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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
8.1
Out of 10

Based on 169 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.0/10
    Quality
    8.2/10
  • Reliability
    8.5/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Worst vehicle I have ever owned!

By on Sunday, May 24, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Unhappy with vehicle

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Nice looking"

Cons: "Everything else!!!!"

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

"The interior car quality is the worst. Loud rattles that could never be found by dealership after 2 1/2 years of warranty service. The ride is horrible. Felt like the car was going to "float" off the road. Lots of electronic glitches that could never be recreated at the dealership. The so-called safety features were a nightmare. Warnings would go off for no apparent reason and almost cause me to get into a wreck. Back up camera and warnings were obnoxious. Horrible visibility for anyone under 6'tall. Hard to see over the dash and side windows. Not made for a 5'5" driver."

Love this SUV

By on Saturday, May 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 108,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Heavy car, goes great in the winter, high tech"

Cons: "Love everything but headrest (2011)"

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

"Love everything about this car. It's heavy and holds the road great, awesome suspension and goes perfect in the winter. A lot of technology included. Auto up & down windows, Sync, Navigation, Bluetooth. Gas mileage averages 19-21 MPG, unless on a longer trip, then more like 23MPG Have the double sun/moon roof and fog lights, enjoy having these features! The only thing I don't like is the head rest- in the 2011, it pushes your head forward a little. I think this is adjustable in the more recent years."

Best SUV Ever I was a Dodgeman and now i love Ford

By on Saturday, April 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great value , fun to drive, great ride"

Cons: "none love it"

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

"I have driven my explorer day to day and from coast to coast recently and it was a pleasure the millage got was way over the rated millage and the ride and room and handling was awesome. I previously had a Durango and i wont go back the dependability of the explorer over the Durango is no contest. This is a great value and a even better driver."

Not Reliable

By on Thursday, April 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "looks great"

Cons: "not reliable at all"

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

"This vehicle has 68,000 miles and has already had over $5,000 worth of repair work done, air conditioner unit replaced, shock/strut mounts replaced, brake calipers froze and had to be replaced along with rotors and all new pads, transmission problems, extensive problems with the SYNC system."

24 people out of 38 found this review helpful

I really like this Ford!

By on Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,800

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive and I like the ambient lighting."

Cons: "The 3rd row is only good for young children."

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

"Its quick and has a surprising turning radius. It looks good on the inside and the outside and the amenities have spoiled me."

3 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Best car we have ever had

By on Tuesday, April 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Enjoyable, comfortable drive. Lots of room."

Cons: "none"

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

"We have owned our Explorer fully loaded Limited for 1 1/2 years now and still LOVE it. This is the first Ford we have ever owned. It is a pleasure to drive it. Previously we have driven Toyota and GM cars. We looked at Ford because my brother owned an Escape and swore by it. We have 2 boys who come with a lot of sports equipment to haul around and teams to shuttle to practices. This SUV does it all and in style and comfort. On the highway it feels very solid and has good pickup for passing. We have had NO issues at all with this car."

4 people out of 6 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?