The Ford Explorer has seen its fair share of nips, tucks, and powertrain updates since its current generation hit showrooms in 2011. While these updates have been nice, the 2019 Ford Explorer still runs on a nine-year-old platform and design language. Is it worth looking past this lack of change and buying this aging SUV for your family? Keep reading to find out.

Best Value

The 2019 Ford Explorer is available in five trim levels: base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum. While the Limited and Platinum models are enticing, they're very expensive, so we recommend going with the more reasonable Explorer XLT. This midrange trim comes standard with keyless ignition, LED low-beam headlights, LED taillights, reverse-sensing system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, SiriusXM, and more.

To help spruce things up, we recommend adding the 280-horsepower 2.3-liter turbocharged engine ($895) and the Driver Connect Package ($2,708). Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model:2019 Ford Explorer XLT
  • Engine: 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder
  • Output:280 hp / 310 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain:Front-wheel drive
  • MPG:19 City / 27 Hwy
  • Options: 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine ($895), Driver Connect Package ($2,780, SYNC 3 infotainment, eight-inch LCD touchscreen, AppLink, 911 Assist, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, two USB ports, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, two 4.2-inch color LCD displays in the instrument cluster, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED fog lights, power and heated side mirrors, LED turn signals, approach lights, integrated blind-spot mirrors)
  • Base Price:$35,395 (including the $995 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$39,070

Performance

Ford ExplorerThe 2019 Ford Explorer has three engines that are more than capable of getting this full-size SUV up to speed quickly. Buyers looking for a little fun sprinkled in with their family hauling will find the Explorer Sport a perfect match. And for buyers looking for a balance of performance and fuel economy, the 280-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is just right.

The 2019 Explorer delivers a soft ride that absorbs crater-sized potholes with ease. Even its optional 20-inch wheels aren’t enough to throw off the ride quality. Handling, however, is a sore spot, as the Explorer quickly shows its heft in the corners – even the Sport trim. Fuel economy takes a big hit with both V6 engines, too.

Style

The Explorer’s interior is free of much of the clutter that has riddled the automaker’s cabins as of late. This gives the 2019 Explorer a clean look. Also, in higher trims, the Explorer’s cabin looks downright luxurious.

While the higher trims are convincingly luxurious, the base model is too basic for most buyers. Moving to the outside, the Explorer is far from ugly, but its looks are getting ancient as its last redesign was way back in 2011. Sure, it’s had some mild surgery throughout the years, but it needs a complete overhaul.

The Best and Worst Things

The Explorer’s turbocharged powertrains make things fun in a straight line, and its upscale interior in the Limited and Platinum trims may make you think you’re in a more premium SUV.

The Explorer’s design is ancient and quickly getting lapped by every other SUV in its class. It’s time for a redo.

Right For? Wrong For?

Ford Explorer

SUV shoppers looking for a nice-performing SUV that can tow a medium-sized trailer and haul the entire family in a surprisingly luxurious cabin will love the higher-trimmed Explorer models.

Base-level SUV shoppers will want to avoid the Explorer due to its stripped-down base cabin and thirsty standard V6 engine.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Ford Explorer still gets the job done as a people- and cargo-hauling SUV, and its upper trims do a nice job of satisfying discerning buyers, but it's time to take that design to pasture. It’s had a great run, but the competition has zipped by it.