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My Explorer Platinum Adventure Tour: From Durango to Albuquerque and Beyond!

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“Hi,” I greeted a Wranglers-clad man in Chama, NM, to which he responded with an enthusiastic “Howdy.”  I whispered to my travel partner Judy, a mom of three from Brooklyn. “I guess talking in ‘cowboy’ is the more appropriate vernacular in rural New Mexico.”

She joking responded, “In New York City, we just say “F#&$ you.”

platinumThat wasn’t the first time during our day-long adventure from Durango to Albuquerque that I busted out laughing. I had signed on with a handful of media to do one of the final legs of Ford’s 22-day journey that stretched for over 2,000 miles from Vancouver to New Mexico. Ford Explorer has reigned as the best-selling SUV in the United States with more than 7 million sold and we were putting the 2016 Explorer Platinum–their new top-of-the-line SUV–to the test. 

Upon arrival in Durango, I learned we were to choose our own partner with whom we’d spend the next eight hours formulating our own itinerary from the Rocky Mountains through the high desert of New Mexico. I quickly latched onto Judy like an awkward middle schooler (she had me at “I love to hike”) and we kissed the Animas River Valley good-bye. 

While many of the auto journalists were focusing on the Platinum’s more technical features such as the the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 with intelligent 4WD and Terrain Management System, I was all about the mom experience and set out to answer these critical questions:

Q: Would I be able to survive my annual 30-hour road trip to Canada alone with my kids?

Comfort for mom: The “Nirvana” leather and the Heated Wood Steering Wheel feel luxurious but heaven is truly found on the driver and passenger seats’ multi-contour massaging seats that are also heated and air-conditioned. 

sonyComfort for kids: No more complaints about the temperature with real auxiliary climate controls and manual single zone climate control. But the real winner is smart-charging USB ports located in the front and rear of the vehicle that are able to charge smart devices up to two times faster than conventional ports. Occupied kids = happy mom.

When the children argue, will the sound system sufficiently drown them out?

I’m happy to report that the all-new 500 watt Sony Audio with Live Acoustics and Clear Phase technology with 12 speakers in 10 locations transported us to a world-famous concert hall that drowns out the Peanut Gallery.

backrowIf my husband criticizes my driving, will there be room enough to exile him to the optional third row?

With 33.3 inches of legroom and 50.8 inches of shoulder room, even an adult would find the third row in this (optional) seven-seat vehicle comfortable. Behind the third row, there are up to 21 cubic feet of cargo volume. Significant others: consider yourselves warned.  

The Adventure Begins

Judy had misplaced her glasses so I was the sole driver. Kind of. We joked that with the Ford Platinum’s Front-Passenger Sensing System, Lane-keeping System alerts if you drift out of your lane and adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, the vehicle practically drives itself.  

Here’s a glimpse at our adventures that included one of the United States’ new national monuments, Colorado’s hidden gem, the amphitheater with a bloody history, how “Christmas-style” Mexican food is life-changing and more. 

Chimney Rock National Monument. I’ve wanted to visit this area since President Obama proclaimed it a national monument in 2012. (Click to keep reading)

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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  • comment avatar Michelle October 13, 2015

    You had me at massage seats. Sounds glorious! Wondering if that’s only for the Platinum or if it’s an add-on for their lesser Ford models?

  • comment avatar Karen October 13, 2015

    Such fun adventures! I haven’t explored this part of NM but looks like it’s worth the trip. Lovin’ the Ford.