Explorer Reviews

Full 2014 Ford Explorer Review from a Louisville Kentucky Dealer

What’s New for 2014

The 2014 Ford Explorer now has standard automatic headlights on all trim levels.

Second-row heated seats are now standard on the Limited trim level.

Introduction

The introduction of the Ford Explorer for 1991 helped cement the popularity of the sport-utility vehicle all across America. A rugged alternative to a station wagon, it was a perfect match for the times. Since then, the family SUV landscape has changed quite a bit, but the 2014 Ford Explorer has kept up with the times. Its combination of power, fuel economy and interior refinement makes it far more desirable for everyday use than previous versions.

Like all modern crossover SUVs, the Ford Explorer has adopted carlike unibody construction in lieu of older models’ truck-based underpinnings. The advantages are many, as today’s Explorer offers more interior space, better fuel economy and a more comfortable ride, all of which are desirable in a family vehicle. The Ford is also pretty upscale inside, with seating for up to seven passengers and a comprehensive list of convenience and safety features. The latter includes advanced options you won’t find on many other similarly priced crossover SUVs, such as second-row seatbelt airbags as well as lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

The standard 290-horsepower V6 will meet most buyers’ needs, but the Explorer’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is a viable option, too. It actually costs extra to get this engine, but we’ve found it’s still suitably powerful and its fuel economy numbers are best-in-class. In theory, the fuel savings will also pay for the engine upgrade in just a few years. On the performance side of the spectrum, there’s the Explorer Sport model, which comes with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that generates 365 hp. In addition to that potent engine, the Sport also comes with firmer suspension tuning and special interior and exterior trim details.

There are a few drawbacks to the 2014 Ford Explorer, depending on your priorities. Taller families may not be happy with the second- and third-row seating, which isn’t as roomy as in other crossovers. It’s the same with total cargo capacity. We’re also not fond of the MyFord Touch interface’s frequent glitches, or the way that the Explorer feels bigger behind the wheel than it really is — even with all the available tech features onboard, it’s not an easy vehicle to maneuver in tight spaces.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2014 Ford Explorer is a large crossover SUV available in base, XLT, Limited and Sport trim levels.

Standard equipment includes a V6 engine, 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlamps, rear privacy glass, integrated blind-spot mirrors, roof rails, cruise control, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a 50/50-split third-row seat, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

The XLT adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a keyless entry code pad, Bluetooth, Sync (Ford’s voice-activated phone/entertainment interface), a six-way front passenger seat, satellite radio and a USB port.

With the XLT trim, Ford offers the Equipment Group 201A package that adds a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker sound system and the Driver Connect package, which includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, MyFord Touch electronics controls (includes three configurable displays, two USB ports, SD card reader and audio/video input jacks) and upgraded Sync functionality. The 202A package includes all of the 201A equipment, plus leather upholstery, heated front seats and an eight-way power driver seat with power-adjustable lumbar.

The Limited bundles all of the above items and adds 20-inch wheels, heated outboard second-row seats, remote engine start, power-adjustable pedals with memory, a 110-volt power outlet and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio. Optional for the Limited is the 301A package, which includes a power liftgate, a power-folding operation for the third-row seat, an eight-way power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a heated and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a navigation system. To this, the 302A package adds xenon headlamps, automatic high beams, an automatic parallel-parking system, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, lane-departure and lane-keeping assist, a blind-spot warning system and inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers.

The Explorer Sport is equipped similarly to the Limited, although it lacks the leather upholstery, 110-volt outlet and power-adjustable pedals. It also comes with different 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, front sport seats (with extra lateral bolstering) and unique interior and exterior trim details. The Sport’s 401A package adds the power liftgate, navigation system, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, inflatable seatbelts, power-adjustable steering wheel and pedals, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, driver seat memory, power front passenger seat and 110-volt outlet. The navigation system and adaptive cruise control can also be purchased as stand-alone options.

