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2023 Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer OEM Exterior Photo
OEM Interior Primary
OEM Exterior Standard
OEM Exterior
OEM Interior
Photos Colors
CarsDirect Target Price
$32,605
Expert Rating
3.1 (Good)

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

Select a Trim
Select a Trim
2023 Base 4dr 4x2
most popular
Price:   -  From $32,605
2023 XLT 4dr 4x2 Price:   -  From $34,415
2023 Base 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $34,605
2023 XLT 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $36,415
2023 ST-Line 4dr 4x2 Price:   -  From $42,200
2023 Limited 4dr 4x2 Price:   -  From $43,265
2023 ST-Line 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $44,200
2023 Timberline 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $45,175
2023 Limited 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $45,265
2023 ST 4dr 4x2 Price:   -  From $45,850
2023 ST 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $47,850
2023 Platinum 4dr 4x2 Price:   -  From $50,115
2023 King Ranch 4dr 4x2 Price:   -  From $50,370
2023 Platinum 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $52,115
2023 King Ranch 4dr 4x4 Price:   -  From $52,370

Overview

What's New

There are no changes to Ford’s Explorer for 2023, following some tweaks last year. This remains an eight-model SUV range with a choice of two gas powerplants and one hybrid engine, with AWD standard on one model and optional everywhere else.

Choosing Your Ford Explorer

The eight-model Explorer range starts with the titular base model, priced at $38,255 (all prices include destination). There’s a huge price jump from XLT ($40,065) to ST-Line ($47,500), while Platinum and King Ranch round out the range, priced at $55,315 and $55,570 respectively. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option on every trim bar mid-range Timberline, where it’s standard.

Engine Choices

The default Explorer engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost gas unit, fitted to every model up to and including Timberline. It produces 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, fed to the rear wheels through the same ten-speed automatic transmission fitted to every model. AWD is standard on Timberline models and optional elsewhere in the range.

A three-liter V6 is fitted to ST and King Ranch models, producing 400 hp and 415 lb-ft. It can also be added to the Platinum trim, where the standard-fit 3.3-liter hybrid unit generates 318 hp and 322 lb-ft.

Fuel economy for the 2023 Explorer had yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, but 2022 data showed 16 different sets of figures, depending on engine and drivetrain configuration. These vary from an EPA-estimated 27 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 27 combined in RWD hybrid models to 18/24/20 MPG in AWD three-liter gas versions.

Engine TypeHorsepowerTorqueFuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined)
2.3 EcoBoost300 hp310 lb-ft

21/28/24 mpg (RWD)

20/27/23 mpg (AWD)

3.0 V6400 hp415 lb-ft

18/26/21 mpg (RWD)

18/24/20 mpg (AWD)

3.3 hybrid318 hp322 lb-ft

27/28/27 mpg (RWD)

25/26/26 mpg (AWD)

Passenger and Cargo Capacity

Cargo capacity for the six or seven-seater Explorer (the base model has a three-row middle bench while every other trim has second-row captain’s chairs) stands at 18.2 cu ft with the rear seats in place. This increases to 47.9 and 87.8 cu ft once the third and second-row seats are lowered.

Ford Explorer

Safety Features

Every Explorer is sold with roll stability control, a knee airbag for the front passenger, a post-crash alert system, and automatic LED lights, while driver aids include lane-keeping assistance and a driver alert monitor. Rain-sensing wipers and a 360-degree camera make their debut on third-from-base ST-Line models, while second-from-top Platinum is the first to receive reverse braking assistance. Only AWD models have hill descent control and AWD-only Timberland models are unique in receiving off-road front struts and rear shocks, though a terrain management system is standard across the range, as is trailer sway control.

Connectivity

The standard Explorer infotainment system sees a two-band radio paired with six speakers. ST-Line models and above receive satellite/HD radio and a far superior 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, though mid-range Timberline and ST revert to the stock head unit. The base trim is the only one missing out on a 6.5-inch color LCD instrument screen, while ST and above boost this to 12.3 inches. A ten-inch touchscreen is standard fare across the range, with navigation fitted to ST-Line and above (it’s optional on ST).

