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2011 Ford Explorer

Overview
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2011 Ford Explorer Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.4

Completely redesigned to better meet the wants and needs of today's increasingly sophisticated buyers, the 2011 Ford Explorer shares little but its name with a vehicle that ushered in the modern SUV era when it arrived 20 years ago. Still mid-size, the fifth-generation Explorer straddles the line between a traditional sport utility and contemporary crossover by moving from body-on-frame to unitized design. That transition yields a four-door/seven-passenger package which is significantly lighter yet stronger and more fuel-efficient than the 2010 iteration while providing greater comfort, luxury, and refinement plus state-of-the-art technology and safety features. Available in base/XLT/Limited trims, front- or four-wheel drive and offering a standard V6 engine, the 2011 Ford Explorer will face off against key rivals like the Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Acadia, Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner.

You'll Like This Car If...

Those seeking a versatile mid-size vehicle that merges the most desirable functional elements of an SUV and a crossover with exceptional style, comfort and segment-leading fuel economy will find plenty to praise about the 2011 Ford Explorer lineup.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Hard-core off-roaders are still likely to prefer conventional body-on-frame vehicles like the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner – or unit-body alternatives like the Dodge Durango or Jeep Grand Cherokee that offer a dual-range 4WD system. Anyone needing to tow more than 5,000 pounds or wanting a rear-seat DVD entertainment system also should look elsewhere

What's New for 2011

A top-to-bottom rethink of the Explorer formula results in a thoroughly contemporary and far more desirable take on the SUV/crossover concept, creating a package that should help win over new buyers as well as bring former owners back into the Blue Oval fold.

Driving the Explorer

Driving Impressions For all of the noteworthy changes Ford wrought on the 2011 Explorer, the transformation in its dynamic character is arguably the most profound. Moving to a unit-body configuration endows this...

SUV/crossover with a far smoother, more compliant yet better-controlled ride. Match that with a bounty of standard computer-controlled handling aids, impressively weighted electrically-boosted power steering, capable anti-lock disc brakes and its world-exclusive Curve Control system and the new Explorer takes on any travel assignment with newfound confidence that belies its scale. Although ground clearance is a fairly modest 7.6 inches, our off-road experience in a four-wheel-drive variant proved conclusively that the new Terrain Management system will ensure the average Explorer owner successful access – and egress – when venturing into unpaved territory, as well. Factor in outstanding fuel economy, exceptional cabin comfort, user-focused functionality plus class-leading connectivity, and the 2011 Ford Explorer emerges as a most accommodating travelmate for its driver and passengers, alike.

My Ford Touch
This latest and most capable version of Ford's driver-connect technology is standard on the Explorer Limited and available on the XLT. It utilizes an even more advanced and expanded version of the automaker's SYNC voice-command system to allow and facilitate a broader range of input commands for the audio, navigation, climate control and phone systems.

Curve Control
A world-exclusive, this standard safety enhancement automatically senses when the vehicle is entering a given corner to quickly and automatically engage throttle and braking intervention to help keep it maintain the desired driving path.

2011 Ford Explorer Details
2011 Ford Explorer photo Interior

A complete cabin recast puts even greater emphasis on style and comfort thanks to upgraded materials, exceptional fit/finish, lots more soft-touch surfaces and enhanced trim elements. The new instrument package, MyFord Connect (base) or available MyFord Touch (XLT/Limited) systems, a media hub, four 12V powerpoints and multiple stow cubbies add to the ambiance while decently supportive front buckets team with an adult-friendly 60/40 second-row bench and an adult-accepting 50/50 third tier across the line. Popping the Explorer's one-piece liftgate facilitates easy access to its 15.7 cubic-foot cargo bay, which can be expanded to a maximum of 80.7 cubic-feet by folding down both rows of rear seats.

Exterior
2011 Ford Explorer photo

Although its overall shape and scale carry over, the fully restyled 2011 Ford Explorer boasts a cleaner and classier appearance – along with 12-percent better aerodynamics. Slightly longer and lower with a significantly wider track, it backs that more assertive stance with greater flair thanks to more prominent body sculpting complemented by a rakish C-pillar and drama-boosting blackout A-, B- and D-pillar treatments. Slicker front and rear fascias gain higher-profile headlamp and tail lamp fitments while smartly flared fenderwells on the base, XLT and Limited trims are filled by 245/65, 245/60 and 255/50 tires on 17-inch steel wheels, 18-inch aluminum rims and 20-inch alloys, respectively.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

In addition to its 290-horsepower V6/six-speed automatic transmission, the base Explorer boasts numerous power assists, MyFord driver connectivlty, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with media hub, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering column and more. The XLT adds interior/exterior trim embellishments, auto headlamps, fog lights, 18-inch wheels/tires, rearview camera with zoom function, premium cloth upholstery, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, SecuriCode keyless-entry pad and the SelectShift feature. Leather-upholstered, the Limited gets all that and the XLT's Driver Connect and Comfort Packages –plus a Sony premium audio system with HD Radio. Safety items include AdvanceTrak with Roll Stability Control and Curve Control, Hill Start Assist, antilock brakes, front/front-side/side-curtain airbags and a rollover sensor.

