- The infotainment system is functional and user-friendly.
- Different powertrain options to choose from.
- Quiet interior noise levels at higher speeds.
- Interior stylings are somewhat common.
- Gas mileage is poor for certain powertrain options.
- Not many new features.
Would we buy one? Maybe, if the price came down.
Vehicle Type: Four-door, three-row midsize SUV with seating for up to 7.
Price Range: Base trim starts at $32,985 MSRP, before options, going to $54,935.
A $995 destination charge is included in pricing.
Powertrain: 3.5-liter, V6 turbocharged engine making 290 horsepower and 255 pound-foot of torque, a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine creating 280 horsepower and 310 pound-foot of torque, and a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine generating 365 horsepower and 350 pound-foot of torque.
A 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard with all-wheel drive available.
Competitors: Ford Flex, Dodge Durango, Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9, GMC Acadia, and Honda Pilot.
Overall Score: 7.9/10
Safety Features: 8/10
For 2018, the Ford Explorer base model on up comes with safety features including the MyKey driver monitoring system, stability control, a rearview camera, and airbags.
More advanced safety features can be found in higher-tiered trim levels and optional packages. Some advanced safety features available include pre-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, high beams, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Ford Explorer five out of five stars in crash tests and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave mixed ratings with an overall "Good" score.
There are five trim levels for the new Ford 2018 Explorer: Base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum.
The starting price for the Ford Explorer is $32,985 MSRP. The XLT pricing starts at $34,965 MSRP. For the Ford Explorer Limited, pricing starts at $43,035 MSRP. And the Sport and the Ford Explorer Platinum start at $46,895 and $54,885, respectively.
At a little under $47,000 MSRP, a loaded Explorer Sport is what we would choose if cost were no factor. The 3.5L turbocharged V6 that cranks out good power coupled with the sport-tuned suspension and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, plus the rich Nirvana leather seats, make the Ford Explorer Sport a luxuriously comfortable SUV with enough positive driving dynamics worthy of the extra expense.
Tech Features: 8/10
New for 2018 Ford added a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot to the Explorer's infotainment system. The base Ford Explorer infotainment includes a 4.2-inch display, the MyKey monitoring system, a rearview camera, climate control, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a USB port.
The Ford Explorer XLT and up trims add conveniences like remote start, rear parking sensors, and keyless entry.
The SYNC 3 system has an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a navigation system. For increased entertainment, a 12-speaker Sony premium audio system and satellite radio are available.
The headroom and legroom in the front and second-row seats are adequate with wiggle room for large people. Third-row seating is surprisingly decent. Cargo space is good at 81.7 cubic feet with all rear seats down. When just the third-row seat is down, space is 43.9 cubic feet. It stands equal with many segment rivals, but not as spacious as the Honda Pilot.
The Ford Explorer is low enough and accommodating for most people to enter and exit easily. The Limited on up get a hands-free power liftgate useful for heavy loads.
Styling & Design: 8/10
The Sport adds some black accents and new exterior colors and styles including a reworked grille. The heated and cooled front seats and quality leather upholstery throughout the interior of the Sport and Platinum are comfortable, as is the hand feel of the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Features like a split moonroof enhance the luxury feel of the Explorer.
Overall, the exterior body style is fairly unchanged with few additional design elements for the 2018 model year.
Driving Experience: 9/10
At highway speeds, we noticed little body shake and the Explorer felt just as composed off-road. Overall handling is tight for the segment and we didn't feel any vibration or play at higher speeds.
Acceleration in the Ford Explorer is about equal with most rivals. If you need more speed, the Honda Pilot with a similar powertrain is a little faster.
The Terrain Management System allows for adjustment in different off-road conditions and the sport-tuned suspension helps with rough roads.
Fuel Efficiency: 7/10
Fuel economy is fair in the Explorer with the base 3.5-liter V6 setup. The Ford Explorer is on par with segment competitors like the Nissan Pathfinder for gas mileage and surpasses rivals like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango when equipped with similar powertrains.
Expect an EPA estimated 17/24/20 MPG city/hwy/combined with the base 3.5L V6 powertrain and FWD drivetrain configuration while the AWD versions lose a city mile with the same engine.
The 2.3L FWD inline-four is estimated at 19/27/22 MPG city/hwy/combined, losing 1 city mile and 2 highway miles with the AWD drivetrain.
For the 3.5L twin-turbo powertrain with AWD, fuel economy declines to 16/22/19 MPG city/hwy/combined.