So, what is the difference between a crossover and an SUV, anyway? In the past, auto writers tended to classify an SUV as one of the old-style body-on-frame bruisers. Real trucks, based on their makers’ pickup truck, capable of going off-road. They came standard with rear-wheel drive, with optional four-wheel drive, no, not all-wheel drive, we’re talking about a system where the 4WD is engaged either by a lever, or more recently with buttons or a knob.
Ford wants us to classify its redesigned Explorer as an SUV, not a crossover. If it’s a crossover you want, then Ford would like to sell you a Flex. But can this completely remade Explorer still claim to be an SUV? Based on the same Volvo bones that underpin the Lincoln MKT and MKS and the Ford Taurus and, yes, even the Flex crossover, base Explorers are now front-wheel drive riding on a unibody platform.
Sure, much of this is just autowriter flimflam that matters little to the people who buy these rigs. When you boil it down to its essence, car buying revolves around three things: styling, capabilities and how it makes you feel. Oh, and we suppose the niggling issue of cost, and that whole price of ownership thing, has a little to do with it, as well.
So what about this Explorer’s capabilities? Not surprisingly, it handles better than the clunky old Explorer. The stiff unibody makes a big difference compared the old truck’s traditional frame.