2018 Ford Explorer
XLT 3.5L V6
Automatic (6 Speed)
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When Ford introduced the current generation of the Explorer back in 2011, it switched from the Explorer's traditional body-on-frame construction to a more carlike unibody. In so doing, the Explorer more fully (and smartly) embraced its role as daily family transport, delivering better road manners and much more refinement.
The Explorer is now entering the eighth model year of its current generation, yet it is still competitive.
Overall, though, the 2018 Ford Explorer gets things right, and it's been seen as a respectable choice for a three-row midsize SUV.
For 2018, many driver assistance features (adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, automatic wipers and automatic high beams) have been grouped together into a single options package.
Base models, predictably, sit at the very bottom of the Explorer range. These models have 18-inch wheels, cloth upholstery and manually adjustable front seats, though a rearview camera and Sync voice commands spruce up things a bit.
Buyers who want to amp things up will be attracted to the Sport model, which gets leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, premium audio and power-folding third-row seats. It also comes with a powerful turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (365 hp, 350 lb-ft of torque), firmer suspension tuning and a towing package. It comes with a panoramic sunroof, an automated parking system, premium leather upholstery, a premium audio system and more.
Unlike other models dubbed "Sport," the 2017 Explorer Sport is indeed sporty, thanks to its turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, stiffer suspension tuning and quicker steering. The result is lots of speed and impressive handling and braking. There's lots of "boost," not much "eco," with the EcoBoost V6. It has instant, effortless power anytime you touch the gas pedal. The six-speed automatic is smooth and smart about using the 350 lb-ft of torque; zero to 60 mph takes just 6.3 seconds, which is excellent for a big three-row crossover.
The brakes don't feel overly powerful, but they get the job done. The pedal has a nice linear action around town, and it's easy to stop smoothly. It recorded a remarkable stopping distance from 60 mph of 108 feet, with the optional sticky summer tires.
Well-tuned electric steering system and natural assist level; it turns in with immediacy. Good heft at speed but light enough for parking-lot duty. Overall it's excellent for this class.
The Sport's stiffer suspension and optional performance tires transform the Explorer. Body roll is kept to a minimum, the tires give good grip, and it doesn't feel floaty. The suspension does a good job soaking up midcorner bumps, too.
The gas pedal can be a bit abrupt on initial tip-in. The optional adaptive cruise control is ultraconsistent and never varies by more than 1 mph; the transmission downshifts to maintain speed. Always available power makes merging into fast traffic simple.
The Explorer Sport comes with all-wheel drive, including a four-position controller for the Terrain Management System, letting you toggle between Normal, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Grass/Gravel/Snow modes. Still, this is all for enhancing on-pavement traction, not conquering trails.
Given the Explorer Sport's handling prowess, it loses a small degree of overall plush compared to the regular Explorer, the tauter handling is worth the minor trade-off. The seats are comfy, even in the third row.
The reasonably wide and flat front seats are cushy with good support. Nicely padded armrests. The optional second-row buckets have excellent comfort but no inner armrests. The third-row upper seatback is a bit firm with handy outer armrests.
The Sport's stiffer suspension tuning means you'll feel more bumps and ruts on the road than you will in a regular Explorer, but it's still pretty comfy. The suspension is surprisingly compliant given the improved handling.
A quiet SUV. The tires are unusually silent for their size and performance-bent. Wind noise is barely noticeable, too. At full throttle, the turbocharged V6 takes on a V8-like tonal quality.
Ford got rid of the touch-sensitive controls on the Explorer's center stack. We highly recommend the optional sliding second-row bucket seats you lose a seat but gain comfort as well as better third-row access and space.
The all-new Sync 3 technology interface works far better than previous versions. Radio tuning uses a button; volume, a grippy knob. Handy, configurable gauge screens.
The long and wide-opening front doors make for a big entryway. Noticeable step-down from the second row; shorter-legged folks will brush their legs on the doorsill, but hitting heads is not an issue. Second-row captain's chairs make for easy third-row access. Most drivers will find it easy to get in a good position that feels comfortable and affords a good view.
Super airy up front, with a long dash, loads of headroom and elbow space. The second-row captain's chairs recline and, unlike the standard bench seat, slide fore and aft. Third-row headroom is good for average-size adults.
Expansive windshield and tall windows. The rear view is limited a bit by thick pillars but can be maximized by putting down the third row head rests. Getting the optional parking sensors and other driver safety aids will help out.
A well-made SUV. Plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin; the steering wheel has quality leather; the trim pieces look good and fit together well.
The cargo area's deep well is extreamly useful especially for the family grocery trips. There's a good variety of cabin storage overall. Anti-tip cupholders, long door pockets, a huge center console bin. The deep well behind the third row provides a superior amount of space. Total capacity of 81.7 cubic feet is on the small end for the segment.
Two child seats can fit easily in the outboard positions, but some seat manufacturers don't recommend using them in conjunction with Ford's optional inflatable seat belts.
Electronic trailer sway control and a Class III trailer tow package come standard on the Explorer Sport. This EcoBoost V6 is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
EQUIPMENT GROUP 400A
2ND ROW DUAL CAPTAIN CHAIRS
TWIN PANEL MOONROOF
2ND ROW CONSOLE
* Note: We always do our best to provide the most accurate and up-to-date features and information. Please contact the dealer to confirm availability and details. Prices listed include all fees, but do not include GST and costs associated with financing.