammy and it all points to one thing – more SUVs for the foreseeable future.”  Along with that growing demand, Ford has also tapped in to the fact that SUV consumers want unique and customized, which is why they are offering the new trim for 2017.  They want their consumers to have more choice and more options when buying their new vehicle.  “In the market right now, across all our SUVs, customers are looking for unique colors, wheels and interior appointments,” said Omar Odeh, Explorer brand marketing manager. “We’ve worked closely with Ford Design to deliver a unique look that will resonate with customers.”

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Interior

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package Interior ©Ford Motor Company

Enter the new Explorer XLT Sport Appearance, with multiple updates to the both the interior and exterior including:

  • 20-inch Magnetic Gray wheels
  • Magnetic Gray grille
  • Magnetic Gray mirror caps
  • Magnetic Gray rear appliqué
  • Ebony Black body side cladding
  • Black roof rack
  • Explorer hood badge
  • Dark Earth Gray leather for front seats, including outer bolsters by premium leather maker Salerno; Dark Earth Gray Miko® suede for seat back uppers and inserts with Umber scrim, and door trim inserts; Umber contrast stitching
  • Explorer logo floor mats

The new trim also comes equipped with the stellar standard features expected from Ford, including a 3.5L V6 engine, Intelligent Access with push-button start, 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, Sync®3, LED fog lamps and more.

2017 Ford E XLT Sport Rim

2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package 20-inch Magnetic Gray Wheels ©Ford Motor Company

“Our Sport Appearance philosophy is rooted in the fact that we know exterior appearance is the No. 1 consideration in SUV purchase decisions,” said Odeh. “The XLT Sport Appearance Package is a dramatic offering that gives customers another attractive option.”  Add to the sporty appearance the EcoBoost® engine available in every nameplate at Ford, and consumers not only decrease fuel emissions, but look good while doing it.

With the introduction of the XLT Sport Appearance Package option, Ford has positioned itself well to capture the growing SUV market in the next year.  They are actively taking into consideration consumer trends and demands and making it available to their customers.  The new XLT Sport Appearance Package model looks to have it all: a stylish and sporty interior, some decent power under the hood, and one mean looking exterior.  I can’t wait to take this baby for spin when it’s available.




Jeep Cherokee: “River in the City” Ad Campaign

Jeep 'River in the City' Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Media Group

Jeep ‘River in the City’ Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

Just after the New Year, on January 4th, Jeep launched a new commercial, “River in the City”.  In the :30 spot, Jeep turned an ordinary street block in Vancouver into a forest-like setting, complete with a mountain river, snowbanks, boulders, rocks, moss, trees and gravel.  They even had two wolves hanging out on set.

Drivers were then directed, via their navigations systems, through downtown Vancouver to the man-made mountain driving course.  They then took part in an unequaled Jeep Cherokee test drive.  They were given the opportunity to navigate the Cherokee through the rough terrain set-up and fully test the SUV’s capabilities in a unique urban setting.

“We wanted to bring to life the real world capabilities of the Jeep Cherokee in a unique approach,”said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer, FCA-Global. “So how do you do that?  By taking what is essentially an experiential event where unsuspecting drivers are being filmed navigating a busy metropolitan street that has been turned into a fully functional mountain river and let them experience the capabilities of the Jeep Cherokee for themselves.  Our ‘River in the City’ takes an untraditional approach to create a powerful statement that the Jeep Cherokee can handle anything a city throws at it.”

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

I find this new campaign by Jeep not only innovative, but a great example of thinking outside of the box.  We’ve all seen the obligatory shots of SUV’s off-roading, climbing mountains and tacking large boulders, but a huge percentage of SUV drivers never get to experience that type of driving.  In fact, the only adventure typically experienced by the everyday soccer parents that drive these vehicles is the thrill of successfully navigating the traffic laden roads in order to get their kids to respective sports practices on time and in one piece.  With this unique experience, Jeep gave everyday city dwellers the chance to experience what the vehicle can really do right in their own backyard, the downtown of a metropolitan city.  For that I applaud them.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

Backing up Jeep’s innovative new campaign is a pretty kick ass ride.  I had the opportunity to test drive a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk model and was quite impressed with what I found.  The ride felt more like a smooth sedan than a mid-size SUV.  It also had pretty good pick-up for a vehicle in its class.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the 9-speed transmission, however.  The Trailhawk ran through the gears way too quickly, which made the engine performance feel choppy.  I felt I wasn’t getting everything I could out of the engine.  I much prefer a 6 or 8 speed engine configuration to the 9.  I found the fuel economy to be impressive at close to 31 mpg on the highway.  The safety and security features, such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and ParkSense rear park assist were also top-notch, as is the towing capacity of 4,500 lbs, quite a bit of weight for the mid-size SUV category.  Consumers also get the choice between two engine types, the new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6, or the 2.4-liter MutliAir2, which earns a Partial Zero Emissions Engine classification in 14 states.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Interior Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

2015 Jeep Cherokee Interior Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

The interior is also very appealing, especially in the Trailhawk, which is focused on a rugged and sporty feel, everything a Jeep should be.  It features an 8.4-inch touch screen media display, seven-inch full color instrument display and plenty of storage and cargo flexibility not available in other vehicles in its class.

Overall the 2015 Jeep Cherokee is a great mid-size SUV option for those looking to buy in this segment.  It offers great features, plenty of options and several different models to choose from, ranging form affordable to slightly less affordable.  Even at its highest price-point, the Cherokee offers huge bang for the buck.  I highly recommend readers test drive it, if only to have some fun behind the wheel.  You won’t be disappointed.

To check out the new Jeep ad, visit

Jeep Cherokee 'River in the City' Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

Jeep Cherokee ‘River in the City’ Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media