Some of the features in the XLT and Limited’s optional packages can be added as individual options, too. These include a dual-panel sunroof, second-row captain’s chairs and a rear seat entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted displays.

Powertrains and Performance

All 2014 Ford Explorers, except for the Sport, come standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 hp and 255 pound-feet of torque along with a six-speed automatic transmission. With this engine, you have your choice of front-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive (there is no low-range gearing). Four-wheel-drive models have Ford’s Terrain Management System, a selectable four-mode system that optimizes traction electronically for different conditions. Hill descent control and hill start assist are also included.

In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Explorer Limited with the base V6 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, while a lighter 4WD XLT model was slightly quicker at 8.1 seconds — these are average times for a large crossover SUV. A front-drive V6 Explorer returns an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined, also average for the class. Four-wheel drive lowers this to a still respectable 16/22/18.

Optional on all front-wheel-drive Ford Explorers is the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It also uses the six-speed automatic transmission. In Edmunds testing, a four-cylinder-equipped Explorer went from zero to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds, which is on the slow side for the class. Fuel economy, however, is best-in-class at 20/28/23.

The Explorer Sport is 4WD only, and it comes with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine and the six-speed automatic. The turbo V6 is rated at 365 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

Properly equipped, an Explorer with either of the V6 engines can tow 5,000 pounds.

Safety

Every 2014 Ford Explorer comes standard with stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a front passenger knee airbag and MyKey, which allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume. The Explorer’s stability control system also includes Ford’s Curve Control, which can monitor speed carried into a corner and decelerate if necessary.

Rear parking sensors are standard on all but the base Explorer. A rearview camera is optional for the XLT and standard on the Limited. The Limited can also be had with collision warning and brake support, lane-departure and lane-keeping assist, a blind-spot warning system and inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers.

In Edmunds brake testing, the 4WD Explorer XLT V6 stopped from 60 mph in 118 feet — a good performance for a large crossover SUV. Meanwhile, the Explorer Limited we tested stopped in 122 feet and the four-cylinder Explorer XLT did it in 130 feet; these are average distances for this class.

In government crash tests, the Explorer earned a five-star rating (out of a possible five) for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety similarly gave its top score of “Good” for the Explorer’s performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Especially considering the price, the Explorer’s interior is pleasantly upscale. Materials quality is attractive and luxurious, with a soft-touch dashboard and precise-feeling controls. The front seats are very supportive, too.

The optional MyFord Touch interface contributes to the premium vibe, as it adds a high-resolution display screen (plus two additional screens for the gauge cluster) and touch-sensitive audio and climate “buttons.” MyFord Touch and the voice-activated Sync system are great ideas in theory, but that’s where our praise ends. In practice, the touchscreen buttons are difficult to locate and identify, and they’re often slow to respond. Couple that with frequent technical glitches and you have a setup likely to frustrate even the most tech-savvy of users.

The Explorer has 80 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, making it less spacious than the Dodge Durango and well below the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. The third row is somewhat cramped and will only really work for children. Families with small children might also be disappointed with the Explorer’s second-row seats, as there’s not as much room to install rear-facing child safety seats — something you’d expect to do with ease in a vehicle of this size. And while the Explorer has the commanding ride height expected in an SUV, its thick roof pillars and tall dash limit outward visibility. Even when you equip all the available parking aids, it’s a handful in tight spaces.

Driving Impressions

The 2014 Ford Explorer rides very smoothly on the highway, with good composure over broken pavement. As such, Ford’s crossover SUV is enjoyable on longer drives. It handles securely in typical driving situations, but overall, it feels larger and less maneuverable than similarly sized rivals.

The same is true of the Explorer Sport, but thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and steering, it reacts more quickly to inputs and generally imparts greater driver confidence. And while the Sport gives up a bit of that cushy ride quality, the ride is still well within the realm of acceptability for this class of vehicle.

