The decision to buy a vehicle as large as the Explorer likely means that you've already parted with any hopes of exceptional fuel economy–but if you're willing to sacrifice some acceleration, the Explorer offers a relatively efficient option.
The base V-6 Explorer has gas mileage more in line with other seven-seat family wagons. With the 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic, it's rated at 17/24 mpg or 20 mpg combined; with all-wheel drive, it's pegged at 17/23 mpg and 19 mpg combined.
Separately, there's the twin-turbo Explorer Sport, which drops the numbers to an EPA-rated 16/22 mpg or just 18 mpg combined. Although it's by no means green or fuel-efficient, it's better than former V-8 Explorers.
A turbocharged, direct-injected, 240-horsepower four-cylinder earns estimated EPA ratings of 20/28 mpg, or 23 miles per gallon combined--about 25 percent higher than the last-generation Explorer did in base form. It's optional, and only available in front-drive form. The other caveat is that it's only rated to tow up to 2,000 pounds, not the 5,000 pounds the V-6 Explorer can.