We had the chance to drive the 2018 Ford Explorer from Sutter Creek CA, to San Diego CA a distance of around 500 miles taking in some scenic highways and a lot of freeways with traffic. Currently Ford offers 3 engine options including a 3.5-liter V-6 base engine making 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. Optional engines include turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4 with 280 hp and 310 lb-ft (Our Tester) or a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 making 365 hp and 350 lb-ft, all driven through a six-speed automatic.
Our tester was a 2018 Ford Explorer Limited, however, there are a host of other trims available the base model, XLT, Limited, Sport, and top-spec Platinum.
The Explorer feels decently quick with the 2.3 engine and the torque is almost always available, despite it weighing almost 5,000 lbs in AWD form. Steering is decent for a large SUV and it will go round a corner carrying some decent pace but ultimately it under-steers followed by some tire squeal, which is expected. The 4 cylinder sounds pretty good with a throaty rumble albeit piped in to the cabin. The Explorer rides well
Don’t expect to get too far off-road since the Explorer’s off-road capability is not Land Rover, but it will take moderate truck trails and will cope with snow if needed. The system has Normal, Mud, Sand, and Snow modes, and electronically varies the throttle and braking to deliver the best traction.
The front seats are heated and cooled and provide plenty of support and comfort with a nice soft bottom cushion and good side bolstering. The rear seats provide plenty of legroom, the third row not so much and is pretty cramped for adults. The third row folds forward, with power on our Limited tester, which creates 81 cubic feet of space for a lot of stuff. With all seats up there is still 21 cubic.
Instruments are easy to use and the infotainment unit is a whole lot better than the old MyTouch system. Our tester came with a nice Sony Audio system with 12 speakers, as well as Blind Spot and Cross Traffic Alert.
The 2018 Ford Explorer does a good job and doesn’t really do anything bad at all. My only gripe is you have to buy the pricier editions to get the 3.5 l Ecoboost engine and to be honest the Limited has everything I need.
PRICE AS TESTED: – $45,855
VEHICLE TYPE: – Front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 6-passenger, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE TYPE: – 2.3 I4 Ecoboost
POWER: – 280 hp
TORQUE: – 310 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: – 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
ZERO to 60 mph: – 8.2secs
TOP SPEED (governor limited): – 123 mph
CARGO VOLUME: – 21 ft³, 80.7 ft³ with seat area
CURB WEIGHT: – 4,901 lb
EPA city/highway: – 16/22 mpg
OUR observed: – 19.5 mpg
PROS: – Nimble handling for its size, easy to use infotainment systems, tons of space
CONS: – Struggles a bit on inclines