Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000
  • 10 Best Midsize SUVs
  • 10 Best AWD Cars & SUVs Under $25,000
  • 2014 Compact SUV Buyer's Guide
Go

2012 Ford Explorer

Overview
Share this page
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?

2012 Ford Explorer Review

By

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)

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?

2012 Ford Explorer Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
7.9
Out of 10

Based on 137 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.8/10
    Quality
    8.1/10
  • Reliability
    8.4/10
    Performance
    8.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Totally satisfied.

By on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great driveability and interior comfort."

Cons: "Software updates."

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

"47,000 miles and totally satisfied. Great highway or inner city vehicle. Respectable mileage for the size."

Safe and comfortable

By on Monday, July 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,500

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
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "functional, comfortable"

Cons: "SYNC doesn't cooperate sometimes"

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

"My wife's daily driver. We have had it 2 years and are very happy. Love the 20" wheels, glad we went for them and they are great for the looks but they don't do any favors for the ride. We've averaged 20.5 mpg in 20,000 miles so far with the vehicle 50% loaded most of the time so I'm impressed with that. The 3rd row is nice but I wouldn't put an adult back there. The SYNC is fun but isn't without its glitches. It's not the driving experience I hoped it would be in hill country, but I didn't want to pay 10,000 more for a MDX....so. It's not an SUV, it's a crossover. It ain't rugged. But it is smooth and quiet....cant have it all. I think we'll keep it. Oh, and the BLIS system has saved the day."

I love this vehicle. Better than my old Scalade

By on Sunday, July 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,569

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Good gas millage."

Cons: "The stick has a sensor (+/-) is alredy broken."

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

"My Ford Explorer Limited Edition, it is comfortable. It rides quiet, the seats are comfortable. It is a reliable vehicle during the winter and snow days, and in the summer it cools off quickly. I'm glad I purchased this vehicle."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Great SUV!

By on Saturday, July 12, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Over all great vehicle."

Cons: "Original grill ugly! Bought all chrome snap-on"

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

"We are very happy with this SUV, even though we stepped down from a Yukon XL! This vehicle proves more than adequate in our retirement."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Great Family Car!

By on Sunday, July 06, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000

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: "VERY Versatile, comfortable ride and great mpg"

Cons: "Small fuel tank, Slow acceleration"

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

"I own the 2013 XLT 3.5 liter v6, and my family of 6 an I absolutely love this car! We get great gas mileage, especially for an SUV. We traded in our Minivan for our explorer, and not only is it more stylish, but it gets better gas mileage, is more comfortable on long distance trips (with twins in booster seats, and 5 other passengers, we all remained as comfortable as you could possibley expect on a 700+ mile road trip), it can pull our boat, and with 4wd, instead of awd, it is easier and cheaper to maintain, and drove with ease in 10" of snow. It Is VERY Easy and Comfortable To drive on all roads and terrain. Only negatives, is that it only has an 18 gallon tank, so even with great mileage, you have to stop and fill up 300 miles or so (that's with the v6), and when you accelerate, the transmission takes a few seconds to catch up. Other than that, no complaints, and I have previously owned cars, trucks, vans, and our Explorer is by far the best car we've had yet."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Great car

By on Sunday, June 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 126

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: "Everything, great looking inside and out"

Cons: "Would like tint on the front windows"

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

"I have been looking at reviews & pricing for this car for months and I finally pulled the trigger on the limited 2014. We absolutely love it, the technology is awesome and the sync touch screen is not nearly as bad as some reviews say. It is just like getting a new phone or computer, it takes about a week to get used to everything. My Ford Explorer is very comfortable and plenty of room in the back for my kids. It does feel a bit big on the inside like others have said but it is easier to drive than my small 350Z. I was initially going to get a loaded XLT but for roughly $2600 more you are in the Limited and it has some great features. This car has a lot of tech inside so if you are like my wife and have troubles with new advances then you might need help getting everything set up. If I would change anything I would like the front windows with tint on them but I understand why they did not add it and for $70 I will just drop it off at the tint shop."

8 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
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?

See if you qualify for
up
to
Cash Back
on a new
Details