Ford Explorer

2017 Ford Explorer

With its 113-inch wheelbase, the Ford Explorer is bigger than its ever been, about the same size now as the Chevy Traverse and Honda Pilot.

Explorer looks rugged, but thats deceiving. In fact, it should be viewed as a front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive family wagon. Its not rough and tumble like it used to be, back in the day when it was body-on-frame, and had locking hubs and a low-range transfer case. With the right options, today it can tow 5000 pounds and seat seven people, but so can the Kia Sorento.

For 2016, Explorer got a light re-do, including smoother bodywork, nicer and quieter interior, new available engine, and Sync 3 infotainment system. For practical purposes the generation stretches back to 2011, when it went crossover.

For 2017, Explorer offers a new Sport Appearance Package for lower trims, rendering a more aggressive look with 20-inch wheels, a gray grille insert and black cladding, black roof rack, and gray leather seating with gray suede accents and contrast stitching. Otherwise, it carries over unchanged.

Base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 thats used in many other Fords, from Flex to Fusion. It makes 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, and can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in about 8.5 seconds, using the standard 6-speed automatic transmission. It comes as front-wheel drive but all-wheel drive is available on upper models.

A popular engine is the four-cylinder 2.3-liter turbo, available on some models and standard on Explorer Limited AWD. This EcoBoost four can be found in the Lincoln MKC and Ford Mustang, and in the Explorer makes 280 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Its better than the V6 in every aspect, including the sound that comes from the tuned exhaust system.

The most powerful and most fun engine is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 making 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, in the Platinum and Sport AWD models. If they made an Explorer SHO it would have this engine. The Explorer Sport with this twin turbo V6 gets 20-inch wheels, bigger brakes and a stiffer chassis, but its still a long way from the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

Naturally, fuel mileage for that engine is the lowest of the three, at an EPA-estimated 16 City, 22 Highway and 18 Combined miles per gallon. The base V6 doesnt do much better, at 17/24/20 mpg, while the EcoBoost turbocharged four 19/28/22 mpg. Its worth noting that many EcoBoost buyers complain that their mileage doesnt match the EPA rating.

The Explorer earns five stars in its NHTSA crash rating in every category except rollover, but we cant think of any tall SUV that gets five stars there. With the IIHS, the Explorer got top scores in the moderate-front overlap, side impact and roof strength tests, but only Marginal in the small-overlap crash test.

One feature that might enhance safety but doesnt factor into crash ratings is the Explorers Curve Control within the stability control; it adapts throttle and brake to upcoming corners. Also standard is trailer sway control.


2016 Ford Explorer

The 2016 Ford Explorer is the 25th anniversary model. How time flies. We remember when the Explorer was a newborn. It was 174 inches long and weighed 3800 pounds. Today its 24 inches longer and 620 pounds heavier. In the beginning, its V6 had 155 horsepower and got 17 mpg; today it has nearly twice as much horsepower and gets 20 mpg. Then it had a 5-speed manual, now a 6-speed automatic. Then it was rear-wheel drive, now its front-wheel drive. Theres no comparison, safety-wise. Todays Explorer seats seven and can tow 5000 pounds. And believe it or not, the 2016 Explorer is $3500 less expensive in todays dollars.

For its silver anniversary, the 2016 Explorer gets a makeover of its front and rear end, including LED headlamps and taillights; retuned suspension and electric power steering; some new features, and more quiet inside.

The blowout over the years has been in efficient horsepower, with Fords four- and six-cylinder twin-turbo EcoBoost engines. For 2016 theres a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 280 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 making 290 horsepower and 220 pound-feet. Theres also a killer EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 that makes a 365 hp and 350 lb-ft.

Todays Explorer handles everything a family can throw at it. It does everything we want a mid-sized crossover to do. It welcomes a lot of people with their stuff, comfortably and efficiently. The base V6 rates an EPA-estimated 17/24/20 mpg City/Highway/Combined; the four-cylinder twin turbo EcoBoost gets 19/28/22, and the 365-hp V6 gets 15/22/18. Notice thats still better fuel mileage than the original 1991 Explorer, while delivering 135 percent more power.

Explorer earns five stars overall in NHTSA crash tests, and a Top Safety Pick from IIHS. It would have gotten an extra +, but it only scored Marginal in the insurance industrys new frontal crash test into a pole.


2015 Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer is among the best seven-passenger sport-utility vehicles available. It delivers the function and family-friendly features of a minivan with the rugged appeal of an SUV.

New for 2013 was an Explorer Sport trim with a twin-turbocharged version of Fords 3.5-liter V6 engine, a sport-tuned suspension and all-wheel-drive. Using Premium gas, Explorer Sport makes up to 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. A number of advancements introduced on the Sport edition were added to regular 2014 Explorers.

For 2015, a new optional appearance package for the SLT edition promises sport-inspired design details, including black bodyside cladding, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, and leather-trimmed heated seats with suede inserts. Entry-level models now ride on 18-inch aluminum wheels.

Explorer gets major revisions for the 2016 model year.

Options on Explorer Limited models include a lane departure warning system, heated steering wheel, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column. All 2015 Explorer models come standard with a front-passenger knee airbag.

