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If you haven’t driven a Ford Explorer, chances are you know someone who has. After all, the SUV has been around for decades. The Ford Explorer was introduced in 1990, long before SUVs began dominating the U.S. car market. Since then, six generations of the Explorer have delighted motorists.

Today, the Explorer is appealing to a variety of drivers. It has seating for up to seven passengers and more cargo space than most other mid-sized SUVs, making it a good choice for families or outdoorsy drivers who transport lots of gear. The Explorer’s optional four-wheel drive makes it a good choice for drivers who go off-roading or regularly travel in snow or ice. Although the Ford Explorer offers luxurious options like leather massaging seats (available on the Platinum trim), the SUV feels more rugged and durable than some competitors.


Here’s what features you can expect on each of the Ford Explorer’s trim levels:

·         Explorer: Standard features at the base trim include cloth seats, 4.2.-inch touch screen, six-speaker audio system, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and a manual telescoping steering wheel. Tow packages, four-wheel drive and satellite radio are available options for this trim.

·         XLT: Standard features for the XLT trim include 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, roof racks, reversing sensors and satellite radio. Optional upgrades available on this trim include a moonroof, a driver connect package (which includes a WiFi hotspot and blind spot monitoring), sports appearance packages and more. Bucket seats in the second row and a rear entertainment system become an available options in this trim.

·         Limited: The Limited trim features leather seats, 10-way adjustable front seats that are heated and cooled, a WiFi hotspot, 180-degree camera and a hands-free power lift-gate. Towing, driver assist features and heated second-row seats are available as options on the Limited trim.

·         Sport: The Sport comes standard with four-wheel drive and tow package, making it a good choice for drivers who regularly go off-roading. Styling touches including bright quad exhaust tips and a high-gloss black grille give the Explorer Sport a distinct appearance.

·         Platinum: The Explorer Platinum is full of high-end features, including heated and cooled massaging front seats, heated second-row seats, and a standard moonroof. Active parking assist and a 180-degree camera are also standard on this trim level.

Safety: The Ford Explorer has a perfect 5 out of 5 safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for model years 2012 through 2019. In 2011, the Explorer earned a four-star rating, and before that year it was not rated.

Reliability: The reliability of the Ford Explorer varies throughout the sixth generation, varying from below average to average. The 2019, 2017, 2014, 2012 and 2011 Ford Explorer model years have reliability ratings of 3 out of five, according to J.D. Power. That is average. The 2018 and 2016 models have a slightly below-average reliability rating of 2.5. The 2015 and 2013 models have a reliability rating of 2 out of 5.

Ratings: The Ford Explorer doesn’t stand out among the popular mid-sized SUV class. Although it ranks solidly in the middle of the class, it doesn’t have any outstanding rating that consumers should know about.

The Takeaway: The Ford Explorer is a well-loved SUV that has stood the test of time. It offers plenty of space for passengers and cargo, and is a good vehicle for people who want four-wheel drive and towing capabilities. However, compared to other mid-sized SUVs, the Explorer is more expensive, less fuel efficient, and lacking some features.

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