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2012 Ford Explorer

Overview
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2012 Ford Explorer Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.5

Twenty-odd years ago, Ford's Explorer introduced America to the new wagon, a truck-based SUV large enough to carry the family and all their gear, but not much larger than average mid-size sedan of the day. Over its long run the Explorer had its up and downs, but while the Explorer name carries on into the 21st century, the vehicle that now wears it couldn't be more different from the original. Instead of a truck chassis, the Explorer is wrapped in a unit body, meaning its construction is stamped and welded into a single frame making it both lighter and stronger. The 2012 Ford Explorer can still hold seven passengers or any number of bulky items, but its interior is now more sophisticated, as is its suspension, engine and available all-wheel-drive system. Set to do battle with the Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse, the Explorer has its work cut out for it. And, where the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer a powerful V8 engine, no such muscle exists under the Explorer's hood. That's because Ford has chosen to go a more economical route, offering a V6 and a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that provide plenty of power with superior fuel economy. The Explorer also relies on a host of innovative electronic and technology triumphs that help it keep one step ahead of the competition. Ironically, the one vehicle that stands to lose market share to the Explorer is its own sibling, the Ford Flex.

You'll Like This Car If...

You'll like the 2012 Ford Explorer if you seek the tall ride height and useful interior space provided by a traditional mid-size SUV, but not the poor handling and fuel economy penalty. The 2012 Explorer is exceptionally well mannered, has a beautifully designed interior and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

You May Not Like This Car If...

While the 2012 Ford Explorer's available four-wheel-drive (4WD) system is one of the most versatile Ford has produced, it is not intended for serious off-roading. Those who need to tow more than 5,000 pounds will have to look to the Explorer's V8-powered competitors.

What's New for 2012

Ford's EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is added to the front-wheel-drive Explorer's option list. The EcoBoost engine produces 240 horsepower when fed premium fuel and is expected to return fuel economy figures in the high 20s.

Driving the Explorer

Driving Impressions It takes only a few minutes behind the wheel of the 2012 Ford Explorer to realize this is no old-fashioned truck-based SUV. The stiff body banishes squeaks and rattles from...

the passenger compartment, while the adept suspension aided by Ford's Curve Control system tackles winding roads like a lithe sports sedan. Match that with a bounty of standard computer-controlled handling aids, impressively weighted electrically-boosted power steering and more than capable anti-lock disc brakes, and the Explorer turns in a world-class open-road experience. Our short time testing the Terrain Management 4-wheel-drive system netted some pretty impressive results, especially considering the Explorer's modest 7.6 inches of ground clearance and somewhat soft suspension. Still, we wouldn't put this vehicle up against a Toyota 4Runner, for example, whose body-on-frame architecture and hi/lo transfer case make it more conducive to serious off-road challenges. Then again, few truck-based SUVs can match the 2012 Explorer's outstanding fuel economy, exceptional cabin comfort, user-focused functionality plus class-leading connectivity, all of which make the Ford Explorer a most accommodating travel mate.

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 too quickly and automatically engages throttle and braking intervention to help it maintain the desired driving path.

2012 Ford Explorer Details
2012 Ford Explorer photo Interior

Look inside a Toyota 4Runner or Nissan Pathfinder and you'll find the same dash and door panels as in their pickup truck counterparts. But, look inside the 2012 Ford Explorer and you'll see something entirely different. The elegant cabin is awash in high-quality, soft-touch surfaces, with careful attention to detail found in the most minute places. The Explorer's instrument cluster is clean and simple on the base models, and on XLT and Limited can be upgraded to include the MyFord Touch package that features configurable LCD screens in place of the traditional analog gauges. Features like the media hub, four 12-volt outlets and numerous storage spots speak to the needs of today's mobile electronics, while supportive seats in all three rows provide plenty of room for adults. At the rear, a single-piece rear liftgate opens to expose 15.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which can be expanded to a maximum of 80.7 cubic feet by folding down both rows of rear seats.

Exterior
2012 Ford Explorer photo

Where the Explorers of old were easily identified by their square edges and boxy upright cabins, the 2012 Explorer displays a different attitude. The lines are more elegant and the boldly rakish front end sets the tone for the rest of the Explorer's design, which includes reverse-raked C-pillars and blacked-out A-, B-, and D-pillars. The Explorer's tall doors and lower roof give it a slick, almost gangster look that mirrors the Ford Taurus, but the design is an optical illusion because there is plenty of head room inside as well as ground clearance below (7.6 inches to be exact). The Explorer's wide track benefits interior occupants with more hip and shoulder room, as well as greatly aids in improved handling and cornering. Finishing the exterior embellishments are standard 17-inch wheels on the base models, with 18-inchers on the XLT and massive 20-inch alloys on the Limited models.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

In addition to its 290-horsepower V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, the base 2012 Ford Explorer boasts numerous power assists, MyFord driver connectivity, 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 headlights, foglights, 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, anti-lock brakes (ABS), front/front-side/side-curtain airbags and a rollover sensor.

Optional Equipment

All Explorers offer four-wheel drive (4WD) 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 rearview 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 liftgate 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 2012 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. Teamed to a 6-speed automatic, this engine earns a class-leading 17/25 mpg city/highway EPA numbers in front-drive Explorers and 17/23 mpg marks in the 4WD versions; it also serves up 60 mph in roughly 8.0 seconds and gives the Explorer a 5,000-pound max-tow rating. Optional on front-drive models is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that churns out 240 ponies and 270 pound-feet of twist, but is recommended to run on premium fuel. Fuel economy ratings for the EcoBoost are an estimated 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

2.0-liter turbocharged in-line 4
240 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28

3.5-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
255 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (FWD), 17/23 (4WD)

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2012 Ford Explorer Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 176 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.0/10
    Quality
    8.1/10
  • Reliability
    8.4/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Great car

By on Monday, July 06, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000

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, very realible, safe"

Cons: "I cant think of a single one"

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

"I have had other SUV's and they cant compare! The 2011 ford explorer is one of the best values and driving cars I have ownd. I love the safety features and the mirrors that have blind spot alerts. The dual dvd players allow each child their own choice."

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."

12 people out of 22 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."

3 people out of 4 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!"

2 people out of 3 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

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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?