Ford Explorer

2023 Ford Explorer – MSRP from $38,255

The most affordable Explorer comes with automatic LED lights, power-adjustable outside mirrors, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Inside the cabin, there’s three-zone temperature control, power locks and windows, an eight-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, and a power liftgate.

There are no packages on this model.

2023 Ford Explorer XLT – MSRP from $40,065

Privacy glass and heated outside mirrors are among XLT’s upgrades, while other improvements include a push-button start and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The instrument panel screen grows from 4.2 to 6.5 inches, with additional sockets throughout the cabin. This is also the first Explorer with second-row captain’s chairs, while the front-row seats are heated and the front passenger gains four-way power.

The unromantically titled 202A Equipment Group adds a heated steering wheel, eight-way power for the passenger seat, LED fog lights, and a remote start system, for a rather expensive $3,540.

2023 Ford Explorer ST-Line – MSRP from $47,500

A substantial price hike from XLT is signified externally by the appearance of foglamps, chrome exhaust tips, and larger 20-inch wheels. The main improvements lie inside the cabin, where you find rain-sensing wipers and acoustic side windows, a 360-degree camera, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. A 12-speaker Bose stereo handles the satellite and HD radio output, a wireless charging pad looks after smartphones, and navigation comes as standard.

There are no packages on this model.

2023 Ford Explorer Limited – MSRP from $48,565

A far smaller price hike from ST-Line sees only minor tweaks on Limited models, such as chrome exterior detailing, front parking sensors, and a universal garage door opener. The leather seating has perforated inserts and accent stitching, while the second-row seats are heated and the front occupants enjoy seat ventilation.

The $840 301A Equipment Group combines a memory driver’s seat with power-folding third-row seats.

2023 Ford Explorer Timberline – MSRP from $50,745

Dropping the ventilated front and heated second-row seats, AWD-only Timberline models also shed Limited’s perforated seating in favor of ActiveX trimming with tangerine stitching. The Bose stereo is dropped, and floor mats are replaced with liners.

2023 Ford Explorer ST – MSRP from $51,500

Not to be confused with the ST-Line trim, ST models are less well-equipped than Limited in some regards. Their improvements over Timberline extend to quad chrome exhaust tips, a 12.3-inch instrument panel cluster, and heated second-row seats. Non-hybrid models also receive a non-limited-slip rear axle, while a sport-tuned independent rear suspension is standard on all configurations.

There’s one package on ST models – the $4,940 401A. It combines 21-inch aluminum wheels and performance red brake calipers with the Bose stereo and 360-degree camera.

2023 Ford Explorer Platinum – MSRP from $55,315

Platinum models are comprehensively equipped, sporting adaptive LED headlamps and rain-sensing wipers, a leather-clad center console armrest, and real wood dash trim. The Bose stereo is reinstated, the navigation gains voice activation, the third-row seating power-folds down, and reverse brake assist is standard.

2023 Ford Explorer King Ranch – MSRP from $55,570

Differences on King Ranch models are purely aesthetic – bespoke logos on the seat backs, perforated inserts on the Del Rio leather, Sapele wood instrument panel appliques, and a unique steering wheel.

Compare Explorer Trims Side-By-Side

CarsDirect Tip

It’s hard to justify Timberline and ST models when their prices are greater but their specifications are lesser than more affordable variants. XLT will be fine for buyers on a budget, but ST-Line probably offers the best balance of value and equipment.

author image
Automotive Editor
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Prices & Deals

Expert Review

Pros
  • Two strong gas engines
  • Generous storage and cargo capacity
  • Impressive safety ratings and kit
  • Plenty of choice
Cons
  • Price rises are hard to justify
  • Hybrid model is poor
  • Third row is cramped
  • Design is dated
Expert Rating
3.1 (Good)

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

author image
Automotive Editor

A wealth of choice – at a high price. Henry Ford would have been baffled by the volume of choice offered to modern-day Explorer buyers. Not only is this three-row SUV available in six colors (though five of them are monochrome), but it can also be acquired in eight trim levels, with three powertrains, rear or all-wheel drive, gas or hybrid variants…

Unfortunately, there’s a price to pay for all this choice – quite literally. Despite being effectively unchanged since 2020, Ford keeps increasing Explorer’s price tag. There’s a near $4,000 hike for the otherwise identical base model this year, meaning you’ll need almost $40,000 to bring one home. That compares unfavorably with the likes of Hyundai’s Palisade or Kia’s mechanically similar Telluride. Worse, the $57,570 King Ranch flagship finds itself competing on price with the Land Rover Discovery, which is better both on and off-road.

