Turbo 4 gets the job done, but is it worth it?
If you’re sceptical about how a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine performs in a big, heavy crossover such as the 2012 Ford Explorer, you probably aren’t alone. Engine downsizing isn’t a bad idea, as long as it doesn’t require a major sacrifice in performance and succeeds in reducing fuel consumption.
Driving the EcoBoost Explorer gives us mixed emotions. We like the notion of a fuel-efficient midsize SUV/crossover and we love turbo engines, but in this case, the experience is a little underwhelming.
Lots of torque gets the Explorer moving
The 2.0L EcoBoost produces 240 hp as well as 270 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm – very respectable numbers for such a small-displacement engine. It gives up 50 horses to the standard-issue 3.5L V6 but compensates with more low-rpm torque. It’s bolted to a 6-speed automatic, but unlike the V6, you don’t get a manual mode.
The Explorer EcoBoost isn’t the slouch one would expect. The muscular 4-pot engine gets the truck moving swiftly, and it’s only slightly noisier than the V6 at wide-open throttle.
Here’s the catch: you can’t get an all-wheel-drive Explorer with the 2.0L EcoBoost engine. And with so much low-end grunt channelled through the front wheels, you’ll feel the wrath of torque steer when you floor it from a standstill.
As for fuel economy, the EcoBoost Explorer is rated at 10.4/7.0 L/100km city/highway, while the FWD Explorer V6 is rated at 11.7/7.8. On a round trip from Montreal to Toronto, we averaged 11.5 L/100km; we were expecting a result under the 10-litre mark.
The EcoBoost engine also reduces the Explorer’s towing capacity from 5,000 lbs with the V6 to just 2,000.
Convinced? We’re not.
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