2017 Ford Explorer Overview
Pros & Cons
- Powerful twin-turbocharged V6
- User-friendly infotainment system
- Rivals' seats are roomier and more comfortable
- Poor maneuverability
Notable for 2017
- Reshuffled features and trim levels
- SYNC 3 infotainment system replaces MyFord Touch
- New exterior style options available
Ford Explorer Rankings and Research
The 2017 Ford Explorer ranking is based on its score within the Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Ford Explorer has a score of 7.7 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 59 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.
2017 Ford Explorer Pictures
2017 Ford Explorer Review
Based on our analysis of professional reviews and data, the 2017 Ford Explorer ranks near the bottom of the midsize SUV class. Critics like the power delivered by the available twin-turbocharged V6 engine, and they praise the newly available SYNC 3 infotainment system, which is intuitive and responsive. However, the Explorer has poor maneuverability, and many class rivals have seats that are more comfortable and more spacious than the Explorer's.
Starting at just over $31,000, the Explorer's price is in the same ballpark as several notable class rivals. There are four higher trims, with the high-end Platinum trim starting around $53,000. There are optional features and equipment packages you can add, though they add to the overall price.
Lower Trims Skimp on the Cabin
The Explorer's highest trim, the Platinum, has a distinguished cabin that includes a number of quality materials. However, the same cannot be said for lower trims, and the overall cabin design is uninspiring in any trim.
Up front, you'll find that the seats have enough space, but they lack the support to remain comfortable on long trips. The second row has less space than you might expect, and while passengers should have enough room, fitting a rear-facing car seat (there are two sets of LATCH connectors in the second row) may prove challenging, and the connectors can be tricky to locate. The third row offers another set of LATCH connectors, but – like most 3-row SUVs – it lacks the room for adults to ride comfortably.
SYNC 3 to the Rescue
Perhaps the most notable change for the 2017 Explorer is that it's now available with Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment system. SYNC 3 includes a 6.5- or 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Siri Eyes Free, and it's much easier to use than the old MyFord Touch system. SYNC 3 has intuitive controls, and the touch screen is responsive to your inputs. The system responds to smartphone-style gestures, which means that smartphone users will likely find it straightforward to use.
Worried about handing your teenager the keys? Enter Ford's MyKey, which is a standard features in the Explorer. It allows you to set speed and audio volume limits for the vehicle so you can help protect your new driver even when you’re not in the vehicle.
Full Hands? No Problem
The Explorer has some useful features in the cargo hold. At the top of the list is the available hands-free liftgate, which you can open just by waving your foot under the rear bumper. Inside, the second and third rows of seats fold completely flat, making it easy to load large items without having to play Tetris with them. Power-folding second- and third-row seats are available, so you can put the seats down with the touch of a button.
While the features are nice, the Explorer's cargo space isn't all that remarkable for a midsize SUV. It has 21 cubic feet of space with all seats in use and a maximum capacity of about 82 cubic feet. That's a good amount of space, but it pales in comparison to the available cargo space in class rivals like the Chevrolet Traverse.
Three Engines Choices
The Explorer comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, but a turbocharged four-cylinder and a twin-turbocharged V6 are available. The base engine offers decent power, but it gets subpar gas mileage for the class. The turbo-four gets the best fuel economy of the bunch, earning an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. However, the four-cylinder also feels notably less powerful than the larger engines. The twin-turbo V6 produces enough horsepower to rival some competitors' V8 engines, and it delivers the best power and acceleration of the three.
You may enjoy taking the Explorer on a road trip thanks to its quiet, smooth ride. The ride quality suffers a little with the available 20-inch wheels, but it's generally comfortable over most paved surfaces. The Explorer even holds up well away from the pavement thanks to the available all-wheel drive and a terrain management system that lets you choose different driving modes to match the landscape. The most obvious weakness when driving the Explorer is the lack of mobility. You can't help but be constantly aware of the vehicle's size, and never more so than when you're trying to maneuver in a tight space, such as a parking garage.
Options, Trims, and Pricing
The Explorer's base trim has a starting price of $31,660, which is comparable to the base prices of many class rivals, including the Chevy Traverse, Dodge Durango, and Mazda CX-9. There are several higher trims, and each one comes standard with more features than the trim below it. The highest Explorer trim is the Platinum, which starts at $53,235.
