By KBB.com Editors
The Explorer continues to be a strong seller for Ford, despite the recent downturn in SUV sales. Powerful owner loyalty, a reasonable size and the option of a potent V8 engine all contribute to the Explorer's success, despite the vehicle's aging platform and less-than-stellar fuel economy. The Explorer makes a great choice for families looking to get away from a full-sized SUV, as well as for those who need the ride height and four-wheel-drive capability that only a body-on-frame SUV can provide. Although the Explorer has plenty of newer competition, both domestic and foreign, few offer the combination of low price, three-row seating and a powerful V8 engine, not to mention the Explorer's 7,300-pound tow rating.You'll Like This Car If...
Whether you're drawn to the Explorer for its truck-like towing and cargo-hauling capabilities or its minivan-like versatility, you'll find more of what you're looking for in the latest incarnation of this quintessential SUV.You May Not Like This Car If...
Although the new Explorer succeeds in being both smoother and more responsive than any previous model, it still drives like a big, truck-based SUV when compared to a select few of its competitors, many of which deliver almost sedan-like ride and handling.What's Significant About This Car?
Eddie Bauer and Limited models receive standard front-side impact and side-curtain airbags and optional power running boards, while an audio input jack becomes standard. DVD navigation, a heated windshield and a rear-seat entertainment system with eight-inch screen become available options on all three trim levels.Driving It Driving Impressions
Out on the road, the new Explorer behaves the same way it always has, only better. Thanks to a new frame and revised suspension, the big mid-size SUV is noticeably smoother and more stable out on the highway. It's also markedly quieter, making for easy conversation between occupants in separate rows. Moreover, the newest Explorer is more responsive around town and, when equipped with the new V8 and six-speed automatic transmission, is the most powerful model yet, although we found the V6 had more than enough output to meet our daily-driver demands. While both ride and handling are improved all around, the balance remains very much in favor of comfort, with handling characteristics that fall short of more car-like competitors like the Nissan Pathfinder.Favorite Features
Power-Folding Third Row
Not only do the two rear rows fold almost perfectly flat, but the third row is available with a power folding option that makes it easy to transform the Explorer from people mover to cargo hauler and back at the push of a button.
Interior Peace and Quiet
Considering its vast interior volume and all the opportunities that exist for outside noise to creep inside, the new Explorer is impressively, refreshingly quiet.
Completely redesigned in 2006, the 2007 Explorer's interior now sports more angular styling along with several new features. One of the more tangible changes is the move of the shifter from the steering column to the floor. Front-row seats slide on inch-longer seat tracks to accommodate a wider range of heights, the second row is available in three seating configurations and the third row offers a power folding feature. In addition, both rear rows of seats now fold almost completely flat (just two degrees from horizontal), so cargo is less likely to vacate the vehicle the instant the liftgate is opened. The only functional sore spot we noted was the awkward placement of the front-row door handles.Exterior
The 2007 Explorer remains a very obvious descendant of the first Explorer that materialized some 16 years ago and revolutionized the industry. The biggest and most obvious change is up front, with three grilleseach assigned to a particular trim levelinspired by Ford's F-150 pickup. Distinguishing new from old is probably most difficult from the side, but look for thicker roof rails and six new wheel styles. Out back, new taillights and a big nine-inch blue Ford oval further differentiate the new model from its predecessors.Notable Standard Equipment
Standard equipment on a base-level Explorer XLS includes a 4.0-liter V6, five-speed automatic transmission, two-wheel drive, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, AM/FM stereo with MP3 compatible CD player, air conditioning, cruise control, AdvanceTrac RSC electronic stability control, front and front-side airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, digital compass and outside temperature indicator.Notable Optional Equipment
Trim-level, package and stand-alone options include a 4.6-liter V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, two-row side-curtain airbags, third-row seat, leather seats, woodgrain interior accents, navigation system, DVD rear-seat entertainment system, premium sound system with six-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, auxiliary rear climate control, reverse sensing system, glass sunroof, six- or 10-way power driver's seat, six-way power passenger's seat, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, adjustable pedals, driver-position memory, power-folding third-row seat, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, electrochromic rearview mirror, overhead storage, entry keypad, steering wheel-mounted audio and climate controls, trip computer and 17- and 18-inch wheels.Under the Hood
The revised V6 delivers better mileage and, according to Ford, produces fewer emissions than the previous generation V6 Explorers. The now-more-efficient 24-valve V8 delivers a marked increase in horsepower, along with increases in maximum towing and payload capacities to 7,300 and 1,520 pounds, respectively.
210 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
254 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD), 15/20 (4WD)
292 horsepower @ 5750 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3950 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD), 14/20 (4WD)
With a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,995, a base 2007 Explorer XLS is priced more than $1,000 lower than the 2006 model. The top-of-the-line Explorer Limited with four-wheel drive is $35,590, and with all the options will be around $45,000. Recent Fair Purchase Prices for the Ford Explorer have reflected real-world selling prices from 10- to -15-percent less than the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price, but we expect those differences to shrink in light of the vehicle improvements and downwardly adjusted sticker prices. In terms of resale value (an important factor to consider when comparing vehicles), we expect the freshened Explorer to hold its value just slightly better than the similarly-priced Chevrolet Trailblazer and Dodge Durango, but fall below the Toyota 4Runner and Honda Pilot.