The Sport also comes with the turbocharged V6, which offers V8-like acceleration. But the reality is that the base V6 is powerful enough in most situations. And don’t be quick to dismiss the idea of a four-cylinder powering this none-too-small SUV. It’s not as strong as the V6s, but it provides adequate acceleration for daily use and, of course, better fuel mileage than you’d get with the V6.

Edmunds.com Review – 2013 Ford Explorer

What’s New for 2013

The 2013 Ford Explorer receives a new performance-oriented Sport trim level that features a turbocharged engine and sport-tuned suspension. All Explorers this year have a new front passenger knee airbag, while a heated steering wheel, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist are offered for the Limited trim level. The available xenon headlights now feature automatic high-beam control.

Introduction

One could argue that the Ford Explorer started America’s love affair with the SUV, and as times have changed, so has the Explorer. Thanks to a full redesign two years ago, the 2013 Ford Explorer is the most efficient and upscale Explorer yet. It’s also become one of the most technologically advanced large crossover SUVs available, with dynamic qualities and a hushed cabin that would rival those of many luxury-brand models.

In the last redesign, Ford changed the Explorer’s underlying architecture, going from the previous truck-based chassis to a unibody design for more usable interior space. This design brings with it a weight reduction, which results in better fuel efficiency and handling. Inside the cabin, the Explorer offers a stylish, well-finished space for up to seven passengers. There are a lot of advanced features, too, including the voice-activated Sync system, the touchscreen-based MyFord Touch and many safety features, including second-row seatbelt airbags, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and, for 2013, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

For power, the Explorer comes standard with a 290-horsepower V6. It’s what most buyers go with, but Ford also offers a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine as an option. Oddly, you have to pay more to get the four-cylinder, but it gives the Explorer best-in-class fuel economy and pays for itself in a few years thanks to reduced gas bills. Also, the Explorer’s available Terrain Management, a selectable four-mode all-wheel-drive system, takes some of the guesswork out of properly operating a four-wheel-drive system.

If neither of the above engines suits you, there’s also the turbocharged V6 that comes with the new Sport trim level this year. It’s the same turbo 3.5-liter V6 Ford uses in the Flex and generates an estimated 365 hp. The Sport also comes with firmer suspension tuning, revised steering for a claimed improvement in road feel, different 20-inch wheels and special interior and exterior trim details.

While there’s a lot to like about the 2013 Ford Explorer, we do have some reservations. The third-row seat, for instance, isn’t as roomy as that of some competitors. And while the available MyFord Touch interface is a neat idea in theory, we’ve found it slow to respond and difficult to use.

 

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2013 Ford Explorer is a large crossover SUV available in base, XLT, Limited and Sport trim levels.

Standard equipment includes a V6 engine, 17-inch steel wheels, privacy glass, integrated blind spot mirrors, roof rails, cruise control, air-conditioning, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

The XLT adds 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlamps, foglamps, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a keyless entry code pad, Sync (Ford’s voice-activated telephone/entertainment interface), satellite radio and a USB port.

With the XLT trim, Ford offers the Equipment Group 201A package that adds a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker sound system and the Driver Connect package, which includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, MyFord Touch electronics controls (includes three configurable displays, two USB ports, SD card reader and audio/video input jacks) and upgraded Sync functionality. The 202A package includes all of the former plus leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat with power-adjustable lumbar, and a six-way power passenger seat.

The Limited bundles the XLT’s items with 20-inch wheels, keyless ignition/entry, remote engine start, power-adjustable pedals with memory, a 110-volt power outlet and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio. Optional for the Limited is the 301A package that includes a power liftgate, a power-folding operation for the third-row seat, an eight-way power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a heated and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a navigation system. To this the 302A package adds xenon headlamps, automatic high beams, an automatic parallel-parking system, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, lane-departure and lane-keeping assist, a blind-spot warning system and inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers.

