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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Greenlight 2013 Ford Explorer



It was worth the long wait:  The Greenlight 1:64 Ford Explorer is one of the darlings of the Ford licensing agreement with Greenlight, and this casting is nicely done and does multi-purpose as a support vehicle, as a civilian, and as the Interceptor Utility.  However, I passed on several versions waiting for the Matchbox version to come out in 2012.  When it finally did, it was nothing but a custom version with too much gear on it, causing some traditional Matchbox collectors to cry fowl over this one, especially me who now went back to Greenlight waiting for the next best version of the new Explorer.  Well the wait is over thanks to the recent release of the Country Roads series.

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Change of tides

The Explorer was introduced in 1990 as the four-door version of the mid-cycle update of the previous Bronco II (also based on the Ranger small pickup platform).  Obviously a challenger to the Jeep Cherokee which had four doors longer than the Explorer, yet it was the Ford that changed the way buyers saw an SUV and families replaced the traditional station wagon for an SUV in the 1990's, making the Explorer the best-selling SUV.  In 1995 a redesign introduced shapelier curves, V8 option, and dual airbags, further increasing sales.  Then in 1999 the Firestone tire scandal occurred where vehicles with these tires were prone to separate the treads from the tires, causing blowouts leading to rollovers that killed several people and injured hundreds more.  It did put a dent in Explorer's sales, but not by much.  In 2002 the third-generation featured more square, truck-like styling and a third-row bench no thanks in part to the new independent rear suspension.  This feature helped eliminated the roll-over tendency of prior generations, yet sales were still at risk from another source.

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Enter the crossover SUV of the 2000's started with the Lexus RX300 and adding on with the likes of Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and more.  Combined that with rising gas prices and it was clear the Explorer's days were numbered, not even a Mercury Mountaineer or SUV/Pickup Sport Trac can save the day.  The only solution was to follow the crossover crowd with a version of their own outlined by the 2008 Explorer Concept vehicle.  In 2011 the new Explorer was introduced, riding on a unibody front-wheel drive architecture based on the Taurus/Edge/Flex platform.  The styling was futuristic with smooth lines and a wrap-around windshield thanks to blacked-out A-pillars.  The power was either a 3.5L V6 or the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5L V6 producing rated at 365 hp. through a six-speed automatic and through a now full-time AWD system, a departure from the part-time versions offered in the prior generations.  The interior still seats six, but is more roomy and up-to-date with the latest technological innovations.

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Greenlight does it better!

Wraped in a blue-oval blue color, the Explorer looks amazing.  The front has highly-detailed grille in silver with the separate lens headlights with proper color ID and lower front bumper with correct black trimmings.  The roof has nicely done silver rails, the windows have the proper blacked-out A-pillar look, and even the mirrors have the proper color coding of the actual vehicle.  Out back you get a rear spoiler, taillight lenses with the detailed inner lenses, silver trim piece and badges, and my personal favorite:  check out the size of those exhaust!!!  The 5-spoke wheels are the exact match to the actual vehicle, and the base shows the proper details with the front and rear sub-frames and suspension pieces.

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The interior is nicely-done with the proper layout of the dash with 3-spoke wheel, speedometer flanked by digital customizable screens, touch screen for the central controls with touch buttons below, and a shifter that for some reason Greenlight likes to insert backwards during assembly!  The seats are nicely done, though the headrests are so huge they almost touch the ceiling.  The only downside is the lack of the large sunroof, though there is a very good reason for the support of the Interceptor Utility's light bar.


Overall i'm very impressed with the detail that this Greenlight version offers over the Matchbox version, and i'm glad they finally offered a civilian version sans company logos for the first time.

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