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#18

in Affordable Midsize SUVs

MSRP: $30,015 - $41,675
Invoice: $28,288 - $38,862
MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy
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Ford Explorer Review

The 2014 Ford Explorer ranks 18 out of 23 Affordable Midsize SUVs. This ranking is based on our analysis of published reviews and test drives of the Ford Explorer, as well as reliability and safety data.

The 2014 Ford Explorer is ranked:

While test drivers like the 2014 Ford Explorer’s attractive interior and fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine option, higher-ranking SUVs offer a more refined ride, tech features that are easier to use and more cargo and passenger space.

The Explorer comes standard with a V6 engine that auto writers say has sufficient power. An optional turbocharged V6 engine is more popular with test drivers for its added power. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is also optional, and the 2014 Explorer achieves its best fuel economy estimates with this engine. According to the EPA, a front-wheel drive Explorer with either V6 engine achieves 17/24 mpg city/highway, which is about average for the class. With the four-cylinder engine, the Explorer averages 20/28 mpg, which is excellent for the class. Reviewers say the Explorer’s ride is fairly comfortable overall, but many agree that the Explorer handles with less refinement and doesn’t feel as nimble as other midsize SUVs. Test drivers also appreciate that the Explorer’s brakes have been improved to provide better stopping power and a more reassuring pedal feel. The optional Terrain Management System, which adjusts engine, transmission and brake parameters to optimize performance on various types of on- or off-road surfaces, is also well-liked by reviewers.

Automotive critics say the 2014 Ford Explorer’s interior is constructed with high-quality materials and has a classy look. The seven-seat Explorer offers significantly less cargo space than rivals like the GMC Acadia, although most auto reviewers don’t think that this is a problem. Critics also say that the Explorer’s seating area, especially in the second and third rows, feel short on legroom compared with many rivals. Nearly all reviewers focus their attention on the optional MyFord Touch infotainment system, which controls audio and some climate settings. They say that the system is frustrating to use and slow to respond. The Explorer comes standard with a six-speaker stereo and an auxiliary jack. Major options besides MyFord Touch include leather seats, Ford’s SYNC smartphone integration system with Bluetooth and voice command music selection and phone capability, a 12-speaker Sony stereo, a backup camera, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.

  • "Now in its fourth year, this generation of the Ford Explorer remains an attractive choice in the crowded and competitive three-row crossover segment." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "As such, it's a good idea to shop around a bit. Possible alternatives include the roomier Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9; the refined Dodge Durango, which also gives you more versatility for towing; or even the Explorer's more wagonlike sibling, the Ford Flex. If you're drawn to the upscale look and many comforts of the 2014 Ford Explorer, however, it still stands as a respectable choice." -- Edmunds
  • "Like rivals such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot, the 3-row 2014 Explorer happily accommodates families." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "If you're looking for a quiet, relatively comfortable three-row midsize SUV with gadgets galore, and aren't fixated on having a status vehicle in your driveway, the Explorer Limited packs a lot of goodies at a relatively reasonable price. Just don't expect an out-of-the-ordinary driving experience." -- Motor Trend (2013)

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Other SUVs to Consider

The Chevrolet Traverse can seat up to eight people and has significantly more cargo space than the Explorer. Additionally, the Traverse earns more reviewer praise for delivering a smooth, refined ride and good maneuverability.

When equipped with a four-cylinder engine, the Toyota Highlander earns nearly the same EPA fuel economy estimates as the four-cylinder Explorer. Reviewers praise the Highlander for its comfortable ride, smooth V6 engine option and high-quality interior.

Compare the Explorer, Traverse and Highlander »

Details: 2014 Ford Explorer

The 2014 Ford Explorer seats up to seven and comes standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional. A 3.5-liter V6 is standard, while a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 are optional. A six-speed automatic transmission comes with all engines. The Explorer comes in four trims: base, XLT, Limited and Sport. The Explorer is largely unchanged since its redesign for the 2011 model year, so this review uses applicable research and reviews from the 2011 to 2014 model years.

See the full 2014 Ford Explorer specs »

Review Last Updated: 6/26/14

Next Steps: Ford Explorer