The new Explorer Sport is equipped similarly to the Limited, although it lacks the leather upholstery, 110-volt outlet, keyless ignition/entry, remote engine start and power-adjustable pedals. It does come with different 20-inch wheels, sport front seats and unique interior and exterior trim details. The Sport’s 402A package adds the power liftgate, navigation system, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, inflatable seatbelts, power-adjustable steering wheel and pedals, ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, driver seat memory, power front passenger seat and 110-volt outlet. The navigation system is optional, as is adaptive cruise control.

Some of the features in the XLT and Limited’s optional packages can be added as individual options. Other stand-alone options include a dual-panel sunroof, second-row captain’s chairs and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted displays.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2013 Ford Explorer comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 hp and 255 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. Four-wheel drive (there is no low-range gearing) is optional and includes Ford’s Terrain Management System, a selectable four-mode system that optimizes traction electronically for different conditions. Hill descent control and hill start assist are also included.

In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Explorer with the base V6 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, an average time for the class. A front-drive V6 Explorer returns an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined — also average for the class. Four-wheel drive lowers this to a still respectable 17/23/19. Properly equipped, a V6 Explorer (base or turbocharged) can tow 5,000 pounds.

The Explorer Sport comes with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine as well as four-wheel drive. It’s rated at 365 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

Optional on all front-wheel-drive trims is the turbocharged 2.0-liter “EcoBoost” four-cylinder engine — also paired with the six-speed auto — making 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, an EcoBoost Explorer went from zero to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds, which is on the slow side for the class. Fuel economy, however, is best-in-class at 20/28/23.

Safety

Every 2013 Ford Explorer comes standard with stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a front passenger knee airbag and MyKey, which allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume. The Explorer’s stability control system also includes Ford’s Curve Control, which can monitor speed carried into a corner and decelerate if necessary.

Optional on the XLT and above are a blind-spot warning system (includes cross-traffic alert) and inflatable seatbelts for outboard second-row passengers. The Limited and Sport can be equipped with collision warning and brake support and lane-departure warning/keeping. In Edmunds brake testing, a 4WD Explorer Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet — an average distance for the class. The EcoBoost model stopped in 130 feet.

In government crash tests, the 2013 Explorer received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Explorer earned a top rating of “Good” for its performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Explorer’s impressive cabin features excellent build/materials quality within an attractive, upscale design. The dash feels soft to the touch, the switchgear operates with precision (or is touch-operated with the optional MyFord Touch) and the overall look is quite rich. A loaded Explorer is actually just as nice as any Lincoln.

Much of that upscale look comes from the MyFord Touch interface, which adds a high-resolution display screen (plus two additional screens for the gauge cluster) and touch-sensitive audio and climate “buttons.” It’s a neat interface in theory, particularly when you utilize the complementary Sync voice-activation system. But in practice, we’ve found that the buttons are difficult to identify at a glance, and too often get pressed accidentally or fail to respond properly, even taking into account Ford’s latest software update.

The Explorer’s cabin is certainly spacious, but still not quite as roomy as those of the Dodge Durango, Ford Flex and especially the GM triplets (Acadia, Enclave, Traverse). Its 80 cubic feet of maximum cargo space is the smallest of the group and the third row is a bit cramped by comparison, though it does easily accommodate children. The driving position is spot-on for most drivers, though the wide roof pillars and high dash make it seem bigger when trying to fit through tight spaces.

Driving Impressions

The 2013 Ford Explorer feels rock-solid at freeway speeds, well-damped over broken pavement and very confident when negotiating a corner. The responsive steering demonstrates Ford’s skill at tuning an electric power steering system (a setup that improves fuel economy and accommodates the automatic-parking feature).

While this Ford doesn’t offer a V8 option, the base V6 is quick enough and can handle the job for most recreational pursuits. We’ve yet to test an Explorer with the turbocharged V6, but based on our experiences with the similarly turbocharged Flex, expect swift acceleration and greater passing abilities when towing.

Don’t be quick to dismiss the idea of a turbo-4 powering this none-too-small SUV. It may not be as quick as the V6, but in practice, the EcoBoost engine provides smooth response, more than adequate acceleration for daily use and, of course, better fuel mileage than you’d get with the V6.