Model behavior. Rivals might do more for less, but the Explorer range still appeals to a wide range of potential buyers. Every model can be upgraded to AWD for $2,000, barring the off-road-focused Timberland which is already prepared for the rough stuff. Value may be lacking nowadays, but second-from-cheapest XLT models can be upgraded with luxuries like a heated steering wheel and remote start courtesy of an extensive options package. If you want features like wood trim and perforated leather, the premium King Ranch is here to serve.

One thing you won’t find across the Explorer range is good economy. There is a hybrid, but it’s surprisingly poor, mating a 3.3-liter V6 to a 1.5 kWh battery pack to deliver by far the worst performance in the range alongside unparalleled levels of noise. A combined economy of just 27 mpg isn’t much better than the figure recorded for RWD base models (23) or an AWD-equipped XLT (22). These are powered using refined turbo-4 or V6 gas engines, and all three powertrains can tow 5,000 pounds. The V6 can propel this heavy SUV to 60 in less than six seconds, though the unpredictable ten-speed automatic transmission makes progress lumpier than those figures expect. At least things don’t deteriorate in the bends, with independent suspension limiting body lean and ensuring a reasonably comfortable journey.

Six appeal. Ford markets the Explorer as a seven-seater, but this is disingenuous. The base model is the only one supplied as standard with a 35/30/35 middle bench seat, with every other model swapping in captain’s chairs instead. These are much more comfortable, as well as tipping forwards easily for access into a rear whose limited legroom is further compromised by the seats sitting atop the back axle. It’s fine for children or contortionists, but adults won’t thank you for a long journey back here despite large windows on all sides.

Things are far better up front, where comfy front seats include power adjustment for the driver on every trim. XLT trims and above add heating, while visibility is impressive. Materials are generally good, though the dash is blocky rather than curvaceous. We do like the hidden storage compartments in the trunk, whose 18.2 cubic feet capacity can be increased to almost 88 cubes with the middle and rear seats dropped.

Ford Explorer

Dated design but uprated safety. Inside, certain color configurations can result in a thoroughly monochrome interior, with black dominating every surface. This is one reason to look at higher trims, where wooden dash inserts and silver plastics reduce the monotony. Materials are typical Ford – Volvo certainly won’t be worried – but everything is logically positioned and clearly labeled. It’s equally clear that the Explorer’s styling is beginning to fall behind the times; a modest eight-inch touchscreen won’t impress anyone, while the blocky rear lights are perhaps the most obvious external expression of this SUV’s vintage.

It might be getting on a bit, but at least Ford has updated the Explorer’s safety roster. The 2023 model receives top scores from both America’s crash test agencies, while every trim receives automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Other standard fitments include blind-spot monitoring, active lane control, and automatic headlights, though adaptive cruise and automatic rear emergency braking are consigned to the options list.

Final thoughts. In the hugely competitive (some might say overpopulated) three-row SUV sector, a vehicle needs to be exceptional to stand out. Sadly for Ford, its venerable Explorer is slowly falling behind the times, while annual price increases make it harder to argue a compelling case for it as a value proposition. Rivals can seat more people in greater comfort, with a superior performance alongside greater economy. Put simply, the Explorer doesn’t excel in any area, yet it lags behind in quite a few.

Does that make it a bad car? Of course not. The foremost four occupants get to travel in comfort and space, while those in the cheap seats at least enjoy panoramic views in every direction. Safety is impressive on every model, and performance from the two gas engines is excellent – though the hybrid isn’t worthy of consideration. Remember also that AWD is an upgrade on every model bar the Timberline, whose black plastic cladding perhaps suggests it’s capable of more mud-bogging than it really is. Like the hybrid, it flatters to deceive.

