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2013 Ford Explorer Review

The 2013 Ford Explorer sits near the bottom of our rankings due to its poor reliability. There are few standard features, and the interior is cramped for a 3-row SUV. Rivals also offer better handling and horsepower.

Pros & Cons

  • Attractive cabin design
  • Great fuel economy with turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • Limited cargo space for the class
  • Cramped third row
  • Confusing MyFord Touch system

Rankings & Research

The 2013 Ford Explorer's #21 ranking is based on its score within the 2013 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Ford Explorer has a score of 7.2 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 48 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 7.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.8
Safety: 9.2
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2013 Ford Explorer Overview

Is the 2013 Ford Explorer a Good Used SUV?

The midsize SUV class is extremely competitive, but the 2013 Ford Explorer isn’t a good choice. While the Explorer’s safety and ownership cost are above average, there’s little cargo space and few standard interior features.

Used 2013 Ford Explorer Performance and Interior

A 290-horsepower V6 engine is standard, and a 240-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is available in all but the Sport trim. The top-of-the-line Sport trim comes only with a six-cylinder EcoBoost engine that makes 365 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard – except in the Sport trim, which has four-wheel drive. The Explorer handles well, but rivals like the Mazda CX-9 and the Ford Flex are better. The Explorer’s fuel economy ranges from 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway in front-wheel-drive four-cylinder models to 16/22 mpg city/highway in all-wheel-drive V6 models, according to the EPA.

Read more about Explorer performance »

The standard Explorer has seating for seven in a 2-3-2 arrangement. Some models have a second-row center console that limits seating to six. A six-way power driver’s seat is standard; a heated and cooled, 10-way power driver’s seat is available in higher trims. The comfortable first row has good legroom, and the second and third rows are average for the segment. There are LATCH child-seat connectors in the outboard second-row seats and the third-row passenger side seat.

The base Explorer is not well-equipped, but higher trims are. The Explorer comes standard with a six-speaker stereo system, a steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, and Ford’s MyKey, which allows the owner to set controls for things like speed. Higher trims have features like leather seats, a power-folding third row, and the MyFord Touch infotainment system, which can be confusing to learn and has numerous glitches.

Read more about Explorer interior »

Used 2013 Ford Explorer Prices

The price of a used 2013 Ford Explorer ranges from about $16,700 to about $25,700. Prices vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

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We Did the Research for You: 48 Reviews Analyzed

We do not base our used car rankings and reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we collect information like safety and reliability reports, total cost of ownership estimates, and the views of the automotive press. We analyzed 48 professional evaluations for this 2013 Ford Explorer review to help you make an informed buying decision.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our experienced team of writers, editors, and analysts has been ranking and reviewing the best cars, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs since 2007. We remain unbiased by refusing pricey gifts and trips from auto manufacturers and employing an independent agency to manage the advertising on our site.

How Reliable Is the 2013 Ford Explorer?

The 2013 Ford Explorer has the lowest possible reliability rating of two out of five from J.D. Power.

See Explorer reliability scores »

How Safe Is the Explorer?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2013 Explorer five out five stars overall. The Explorer earned five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2013 Explorer a Top Safety Pick, awarding it the top rating of Good in the moderate overlap front, side, roof, and rear crash tests. The Explorer earned the second-lowest score of Marginal in the small overlap front crash test. A rearview camera and parallel park assist are available in some Explorers.

See Explorer safety scores »

Is the 2013 Explorer the Best Model Year to Buy?

The 2013 Ford Explorer is part of a generation that launched in 2011. The model was refreshed for 2016. You might consider a 2012 Explorer, but you should note the Explorer Sport trim with the 365-horsepower engine isn’t available. The 2011 Explorer lacks the 240-horsepower EcoBoost engine. If you don’t need the power of the Explorer Sport, the 2012 model is a good choice.

Compare the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Explorer »

Which Used Ford Explorer Is Right for Me?

The 2013 Ford Explorer comes in four trims: base, XLT, Limited, and Sport. The base Explorer has features like air conditioning with auxiliary rear controls, four 12-volt power outlets, steering wheel-mounted controls, roll stability control, and a six-speaker stereo system. The XLT adds a six-way power front passenger seat, Ford’s SYNC voice-activated in-vehicle connectivity system with a USB port in the media hub, and automatic headlights. The Limited trim adds push-button start with remote start, front-row heated seats, leather seating surfaces, HD Radio, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Sport trim adds a sport-tuned suspension.

With the Explorer’s low reliability rating, you might want to consider a certified pre-owned model. For all of its certified pre-owned vehicles, Ford extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years or 100,000 miles and provides a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty. Each CPO vehicle must pass a 172-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Ford warranty page carefully. The model's original sale date determines whether or not it is eligible for the CPO program.

Read more about certified pre-owned vehicles »
Read more about the Ford certified pre-owned program »

2013 Ford Explorer and Other SUVs to Consider

Which Is Better: 2013 Ford Explorer or 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee?

The 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee outperforms the Explorer in many ways. Their base V6 engines are similar, but the Jeep has two available V8s – including the 470-horsepower SRT that zooms from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. The Grand Cherokee only seats five compared to the Explorer’s seven, but the Jeep has a much more elegant interior overall. The Grand Cherokee is the better choice in the end; its average reliability is higher than the Explorer’s bottom-of-the-barrel rating.

Which Is Better: 2013 Ford Explorer or 2013 Ford Flex?

The 2013 Ford Flex has room for seven across three rows. Adults can fit comfortably in the back, unlike the Explorer’s cramped third row. The Explorer and Flex share similar engines, but the Flex handles better and has more accurate steering. The Flex has nicer interior materials than the Explorer. Neither Ford has particularly good reliability, though. In the end, the Flex gets the nod for its higher safety scores.

Compare the Explorer, Grand Cherokee, and Flex »

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