The 2018 Ford Explorer crossover SUV has three engine configurations to choose from, and a six-speed automatic transmission comes as standard. The base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 with an output of 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. The next option is a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 with an output of 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The most powerful option is a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine with an output of 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is available for the three lower trim levels while all-wheel drive is standard for the two high-end trims. With the most powerful engine under the hood, there was no hesitation to move forward upon the opening of the throttle. Turbo lag was nonexistent and the power delivery was linear. It took 6.3 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill, which performed faster than its competition. The Explorer handled like a smaller vehicle than its size suggests. It felt planted throughout the turn and there was minimal body roll to hold it back. The steering was responsive and maneuvering through busy streets was almost effortless. The effort required to change direction was progressive although it felt slightly disengaged from the pavement. The brakes were pretty decent because stopping from 60 mph only took 108 feet. The stopping force was predictable and wasn’t too sensitive. The pedal felt firm and controlling the bite from the brakes was intuitive.
The base trim comes standard with a power-adjustable driver seat, cruise control, voice commands, Bluetooth, a USB port, infotainment system with a 4.2-inch display and a six-speaker sound system. The XLT trim adds satellite radio, power-adjustable front seats, a push-to-start button, a proximity key, and more advanced safety and driver aids. The Limited trim adds power-adjustable pedals, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, power-folding third-row seats, a hands-free liftgate, automatic climate control, a 110V power outlet, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen and a 12-speaker Sony sound system. There are also additional advanced safety and driver aids. The Sport trim adds a sport-tuned suspension, a terrain management system, and towing equipment. The Platinum trim is similarly equipped as the Sport trim without the off-road-oriented upgrades.
The 2018 Explorer was tested by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and it earned five stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and four stars in the rollover test. Overall, it earned a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. The advanced safety and driver aids that come standard with the base trim include a rearview camera and Ford’s MyKey teen driver monitoring system. Additional features are added to higher trim levels and they are rear parking sensors, a 180-degree front parking camera, hill descent control, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, active park assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The 2018 Explorer has a length of 198.3 inches, a width of 78.9 inches, a height of 70 inches, and a wheelbase of 112.8 inches. The Explorer is distinguished by its angular silhouette that almost seems trapezoidal when viewed from the side. The front fascia sports a square jawline with no hint of any aerodynamic and flowing lines. The base trim comes standard with 18-inch wheels and the higher trim levels can go up to 20-inch wheels. Roof rails and running boards are available for the base trim but the sunroof only becomes available with the XLT trim.
For a passenger with average height, the ground clearance was low enough such that not much stretch was felt when stepping into the cabin. There were no obstructions when getting inside because the doors opened wide. The first and second rows offered spacious legroom and headroom but the third row had compromised legroom because the shins were already against the seat in front. Up to seven passengers can be accommodated by the three rows of seats inside. The first and second rows were well-cushioned and supportive even during long drives. The third row was still comfortable but the back support felt too firm. The leather upholstery for the seats and interior trim had a good fit and finish. Despite its well-tuned cornering skills, the ride quality wasn’t compromised even with the sporty suspension setup. Bumps were still felt but were dampened enough to minimize harshness. The smaller wheels could have been more forgiving with the road imperfections. Road and wind noise was barely heard despite not being aerodynamic and the atmosphere in the cabin was serene.
There is 21 cu-ft of space behind the third row of seats, and behind the second row is 43.8 cu-ft of space. Folding the second and third rows opens up 80.7 cu-ft of space.