KBB Editors' Overview
By Matt Degen
- Updated Date: 5/10/2013
Ford's latest Explorer is a far different vehicle than those of the generations before it. What used to be a rough and rugged truck-based vehicle is now a sleeker, softer and more fuel-efficient crossover SUV. Gone are features like a 2-speed transfer case and V8 engine that enabled the old Explorer to climb mountains. In their place are more pragmatic features like a rearview camera and the MyFord infotainment system that help parents navigate school parking lots and keep the kids entertained once loaded in back. Like rivals such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot, the 3-row 2014 Explorer happily accommodates families. It's not nearly as nimble as some rivals, but the Explorer has an adventurous spirit and snazzy off-road smarts.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're seeking a roomy, versatile and technically advanced SUV that's more comfortable and fuel-efficient than truck-based vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe or, well, a 2010 Explorer, Ford's latest will fit the bill.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you want your family hauler to feel nimble (at least for this class), check out the Mazda CX-9 or Honda Pilot. Both are easier to maneuver when parking lots get crowded and lighter on their feet when roads turn twisty.
What's New for 2014
Only minor changes are in store for the 2014 Explorer. Among them are automatic on/off headlights with wiper activation that become standard on all models, and 2nd-row heated seats that are now included in Limited models.
Just as the latest-gen Explorer shed its old skin for a more refined, contemporary image, and so it goes when you hop behind the wheel. The Explorer feels more like a soft-sprung sedan than a rigid truck because its underpinnings are essentially the former. This makes for a comfortable – bordering on lumbering – ride. Visibility to the front and sides is good thanks to a commanding view from the driver's seat. But rearward visibility suffers from blind spots. We quickly became thankful for the wide-view mirrors and available blind-spot monitoring system. The 2014 Explorer's base, 290-horsepower V6 feels adequate for routine driving, but has to work hard to move this vehicle's 4,500-plus pounds up steeper hills. A lower-horsepower but higher-mileage 4-cylinder is available, as is a potent turbocharged V6 introduced in 2013 Explorer Sport models. Four-wheel-drive (4WD) models have the slick terrain-management system (see Favorite Features below for why we like it).
TWIN-TURBOCHARGED V6 ENGINE
Introduced in 2013 in the range-topping Explorer Sport trim, this 365-horsepower engine provides much-appreciated power to Ford's big SUV while returning respectable fuel-economy figures.
TERRAIN MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Similar to the advanced system used in Land Rover vehicles, this feature enables drivers to optimize 4-wheel-drive Explorer models for snow, mud, or ruts with the twist of a dial.
For vehicle details and pricing notes…