The Ford Explorer is the blue oval brand’s largest crossover, a three-row midsize SUV with room for seven. Previously a truck-based SUV, the Explorer transitioned to a car-derived crossover in 2011 and continues to benefit from regular updates to the product line.

Pricing and Equipment

Ford prices the 2017 Explorer from $31,160 for the standard front-wheel drive model. Add $2,150 for all-wheel drive. Four additional trims are available—XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum—with prices ranging from $33,625 to $53,235. Both the Sport and Limited editions offer standard all-wheel drive.

Three engine choices are available, beginning with a 3.5-liter V6 engine standard in the base and XLT ($33,625) editions and available in the Limited ($41,525) edition. This engine makes 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive models are EPA-rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

A 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine is standard on the Sport ($45,205) and Platinum ($53,235) editions. This engine creates 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Models powered by the boosted V6 engine are EPA-rated at 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

A third engine, a 2.3-liter, turbocharged four cylinder is optional on the standard, XLT and Limited editions. The small turbo makes 280 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. This engine delivers the best fuel economy among the three, coming in at 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for front-wheel drive models.

All three engines are paired with six-speed automatic transmissions with manual shifting capabilities.

All models come with aluminum wheels, LED tail lights, a rearview camera with a washer, a tilt and telescopic steering column, power accessories, and hill start assist.

The XLT edition brings in side mirrors with turn signal indicators, a roof rack, keyless entry with push-button start, upgraded cloth seats, and SiriusXM satellite radio. An XLT sport appearance package is new, adding such goodies as 20-inch magnetic gray wheels, Ebony Black body side molding, and other decor.

The Explorer Limited adds power-fold side mirrors, a power-split folding third-row seat, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, a 12-speaker audio system, SYNC 3 infotainment, and a forward media bin.

Choose the Sport model and this model receives the expected sporting embellishments, including rear fascia-integrated dual exhaust tips. Machined 20-inch aluminum wheels and a hands-free liftgate are some of the additional highlights of this model.

Choose the Platinum edition and the upgrades include Nirvana quilted leather seats with quilted inserts, a dual-panel moonroof, a 500-watt Sony audio system, voice-activated navigation, and a suite of safety features.

Performance Pros

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All three engines provide more than sufficient kick. The 2.3-liter turbo four is a decent match for the naturally aspirated V6, delivering equal performance overall.

The intelligent four-wheel drive system in the Sport and Platinum models is a welcome feature and comes with hill descent control. Where most other crossovers aren’t able to tackle tough terrain, equipped models can handle a variety of medium-duty off-road conditions.

Performance Cons

The turbo four-cylinder engine is thirsty and may not deliver the estimated fuel economy numbers for most drivers.

Interior Pros

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Ford makes available a long list of standard and available amenities to suit a wide variety of consumers. Even with the less costly grades such features as ambient lighting, leather seating, and upgraded audio packages are available.

The second-row seat flips forward thanks to a well-placed lever. Access to the third row is eased because of it.

Interior Cons

Some buyers may look for an eighth seating position as found in some competing models, but Ford doesn’t offer this option. Instead, you have the Transit van and the big Expedition SUV to consider for your additional passenger needs.

Our reviewers noted the bottom cushions on the second-row seat points down at an awkward angle. You’d be better off opting for the available bucket seats, but that does mean forgoing one seating position.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The leather-wrapped interior in the Platinum edition is top shelf, matching what many luxury models offer. Clearly, Ford has luxury SUV shoppers targeted in the Explorer Platinum, although that also means Lincoln shoppers may want to take a closer look too.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Work with the Ford pricing configurator and you’ll quickly learn how easy it is to drive the final price of the Platinum edition above $55,000, especially if you add the dual-headrest DVD entertainment system ($1,995) or opt for second-row bucket seats ($695). That your final price may approach $60,000 is simply stunning.

The Bottom Line

Ford continues to expand its fleet of people movers—vans, crossovers, and SUVs alike. The 2017 Explorer offers shoppers a compelling reason to look at the model line, while offering more engine choices than most competitors.