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.