This current generation of the Ford Explorer, introduced for 2011, features a one-piece, unibody design rather than a ladder-type truck frame with a separate, bolted on body. The result is more car-like driving dynamics, as well as significant weight savings, which translates to better fuel economy.

Powering all 2015 Ford Explorer models except the Sport is 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, four-wheel drive is optional. Although the Explorer does not come with low-range gearing, 4WD versions of the Explorer get Fords Terrain Management system, which allows the driver to select from four modes for optimal traction in a variety of driving environments. It also includes hill start assist and hill descent control.

Fuel economy with the base V6 engine on front-wheel-drive Explorer models is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway, or 17/23 mpg City/Highway on 4WD models.

Even with regular all-season tires, the Explorer will blast through sand or traverse deep ditches and steep hills, no problem. We know. We did it. And it has the smoothest ride weve encountered over such terrain.

For maximum fuel economy, front-wheel-drive versions of the 2015 Ford Explorer can be equipped with an optional 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Making 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, it delivers an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg City/Highway.

The 2.0 EcoBoost is sufficiently powerful, and acceptable if mileage is the absolute priority. Still, depending on gas prices and how many miles you drive, it can take time to recover the 2.0-liter engines $1,000 up-front cost in fuel savings. We prefer the standard 290-horspower V6 with its smooth, strong acceleration.

Explorers chassis is super rigid, which not only makes for great crash-test scores, but also a quiet cabin, excellent ride quality and solid handling that belies the Explorers considerable size.

Inside, there is plenty of legroom in the second row, real space for passengers in the third, and up to 80.7 cubic-feet of cargo space. It can be reconfigured in seconds, with split rear seats that fold with a button on each side and bounce back up with the pull of a lever. The interior is smartly styled and well finished. The materials and build quality are quite good.

The base Explorer comes well equipped. The upgraded Limited trim is leather-upholstered, with heated-seats and offered with premium audio, navigation and rear-seat DVD entertainment. The MyFordTouch interface is optional, but can be cumbersome and at least a little annoying.

Other SUVs to consider in this class include the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot or Mazda CX-9. All provide similar or slightly better cargo space, but lack the history and cachet of the Explorer nameplate.


2013 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is one the best seven-passenger sport-utility vehicles available. It delivers the function and family friendly features of a minivan with the rugged appeal of an SUV.

New for 2013 is an Explorer Sport trim with a twin-turbocharged version of Ford's 3.5-liter V6 engine, a sport-tuned suspension and all-wheel-drive. Using Premium gas, Explorer Sport makes up to 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.

New options on 2013 Explorer Limited models include a lane departure warning system, heated steering wheel and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column. All 2013 Explorer models come standard with a front-passenger knee airbag.

This latest generation of the Ford Explorer, introduced for 2011, features a one-piece, unibody design rather than a ladder-type truck frame with a separate, bolted on body. The result is more car-like driving dynamics, as well as significant weight savings, which translates to better fuel economy.

Powering all 2013 Ford Explorer models except the Sport is 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, four-wheel drive is optional. Although the Explorer does not come with low-range gearing, 4WD versions of the Explorer get Ford's Terrain Management system, which allows the driver to select from four modes for optimal traction in a variety of driving environments. It also includes hill start assist and hill descent control.

Fuel economy with the base V6 engine on front-wheel-drive Explorer models is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway, or 17/23 mpg City/Highway on 4WD models.

Even with regular all-season tires, the Explorer will blast through sand or traverse deep ditches and steep hills, no problem. We know. We did it. And it has the smoothest ride we've encountered over such terrain.

For maximum fuel economy, front-wheel-drive versions of the 2013 Ford Explorer can be equipped with an optional 2.0-liter, four cylinder EcoBoost engine. It has more power than the standard V6 in the previous-generation Explorer, with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, and delivers an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg City/Highway.

The 2.0 EcoBoost is sufficiently powerful, and acceptable if mileage is the absolute priority. Still, depending on gas prices and how many miles you drive, it can take time to recover the four-cylinder's $1,000 up-front cost in fuel savings. We prefer the standard 290-horspower V6 with its smooth, strong acceleration.

Explorer's chassis is super rigid, which not only makes for great crash-test scores, but also a quiet cabin, excellent ride quality and solid handling that belies the Explorer's considerable size.

Inside, there is plenty of legroom in the second row, real space for passengers in the third, and up to 80.7 cubic-feet of cargo space. It can be reconfigured in seconds, with split rear seats that fold with a button on each side and bounce back up with the pull of a lever. The interior is smartly styled and well finished. The materials and build quality are quite good.

The base Explorer comes well equipped. The upgraded Limited trim is leather-upholstered, with heated-seats and offered with premium audio, navigation and rear-seat DVD entertainment. The MyFordTouch interface is optional, but can be cumbersome and at least a little annoying.

Other SUVs to consider in this class include the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot or Mazda CX-9. All provide similar or slightly better cargo space, but lack the history and cachet of the Explorer nameplate.

 

Shopping Tools

INVENTORY


Learn More

SERVICE & PARTS


Learn More

DEALER SPECIALS


Learn More

FINANCIAL SERVICES


Learn More

OUR STORY


Learn More

COLLISION CENTER


Learn More