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#16

in 2012 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $22,363 - $32,093
Original MSRP: $28,280 - $39,855
MPG: 18 City / 25 Hwy
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2012 Ford Explorer Interior

This interior review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers say that the Ford Explorer’s cabin is upscale and classy overall, but they do have some significant complaints. Many test drivers have had problems with the optional MyFord Touch interface, and opinions are mixed regarding the third row. Some say it’s spacious enough for adults, while others say it’s only fit for children. Plus, other crossovers offer better cargo space. Still, automotive journalists agree that the Explorer’s interior is surprisingly classy for a non-luxury brand.

  • "The overall look might be a bit bland for some tastes, but don't let the outward appearance deceive you. The interior is trimmed with nicely textured, soft-touch materials. Metal or woodgrain trim is available, and we'd choose the latter. It provides a warmer interior ambiance.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Inside the cabin, the Explorer offers a stylish, well-finished space for up to seven passengers.” -- Edmunds
  • "The Explorer certainly feels like an expensive vehicle. The interior is swathed in soft-touch materials, and the fit and finish is excellent." -- Car and Driver
  • "Tick off adjustable pedals and MyTouch driver connectivity with configurable panels inside the instrument cluster. Only hard plastic on the doors lets the interior down, but there’s no question that this is Ford’s best effort ever." -- Left Lane News
  • "It's not an SUV anymore. Rather, it's a crossover - a tall wagon. Which is fine, or would be fine, except that the Explorer is based on the same blah Volvo sedan chassis that underpins the Taurus, a car we continually knock for having a deceptively small amount of interior space, among other problems. You can imagine what happens then if you stretch and repurpose a five-passenger sedan into a seven-seater SUV. Compromise, and lots of it.” -- Motor Trend

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Seating

The 2011 Ford Explorer has seating for seven, thanks to a standard third row, and can be configured with a center console in the second row that increases storage space but limits seating capacity to six. The outboard seats in the second row come standard with Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) connectors for child seats.

Test drivers agree that the front row of the 2012 Ford Explorer is roomy. In fact, some say that it’s almost too large, since some audio controls are hard to reach. The Ford Explorer’s second-row seats don’t slide forward or back, so middle-row passengers may not be as comfortable as they would in competitors like the Mazda CX-9, which has this feature. Reviews are mixed when it comes to the third row. Some say that adults will be comfortable in the way-back for short rides, while others say that even children will be uncomfortable.

  • " Access to the standard 3rd row is awkward due to the intrusion of the rear wheel well. Once situated, room is surprisingly good. Adults up to about 5'8" will actually be comfortable for short to moderate-length trips." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Second row accommodations are similarly comfortable, but despite the Explorer's substantial footprint (it's 197.1-inches long, shadowing its predecessor by nearly four inches), the third row access and accommodations are competitive but won't thrill those used to minivans." -- Autoblog
  • "The third row is absurdly cramped, and the second row isn't much better. Your teenager(s) will only resent you more." -- Motor Trend
  • "But, with its formidable width and outboard armrests that only an NBA player could reach, the Explorer imparts an inescapable feeling that one is driving more of a room than a car." -- Car and Driver

Interior Features

Though the interior of the 2012 Ford Explorer is one of the most high-tech in its class, reviewers are starting to have trouble with one of its banner features: the MyFord Touch system. When it debuted last year, MyFord Touch was hailed as an attractive, futuristic system that controlled everything from the air conditioning to seat heaters to the stereo, using a pressure-sensitive touch screen and voice controls. But test drivers are finding that this system may be more complicated than it’s worth. Buyers who don’t prioritize being on the cutting edge of technology may want to skip the optional MyFord Touch, which is optional on XLT models and standard on Limited models.

Otherwise, reviewers say that the Explorer’s interior is upscale and attractive, with a level of luxury that is comparable with some Lincoln vehicles.

  • "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 nicer inside than nearly any Lincoln." -- Edmunds
  • "Sporting an uncluttered look and high-quality, feel-good plastics, it's a pleasant place to be." -- Autoblog
  • "But the real 800-pound problem gorilla in the Explorer room is MyFord Touch. Just as an experiment, I decided to - with the car parked - keep my right arm as still as humanly possible and ‘touch’ the fan control the same way 10 times in a row, moving only my index finger. Results? I got what I wanted six times out of 10." -- Motor Trend
  • "It (MyFord Touch) has a more high-tech look than the standard panel, but some functions, such as adjusting temperature and fan speed, are more finicky to operate. In some test vehicles, the MyFord Touch interface was plagued by glitches that included an unresponsive touchscreen, slow operation, and voice control that refused to recognize some commands even though they were spoken slowly, loudly, and clearly." -- Consumer Guide

Cargo

The 2012 Ford Explorer has 80.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, which is decent for the class. With just the third row folded, it offers 43.8 cubic feet of cargo space, and with all three seats in use, there’s 21 cubic feet left for storage. For more cargo space in your crossover, it’s tough to beat the Chevrolet Traverse.

Reviewers say that the Explorer has plenty of cubbies for stowing small stuff, but that the third row is a pain to fold manually. A power-folding third row is optional on Limited models, but unavailable on base and XLT trims.

  • "The second and third rows fold completely flat in a variety of configurations, and the third row seats can independently fold and unfold at the touch of a button. Storage goes beyond cup holders and trunk, offering thoughtful compartments to hold everyday items such as umbrellas and parking cards." -- CNET
  • "The process for folding the 3rd row is multi-step and more complicated than it should be. There is a cargo well behind the 3rd row but only when the seat backs are raised. The well is not covered either." -- Consumer Guide

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