Current Model
The redesigned Explorer has newfound handling agility and a spacious, quiet cabin, but the driving experience is marred by a clunky transmission, noisy engine, and stiff-edged ride. Most versions use the base 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is energetic but raspy sounding.
The transmission has rough shifts, particularly at low speeds. In our tests this combination returned an unimpressive 21 mpg overall. A hybrid is also offered but is focused more on power and towing capabilities than fuel economy. The Sync 3 infotainment system is very easy to use. The driving position is much improved, but the third-row seat is less roomy now. A power liftgate is standard. The standard Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced safety systems includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and blind spot warning.
Road Test
Predicted Reliability
Predicted Owner Satisfaction
2011-2019
2011 Redesign Year
For 2011, the Explorer adopted a car-based platform, resulting in a quiet, steady and absorbent ride, as well as a versatile and well-finished interior. The model also offers a usable third-row seat and generous cargo capacity.
Handling is secure but not agile. The optional MyFord Touch control interface is distracting to use. We preferred Ford's SYNC voice-controlled system for Bluetooth hands-free telephony and control over music players like iPods. With a paired phone, SYNC can also call 911 in case of an accident. Adaptive cruise control, collision warning and blind-spot detection are optional.
$23,425 - $40,100
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$22,100 - $36,600
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$20,925 - $33,875
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$17,425 - $28,625
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$14,925 - $21,750
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$12,425 - $18,200
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$11,150 - $16,150
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$9,650 - $12,975
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$8,525 - $12,175
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
2006-2010
2006 Redesign Year
The Explorer was redesigned for 2006, bringing revised interior and exterior styling, as well as some minor control design frustrations. While the ride and handling are improved over previous Explorer models, agility is still somewhat lacking and the ride is stiff.
Further, noise suppression, and interior fit and finish also leave something to be desired. However, on the plus side, the interior is roomy and flexible, adjustable pedals can be had, towing capability is strong, and side-curtain airbags are standard. If you're looking for quiet, the V8-powered Eddie Bauer model is decidedly quieter and more sonorously pleasing than the boisterous V6-powered Explorer XLT.
$6,400 - $9,075
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$5,600 - $8,300
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$5,275 - $7,450
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$4,850 - $6,225
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$3,925 - $5,600
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
2002-2005
2002 Redesign Year
Lauded for its steady ride and versatile, well-designed interior, the 2002 Ford Explorer is a well-rounded package. Its main drawbacks are an unrefined V6 engine and unimpressive performance on our off-road course.
However, this version of the Explorer features a highly versatile interior package and stability control is a standard feature. Storage is more than ample, ingress and egress are easy and the rear seat is comfortable for three adults. The third row is best left to children though, as legroom is cramped and the seat is difficult to access.
$3,700 - $5,100
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$3,375 - $4,800
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$2,800 - $4,625
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$2,750 - $4,425
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
1995-2001
The midsized Explorer was introduced in 1991. In our early tests, the 4.0-liter V6 provided leisurely acceleration.
Handling was sluggish, and the ride was bumpy on all but the smoothest roads. A 1995 redesign brought a better ride, along with improved handling, braking, and controls. A 5.0-liter V8 was added in 1996, and a more refined SOHC 4.0-liter V6/five-speed automatic combo was introduced for 1997. Front side air bags and a reverse sensing system were added to the options list in 1999..
$2,675 - $4,375
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
$2,550 - $4,000
Average Retail Price
RELIABILITY VERDICT
OWNER SATISFACTION
OWNER REPORTED MPG
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