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2011 Ford Explorer

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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 197 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.9/10
    Quality
    8.1/10
  • Reliability
    8.4/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

great vehicle, super smooth ride, beautiful, quiet

By on Monday, June 13, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

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: "easy & fun to drive, smooth comfortable ride"

Cons: "nav syst hard to use, elect 3rd row not removable"

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

"Only 2 negative comments. I did not realize the 3rd row electric seats could not be removed, but the electric ones stow easily, and the and the navigation system is a lot more difficult to use than my Garmin Nuvi, it did get a little better after I read the directions, so I usually just use my Garmin. Rides so comfortable and quiet. I had an Explorer Sport Trac years ago and I really wanted that comfortable ride again, only Yukons ride better but I didn't want the larger size because of the parking headaches (and dings) that come with it. The black carpet and dash show dirt and dust easily so a lot of extra vacuuming and wiping down the dash."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Great family vehicle

By on Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great Price! Very roomy vehicle."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"One owner vehicle, that's always been garaged. All maintenance records available. It's a nice ride with lots of room for up to 7 people. Pricing under resale to move quickly. Tires are fairly new and have lots of tread still left on them. Very powerful, yet economical V6 engine"

8 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Great car for the size and options

By on Monday, February 22, 2016

I owned and sold this car
Reason: upgraded interior space

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive, awesome trim options, comfortable"

Cons: "1st year tech glitches, design issues"

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

"I purchased this car after driving trucks and large SUVS because I could get ALL the bells and whistles for the same as a base price larger vehicle. I LOVE it but as my boys grew up, leg room became an issue. I have a few complaints, but I believe Ford addressed them in later models. The SYNC system wasn't interface friendly all of the time and the voice commands didnt always work. The third row had a strange unused space under the rear of the seats and when folded all the way down, the seat backs were not sturdy enough to handle heavy cargo OR my large dogs. The DC outlet in the second row always popped it's cover and without the cover, would shock you. Otherwise, the technology in the car was AMAZING in the Limited trim style and I loved everything about it and honestly, that is what is keeping me in the Ford family. This car handled great, had good power, was easy to park and had decent interior space. The BLIS and auto park as well as terrain options were great and I drove this car everywhere from highway to beach to snow also using those heated and cooled seats. It just wasn't spacious enough to accommodate a family of 5 with 3 large boys! In case you didnt know...the spare key is INSIDE of your Key Fob! Love this car...just had a lot of first year glitches that made me want to get a model with more space and where they ironed out the glitches."

20 people out of 23 found this review helpful

Very good on gas; clean still smells new

By on Monday, February 1, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"I had added the extra road assistance on when bought. We have SOLD our condo in Paradise Valley AZ and do not require the car anymore."

10 people out of 12 found this review helpful

my local garage loves this car

By on Thursday, January 14, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "looks sharp inside and out"

Cons: "sync is worthless, car deteriorated way too fast"

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

"We've owned this car for about 3 years. It was our first Ford. We really liked the style inside and out and the kids loved the comfort and moon roof. We actually got compliments about the 20" wheels and sharp white paint. After about the 2nd year we've found that we're replacing the back brakes every 6 months and the calipers annually. The inside leather is splitting in odd spots along the door, the hood is rusting (??) and the moon roof won't function anymore. And as luck would have it, replacing those tires when they get punctured (3 times already) is an experience because the tires are special order and the spare is lower than the other three, so a flat puts you in the shop. Pretty much everything we liked about it is either now broken, an eyesore or an audible reminder that this was not the car we should've purchased."

15 people out of 20 found this review helpful

I would have passed on it

By on Saturday, January 2, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "comfortable ride"

Cons: "too pricy for return"

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

"Rust on front lip of hood is apparently a common occurrence; Ford will not replace, only repair... killing re-sale value. Issue with exhaust creeping into cabin area, in shop for 2nd repair shot and also the topic of a class action. The truck is pretty and comfortable but the manufacturer does not stand behind it with any loyalty. For the price, I would have selected a different vehicle. I don't have the space to go into all the other issues that have brought this vehicle back to the dealership...."

17 people out of 20 found this review helpful

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