- 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.
2007 Ford Explorer
Though some of the interior details are lacking up close, the 2007 Ford Explorer has a classic angular design that’s soft on the eyes.
TheCarConnection.com notes that the styling of the 2007 Ford Explorer is clean and uncluttered, with an upright, angular theme inside and out.
Each of the Ford Explorer’s trim levels feature largely similar external styling, with the only real differences being different-size wheels and "a chrome four-bar grille" on the XLT versus the "chrome three-bar grille," according to Cars.com on the Eddie Bauer and Limited models
The differences between them rest in the details. For instance, the Eddie Bauer edition has a chrome three-bar grille, Pueblo Gold running boards, and a two-tone bumper and trim treatment. The Limited picks up "chrome roof rails and 18-inch machined aluminum wheels," says Cars.com, adding, "A chrome four-bar grille, unique bumpers, fog lamps, puddle lamps and 16-inch aluminum wheels are installed on XLT models."
On the interior, the goal clearly was to add some class to the vehicle, and reviewers differed on whether that’s been achieved. Autoblog notes, "where Ford attempted to infuse the interior with a bit of style is where we think things went wrong," pointing to the plasticky-looking faux wood-grain accents. Edmunds likes the overall look, pointing to the Explorer’s "user-friendly layout" and "sharp two-tone color schemes," which "make this workaday SUV feel a little more upscale."
That said, with more than 5.5 million Explorers sold, Car and Driver reminds readers that you’re not likely to stand out in one of these dime-a-dozen rigs. Ford Explorers “are so ubiquitous―and so conservatively styled―that few of us even see them anymore,” they say, likening the Ford Explorer to “the vehicular equivalent of a pair of khaki Dockers.”
2007 Ford Explorer
The 2007 Ford Explorer offers decent performance overall, and handles acceptably for such a tall vehicle, but you’ll want to get the V-8.
When the editors at TheCarConnection.com took a look at the reviews of the 2007 Ford Explorer, one thing was clear: Bring on the V-8 engine! Nearly all reviewers agreed that performance suffered with the V-6, and there were no apparent advantages to the smaller engine, other than a lower sticker price.
Cars.com lays out the specifics, saying, "either a 210-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 or a 292-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 with three valves per cylinder that generates 300 pounds-feet of torque can be installed in the Explorer." ForbesAutos calls the base engine of the 2007 Ford Explorer "barely adequate" with the V-6. Echoing the comments of many reviewers, Edmunds observes the "strong power and a high towing capacity on V-8 models."
The V-6 engine comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V-8 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. According to ForbesAutos, the six-speed transmission is "smoother and more sophisticated." ConsumerGuide Auto drives the V-8 and reports that the "transmission changes gears smoothly" and "delivers quick part-throttle downshifts for fine around-town response. Some testers say full-throttle downshifts take too long, however."
The Explorer is available with either rear- or four-wheel drive; ForbesAutos points out that the four-wheel-drive system “includes low-range gearing for off-roading." But no matter who you ask or what the model, fuel economy in the 2007 Ford Explorer is not good. ConsumerGuide drives a two-wheel-drive V-8 version and averages 15.1 mpg. ForbesAutos simply remarks that "neither powertrain is particularly fuel-efficient," while Kelley Blue Book mentions the "less-than-stellar fuel economy."
The 2007 Ford Explorer handles quite well, despite being such a tall and heavy vehicle. ForbesAutos declares that a four-wheel independent suspension gives the Explorer "a smooth ride with respectable handling, especially when compared to some other rougher-riding truck-based models." Edmunds explains why the Explorer might have a leg up on the competition, saying it is "built on an advanced ladder-frame chassis with an independent rear suspension." But ConsumerGuide isn’t as keen on the Explorer’s handling, declaring it "typical of truck-type SUVs," with some body lean in turns.
2007 Ford Explorer
Comfort & Quality
A spacious interior and comfortable seating make the Explorer a decent choice for family duty.
Overall, the editors at TheCarConnection.com are pleased with the comfort and quality of the 2007 Ford Explorer. Those looking at the more basic versions of the Explorer will likely be delighted, while those examining the high-end models might be left wanting a bit more.
Nearly all the reviewers that TheCarConnection.com surveyed have good words regarding the Explorer’s seating comfort. Edmunds points out that "the four-door Explorer can seat up to seven people," though as in most vehicles, the third row is not suitable for adults. "Five adults will find the Ford Explorer's nicely designed cabin to be a comfortable environment," notes Forbes, "though the optional third-row seat is strictly for the kids." ConsumerGuide says that there is "plenty of room on comfortable seats."
Autoblog takes the 2007 Explorer on a short road trip and returns with the report that "the new Explorer comes ready to coddle its owner in an interior much more upscale than any previous version." Editors commend the front seats as “pew-like” and laud the 60/40-split folding rear bench, plus the fact that the driver's seat can be power-adjusted 10 ways. Adjustable pedals are another plus. Not to be forgotten, "trucker butt was never a problem, as the seats were firm and supportive but far from pew-like," the reviewers also note.
ConsumerGuide adds two worries, pointing out that entry/exit is "complicated by fairly high step-in" and outward visibility is “hindered some by thick roof pillars."
The 2007 Ford Explorer doesn’t completely elude its truck roots, so you still shouldn’t expect carlike ride quality. On the road, Kelley Blue Book reports that the 2007 Ford Explorer is "noticeably smoother and more stable out on the highway than past versions." However, ConsumerGuide notes that some reviewers think the Explorer offers "undue impact harshness and body oscillations over low-speed bumps."
"Compared to earlier models," says Edmunds, "it's quieter." ConsumerGuide goes further, declaring the Explorer "among the quieter SUVs." Wind and road noise are well muffled, and the engine is only audible under full throttle, they say.
Remarks are generally positive but not gushing regarding the quality of controls and surfaces in the Explorer. One oddity noted by the editors at Autoblog is the new and perplexing door handle design on the 2007 Ford Explorer. "Opening the doors requires the same grip as grabbing a metal pipe off the floor," they note.
2007 Ford Explorer
The 2007 Ford Explorer isn't perfect in terms of safety, but TheCarConnection.com's editors appreciate that Ford has made some of the best safety features standard.
While taller vehicles such as the Explorer introduce more concerns regarding rollover, buyers can rest assured that the 2007 Ford Explorer comes with a number of features to reduce the chances of an accident, as well as to supplement protection in the event of a collision.
ForbesAutos is a fan of Ford's "AdvanceTrak stability control system," which helps prevent the loss of control on slippery roads or quick maneuvers. They also say “four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake distribution and electronic brake assist are standard for sure stopping abilities." Edmunds points out "stability control and antilock brakes come standard."
The editors at ConsumerGuide note standard front side airbags, while curtain side airbags "cover the 1st and 2nd seating rows and include rollover deployment," they say. The 2007 Ford Explorer offers standard ABS, plus traction and anti-skid control. ForbesAutos also notes that "front, front-side, and Safety Canopy head-curtain airbags that cover all rows of seats are likewise standard."
In crash tests, the 2007 Ford Explorer performs well, but doesn't garner the top marks frequently garnered by vehicles this big and heavy. From the IIHS, the Explorer receives a "good" in the frontal offset test, but only an "Acceptable" for the side-impact test. At the NHTSA, the scores for frontal and side impact are all five stars, but rollover resistance is only awarded a three-star rating.
2007 Ford Explorer
The base XLT comes with plenty of standard features, but be prepared to pay extra if you want the top tech features.
Overall, TheCarConnection.com's editors find that the 2007 Ford Explorer offers some great features―if you’re willing to step up to one of the more luxurious trim levels.
In general, the different trim styles of the 2007 Ford Explorer stand out more than they might with another vehicle. Ford has put a lot of thought into differentiating between the various options, which, as Forbes Autos points out, are "XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited"―in that order.
The base-trim 2007 Ford Explorer XLT offers "cruise control, air-conditioning, a CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary input jack and full power accessories," according to Edmunds. In the Ford Explorer Limited trim, Cars.com declares, "heated front seats, a power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic temperature control and a six-CD player with MP3 capability are standard."
A number of reviewers note the many optional features in the 2007 Ford Explorer. Edmunds highlights the "rear-seat DVD entertainment" system, while ConsumerGuide points to the "power running boards and a heated windshield," both of which are new for 2007, and makes note of the optional second-row bucket seats, sunroof, rear obstacle detection, and power-adjustable pedals.
Autoblog describes the DVD and navigation systems as "above average." Reviewers like the touch-screen control, and comment that the Explorer's system is intuitive enough for most drivers to use easily. Furthermore, Autoblog notes, "the audio and nav functions do a good job of sharing the screen real estate without getting in each other's way." Stereo controls are on the top of the screen, but there are also redundant stereo controls on the steering wheel for those who prefer not to operate a push-button radio.