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 6-speed automatic, it's rated at 17 mpg city, 24 highway, 20 combined; with all-wheel drive, it's pegged at 16/23/19 mpg, down one mpg on the city cycle from last year's figures.
This year, a new 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder replaces the former 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 in the Explorer. The old engine was more limited: it could only tow 2,000 pounds and was only available with front-wheel drive. Now, the new turbo-4 can haul more and can be fitted with optional all-wheel drive, but fuel economy is down marginally. Last year the smaller inline-4 earned EPA ratings of 20/28/23 mpg. This year's turbo-4? It's 19/28/22 mpg with front-wheel drive, or 18/26/21 mpg with all-wheel drive.
At its least efficient but most entertaining, the twin-turbo Explorer Sport drops the EPA fuel-economy ratings to 16/22/18 mpg. Although it's by no means green or fuel-efficient, it's better than former V-8 Explorers.