The Skinny on the 2014 Ford Explorer

The 2014 edition of the Ford’s popular Explorer SUV is a large crossover model available in base, XLT, Limited and Sport trims. Instead of underpinnings based on a truck design, the Explorer has a unibody design which is similar to that of a car’s. Given its seven-passenger capacity, comfortable interior and improved fuel economy when compared to its predecessors, the Explorer is a good choice for those looking for a feature-laden SUV at a reasonable price point.

Trim Options

Standard 2014 Explorer features include 17-inch steel wheels, a V6 engine, integrated blind-spot mirrors, automatic headlamps, roof rails, rear privacy glass, cruise control, air-conditioning, a third-row seat, a trip computer, a sound system with a CD player and six speakers. Buyers will also receive an auxiliary audio jack and full power accessories on the base model.

If you move up to the XLT trim, you’ll get Ford’s Equipment Group 201A package, which adds automatic climate control, a sound system with nine speakers, and a rear-view camera along with the Driver Connect features, including electronic controls and heated front seats. Models with this trim have upgraded and added features when compared to the base, such as 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights and a keyless entry code pad.

The Limited trim has the bundled features of the base and XLT with more upgrades, including 20-inch wheels, a remote engine start, pedals with memory that are power adjustable, and a 110-volt outlet. You can add Ford’s 302A package to this trim to get automatic high beams, xenon headlamps, a blind-spot warning system and other safety and driving assist features.

A Sport trim model has many features in common with the Limited with some exceptions, such as no 110-volt outlet. It has front sport seats and a different type of 20-inch tires than what comes with the Limited models. Its 401A package adds driving features such as the navigation system and cross-traffic alerts, along with luxury interior upgrades such as driver seat memory.

Under the Hood

With the exception of the Sport model, the 2014 Ford Explorer comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. You can choose optional four-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, and there is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine available for those willing to pay a little extra. Note that the Sport model only comes in four-wheel drive and has a 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is turbocharged.

Take the time to review all the different features available at the four trim levels to ensure you’re getting what you want in your new SUV.

New Lincoln MKZ Sedan: Affordable Luxury

Reclaiming that former Detroit glory, the 2014 Lincoln MKZ nicely represents the entry-level luxury sedan class with its sleek, contemporary look that includes an LED taillight panel and a fully retractable panoramic roof. While it may not be as highly sought after as other luxury sedans in its category, the MKZ boasts an impressive array of standard features that make it a solid choice for drivers looking for an affordable luxury model.

Options Galore

One of the best things about the MKZ is that it offers buyers options, which include two trim levels, the MKZ and the MKZ Hybrid, and tiered packages that allow for upgrades to the navigation system, rear-cross traffic alert and even ventilated seats.

Lincoln doesn’t skimp on standard amenities, however, which include the MyLincoln Touch system, a superb 11-speaker sound system and a voice command system. Choose from a standard or panoramic glass sunroof, power rear sunshade, multicontour front seats and a summer tire handling package.

The MKZ Hybrid even offers an available THX audio system, which provides drivers with a real audio treat. The depth and clarity of this sound system is superb and worth the upgrade.

Performance

The MKZ is available in three engine options. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with standard front-wheel drive, although AWD is available. This engine gets an estimated 22 MPG on the city and 31-33 on the highway.

The 3.7-liter V6 option boasts more power, and MPG ranges from 18-19 in the city and 28-28 on the highway.

The MKZ Hybrid model combines the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor, boosting the MPG to around 38. This makes it a smart choice for drivers looking to save on gas and help the environment.

Sleek Interior

Although the interior is designed using more affordable economy-class materials, the center stack offers a glimpse of a more futuristic design without all those knobs and buttons from past models. This sleek, modern styling will appeal to many drivers. The rear-seat legroom is very generous and quite comfortable on long drives.

Five-Star Safety Rating

The 2014 MKZ earned the maximum safety rating for overall safety in government crash testing. Safety features on this model include front side-impact and front knee airbags, antilock brakes and stability and traction control.

Additional safety options include blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera, lane-departure warning, lane keeping assist and rear cross-traffic alerts. An optional forward collision warning system and airbag-embedded rear seatbelts increase the car’s safety capabilities.

The Bottom Line

The 2014 Lincoln MKZ currently has a starting MSRP of around $34,000, making it an affordable option for an entry-level luxury sedan. With its high-tech features, forward-thinking styling, increased comfort and safety considerations, it certainly has a lot to offer drivers who don’t want to spend the extra money on competitors like Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes.