2019 Ford Explorer

#43
in Midsize SUVs
2019 MODEL
$32,365 - $54,165 See Inventory Prices

7.9

Overall Rating

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Detailed Review

Way back in 1990, Ford unveiled a vehicle that continues to define the midsize SUV - the Ford Explorer. Now, with cut-throat competition, the Ford Explorer is fighting to win the segment it pioneered. It's well-armed to fight with best in class cargo space, spacious and hushed cabin riding on plush suspension, and lunar rover rivaling off-road capability with optional 4WD.

On infotainment front, you can have the Explorer with SYNC 3 having an 8-inch touchscreen (lower trim gets 4.2-inch SYNC). Be willing to pay and ford has 12 speaker Sony audio system, second row USB, dual zone climate control and more. Safety tech like automatic braking, lane departure warning, and even inflatable seat belt are on table.

See detailed review »

Pros

Engine choices – there is an engine for every kind of driver

SYNC infotainment system offers snappy performance

Great high speed stability

Comfortable and quiet cabin

Best in class rear cargo space

Cons

Third row legroom is average

Big and cumbersome to drive in urban conditions

What's New?

No significant changes


Pictures & Videos


Styles

 2019 Ford Explorer in Agate Gray Metallic color  2019 Ford Explorer in Blue Metallic color  2019 Ford Explorer in Burgundy Velvet Metallic Tinted Clearcoat color  2019 Ford Explorer in Ingot Silver Metallic color  2019 Ford Explorer in Magnetic Metallic color  2019 Ford Explorer in Oxford White color  2019 Ford Explorer in Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat color  2019 Ford Explorer in White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat color
Agate Gray Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Engine

8.2

Interior

7.6

7.9

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2019 Ford Explorer Base

Base

power
290 hp @ 6500 rpm
fuel
Flex-fuel (unleaded/E85)
mpg
20 combined

$32,365 - $34,515


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A) Starting at $34,515 MSRP (16 mpg/19/23 mpg) 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.5 L, V-6, flex-fuel (unleaded/E85)
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7
4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A) Starting at $32,365 MSRP (17 mpg/20/24 mpg) 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.5 L, V-6, flex-fuel (unleaded/E85)
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic front wheel drive 7

 2019 Ford Explorer XLT

XLT

power
290 hp @ 6500 rpm
fuel
Flex-fuel (unleaded/E85)
mpg
20 combined

$34,400 - $36,550


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A) Starting at $36,550 MSRP (16 mpg/19/23 mpg) 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.5 L, V-6, flex-fuel (unleaded/E85)
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7
XLT 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A) Starting at $34,400 MSRP (17 mpg/20/24 mpg) 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.5 L, V-6, flex-fuel (unleaded/E85)
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic front wheel drive 7

 2019 Ford Explorer Limited

Limited

power
280 hp @ 5600 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
22 combined

$42,765 - $44,915


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Limited 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A) Starting at $42,765 MSRP (19 mpg/22/27 mpg) 280 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.3 L, I-4, regular unleaded
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic front wheel drive 7
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 6A) Starting at $44,915 MSRP (18 mpg/21/25 mpg) 280 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.3 L, I-4, regular unleaded
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7

 2019 Ford Explorer Sport

Sport

power
365 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
18 combined

$46,625


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A) Starting at $46,625 MSRP (16 mpg/18/22 mpg) 365 hp @ 5500 rpm, 3.5 L, V-6, regular unleaded
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7   White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat
  Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat
  Magnetic Metallic
  Burgundy Velvet Metallic Tinted Clearcoat

 2019 Ford Explorer Platinum

Platinum

power
365 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
18 combined

$54,165


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Platinum 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A) Starting at $54,165 MSRP (16 mpg/18/22 mpg) 365 hp @ 5500 rpm, 3.5 L, V-6, regular unleaded
See Full Specs
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7   White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat
  Ingot Silver Metallic
  Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat
  Magnetic Metallic

Top Ford Cars

2018 Ford F-150
8.5/10

Engine: 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.3 L V6

MPG: 22 combined

2018 Ford F-150 SuperCrew
8.5/10

Engine: 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.3 L V6

MPG: 22 combined

2017 Ford F-150 SuperCab
8.5/10

Engine: 325 hp @ 5750 rpm, 3.5 L V6

MPG: 20 combined

2017 Ford F-150
8.5/10

Engine: 282 hp @ 6250 rpm, 3.5 L V6

MPG: 20 combined

2019 Ford F-150 SuperCab
8.4/10

Engine: 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.3 L V-6

MPG: 22 combined

2018 Ford Explorer
8.5/10

Engine: 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.5 L V6

MPG: 20 combined

2018 Ford F-150 SuperCab
8.5/10

Engine: 290 hp @ 6500 rpm, 3.3 L V6

MPG: 22 combined

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Coupe
8.5/10

Engine: 526 hp @ 7500 rpm, 5.2 L V8

MPG: 16 combined


Expert Review


CARHP Editorial February 21, 2019

7.9

Overall Rating


 

8.2/10
Engine

 
 

7.6/10
Interior

 
 
 
 
 

Engine choice range from the base (and unimpressive) 3.5 L naturally aspirated V6 and efficient 2.3 EcoBoost I4 to satisfactorily efficient and abundantly powerful 3.5 L EcoBoost. All the powerhouses are mated to a rather dated 6-Speed Automatic. Four-wheel drive is available even in base trim if you really want to explore.

2019 Ford Explorer Features

The Explorer comes in 5 trims and three engine options. 4 wheel drive is available on all trims. The starting price is $31,990 for the base explorer that gets you base spec 3.5 L naturally aspirated V6, fabric seats, and old school SYNC infotainment. The top of the line has a hefty $53,940 price tag and has Lincoln rivaling luxury with interior draped in real wood and leather.

Trim

Base

XLT

Limited

Sport

Platinum

MSRP

$32,365

$34,195

$42,765 $46,625 $54,165

Key Features

 

Includes Base model’s features and adds -

Includes XLT’s features and adds -

 Includes Limited's features and ad­­ds -

 Includes Limited's features and adds
 

3.5L Ti-VCT

 

2.3L EcoBoost

   
     

 

 Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System and Hill Descent Control  
 

SYNC® Voice Recognition Communications and Entertainment

System with 4.2" color LCD screen in center stack, 911 Assist,®

AppLink,® and 1 smart-charging USB port

 

SYNC 3 with 8" color LCD capacitive touchscreen in center

stack, 911 Assist, AppLink, Apple CarPlay™ compatibility,

Android Auto™ compatibility, and 2 smart-charging USB ports

   
 

8-way power driver’s seat with manual lumbar

10-way power driver’s seat including power lumbar

     
     

2nd-row fold-down center armrest with 2 cupholders

   
 

4.2" configurable color LCD screen in instrument cluster

 

Dual 4.2" configurable color LCD screens in instrument cluster

   
   

Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control

     
 

Intelligent Access with push-button start

       
 

Mirror – Manual day/night rearview

 

Mirror – Auto-dimming rearview

   
 

Exhaust tips – Dual, bright

 

Exhaust tips – Quad, bright (3.5L EcoBoost)

   
 

Tires – P245/60R18 all-season BSW

 

Tires – P255/50R20 all-season BSW

   
 

 

 Perimeter alarm      
     

 

 Class III Trailer Tow Package  

We Recommend

We think the ford explorer in limited trim gives the most bang for the buck as it has the efficient and powerful 2.3 L EcoBoost engine. It also gets the much-improved SYNC 3 infotainment system, a very special ambient lighting and host of other feel-good amenities.

2019 Ford Explorer Engine

8.2/10

“The crown jewel of the lineup is a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 that puts out 365 horsepower. Throttle response is almost instant, and it's the best choice if you plan to do any midrange towing. All engines are mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.”-Cars.USnews

Engine and Transmission

The explorer gets three engines choices. So, there is a good chance that one of them would suit your requirement. The base 3.5 Liter naturally aspirated engine is a low-cost alternative that delivers more towing capacity (5000 pounds with additional equipment) than the more expensive 2.3 L EcoBoost (3500 pounds). However, the 3.5-liter Ti-VCT engine is little low on steam when compared to the 2.3 L EcoBoost with its excellent low-end torque.

If 3500 pounds towing capacity is adequate for your needs, 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is easy to drive in stop and go traffic. It also lives up as the most fuel efficient engine in the lineup. It’s optional in base and XLT trim and standard on the limited trim.

The best of the lot is the 3.5 L EcoBoost engine. When equipped with this engine, Ford Explorer rushes from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. It’s optional on the Limited trim and standard on Sport and Platinum trim. Ford offers only a 6-Speed Automatic on all engines. It’s smooth and doesn’t hesitate while going through gears.

Models

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

MSRP

$32,365

$31,995

$31,450

$31,330

Engine

3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6

2.4-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder

3.5-liter V6

2.7-liter 4-cylinder

Transmission

6-Speed Automatic

CVT

6-Speed Automatic

6-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

288 @ 6500

260 hp @ 5,600

280hp @ 6000

185 hp @ 5800

Torque

254 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm

277 lb-ft. @ 2,000 rpm

262 lb.-ft. @ 4700 rpm

184 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm

Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer beat the Subaru Ascent at the horsepower game. Ford’s Ti-VCT engine churns out the segment best – 288 horsepower which is closely followed by Honda at second place. Toyota Highlander is outclassed by its competition. But when we talk about torque, Subaru takes an obvious lead with its turbocharged boxer engine’s 277 lb.-ft. torque output.

Acceleration

Ford Explorer when equipped with the 3.5 L EcoBoost is the fastest SUV in this comparison. The closest competitor is the Honda pilot that trails the explorer by 0.3 seconds taking 6.1 seconds to do 0-60 mph dash but in its base trim it takes a very long 8.2-seconds to achieve a similar feat.

Models

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

0-60 MPH

8.2 seconds

6.9 seconds

6.2 seconds

-

Quarter mile

16.3 seconds

15.5 seconds

14.8 seconds

-

Engine

3.5 L V6

2.4 L H4

3.5 L V6

2.7-liter I4

Emission

(Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

- - - -

Honda Pilot takes the lead with its 6.2-second naught to sixty run. Honda’s 6.2-second run is followed by Subaru’s 6.9-second. And finally, the Ford Explorer takes the longest 8.2 seconds to achieve similar speed.

Ride and Handling

The Ford Explorer has its priorities set right - comfort over everything else. The suspension have been tuned to offer a supple ride quality. Even on longer journeys your family would be cocooned in comfort. Explorer can soak up the undulations from bad road surfaces without any drama. High-speed ride quality is composed and there is no nervous body movement at such speeds.

Engaging handling and fun to drive characteristics are low on the Ford Explorer`s priority list. Effortless, safe and family friendly characteristics are high on list – good thing for a family crossover. Owing to its large exterior dimensions, the Ford Explorer can be cumbersome to maneuver in the tight spots while driving in town.

Braking

The Ford Explorer has an adequate pedal feel which is backed by an impressive stopping power. It is equipped with identical 12.8-inch rotors at the front and back. Ford Explorer stops from 60 to 0 mph in 108 feet (with stickier tires) – among best in class. This is impressive considering the Explorer is the heaviest crossover in this comparison.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Brake Front (in.)

12.8

13.1

12.6

12.9

Brake Rear (in.)

12.8

13

13

12.2

Curb Weight (lbs.)

4458

4430

4036

4134

60-0 MPH (ft.)

108 (With optional tires)

119

117 (est.)

126 (est.)

The Ford Explorer manages to score an impressive stopping distance. Honda Pilot’s estimated braking distance is 117 ft. However the Toyota Highlander with its estimated stopping distance of 126 ft.

Towing Capacity

The Ford Explorer tow capacity is 5000 pounds when properly equipped. By properly equipped, we mean you must have the base 3.5 L naturally aspirated V6 or the 3.5 L EcoBoost V6 and you must get the optional Trailer Tow Class 3 package.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

 Toyota Highlander

Capacity (lbs.)

5000

5000

3500

1500

Drivetrain

FWD

AWD

FWD

FWD

Engine

3.5 L V6

2.4 L H4

3.5 L V6

2.7 L I4

2019 Ford Explorer Fuel Economy

The ford explorer is certainly not the most fuel-efficient midsize SUV. The EcoBoost with base 3.5 naturally aspirated V6 delivers 17 mpg in city and 24 on the highway for a combined EPA rating of 20 mpg. Interestingly, the much throatier 3.5 L EcoBoost V6 delivers just 1 mpg less in the city and 2 mpg less on the highway even with AWD.

The Explorer’s base engine isn’t the most frugal of the lot. This normally aspirated engine returns a combined 20 miles to the gallon. If you are looking for something more efficient then move up the trim ladder or get the optional turbo-four which offers better fuel efficiency.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

 Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

MPG (city)

17

21 

19 

20

MPG (highway)

24

27 

27 

24

MPG (combined)

20

23

22

22

Looking at the competition, Explorer has an average score. The newly introduced Subaru Ascent delivers a segment best of 23 mpg which is followed by Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.

2019 Ford Explorer Interior

7.6/10

“A well-made SUV. There's plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin; the steering wheel has quality leather; and the trim pieces look good and fit together well. The only flaw we noticed was an occasional dash rattle that we couldn't pinpoint.”-Edmunds

Seating and Comfort

Ford Explorer comes with a seven people capacity which is on the lower side for this segment. Other three-row SUVs come equipped with eight person seating. The base and the XLT trim come with cloth upholstery. If you want something more premium than the Limited trim comes with leatherette upholstery. One thing that would be appreciated is Explorer’s capacity of filter out road noise. The cabin is a quiet place to be and is well equipped to take on longer journeys.

Dual zone automatic climate control is available from XLT onwards and the optional SYNC 3 takes care of the infotainment. You get leather-wrapped steering wheel in XLT and higher trims. From limited trim onwards, ambient lighting creates a beautiful airliner like night driving experience.

Model

Ford Explorer

 Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Passenger capacity

7

8

8

8

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

41.4/61.5/42.9

41.3/61.1/42.2

40.1/ 62/40.9

40.7/59.3/44.2

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

40.6/61/39.5

40/ 60.3/ 38.6

40.2/62/38.4

39.9/59.6/38.4

Third (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

37.8/50.8/32

36.3/57.2/31.7

38.9/57.6/31.9

35.9/55.0/27.7

Infotainment

The base and XLT trims are equipped with Ford’s SYNC system which comes with a standard 6-speaker audio system. Ford’s SYNC3 system which is a standard feature on the Limited and above trim is available as an option on the XLT trim. SYNC 3 is a user-friendly system. This interface is intuitive and offers a decent response time.

Interior Features

Ford Explorer comes with a decent list of interior features. Some of these features are listed below:

  • Tilting and telescopic steering column
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Memory driver’s seat
  • Power driver’s seat
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Cooled Front seats
  • Rear-Seat Entertainment

Cargo Capacity

The cargo capacity behind the third row is the best in class. But with folded seats the cargo volume isn’t at par with the competition. With the rear seats folded the Explorer frees up 43.9 cu-ft. of space. With both the rows folded the cargo area increases to 81.7 cu-ft. The higher trims come with hands-free liftgate which can be a boon when you are carrying luggage in both your hands. 

The Explorer can seat seven people with rear bench seats. However, third-row access is compromised with bench seats. Getting Captains chair makes the second row far more comfortable while also allowing an easy third-row access.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Cargo Volume (cu-ft.)

21

17.8

16.5

13.8

2019 Ford Explorer Exterior

“Outside, the Explorer’s shape is clean and largely unadorned. Unlike Eddie Bauers of decades past, the current model doesn’t try to be faux rugged. It’s modern enough and smart in certain lighter shades with larger wheels. Thankfully, Ford now includes alloy wheels as standard equipment on all versions of the Explorer, as well as tinted windows.”-TheCarConnection

Dimensions and Weight

Explorer is based on an older platform while majority of the rivals have undergone major changes currently. The design isn’t anything fancy but it sticks with a conservative design that doesn’t command any unwanted attention. Over the decade, the Explorer has received nips and tucks to keep it up to date.

