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Explorer
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  • Tim Charlet
    Automotive Editor - December 5, 2017

    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.

    Base

    The 2018 Ford Explorer base trim level starts with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $32,985 (including a $995 destination fee). The base rides on 18-inch wheels, includes second and third-row tinted windows, cloth upholstery and manual-adjustable front seats. The Sync voice command system and a rearview camera is a nice added feature to the base model, but there isn't much going on beyond that.

    Optional extras are focused on towing and exterior accessories. SiriusXM satellite radio is a $195 option.

    XLT

    Climbing the ladder of available trims on the 2018 Ford Explorer is the XLT with a starting price of $35,015.

    The XLT includes LED running lights, SiriusXM satellite radio, rear parking sensors, and chrome body accents. But where the XLT doesn't offer much more standard equipment than the base trim, it does open up access to multiple packages and optional extras.

    The 201A Equipment Group costs $2,330, but completely overhauls the Explorer's multimedia system. Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system works through an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a seven-speaker audio system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a pair of USB ports are also included. A power liftgate, dual-zone climate control, remote start, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. For an additional $4,900, consumers can add the 202A Equipment Package, which includes everything from the 201A package plus a heated steering wheel, heated leather front seats, and two 4.2-inch LCD displays in the instrument cluster. The XLT Technology Feature Bundle available at $935 additional can also be added to include a voice-activated navigation system.

    20-inch painted wheels, interior accent colors along with front and rear bumper covers are included in the XLT Appearance Package for an additional $1,295. A $650 Cold Weather Package with heated driver and passenger seats, cold-weather windshield wipers and heated side mirrors is also available with the XLT.

    Limited

    For buyers searching for attractive, user-friendly technology features, the Limited edition is an exceptional value. Starting at $43,085, the 2018 Ford Explorer Limited adds ventilated and heated front seats, leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, and power-folding third-row seats. Although the Limited comes with the smaller, four-cylinder turbocharged engine, consumers can switch to the V6 for no additional charge.

    Unlike the XLT, the Limited is only available with one expansive equipment package. The 301A Equipment Group costs $3,240 and adds an automatic parking assist system, forward collision warning, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. The 301A group also includes rain-sensing wipers and inflatable rear safety belts.

    Sport

    The Sport model lives up to its name adding firmer suspension, a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine, all-wheel drive, and quad-chrome exhaust tips for an MSRP of $46,945. Standard 20-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, a blacked-out exterior accents, and LED headlights are also standard. The Explorer Sport also adds a power liftgate and trailer towing package.

    The Explorer Sport's 401A Equipment Group costs $3,875 and broadly matches the Limited's 301A package. It also adds second-row heated seats and USB ports, a front 180-degree camera, and a premium 500-watt Sony sound system.

    Platinum

    At the top of the Ford Explorer food-chain is the Platinum edition, with an MSRP of $54,935. The Platinum comes with automated parking assist system, a panoramic sunroof, the Sony audio system, and an upgraded leather interior with a driver memory function. The Platinum includes virtually every option listed above, aside from the rear-seat entertainment system. That somewhat softens the blow of its high starting price.

    CarsDirect Tip

    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.

    Get your price on a Ford Explorer »

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