If an abundance of options is something you’re going for, then the Ford Explorer is right up your alley. This midsize SUV offers plenty of tech features you can enjoy. It also gives you the option of three engines.
The inside of the Explorer offers a quiet ride, although turning corners might be a bit of an issue. While it is nice to drive on the highway, you’ll find yourself sliding around in the corners. The car feels big and the visibility is hindered by the wide pillars front to back. There is plenty of cargo space behind the third row. But the third row can be a tight squeeze if you are of above average height.
So what keeps this SUV on top of the sales list? Is it the fact that people get out of your way thinking you’re the police? The Explorer is good, but wherever you look, there are better options. It doesn’t really stand out in a tight and competitive segment.
The Explorer’s Engines
The 2017 Ford Explorer is part of the fifth generation that began with the 2011 model year. Ford makes three engines available for the SUV. You have the option of choosing a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower or a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 280 horsepower.
There is also a twin-turbo 365 hp V6 available in the platinum and Sport trims, all paired to a six-speed automatic transmission feeding the power to front wheels as standard. You can also opt for the all-wheel drive. The Sport trim is an interesting option as it firms up the ride and eliminates the cumbersome feel you get in other trims when you’re off the highway.
Across the range of engines, the fuel consumption goes from 16 miles per gallon in the city up to 27 mpg on the highway. Ford also provides plenty of parking assist tech to make your experience in the parking lots easier.
Depending on the trim, you could go from the basics to full-on luxury. Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, cruise control, climate controls for the rear occupants, a 4.2-inch display in the dash. It also includes Ford’s Sync infotainment interface, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system.
Going up in trims brings more standard equipment and better options. You get leather interior, heated and ventilated front seats and an upgraded Sync 3 infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen. You also get many electronic aids, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a nine-speaker sound system.
In the top Platinum trim, you get a panoramic sunroof, parking assistance and a Sony audio system with 12 speakers.
The rearview camera comes as standard on all Explorers to counter the fact that the driver struggles for visibility. You also have the option to choose parking sensors, front and rear as well as a front-view camera. Other useful features include blind spot monitoring and cross traffic warning as well as parallel park assist. You can opt for a lane keep assist, warning for forward collision and adaptive cruise control.
Speaking about Ford Explorer’s safety scores, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given it a maximum 5-star rating, for the front and all-wheel drive models. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did mark it down in its crashworthiness testing in the Small overlap front, giving the driver-side a Marginal rating while the passenger side gets a Poor grade. In addition, J.D. Power gave the Explorer 3 stars out of possible five for predicted reliability. This, according to the ratings is the market average.
Should I Buy Used or New?
Ford has already introduced the 2019 year model. However, there are no major changes from the current 2018 model year. The current model received subtle design updates but overall remained the same as the 2017 model.
Edmunds notes that the 2019 model year’s MSRP will start at $32,365 and $54,165 for the top models. This is just slightly above the pricing for the current model. U.S. News claims the average price paid for a used 2017 Ford Explorer is around $32,000. The price will certainly depend on the trim and options selected as well as mileage and the overall condition of the car.
Looking at the CarGurus listings, a 2017 model year Explorer prices start at $19,000 and top out at $43,000 for the Platinum trim. This means that if you don’t mind driving a used Ford Explorer, you might get save a significant amount of money. There isn’t much difference from 2018 to 2017 models. As noted slight design changes and integrated 4G LTE hotspot are the only difference.
While it offers a comfortable and quiet ride on the highway, the Ford Explorer fails to stand out in the crowd. The third row is cramped, it is hard to see out of the vehicle and if you look anywhere else in the market you will find better options. However, if you are adamant about buying an Explorer, you should opt for the 2017 model. It is also part of the fifth generation but it comes with upgrades over the previous years, and the current model hasn’t changed much.