2013 Ford Explorer Review – Cars.com Expert

By Kelsey Mays

Cars.com NationalDecember 4, 2012

 If only for the sheer fun of barreling down the road in aturbocharged V-6 SUV, the Ford Explorer Sport brings welcome fun to the Explorer nameplate for 2013. The new Sport trim level adds the third and most powerful engine to the Explorer lineup, which helps it hustle past other three-row SUVs — even the few that still offer V-8s. It returns respectable EPA gas mileage and improves on lesser Explorers’ mediocre handling. The Sport does for the Explorer what hot sauce does for wings.

Though its range of efficient engines is unmatched among SUVs, lingering issues diminish the 2013 Ford Explorer’s appeal.

Those shortcomings had the SUV in a tie for last place in our $37,000 SUV Shootout last year (see the results), and while this year’s updates address some of them, they ignore others.

The Explorer seats six or seven, depending on seating configuration, and comes in base, XLT, Limited and Sport trims. Compare themhere. Besides the addition of the Sport, the 2013 Explorer also gets some updates to its optional MyFord Touch system; stack up the 2013 and 2012 Explorer here. The Sport comes with standard all-wheel drive while the others offer front- or all-wheel drive. Engines include a turbo four-cylinder, a normally aspirated V-6 and a turbo V-6; Ford markets both turbos under the EcoBoost moniker. We’ve tested all three.

 

From Slowpoke to Speeding Ticket

The Explorer’s 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder — a $995 option on front-drive trims — boasts an impressive EPA-estimated 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, but the tradeoff comes in poky acceleration in most situations. We drove the 2.0-liter Explorer near Ford’s Romeo, Mich., proving grounds last year, and with three adult occupants on hilly roads it needed most of its reserves — plus frenzied, how-’bout-now downshifts — to keep up speed. The same engine hustles the smaller Ford Edge well enough, but the Explorer is nearly 500 pounds heavier, and it lumbers. Plan your passing accordingly.

By contrast, the Explorer’s 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 tacks on extra speed with little drama. It’s similar to other V-6 competitors, if less gutsy than the surprisingly quick Toyota Highlander. EPA combined mileage in the V-6 Explorer runs 20 mpg with front-wheel drive and 19 mpg with all-wheel drive. That’s competitive, though Nissan’s redesigned Pathfinder beats Ford by 2 mpg.

The all-wheel-drive Explorer Sport blasts past all comers thanks to its 365-hp, turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6. It’s a performance bargain: No midsize SUV near the Sport’s sub-$42,000 price packs this sort of acceleration — and that includes the V-8 Dodge Durango. The Explorer Sport pulls strongly all the way up to 70 or 80 mph, with decisive shifts even on two-gear kickdowns from its six-speed automatic.

Ride quality in non-Sport Explorers beats the choppy Highlander and the firm Honda Pilot, with decent isolation over ruts and expansion joints. The Explorer Sport retains most of that character, though it lets a few more hints of pavement disruption creep into the cabin. The Sport adds chassis reinforcements and a sport-tuned suspension with a rear stabilizer bar. The Sport has 20-inch wheels and P255/50R20 tires, which are optional on lesser trims. A $995 option unique to the Sport is high-performance P265/45ZR20 summer tires; our test car had them.

Throw it all together and the Sport sharpens the Explorer’s handling a great deal. Gone are the pervasive body roll and sloppy steering — though all Explorers get new steering hardware, so it’s possible the latter improvement comes across the board. The Sport attacks switchback turns with flat, planted composure and engaging steering feedback; its larger disc brakes deliver confident, linear stopping.

Take to the dirt or snow and every all-wheel-drive Explorer includes a Terrain Management System that optimizes drivetrain and stability-system settings for sand, snow or mud via a dashboard knob.

