- Stable handling
- Great interior design
- Power-folding third-row seat
- Engine noise (V-6)
- Ride isn’t as settled as that of newer crossover SUVs
- Resale value is an open question
Those who have serious towing needs and consider full-size SUVs too ponderous will find the 2007 Ford Explorer just right.
The original Ford Explorer, released in 1991, is credited as the model that kicked the SUV craze into gear. In recent years, the Explorer has seen a number of changes that make it far better to drive than its truck-based roots might suggest. In 2006, the Explorer was extensively redesigned and modernized, so the 2007 Ford Explorer bears the benefits of those changes.
With a wheelbase of nearly 114 inches and an overall length of just over 16 feet, the Explorer isn’t small and dwarves some other so-called mid-size SUVs. But the key difference between the Explorer and more carlike utility vehicles such as Ford’s own Edge and Flex: Properly equipped, the Explorer can tow more than 7,000 pounds, thanks to sturdy truck-derived underpinnings.
The standard 210-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 engine provides adequate performance, but it’s quite a bit noisier than the smooth, 292-horsepower 4.6-liter V-8. Comparing the two, the V-8 provides plenty of power for nearly all driving needs without much of a fuel economy penalty. V-8 models get a six-speed automatic transmission to further aid performance, and two- or four-wheel drive is available with either engine. The Explorer is not especially proficient off-road, so buyers will want to consider such rivals as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The view from the driver's seat is comfortable, though the Explorer still handles like a truck, and the ride isn't particularly smooth. An independent rear suspension helps, but the Explorer is a vehicle that tips the scales at 5,000 pounds―there's only so much a suspension can do. Wind noise isn’t an issue, unlike with most other big, boxy utes, but gas mileage is predictably poor across the range, achieving ratings of 13 mpg city, 18 highway for the V-8.
Overall quality is quite impressive in the Explorer and compares favorably to offerings from Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. Though the imports have better interiors and smoother rides, the 2007 Ford Explorer offers eye-catching surfaces and neat touches like trim rings around the gauges and a particularly nice interior door release.
Across the board, side-curtain airbags are standard. Safety-wise, the 2007 Ford Explorer touts an AdvanceTrac system that offers roll stability, and the Explorer scores well in crash tests.
The Explorer is sold in XLT, the Eddie Bauer, and Limited trims, which altogether span a vast price range. Available features include a voice-activated navigation system, rear-seat DVD entertainment, and a power-folding third-row seat.