2015 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5L EcoBoost from North America

Summary:

You either pay once with Japanese, or pay all the time with American

Faults:

Right rear wheel bearing at ~62,000 miles.

Front right wheel bearing at ~ 65,000 miles.

Rear left wheel bearing at ~65,000 miles (seems like all new Explorers have wheel bearing problems at almost exactly 60-65,000 miles).

Timing chain stretch at ~62,000 miles... This was the big one. About $3,000 in repairs under warranty... The car was out of service a full month.

Driver's side window trim peeling... Ford did a wonky job fixing this under recall.

Alignment: was out of alignment when I got it, got it realigned twice, but it is still out.

Exhaust smell from faulty rear door seal. Ford fixed this as well under recall... I can still smell it a little, but I'll call it good.

"Popping noise". Front sway bar end links replaced under warranty.

General Comments:

Without knowing anything about the vehicle, it is a hunk of fun. Gobs of power, sporty ride, sounds kinda like a V8. Good fun, looks good, beats having a minivan.

That's exactly what sold me on it. I made the mistake of getting this with a CPO Warranty, thinking it was such a great looking, fun ride for the family. "Good gas mileage, too!".

HOWEVER. This is not a vehicle to own out of warranty. It has a horribly complex electronics system, a stupidly complex engine design that is prone to one of two failures: timing chain stretch and water pump failure (a little company history on that later).

Gas mileage: It gets bad gas mileage in the real world (babying it with mixed driving, I see 17.5 on the dash. 17.8 in nearly 15,000 miles of driving). That's regular pump gas, mind. I tried a full tank of premium once and it made no difference.

Ride: it rides nice, though it is a completely nerfed version of the Explorers of yore. Don't expect to be taking this down any real trails, because you'll be scraping all the plastic bits right off.

On the actual road, it's quiet, with an aggressive amount of power. Phenomenal. Turning radius is so-so... but blind spots are huge. Absolutely huge. Don't expect to be weaving this through traffic. Confident at low speeds, but less precise at higher speeds with a bit of wobbly body roll. Great passing power, though the transmission isn't perfectly matched to the engine.

Practicality: Works well for shopping trips, but if you haul full loads of people, expect to be short on luggage space. Aside from feeling a bit big, I haven't found myself in a situation where I said "I wish we drove the car."

**** As an aside, the 3.5 EcoBoost is different in the Explorer than it is in the F-150. It's the same hunk of metal, but the turbos are different so they spool at different RPM, and the water pump is packed up inside the engine on the Explorer because they ran out of space to have an external one (seriously, it's almost impossible to see the accessory belt on this thing. Super tight).

Ford has had some problems with these engines. The timing chains (multiple) stretch, causing phasing issues with the camshaft, and in theory it could stretch to the point where the sprockets skip teeth and your engine paperweights. This is a horrible design, and Ford has gone through many iterations of chains trying to find a design that works.

Also, Ford has problems with the internal water pumps, which are chain driven. If the water pumps leak, they are ostensibly noticeable from a weep hole on the timing chain cover. The problem is that this is never the failure mode -- almost every story you read about is the engine failing while driving because all the coolant has dumped into the oil pan. Stupid, stupid design. ****

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 14th February, 2019

17th Feb 2019, 04:49

Excellent review.

One thought: Some engines need to run on 2-3 tanks of premium fuel before the ECM acknowledges the fact, and your mileage/performance improves.