Car Reviews Buyer Tips

Buying a Used Ford Explorer: What You Need to Know

By Mike Richards Updated: 04/25/2019 Posted: 12/12/2018

The Ford Explorer has for years competed favorably against other SUVs. It is a favorite of many SUV drivers. When buying a used Ford Explorer, a good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of this car is essential. This way you will make your purchase with your eyes wide open.

The Generation of the Ford Explorer

If you have narrowed your search of used cars to the Ford Explorer, it is crucial for you to appreciate some of the changes Ford introduced with each successive generation. The current generation of the Ford Explorer is the fifth.

The first generation was released to the market in 1991. The second, third, and fourth generations were unveiled in 1995, 2002, and 2006 respectively. The fifth generation was unveiled in 2011. When buying a used Ford Explorer, it is crucial to know its age to appreciate some of the features and the mileage of the vehicle.

Like every other car manufacturer, Ford has been making changes in each generation of the Ford Explorer. For example, the 2002 Ford Explorer was roomier than the previous model. Ford also introduced the third row of seats. This change increased the number of passengers from five to seven.

The 2011 Ford Explorer was more refined than earlier models. However, the most significant change in the physical appearance of the Ford Explorer occurred in the 2016 model. The front bumper, the grille, and headlights received a facelift.

From the 2011 model on, the second row of the Ford Explorer has inflatable seatbelts. Other technological changes Ford made to the Ford Explorer include Active Park Assist, Blind Spot Information System, and collision warning.

The Ford Explorer was one of the best-selling SUVs of 2017. Source:

Features of the Ford Explorer

Before buying a used Ford Explorer, it is essential to understand some of the features of the Ford Explorer and their implications to the running and maintenance of this SUV. If purchasing a 2016 Ford Explorer, you have a choice between the 2.3-liter and 3-liter engine.

The 2.3-liter engine has 4-cylinders and cranks a horsepower of 280. It comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission. You also get to choose between front or all-wheel drive. This car has an mpg of 19 city and 28 highway with the front-wheel drive.

The 3-litre EcoBoost V6, on the other hand, cranks out 365 horsepower. It is fitted with a 6-speed automatic transmission. However, the Ford Explorers with this engine are all-wheel drive. Expect an mpg of 18 city and 26 highway.

If you are looking for an Explorer with Sync Voice Controls, you can only get this feature in Explorers unveiled after 2008. It is only from the 2013 model that the Explorer Sport changed significantly by adopting a more athletic look. An Explorer with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has better fuel economy compared to the others. However, you should limit your search to Ford Explorers unveiled after 2012.

Options available when buying a used Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer comes in five trims.


This is a standard Ford Explorer. It has none of the luxury trimmings the other ones have. Some of the features available include automatic headlights and hill-start assist.


This Ford Explorer has an upgraded interior. Some of the features available in the XLT are a push-button start, leather seats, and heated front seats. MyFord Touch and dual-zone climate control are also available.


The upgrades in the Limited trim include voice-activated navigation, leather upholstery, and 20-inch wheels. Driver assist features, such as lane departure warning, are also available.


Heating and cooling of seats, 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost, voice activated navigation, heated steering wheel, and specially designed floor mats are some of the unique features available in this trim.


This trim is top of the line Ford Explorer. If you buy a used one, some of the features you should expect to find are a sport-tuned suspension and a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost. This is in addition to all the features available in the Sport. The Platinum is more luxurious and is popular with those looking to buy a high-end luxury SUV.

The Condition of the Car

When buying a used Ford Explorer, it is essential to consider the condition of the vehicle. Like other used cars, you need to confirm that you are getting a car you will enjoy driving. It is important to look at the Ford Explorer as you would any other car when buying it used. Have your mechanic inspect it to verify the condition of the car. Once you get the go-ahead to buy the car, you will be confident that you are getting a great SUV.

Why You Should Buy a Ford Explorer

It is Attractive

Ford outdid itself, especially with the newer models of the Ford Explorer. This is an SUV that screams luxury from its exterior. The LED headlights and the Grille are some of the distinct features that make this car stylish.

Great Family Car

You get to choose between the five or seven-seater Ford Explorer. Adults and children can comfortably occupy this car. The head and legroom are sufficient for tall people.

It has a Foldable Third Row

The last row seats are designed to sit two people. Should you need more cargo space, all you need to do is fold the last row of seats.

Engine Power

If you are considering a base engine, you can get up to 290 horsepower. If you choose the Sport or Platinum trims, with the 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, you can get a 365 horsepower. You can accelerate to 60mph in 6.3 seconds with the Sport trim.

Great Off-road Vehicle

Everything about the Ford Explorer speaks volumes about its ability to move on any terrain. From the size of the wheels, the ground clearance, and engine power, this is a car you can rely on should you need to get out of the city.


