By Mark Gauert
I’m doing the dishes.
“You’ve been inside all day,” I say to my wife and son from the kitchen. “Go take a walk. Enjoy!”
“Thank you,” they say, on the way out the door. They will.
I finish the dishes. Put the leftovers in the refrigerator. Wipe off the countertops.
And flop down on the sofa, in full control of the remote.
I start the latest episode of Review on Comedy Central, which gets decidedly mixed reviews when I am not in full control of the remote.
The cell phone rings.
“Dad,” my son says, “we’re caught in the rain.”
“Where are you?”
“About halfway around Stonebridge Parkway, near where Kim used to live,” he says. “Can you come get us?”
“It’s really starting to come down,” he says.
This is the moment, I think, when it’s good – very good – to have a 2016 Ford Explorer LTD parked in the garage.
Before this moment, I had not formed a solid impression of my four-wheel drive, seven-seat Shadow Black tester.
Sure, it has everything.
Parking assist. Lane assist. Blind-spot monitoring system. Rain-sensing windshield wipers. Sony audio system with 12 speakers. Voice-activated navigation system. Front and rear 180-degree cameras. Heated and cooled 10-way power bucket seats, with some very attractive massage options.
All propelled by a very capable 3.5L EcoBoost V6 estimated to explore 60 miles per hour in about six seconds from a standing stop.
Like I said. Everything.
But my first impression of the Ford Explorer LTD was … another thing.
Ford might like us to confuse the Explorer with pricier models from rival Land Rover. And, come to think of it, if you glimpse the SUV in traffic, you just might swear you’d seen a Discovery Sport. The way if you glimpse a Ford Fusion in traffic – at least the front part – you just might swear you’d seen an Aston Martin.
But my first impression of the Ford Explorer LTD was: Really nice rental car. Or, car you issue to a trusted entourage to explore the path ahead before you make your arrival in, say, an Aston Martin.
But you do not want to be driving a low-slung, two-door Aston Martin when you ride to the rescue of your wife and son on a dark and stormy night.
“Dad,” my son says. “Are you coming?’’
I step up into the Explorer. Activate the universal garage door opener. Enter the street where Kim used to live into the voice-activated navigation system. And push the start button.
“Phone Colin Gauert!” I command, splashing into the night.
“Calling,” the cool SYNC phone system replies.
The headlamps pop on automatically. The windshield wipers, too. The seat seems to sense I could use a Swedish massage. It feels good.
The phone connects.
“Where are you?” I ask my son.
“We’re under some trees now,” he says. “It’s really bad.”
It is. As I roll up to the street where Kim used to live, the wind is driving the rain sideways. The gusts are so hard, I’m starting to have flashbacks of Wilma.
“I can’t see you,” I say.
“I can see you,” he says. “We’re just up ahead – wait, I’ll step to the curb.”
I can see them now, in the LED low-beam headlight. Cold. Wet. Miserable.
And now safe.
I swoop in beside them. They open front and rear passenger doors and step out of the storm at the same time. (Try that in an Aston Martin, Mr. Bond).
It’s not often I go from doing the dishes to riding to the rescue. Even less often riding in on a Shadow Black steed, with the power of 365 horses.
“Thank you for saving us,” my wife smiles, closing the door.
No, I think. Thank you, Ford Explorer.
2016 Ford 4DR LTD Explorer FWD
V6, 365 HP
EPA 17 city, 24 highway
Price as tested
Explorer (base), XLT, Limited, Sport and Platinum.
South Florida Ford dealers, southfloridaford.com