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2014 Ford Explorer Review

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2014 Ford Explorer Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.3

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.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.3
  • 7.2
  • 6.8
  • 7.8
  • 7.0
  • 7.8
How It Ranks

#57

out of 70

Fuel Economy

#12

out of 68

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

8.1 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2014 Ford Explorer Low/wide front photo 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.

Driving the Explorer
2014 Ford Explorer Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions 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.

2014 Ford Explorer Details
2014 Ford Explorer Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

2014 Ford Explorer models feature three rows of seats and hold six or seven passengers depending on configuration. Even the 2-passenger third row is livable for adults. The second row features a 3-person bench or, and for added comfort, can be had with two bucket seats. Both rear rows fold nearly flat to create a vast 80.7 cubic feet of cargo area, and both have power-folding availability. The large front seats are split by a wide transmission tunnel with built-in armrests and two of the Explorer's eight cupholders. Seat material is cloth in lower trims and leather in higher versions.

Exterior
2014 Ford Explorer photo

While not as boxy as past versions, the 2014 Explorer still has an athletic presence thanks to well-defined sheet metal that's bolstered by bulges in just the right places. Of particular prominence are creases running along the sides just aft the front wheels that convey muscle and motion. At the rear is a one-piece liftgate. Below, dual exhaust tips lend a sporty look. Sport models are edgier with an ebony grille, darkened wheels, and headlights with blackout treatment. Wheels range in size from 17 to 20 inches.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2014 Ford Explorer is available in four trims: Base, XLT, Limited and Sport. Just over $30,000 for a base version buys you quite a bit of vehicle with a V6 engine, single-zone climate control with rear auxiliary climate control and power driver's seat. Standard audio is a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD system with aux and USB inputs. Walking up trim lines can net you leather, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, and Ford's Sync entertainment and communications system. Standard safety features include Roll Stability Control and Curve Control, the latter of which can slow the vehicle if it senses you're taking a corner too quickly.

Optional Equipment

Depending on the depth of your pockets, the Explorer can be a relatively basic people hauler or an amenity-filled technological thriller. Optional on V6 models is 4-wheel drive (standard on Sport editions) in place of front-wheel drive (FWD). The smaller, more fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine can be had on all but Explorer Sport trims. Adaptive Cruise Control and blind-spot monitoring are available, as is a lane-departure system that can nudge you back into the lane should you wander. Rear-seat inflatable seatbelts are also noteworthy. The power liftgate with height adjustment is always appreciated when you're arms are full. Rear-seat passengers can be spoiled with a dual-screen DVD system and dual-panel moonroof.

Under the Hood
2014 Ford Explorer Engine photo

Three engine choices reside under the hood of the 2014 Explorer. Standard is the 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that is adequate for most peoples' needs, but not overwhelming. Optional is a smaller, turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine whose headline is a 28-mpg highway EPA rating. The top dog, exclusive to the Sport model, is the turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost good for 365 horsepower. All 2014 Explorer models have a 6-speed automatic transmission. Those with a V6 engine feature Ford's SelectShift version that enables drivers to shift gears manually. The souped-up Sport model takes that notion further with paddle shifters for those instances you want to mimic a racecar driver. All engines can run on regular unleaded, though premium is recommended for the EcoBoost variants. Tow rating is 2,000 pounds for 4-cylinder models and 5,000 pounds for V6 versions.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg

3.5-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
255 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg (FWD), 13/18 mpg (E85), 17/23 (4WD), 12/17 mpg (4WD E85)

3.5-liter turbocharged V6
365 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
350 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22

The 2014 Ford Explorer has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $30,495 for a base version with front-wheel drive. The mid-level XLT version starts at $33,495, and a top-trim Sport model is $41,675 before options. At these prices, the Explorer doesn't stray far from competitors such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot. Hyundai's new 7-passenger Santa Fe, meanwhile, starts a few hundred below the $30K mark. If you're just looking for a new, 3-row crossover SUV with a rock-bottom price, a basically equipped 7-seat Dodge Journey can be had in the low-$20,000 range. Before buying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to ensure you get the best deal. In terms of resale value, the Explorer's value is predicted to hold up quite well with residuals ahead of the Dodge Durango, in line with the Traverse and Pilot, but below the Highlander.

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2014 Ford Explorer Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.1
Out of 10

Based on 180 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
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Best vehicle ive owned; just oil, tires & brakes

By on Thursday, August 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 92,000

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
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Reliable, fun, lots of comfort, room, and power"

Cons: "Needs rollup cargo shade"

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

"Lots of fun to drive, the stability control system saved my life one time on the freeway. Good mileage (21mpg) Sold a Tahoe and wasn't sure if the Explorer would have enough room, but I never noticed a difference. Going to get the 2016 Explorer Sport! Trouble free, just oil changes (all synthetic), tires, brakes, and a couple minor recalls."

You will LOVE it!!

By on Friday, August 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500

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: "fun to drive, looks great,"

Cons: "gas mileage could be better, average 13mpg"

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

"I owned a 2002 Explorer and loved it. When they redesigned them, I fell in love again. I finally broke down and bought a 2014 Sport addition. This car practically drives for you. It is designed to travel in. The seats are incredibly comfortable, it is roomy, 7 people fit easily. This car has easily pulled anything I needed I am a huge techie. This car has pretty much everything you could want in a vehicle, and it looks beautiful and stylish as well! You won't be sorry if you buy one!!"

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Great family car

By on Saturday, July 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"I have 4 kids and this car is great. Gas mileage is fair. I would recommend this car to other families."

9 people out of 16 found this review helpful

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