Ford Explorer

Inside, the touchscreen commands all of your attention. It’s big – dominating, in fact, at nearly 15in, filling the centre console and then some. And it has the novel feature of being able to be tilted at different angles to reveal extra storage.

The resolution of the screen is excellent and the graphics clear, yet it shares an unwelcome trait with the Volkswagen Group MEB cars in being tricky to navigate once you get beyond the initial menu screen and want anything more than a simple function. The sat-nav voice asking me to make a U-turn will be an earworm forever more, as I couldn’t find a volume button to turn it off.

The main issue is that the ‘buttons’ are small and require eyes off the road to line up a finger to press, made worse by poor iconography that makes it not obvious what you’re pressing. Heating controls are thankfully given permanent residence and prominence down the bottom, but for the most part, the screen is so big and some buttons so small that it’s frustrating to use. There’s more space than Ford knows what to do with.

The haptic buttons on the steering wheel also carry over from the MEB cars, and they’re as unwelcome here as they are there. No wonder Volkswagen is getting rid of them on its own models; given the Explorer’s lengthy development time, it’s surprising that Ford didn’t do the same. It will in time, we’re told. 

The rest of the interior does feel familiar in layout and perceived quality when compared with the Volkswagen Group models. Comfortable enough but with some obvious cost-saving in material choice, it’s functional, rather than attractive, and middle-of-the-road in the class. It’s all a tad staid, a world away from the visual appeal and feel good factor of the Peugeot e-3008, which shows what can be done in the segment.

A sizable central storage bin is its most notable feature, which is perhaps saying something in itself. 

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