4×4 Explorer Conversion Van Review – GMC 9 Passenger
Recently Troy, Ohio was blanketed with a few inches of accumulating snow. We received 3-4 inches of snow with the passing of this winter storm. This was a perfect time to review the 2017 9 Passenger 4×4 Explorer Conversion Van.
I planned to leave our dealership and head south on County Road 25A toward the Tipp City area. The roads were covered with at least 2 inches of snow, and there was a layer of ice between the snow and road. Driving conditions were nowhere near “ideal” to say the least.
Before departing the dealership, I used the remote start feature to defrost the windows and warm up the interior of this 4×4 Conversion Van. Remote start allows the van to start and run while locked and unattended for approximately 10 minutes at a time (up to 2 times). You can also use the GMC app or OnStar app, allowing you to start your vehicle from anywhere in the world (if your mobile device is connected to the internet, and vehicle has signal from OnStar).
Once the windows were cleared of the snow and ice, I was ready to see how the 9-passenger version of the Explorer 4×4 Conversion Van performed in these conditions. Before leaving my parking space, I turned the 4×4 selector dial to the 4×4 Hi position. Once the transmission engaged to 4×4 I was ready to begin my drive. My route took many driving situations into consideration. I drove the Interstate, Rural Roads, Up and Down Hills, through the city, and in the neighborhood. I wanted to give a good mix of different driving situations for this review of the 2017 GMC 4×4 9 Passenger Conversion Van by Explorer.
When the drivetrain is engaged to 4×4, the conversion van is in full time four-wheel drive. To disengage the 4×4 system, simply come to a complete stop and turn the selector dial to 2WD. Once the system finishes disengaging, you can continue driving as normal. With this 4×4 system, there are 3 available options 2WD, 4×4 HI, and 4×4 LO. 4×4 LO is handy when you need maximum torque from the engine and 4×4 system.
Exiting the Dave Arbogast Buick GMC dealership, I made a right on County Road 25A toward Tipp City, Ohio. Tipp City is a small town south of Troy, Ohio just off Interstate 75. Tipp City gives you a historic “hometown” feeling and features a nice downtown area with shops and restaurants.
Within the first couple minutes of my drive, I was extremely impressed with the traction and handling of this vehicle. I am used to driving a GMC Sierra 4×4 which does an excellent job in these types of driving conditions. This 4×4 Explorer Conversion Van performs very similar to my 2016 GMC Sierra 4×4 pickup truck.
Climbing the snow-covered hills, this 4×4 Conversion Van made passing through the drifting snow seem effortless. I could not believe the smooth ride of this van – even in the snowy conditions. The Eaton Enhanced Soft Ride System along with the 4×4 system developed by Explorer gives driver and passenger the best of both worlds. Luxury and four-wheel drive.
The ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) helped tremendously with stopping this vehicle in the slick conditions. It is important that you allow for extra room between the vehicle in front of you to assure a safe stopping distance. 4×4 is great to get the vehicle going, but it will not help the vehicle stop in shorter distances. Always exercise caution when driving in inadequate conditions, no matter the capability of the vehicle being driven.
On to the exterior features and styling of this van. At first look, the shining metallic paint wows your eyes with the sparkle of the sun. You may also notice the extended length of the van chassis. The 9-passenger model is 20 inches longer than the 7-passenger 4×4 Explorer Conversion Van (front bumper to rear bumper). The extra 20 inches allows room for another row of captain’s chairs in the middle section of the van. The raised roof of this 4×4 Explorer Conversion Van features the Vista sport glass. The vista roof allows for more natural light to enter the middle and rear sections of the van, while adding a touch style to the exterior of the van. I think it gives a more modern and updated look to the Hi-Top Conversion Vans. Adding to the modern look, the “Medallion Series” ground effects provide a sleek finish to hide the running boards of the van. Painted front and rear bumper covers complete the ground effects package, giving a unique and updated look to this GMC Savana.
There are other small features that catch your eye on the exterior of the van. At the front of the van, them bumper cover includes LED running lights or fog lamps. On the front fenders you will see chrome accented side vents with integrated LED side marker lamps. The side marker lamps increase visibility to other drivers when signaling a turn or lane change. You will also notice the mesh chrome grille and front step plate. The front step plate provides a step up for cleaning or clearing the windshield of snow and ice. The chrome exhaust tip adds the attention to detail that Explorer Van Company is known for.
The interior of this 4×4 van features premium leather seating for all 9 passengers. Seating arrangements are comprised of 6 captain’s chairs, and an electronic folding sofa bed at the rear of the van. Explorer Van Company is known for building the most comfortable seating in the conversion van industry. Every seat built by Explorer is sewn and assembled by hand with the finest leathers and craftsmanship. On our Tour of Explorer Van Company, I was able to see this process – it makes you appreciate the passion and skill that goes in to building an Explorer Conversion Van.
Behind the drivers’ seat, controls for the entire van are within reach. The steering wheel features buttons to control your cruise control as well as the stereo. 4×4 is easily engaged and disengaged with the turn of the selector dial. Turning the headlight dial to AUTO will turn the headlamps on and off as the sun rises and sets. In the center of the dashboard, you will find the GMC Intellilink System. Intellilink features Navigation, Bluetooth, Satellite Radio, and more infotainment features to help you along with your travels. My favorite feature with the Intellilink System is being able to have all of my music with me and stream it through the vehicle. I never have to worry about finding a radio station that I like, or listen to one that I don’t like for that matter.
Driving this van is truly a joy – but let’s face it, the rear of the van is where you want to be. The rear passengers of the van are in for a treat. The main attraction is the 31-inch flat screen tv. The television can pick up local channels “over the air” via the antenna while stationary. Once you start to move the vehicle, the digital signal will be lost. Below the TV and right between the driver and passenger seats is the center console. The center console features a Blu-ray player, cooler, remote storage, cup holders, and allows for HDMI hook-up. HDMI hook-up allows you to connect your favorite gaming console or HDMI enabled media device and display it on the flat-screen. This will make those lengthy trips go by much faster (at least for some of us 😉).
The 9 Passenger 4×4 Explorer Conversion Van is a truly capable and luxurious machine. I am confident that those looking for the capability and luxury of a 4×4 or All Wheel Drive Conversion Van will find it with the 2017 GMC 4×4 Explorer Conversion Van.