Advertisement
Go
2013 Ford Explorer Photo
8.8
/ 10
TCC Rating
How does the
TCC Rating work?
The TCC Rating is a clear numeric rating value based on a 10-point scale that reflects the overall opinion of our automotive experts on any vehicle and rolls up ratings we give each vehicle across sub-categories you care about like performance, safety, styling and more.

Our rating also has simple color-coded “Stop” (red), “Caution” (orange),
or “Go” (green) messages along with the numerical score so you can easily understand where we stand at a glance.

Our automotive experts then also collect and show you what other websites say about these different aspects of any vehicle. We do this leg work for you to simplify your research process.

Learn more about how we rate and review cars here.

?
Reviewed by Marty Padgett
Editorial Director, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$27,427
BASE MSRP
$29,100
Quick Take
The Ford Explorer trades some trail-riding and towing for on-road driving lessons, and comes out fluent. Read more »
Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web
Styling
Performance
Quality
Safety
Features
Mileage

Ford designers have wrapped the 2011 in muscular sheetmetal that makes the exit vehicle look as dated and dowdy as... well... it is.

Autoblog »

it’s finished in piano black which looks very classy.

Automobile »

Ford has been trying to make its interiors not just practical but more visually appealing, and it certainly succeeded here.

New York Times »

Its dashboard is trimmed in soft "pleather" with rounded edges, and its center console is shiny piano black that's pretty until it's smeared with fingerprints.

Los Angeles Times »

The reborn 2011 Ford Explorer may look rough and rugged on the outside, but beneath the skin, this three-row SUV has more in common with Ford's Taurus sedan than a truck.

Popular Mechanics »
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$29,100 $40,780
MSRP $29,100
INVOICE $27,427 Browse used listings in your area
FWD 4-Door Base
Gas Mileage 17 mpg City/24 mpg Hwy
Engine Gas V6, 3.5L
EPA Class Sport Utility Vehicle - 2WD
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 7
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style Sport Utility
See Detailed Specs »
8.8 out of 10
Browse Ford Explorer inventory in your area.

SEE LOCAL CLASSIFIEDS
Sign Up

Save this car now, and view it in your Showroom!

Save to My Showroom

The Basics:

The Ford Explorer may be one of the most familiar sport-utility vehicles in the universe, but it's hardly a rugged SUV anymore. We call it a crossover vehicle--a wagon with car-based running gear, and some off-road ability, but more emphasis on family-hauling and all-weather ability.

That sea change makes today's Explorer the most suited yet to how most drivers actually use it. Gas mileage is better than ever, and so is handling. On the infotainment front, the Explorer has more navigation, audio, and connectivity options than any Ford of just a few years ago--rivaled only by its archrival, the trail-ready Grand Cherokee.

The Explorer still looks reassuringly ute-like, though its rounded corners and subtle details register on a carlike plane, while the interior does its best impression of a Taurus sedan. Today's Explorer can carry up to seven passengers, and adults will be fine in the front five seats, with truly excellent head and shoulder room. It sits taller than Ford's own Flex, and access to the third-row seat is tight. Cargo space comes within a few cubic feet, though, and the Explorer's utility doesn't seem diminished at all with time--if anything, the power-folding seats and power tailgate have made it easier to stuff with big-box finds.

The Explorer's performance has been totally transformed in this generation, buttoned down to sport-wagon standards. There's a base V-6 and six-speed automatic with front-wheel drive that delivers benign and predictable handling, with all-wheel drive as an option. Experimenting with the optional (and more expensive) turbo four is best left to those who don't carry people or their heavier possessions very often. The grunty Explorer Sport? It's quicker than any V-8 Explorer in the past, and makes for a swifter, tauter, more appealing driving machine than Ford's own Taurus SHO, with better visibility and interior room to boot.

Since it shares running gear with the likes of the Flex, even the Taurus, the new Explorer can't quite hit the trails with the likes of the Grand Cherokee. That leaves it more equipped to excel at on-road handling, which it does convincingly with quick steering and terrific ride control that's due in equal part to an independent suspension and its still-substantial curb weight. 

The Explorer is happiest when it's behaving on the highway--but it's more than willing to get a little dirty when you want to, with a Terrain Management system that controls stability and other systems to limit wheelspin while maintaining a 5000-pound towing capacity. It's definitely Explorer Lite compared to the distant past, but it's still quite capable, in the wider view.

The Explorer is one of the safest vehicles Ford builds, with inflatable rear seat belts and rearview cameras and blind-spot detectors. It also woos gearheads of another kind with MyFord Touch, the convoluted but promising system that uses voice, button or touchscreen control to govern infotainment and other vehicle functions.

And in truth, the 2013 Ford Explorer does what the wide majority of us want to do in a crossover. It makes plenty of room for lots of people, or lots of stuff, and it does it much more efficiently than it ever did in the past. It holds on to those mud-running bona fides too--even if they probably were only ever weekend ambitions for most of their suburban owners.

 

Likes:

  • A crossover with some SUV style
  • Excellent head and shoulder room
  • Fun handling for a crossover starts with steering
  • MyFord Touch is truly innovative
  • Better gas mileage for most models

Dislikes:

  • Not much dirt under its nails
  • A steep learning curve for MyFord Touch
  • Turbo four's an extra-cost option
  • Middle seat needs a lift
Next: Interior / Exterior »
Advertisement
Other Choices Read More
8.4
/ 10
TCC Rating
8.2
/ 10
TCC Rating
7.6
/ 10
TCC Rating
8.4
/ 10
TCC Rating
Advertisement
Try My Showroom
Save cars, write notes, and comparison shop with hi-res photos.
Add your first car
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
Advertisement

 
© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.