2019 Ford Explorer tips the scales at 4458 lbs. – it surely is the heaviest of the lot. It stretches to 198.3 inches from the front to the back. At 78.9-inches it is also the widest crossover in this comparison. The In case you decide to leave the interstate and take the gravel road, the Explorer has a 7.8-inches ground clearance.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Curb weight (lbs.)

4458

4430

4036

4134

Length(in)

198.3

196.8

196.5

192.5

Width(in)

78.9

76

78.6

75.8

Height(in)

70

71.6

70.6

68.1

Ground clearance (in)

7.8

8.7

7.3

8.0

Wheelbase (in)

112.8

113.8

111

109.8

Track width (in) F/R

67/67

64.4/ 64.2

66.3/66.3

64.4/64.2

Newly updated rivals pose a challenge to the ageing Ford Explorer. The all-new Subaru Ascent is surely a prime contender in the three-row crossover segment. It has a best in class ground clearance of 8.7-inches and sits on a wheelbase of 113.8-inches.

2019 Ford Explorer Safety

Ford Explorer comes with state of the art safety equipment that allow it to score well on the safety tests conducted by the agencies. Some of these features are mentioned below:

  • Front, Rear and Third Row Head Airbags
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Post-Collision Safety System
  • Traction Control
  • Stability Control
  • Front and Rear Ventilated Disc Brakes
  • LED Headlamp
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring

2019 Ford Explorer Competition

Ford Explorer vs Subaru Ascent

Newly introduced Ascent is powered by a horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine. Transmission duties are taken care by a CVT automatic transmission. Ascent is one of the better performing three-row SUVs available in the market. Being the costliest Subaru, Ascent brings a plethora of standard features. Unlike its competitors it comes equipped with standard AWD and Subaru’s eyesight safety system.

Ford Explorer vs Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot is powered by 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque. Pricing for the Honda Pilot starts at $31,450. Honda Pilot has been one the best vehicles in this segment. The third generation of the Pilot was introduced in 2016. Pilot is a can’t go wrong decision in the three-row CUV market.

With the updates received, the 2019 Honda Pilot comes off as more contemporary in design but Honda has addressed many of the shortcomings. The exterior gets some subtle changes. The 9-speed automatic transmission from ZF gets reworked to l

Ford Explorer vs Toyota Highlander

Powered by a 2.7-liter inline-four engine, the Highlander makes a meagre 185 hp and 184 lb-ft. of torque. Those numbers are underwhelming for a three-row SUV. With a full load of passengers and cargo, this mill struggles to keep up with other vehicles in its class. The Highlander is priced at $31,330. The Highlander when equipped with the larger V6 engine has enough gusto to get it going even with a full load of passengers and cargo without much drama.

Compared to the V6 powered Explorer, the Highlander is best to be avoided with the base turbo-four configuration. It is thirstier in this form as the base engine constantly works in higher rpms to satisfy the requirement. Considering the available options and value for the base model. We believe that your money is spent well someplace else.

2019 Ford Explorer Final Verdict

The Ford Explorer is the hottest selling three row crossover in the market. Explorer is the crossover that basically kick started the three-row crossover segment. It is still the king of the midsize segment, at least by sales volume. It still has a lot going for it like a spacious cabin, supple ride quality, eerily silent interiors and powerful engines. The optional 4 wheel-drive and terrain management system ensures it can handle the backroads.

However, Ford Explorer has aged well and over the years it has held its ground against the onslaught of modern Japanese rivals. The rivals also pack the same goodies for a lower cost and can tow as much as the Explorer.

But again, the explorer is set in hearts of many Americans and it can do whatever you ask it to do almost as good as or better than the rivals. The hefty body is the very reason some love the explorer. All in all, if you like the explorer and are ready to pay more than you will pay for a similarly equipped competitor, get it.

Also checkout the 2020 Ford Explorer SUV.