The infotainment system syncs with your smartphone. You get to enjoy your favorite tracks as you drive. Some of the features available include Bluetooth, 911 Assist, text messages reader, and hands-free calling. The system also has USB ports should you need to charge any of your devices.

Crash Safety Tests

The Ford Explorer has had several crash tests carried out to verify its safety level. The most recent tests took place in 2018. NHTSA awarded the Ford Explorer 5-stars. It also earned excellent safety ratings from IIHS.

Where to Buy a Used Ford Explorer

Individual Sellers

You may find a Ford Explorer owner who wants to upgrade from one trim level to another. Maybe the owner wants one of the newer models. Sometimes, the individual may be selling for other personal reasons such as financial constraints. These are some of the compelling reasons Ford Explorer owners have for selling their SUV. If you are lucky, you may get one in excellent shape.

Online Car Dealers

If you are considering buying a used Ford Explorer, you can search for online car dealers. They often have a list of cars that are up for sale. You will likely find some SUVs. Ford Explorer may be among those listed.

Online Auction Sites

Online auction sites have the most extensive collection of used cars for sale. It attracts a large number of car owners who believe their cars will sell faster. If you are very particular about the Ford Explorer you would like to buy; you have a higher chance of getting the exact model you want at an online auction.

You are also more likely to buy a used Ford Explorer at a lower price compared to buying from individuals, and online dealers. Organizers of auctions go out of their way to make sure they do not just accept any car. This is to reduce the disappointment of their clients. You are therefore assured that there is quality control, and the likelihood of getting a used Ford Explorer at a great price and in good condition is increased.

Registering and bidding in an online auction site is pretty simple and convenient. You can bid for a used car at your convenience. Auction sites have a set system which allows your bid to be registered and approved even if you are not physically present.

Ford Explorer

Quick View: 2017 Ford Explorer Safety Ratings

  • Front driver side frontal crash rating: 4 stars
  • Front passenger side frontal crash rating: 5 stars
  • Overall side crash rating: 5 stars
  • Rollover crash rating: 4 stars

Complete NHTSA Crash Rating

Ford Explorer Dealer-Only Auctions Available To The Public Through Auto Auction Mall

[auctions query=”Ford Explorer”]

Further Reading

SUVs Similar to the Ford Explorer You May Like to Consider

If you are interested in other used SUVs that are in the same category as the Ford Explorer, you could consider:

  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Ford Flex
  • GMC Acadia
  • Chevrolet Traverse

Should you buy the Ford Explorer new, used or salvage?

This is something many buyers ask themselves. Several factors may influence your decision to buy a new, used, or salvage Ford Explorer.

Your Budget

A new Ford Explorer is costlier than a used or salvage one. Can you afford to buy it new or do you need to settle for the next best alternative? It is possible to get a Ford Explorer that is just a few years old but with low mileage and in excellent mechanical condition. If you cannot afford to buy it new or used, and if you opt for a salvage, can you afford to make the necessary repairs?

The Mechanical Condition of the Car

This is usually a concern if you are considering buying a used Ford Explorer or a salvage one. You may get the car cheap, but the costs of repair may be exorbitant. This will increase the cost of the vehicle. If you cannot afford to make the necessary repairs and have already bought it, seeing your SUV parked will be frustrating. Even worse, you may not be able to sell it since many people are wary about costs of repair.

Do You Have the Time and Patience to Carry Out Repairs?

Just like money, the time to make the repairs is important. If you will not be able to give the car attention and you do not have a mechanic you can count on, buying a used or salvage Ford Explorer then parking it until you have time may cause it to deteriorate further.

The Importance of a Vehicle History Report

carfax report

When buying a used Ford Explorer, it is essential to request for the vehicle history report. This report should have details of:

  • The owner of the car – Was the previous owner the first and only owner, or has the car had several owners? If the car has changed hands too many times, it could indicate a vehicle with mechanical problems.
  • The car’s roadworthiness after a check – The check should be recent. If it is not, you can get your mechanic to have a look at the car so that you can have a verdict you can rely on.
  • The emissions ratings of the vehicle – Massive emissions are hurting the environment. Finding out the car’s emissions level may influence your decision to get one car over another.
  • Maintenance information – You need to know if the previous owner was taking care of the car or if you will be burdened with repairs due to poor maintenance.
  • The vehicle’s mileage – You can compare the last recorded mileage with the current reading.

It has become much easier to find out about a car due to the availability of vehicle history reports. If you want to find out any information about the used Ford Explorer you have chosen, visit CARFAX for a detailed report. However, it is critical to note that the information available is from any reports made using the car’s VIN. If an occurrence, such as an accident, was not reported, you may not get that detail in the report.

As you contemplate buying a used Ford Explorer, it is essential to consider the features you are looking for. This will narrow down your search, and make the process easier and faster.