Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
2018 Ford Explorer OVERVIEW
It could be argued that the 2018 Ford Explorer is the best all-arounder in the competitive three-row crossover SUV segment. It's not the most stylish, powerful or fuel-efficient, but user-friendly technology, features, and competitive pricing makes it attractive to new vehicle shoppers looking for a well-rounded midsize SUV. The 2018 Ford Explorer features five trim levels with eight possible drivetrain configurations and multiple color options, making it a popular draw for a variety of families.
What's New for 2018
To dress-up its exterior appearance, Ford has slightly enhanced the Explorer's front-grille design, added quad-exhaust tips for the Platinum and Sport, and added five new wheel designs. Four new exterior colors have also been added for 2018. A Safe and Smart Package adds a bundle of popular upgrade items including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, a lane-keep assist system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic high-beams. A new 4G LTE wifi hotspot has also been added to the new Explorer.
Choosing Your Ford Explorer
Ford offers the 2018 Explorer with five trim levels – the base Explorer, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum. The 2018 Explorer's base and XLT trims are powered by a standard 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The EPA rates this engine at 17 miles per gallon city, 24 mpg highway, 20 combined.
Under the hood of the Limited is a turbocharged, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 280 horsepower with 310 lb-ft of torque. The EPA-estimated mileage falls to 19/27/22 mpg for the front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive Explorers reduce to 18/25/21 mpg. This engine is also available as an $895 option on the base and XLT models.
The Sport and Platinum trims are equipped with a peppy, 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 that delivers 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Although they're fun to drive, estimated fuel economy decreases to 16/22/18 mpg. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with all engine combinations. Front-wheel drive comes standard on all but the Explorer Sport and Platinum, while all-wheel drive is a $2,150 option for the base, XLT, and Limited.
A $1,295 Safe and Smart Package adds adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high beams, and rain-sensing wipers, while a panoramic sunroof costs $1,695. Both of these items are available on the XLT, Limited, and Sport, while they come standard on the Platinum. A rear-seat entertainment system adds a pair of displays behind the front headrests along with a DVD player for $1,995. It's available all but the base Explorer.
While the 2018 Ford Explorer is a good, all-around three-row crossover SUV, accurately pricing Explorers can be confusing – especially when convenience packages are added. For consumers looking for an overall good value, packed with practical upgrades, we'd recommend the Limited trim with the Safe and Smart Package, which rings up just under $45,000.
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