Each trim comes with its own equipment group that includes a number of features. Select trims offer multiple equipment groups that range in price, with the higher-priced groups offering additional features or upgraded versions of standard features.
The base, XLT, and Limited trims all come standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, but they're available with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine (for an extra $495) that gets better fuel economy. The same three trims also come standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available for an extra $2,150.
If you're looking for the twin-turbo V6 engine, you'll have to opt for the Sport (starting at $45,355) or Platinum trim. Both come standard with the twin-turbo V6, and that engine isn't available in any of the lower trims.
Another notable feature that's available in all but the base trim is the dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, which plays DVDs and has screens built into the front headrests. It'll cost you an extra $1,995, but after a long drive with kids in the back, that may seem like a bargain.
Explorer Safety and Reliability
Like many vehicles nowadays, the Explorer comes standard with a rearview camera. It also offers a host of other driver assistance features. Front and rear parking sensors help you avoid dinging your car up while parallel parking, but you may not even need them if you opt for parallel and perpendicular park assist, which does most of the work for you when parking.
There are highway aids as well, including adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, which keep your car safely in line if you divert your eyes to adjust the radio. Blind spot monitoring is another available feature that any driver can appreciate, as it makes changing lanes a safer endeavor.
The 2017 Explorer performs well in crash tests, earning a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ford backs the Explorer with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Other SUVs to Consider
The Chevrolet Traverse stands out for its incredibly spacious interior. It has more cargo space than almost any SUV on the market, regardless of class. In fact, the Traverse has a maximum cargo capacity nearly 35 cubic feet higher than the Explorer's. The Traverse has plenty of passenger space as well. The first two rows of seats have plenty of space, and drivers will appreciate the excellent visibility. Even the third row has enough space for some adults. High-quality materials throughout the cabin give the Traverse an upscale feel. You get all of this for about the same starting price as the Explorer.
The Honda Pilot is one of our highest-ranking midsize SUVs, and it was our 2016 winner for Best 3-Row SUV for the Money and Best 3-Row SUV for Families. The extremely quiet interior has the kind of look and feel you might expect to find in a luxury SUV. The Pilot seats eight, and adults can actually fit in the Pilot's third row, which is not a given for a 3-row SUV. The Pilot's front seats are among the most comfortable in the class, and its infotainment system is intuitive and responsive. The Pilot's V6 engine delivers good power in all driving situations and gets better gas mileage than the Explorer. The Pilot also provides a smooth ride that absorbs road imperfections with ease.
Details: 2017 Ford Explorer
The 2017 Ford Explorer comes in five trims: base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum. It seats up to seven and comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. There are two available engines: a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder and a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. Front-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is available.
For 2017, there are a few new exterior styling options, some features shuffle between trims, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system is now available in place of the MyFord Touch system found in previous models. The Explorer received a refresh in 2016, but it was last redesigned in 2011. As a result, this overview uses applicable reviews and research from the 2011 through 2017 model years.
Standard features in the Explorer include a six-speaker audio system, Ford's SYNC voice control interface, a rearview camera, a USB port, and Ford's MyKey.
Available features include push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a twin-panel moonroof, multiple Sony audio systems, satellite radio, navigation, front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with a 6.5- or 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Siri Eyes Free.
- "When it comes to hauling a larger family around, shoppers who don't want to go the minivan route often turn to midsize SUVs. And in the world of three-row SUVs, the 2017 Ford Explorer is one of the most well-rounded." -- Edmunds
- "Ford's 2017 Explorer SUV continues its sales success, with sleek styling, a bevy of trim and package options, and a choice of potent powertrains. The 7-passenger Ford Explorer has plenty of competition, but its Land Rover-like styling and incredibly plush interior place it in line with upscale competitors like the Mazda CX-9 and Hyundai Santa Fe." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The good news is that they didn't make any obvious mistakes with the new model. Put another way, if you liked the 2015, you should like the 2016 at least a bit more." -- AutoWeek (2016)
Research Prices: 2017 Ford Explorer
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