The Explorer is a midsized SUV that shares its underpinnings with the larger Ford Flex, a car-based vehicle we have praised for its ride, comfort, quietness, and space. The Explorer has its good points, including a roomy, practical interior, a third-row seat that's actually usable, and generous cargo capacity. It also has a steady and compliant ride and respectable fuel economy.
Alerts
There are 7 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. Side air bags available 1999-2001, standard from 2006. Head protection air bags available from 2002, standard from 2008. ESC available from 2003, standard from 2005.
Road Test

The Explorer is a midsized SUV that shares its underpinnings with the larger Ford Flex, a car-based vehicle we have praised for its ride, comfort, quietness, and space. The Explorer has its good points, including a roomy, practical interior, a third-row seat that's actually usable, and generous cargo capacity. It also has a steady and compliant ride and respectable fuel economy.

Ultimately the Explorer falls short of the best in this competitive class. The engine is a little noisy, handling is secure but lacks agility, and the driving position is flawed.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear, 2 third
Drive Wheels
AWD , Front
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 6-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 2.3-liter 4 turbo (280 hp)
  • 3.5-liter V6 (290 hp)
  • 3.5-liter V6 turbo (365 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2017 Ford Explorer owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

"Occasionally, both the front and rear cameras don't work...just get a blank black screen. Sometimes shutting the Explorer off and then back on will reset the cameras to work; sometimes not. No codes show up when technicians try to figure out what's wrong, so they haven't been able to find a permanent fix for the problem"

Anonymous, VA (2017 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Display screen freezes up

"Problem unknown?. Wouldn't do it again at the dealership"

Laura H., MI (2017 Ford Explorer XLT Unsure)
Display screen goes blank

"I believe the problem is related to previously mentioned difficulty. Touch screen stopped working, and the system performed random actions all by itself"

Laura H., MI (2017 Ford Explorer XLT Unsure)

"in-dash control screen blanks out-leaves no electronic control of navigation, climate control, bluetooth phone connection, audio controls, etc"

Anonymous, CA (2017 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"vehicle would not operate my Sony MP3 player via bluetooth, despite both car and player being listed as recognized by each other"

Anonymous, CA (2017 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Phone pairing (e.g., Bluetooth)

"recently the car failed to recognize my phone via bluetooth even though both were listed on the in-dash screen. had to reboot and re-pair phone to car"

Anonymous, CA (2017 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"vehicle occasionally doesn't recognize phone via bluetooth even though there is an icon on the in-dash screen and the phone is open and ready. must try several times to re-pair phone and car systems, after waiting sometimes minutes or hours"

Anonymous, CA (2017 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Doors or sliding doors

"The door jams and doors were not painted properly, the finished paint (black) was applied too thin and you could see the white primer. This actually happen on 2 completely different new 2017 cars. The first one I took back and got another the second was not as bad and the dealer fixed"

Anonymous, OH (2017 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)
Sunroof

"The fit on the sun roof is sloppy and noisy"

Anonymous, OH (2017 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Tailgate, hatch or trunk

"Paint on tailgate from production plant had area looking like a large drip. Dealer very proactive to have tailgate repainted"

Anonymous, CA (2017 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"The finished (black) paint was also thin around the tailgate jams"

Anonymous, OH (2017 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Paint on tailgate defective at time of taking ownership. Dealer very proactive to have tailgate repainted"

Anonymous, CA (2017 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Wind noise

"It's got wind noise around windows"

Tony D., TX (2017 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Power steering leaks

"front end made noise when turning, happened after 4 months! documented issue w explorers"

Anonymous, NY (2017 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Transmission leaks

"Both the drain plugs on the transmission and transfer case were loose and leaking"

Paul H., MI (2017 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Exhaust leaks

"If you accelerate over 3500 rpms the cabin smells like rotten eggs, is terrible. Will take it to the dealer next week"

George F., PR (2017 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

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