 

Unaddressed Problems

No question: The Explorer Sport is tremendous fun. The Exploreroverall, however, has problems. Headlining them are Ford’s touch-sensitive MyFord Touch controls — optional on the XLT and standard with the Limited and Sport — which remain near-impossible to use while keeping your eyes on the road. The controls in this system respond faster than they used to, thanks to an update for 2013 (see the details here), but MyFord Touch’s dashboard screen is still relatively slow.

Cabin materials are good, with low-gloss materials and padding where it matters up front. Rear passengers get cheaper textures, and all positions suffer poor forward visibility due to short windows, a high belt line and thick A-pillars. The first and second rows have upright seating positions with good thigh support, but legroom is modest in both. I could have used another inch of front-seat travel for my 5-foot-11 frame, but adding more travel range would have made the second row untenable for all but children.

Third-row room is tight — the norm in this class, though the Dodge Durango and Ford’s own Flex buck the trend — and the Explorer remains among a shrinking number of SUVs that don’t offer sliding second-row seats for walk-in access to the third row. (The Pilot, Highlander, Pathfinder and Chevrolet Traverse all do.) Getting to the way-back seats requires a yesteryear process of flipping and tumbling the second row. Swapping the three-position second-row bench for optional captain’s chairs adds a narrow pass-through to the third row, at least. The captain’s chairs recline and adjust forward and backward, allowing third-row passengers to negotiate more legroom from their second-row cohorts. The 60/40-split bench seat has a bizarre setup, however: Both sides recline, but only the 40-percent portion slides forward and back.

Cargo room behind the third row measures an impressive 21 cubic feet. Fold down the second and third rows and maximum volume totals 80.7 cubic feet. That’s in line with the Pathfinder, but on the small side in this group. The Pilot and Highlander have 87 and 95.4 cubic feet, respectively, and the Traverse boasts a near-minivan-level 116.3 cubic feet.

 

Safety Shines, Reliability Stinks

With top crash-test scores across the board, the Explorer has the distinction of being a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and having a five-out-of-five-stars rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The latter designation has become rarer ever since NHTSA upgraded its testing procedures a few years ago. Seven standard airbags include a new front-passenger knee airbag for 2013 (curiously, the driver doesn’t get one) plus the federally required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. A blind spot warning system, forward collision warning and Ford’s inflatable second-row seat belts (read about them here) are optional. Click here to see a full list of safety features or here to see our evaluation of child-seat provisions.

If safety for the current Explorer is exemplary, reliability has been abysmal, though much of the Explorer’s poor reliability rating comes from its glitch-prone MyFord Touch system. Like many recent Ford owners, we’ve seen the system freeze, reboot and generally go haywire in our press cars. Upgrades for 2013 aimed to fix the glitches, and as of this writing the results haven’t yet factored into recent reliability figures. The system in our 2013 Explorer incurred no major disruptions — but we’ve already experienced MyFord Touch freezes in other 2013 Fords (read more here). Not good.

The base, front-wheel-drive Explorer starts just under $30,000 — competitive with its peers — and comes standard with a power driver’s seat, steering-wheel audio controls and manual air conditioning for the front and rear cabin. Among the options are MyFord Touch, Ford’s Sync voice-recognition system, navigation, dual-zone front automatic climate control, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel and a dual-panel moonroof. On the Explorer base, XLT and Limited, all-wheel drive runs $2,000; it’s standard on the Sport. The sub-$42,000 Sport runs just $595 more than an all-wheel-drive Limited, which has a few more standard features and high-tech options, like an auto-parking system (read morehere). Load up a Limited or Sport with all the factory options and the price tops $52,000.

 

Explorer in the Market

Have the Explorer’s issues really dampened its appeal? Perhaps not so much. Through October, Explorer sales have trounced the competition. Sales are up 21 percent despite the current-generation Explorer having been around since late 2010. The new, screaming Sport should only add to Ford’s lead. By all means, shop the Explorer and open up the Sport on an empty road if you can. But mind the shortfalls and take a hard look at the competition, too.