Optional Equipment

All Explorers offer four-wheel drive with multi-mode Terrain Management System and Hill Descent Control. Base model upgrades include SIRIUS Satellite Radio and a tow-prep package while XLT buyers can add the Driver Connect (MyFord Touch/SYNC, premium audio, dual-zone climate control and rear-view camera) and Comfort Packages (all that plus heated leather seats). The Limited's Luxury Seating Package (perforated leather, heated/cooled front buckets, power-folding third-row seat, power lift gate and voice-activated navigation system) is available with/without the 302A Group (Blind Spot Information System, adaptive cruise control, Auto Park, HID headlamps and rain-sensing wipers). Single XLT/Limited options include navigation, dual-panel power moonroof, power liftgate, inflatable second-row outboard seatbelts and the blind spot system.

Under the Hood

The 2011 Explorer's standard engine is Ford's high-tech 3.5-liter Ti-VCT (twin-independent variable camshaft timing) V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Despite 80 more ponies than the outgoing 4.0-liter six – and just two less than the 4.6-liter V8 – it's also 25 percent more fuel efficient. Backed by a six-speed automatic, it earns class-leading 17/25 mpg city/highway EPA numbers in front-drive Explorers and 17/23 mpg marks in the 4WD versions, serves up 60 mph in roughly 8.0 seconds and gives the Explorer a 5,000-pound max-tow rating. "Some time next year," Ford will offer an optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that churns out 237 ponies and 250 pound-feet of twist. While limited to front-drive models, Ford anticipates this lighter-duty alternative will deliver 30-percent better fuel economy that the old V6.

3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6
290 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
255 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (FWD), 17/23 (4WD)

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2011 Ford Explorer Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 175 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.9/10
    Quality
    8.1/10
  • Reliability
    8.4/10
    Performance
    8.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Very poor quality.

By on Friday, June 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 109,500

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Design - looks."

Cons: "Poor quality."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"This is my company car. It has been in the shop more than my last 5 GM and Dodge vehicles combined. It looks good but the quality is terrible. The eco-boost engine is way under powered for this SUV also. I strickly just drive the interstates and it has averaged 22.9 mpg. Mine is not a lemon because all of my co-workers drive the same Explorers and they have all experiences many problems with theirs also."

9 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Nice Vehicle

By on Sunday, June 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,287

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2

"This is my second Explorer, traded in my 2008 Which I really liked for it. The 2008 had better Features, easier to drive. Hard to see the front end of this vehicle. And need to raise the seat all the way up, to see out the side windows."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

2014 Explorer - excellent SUV

By on Friday, June 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,900

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Sleek looks, great ride, lots of technology"

Cons: "Lacks storage nooks, touch screen gets dirty"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I bought the Explorer after having my eye on the Edge for three years, simply because I found a good deal on a one year old Explorer and couldn't pass it up. I'm glad I didn't. The Explorer is a great vehicle - roomy, comfortable, loaded with features and it looks like an SUV should. I'm impressed with the Sync/MyFord Touch system - very intuitive, easy to use and configure. The seats are excellent for long drives. The handling is good compared to other large SUVs I've driven (but still SUV handling - if you want a sports car, buy a sports car). The Smart Key feature is awesome - if I unlock or remote start the car with my keyfob, it automatically sets my seat, mirror and pedal positions when I start it; my wife's key sets hers. You can lock, unlock and start the car without ever taking the fob out of your pocket. The gas mileage of the Cyclone 3.5L Ti-VCT is respectable as long as you keep the pedal off the firewall (I'm averaging 22mpg with a mix of rural/city/highway. It has plenty of power for freeway merges and passing. With all the rear seats down there is a useful amount of cargo/dog space, and the rear air conditioning helps keep Fido comfy. I haven't had the vehicle long enough to rate reliability. I really like this car!"

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Very Impressive SUV

By on Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Good riding, great perf, good value, fun"

Cons: "None to write about"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Purchased a Ford Explorer Sport for my wife. Looked at and drove a Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia Den before purchase. The 3.5 Ecoboost is quite impressive. Have no problem keeping up with highway traffic. Interior is very comfortable and well appointed and the exterior is very sharp. Actually getting about 17.5-18MPG combined after only 1,200 miles. The Sony Nav/Ent system is fairly intuitive after a few days and the sound and nav directions are extremely good. One thing that isn't in the manual is the voice navigation volume if low must be turned up by hitting the volume up button when the nav system voice is speaking. As I said it is basically my wife's SUV and she absolutely loves it. We traded in a Trail Blazer LTZ and don't miss it in the least. Braking is very good and the handling is smooth and responsive. Ride is excellent! Seats are comfortable and has plenty of room for luggage. A GOOD PURCHASE!"

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

I hope they get better

By on Thursday, June 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,500

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"Rust forms under the paint on the hood. It happens to several owners. Ford won't warranty it. Other than that car is good. Sad Ford knows there is a problem with their product but won't properly acknowledge it"

9 people out of 12 found this review helpful

The most unreliable vehicle I've ever owned

By on Sunday, May 31, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 73,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
3/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Looks good"

Cons: "Poor quality all around"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Windshield stress cracked when parked in the driveway, Rear brakes rotors and pads replaced at 16,000 miles, front air dam fell off at highway speed twice, nav & phone system unreliable for the first year, rear window blew out when defrost was turned on, 2 wheel hub failures, doors rusting at the crimp inside, hazard system failed, needs a complete Center control replacement This is an ABSOLUTE DON'T BUY!"

5 people out of 10 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?