Check 2023 Ford Explorer Prices Near You

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Specs & Features

Highlights
Overall Crash Safety Rating
Not Available
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
2.3L I-4 / 300 HP / 310 ft.lbs.
Transmission
10-spd auto w/OD
Drive Type
Rear-wheel
Fuel Economy - City/Highway/Combined
21 / 28 / 24 Mpg
Passenger Capacity
7
Bumper to Bumper Warranty
36 Months / 36,000 Miles
Mechanical Specs
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
2.3L I-4 / 300 HP / 310 ft.lbs.
Drive Type
Rear-wheel
Fuel Economy - City/Hwy/Combined
21 / 28 / 24 Mpg
Brakes
4-wheel Disc
Front Suspension
Strut
Rear Suspension
Independent Multi-link
Spare Tire And Wheel
Compact Steel
Fuel Tank
17.9 Gal.
Recommended Fuel Type
Premium Unleaded
Average Cost To Fill Tank
$68
Dimensions & Capabilities
Maximum Cargo Volume
87.8 Cu.ft.
Passenger Volume
153 Cu.ft.
Exterior Length
198.8 "
Exterior Width
78.9 "
Exterior Height
70.2 "
Front Headroom
40.7 "
Rear Headroom
40.5 "
Front Legroom
43.0 "
Rear Legroom
39.0 "
Front Shoulder Room
61.8 "
Rear Shoulder Room
61.9 "
Front Hip Room
Rear Hip Room
Curb Weight
4,345 Lbs.
Wheel Base
119 "
Turning Radius
Exterior Features
Door Count
4 Doors
Wheels
18.0 " Silver Aluminum
Paint
Clearcoat Monotone / Monotone
Exterior Mirrors
Dual Power Remote
Bumpers
Body-colored
Grille Moldings
Black
Rear Spoiler
Lip
Exhaust
Stainless Steel
Interior Features
Seating
Passenger Capacity
7
Seat Trim
Cloth
Front Seat Type
Bucket
Heated Front Seats
Front Driver Seat Direction Controls
(8-way Power)
Front Passenger Seat Direction Controls
4-way
Front Armrests
(8-way Power)
Rear Armrests
Rear Seats
35-30-35 Split-bench
Radio & Infotainment
Radio
Siriusxm Am/fm/satellite, Clock, Seek-scan / Am/fm, Seek-scan
Speakers
6
Radio Steering Wheel Controls
Apple Car Play
Android Auto
Bluetooth w/ Hands-Free Connectivity
Convenience Features
Steering Wheel Type
Telescopic Tilt
Climate Control
Automatic Air Conditioning
Cruise Control
With Steering Wheel Controls
Sun Roof
Rearview Mirror
Day-night
One Touch Open Window
Driver And Passenger
Tinted Windows
Deep
Vanity Mirrors
Dual Illuminated
Remote Keyless Entry
Keyfob (all Doors)
Power Outlets
5
Safety Features
Overall Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Overall Front Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Overall Side Crash Safety Rating
Rollover Crash Safety Rating
Front Impact Airbags
Driver And Passenger
Driver Side Impact Airbags
Seat Mounted
Knee Airbag
Driver And Passenger
Passenger Side Impact Airbag
Seat Mounted
Rear Side Airbag
Seatbelt Pretensioners
Front
Anti-Lock Brakes
4-wheel Anti-lock Brakes (abs)
Forward Collision Warning
Pre-collision Assist With Pedestrian Detection Forward Collision Mitigation
Blind Spot Sensor
Blis (blind Spot Information System) Blind Spot
Lane Departure Warning
Lane Keeping Alert Lane Departure
Autonomous Cruise Control
Pedestrian Detection
Pre-collision Assist With Pedestrian Detection Front Pedestrian Detection Prevention
Driver Attention Alert
Driver Alert Driver Attention
Daytime Running Lights
Auto High Beams
Ford Co-pilot360 - Auto High Beam Auto High-beam
Adaptive Headlights
Parking Sensors
Reverse Sensing System Rear
Security Systems
Panic Alarm
Ignition Disable
Securilock
Warranty
Bumper To Bumper Months Miles
36 Months / 36,000 Miles
Major Components Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Included Maintenance Months
Roadside Assistance Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Corrosion Perforation
60 Months / Unlimited Miles
Accessories Months
36 Months / 36,000 Miles