The popular Explorer is roomy and quiet, and has a livable third-row seat, but overall it trails more modern competitors. Handling is ungainly, lacking agility but the SUV remains under control when pushed to its limits. The ride is compliant but the body tends to move about often rather than get settled after hitting bumpy pavement.
Alerts
There are 2 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
2020
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
2020
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 popular Explorer is roomy and quiet, and has a livable third-row seat, but overall it trails more modern competitors. Handling is ungainly, lacking agility but the SUV remains under control when pushed to its limits. The ride is compliant but the body tends to move about often rather than get settled after hitting bumpy pavement. The 3.5-liter V6 engine, powering most versions, is powerful but rather noisy and not fuel efficient at 18 mpg overall in our tests. The Sport version gets a turbocharged V6 that is quieter and makes the Explorer quicker.

Roomy and functional, the Explorer has a third-row seat that's actually usable, even for adults. There are also some thoughtful details such as front and rear 180-degree cameras that have a wash function to keep the lens clean. The Sync 3 infotainment system is user-friendly with a clear and quick responding touchscreen. The driving position is compromised due to the left foot rest that's pushed too far inboard and a high and faraway window sill that makes resting the driver's elbow there awkward.With all rear seats folded, cargo capacity is among the best in its class. The Explorer offers a number of optional safety features, including forward-collision warning, blind-spot warning, and lane-keeping assist. The Limited version comes with most desirable features and lands in the mid $40,000s but discounts abound.
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 turbo (365 hp)
  • 3.5-liter V6 (290 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2018 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

Display screen freezes up

"Can not change anything on the screen"

Robert B., LA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Display screen goes blank

"Intermittente blank screen requiring a vehicle restart"

Anonymous, AZ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
External music device interface (e.g., smart phone, MP3 player)

"Problem with Serius reception"

Robert P., PA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

"Stops working when on trip have to use phone gps"

Robert B., LA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Radio

"The satellite system searches for a signal even when out in the open. This happens at random times, never when near the dealer."

Anonymous, OR (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"Serius interface"

Robert P., PA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Steering wheel controls

"Explorer comes with Lane Keeper software. System camera failed within 10 months. Replaced at no costs and now has failed again at 12 months. Will schedule for repair within two weeks."

Gary W., SC (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

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

What Owners Say

Battery (not hybrid or electric)

"Something was constantly draining the battery. In one month’s time Ford put 3 batteries in among other attempts to fix issue. Ended up having to do a lemon law claim."

Kevin S., WI (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Ignition switch

"Car wasn’t starting. Turned out it was a cracked ignition switch. They replaced that only to find out there were other electrical problems which ended up with us doing a lemon law claim."

Kevin S., WI (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Starter

"Problem was attributed to cross threaded bolts in the starter causing a short. Starter replaced & no problems since."

M W., VA (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

"Engine failed to start and repeated attempts caused the engine to flood. Required an oil change and replacement of all spark plugs."

Michael B., MN (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 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

Air or water leaks

"There is a water leak in the rear area where the third row seat is. The floor under the third row seat gets very wet. Went to dealer to fix but still leaks, will be going back to dealer again."

Ken F., NJ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Squeaks or rattles

"Passenger seat was making a rattle"

Frank V., FL (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

"It is just an annoying squeak in the rear passenger seat. It drives me crazy, because I can find it."

Chip S., PA (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Wind noise

"If you open the front window even a small amount there is a severe buffeting noise. Even opening a rear window the noise is still there."

Ken F., NJ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 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

"Driver door did not shut easlly"

Anonymous, AR (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Windows

"Passenger side rear window came out of the tracks on first attempt to roll it down."

Michael B., MN (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Drive System

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

What Owners Say

Driveshaft or axle

"No power, vibration, sensor was replaced OK after that,,"

Johnny J., SC (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Climate System

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

What Owners Say

Heated or cooled seat controls

"Cooled seats stopped cooling, deal stated it was a bad wiring harness and replaced it."

Roy A., TN (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Engine Major

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

What Owners Say

Head gasket

"Head gasket had to be replaced twice. There were problems and delays getting the replacement gaskets. Dealer seemed to handle it well, gave another suv to use during repairs."

Anonymous, DE (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Transmission rebuild or replacement

"Full transmission replacement at 400 miles. Dealer said water got into transmission from a wiring harness. Took 2 weeks to repair vehicle."

Anonymous, IA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

Paint/Trim

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

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"Roof rack coming apart."

Anonymous, NV (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Brakes

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

What Owners Say

Antilock system (ABS)

"The rear right brake had a sensor go bad and caused multiply systems to shut off and the SUV go into limp mode."

Michael M., DE (2018 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.

Exhaust

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

Engine Minor

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

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.

Engine Cooling

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

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.

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