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2015 Ford Explorer Review

The 2015 Ford Explorer has a comfortable ride and many available safety features. However, its cramped interior, frustrating touch screen, and low reliability rating push it toward the bottom of the midsize SUV class.

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth ride
  • Powerful V6 engines


  • Confined rear seats
  • Sluggish touch screen
  • Poor low-speed maneuverability


Rankings & Research

The 2015 Ford Explorer's #17 ranking is based on its score within the 2015 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Ford Explorer has a score of 7.2 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 56 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 7.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.7
Safety: 9.2
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2015 Ford Explorer Overview

Is the 2015 Ford Explorer a Good SUV?

The 2015 Ford Explorer isn’t a great choice if you’re shopping for a used midsize SUV. It offers a smooth ride and muscular V6 engine performance. However, these highlights are overshadowed by its cramped rear seats, pinched visibility, uncooperative infotainment system, and below-average reliability rating.

Why You Can Trust Us

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 56 professional evaluations for this 2015 Ford Explorer review to help you make an informed buying decision.

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 Much Is the 2015 Ford Explorer?

Based on over 4,100 listings on our site, the 2015 Explorer has an average price of about $25,100. Prices ranging from about $19,000 to roughly $31,000, and they vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

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How Much Does the 2015 Ford Explorer Cost to Own?

Five-year costs for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs for the 2015 Explorer are estimated to be about $26,034, which is about average for a midsize SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Explorer?

A 2019 Ford Explorer has a starting price of $32,365, which is about $7,300 more than the average price of a used 2015 Explorer. There have been several major changes to the Explorer over the years. Ford refreshed the exterior styling for 2016, and the 2017 Explorer gained the SYNC3 infotainment system with available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. If you can live without these changes, you'll be better off shopping for a higher trim level of the 2015 model instead of a base 2019 model. You’ll get more features for your money with a used Explorer.

Read about the new Ford Explorer »

A new 2019 Kia Sorento is a highly ranked three-row SUV that falls comfortably within the price range of the 2015 Explorer. Starting at $25,990, the Sorento has a 10-year powertrain warranty, as well as standard blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert. However, a comparably priced 2015 Explorer Limited trim will have many more features, including power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. The 2015 Explorer’s standard V6 engine has 105 more horsepower than the 2019 Sorento’s four-cylinder engine. Aside from its poor reliability rating, a used 2015 Explorer is a better choice, especially if you buy a certified pre-owned model.

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Which Model Year of the Ford Explorer Is Best?

The fifth-generation Ford Explorer spans the 2011 through 2019 model years. Ford made no major changes to the 2015 Explorer. As a result, you may want to consider similarly equipped 2013 and 2014 models, which have lower average prices.

Although the 2016 Explorer will most likely cost you more, it’s the better choice. The 2016 model has refreshed exterior styling, a rearview camera, and updated audio and climate controls.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Explorer »

How Reliable Is the 2015 Ford Explorer?

The 2015 Ford Explorer has the lowest possible reliability rating of two out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about Explorer reliability »

2015 Ford Explorer Recalls

As of this writing, the 2015 Ford Explorer has three recalls. One deals with a wheel that may detach because of a faulty hub-unit bearing. The second involves a rear-suspension toe link that may be improperly welded, and the third is for a parking brake that may not fully engage. Make sure the dealer fixes any recalls before buying a used Explorer.

See more information on Ford Explorer safety recalls »

Which Used Ford Explorer Is Right for Me?

The 2015 Explorer comes in four trim levels: base, XLT, Limited, and Sport. The base trim comes with a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning with auxiliary rear controls, a six-speaker stereo, an auxiliary input jack, and steering wheel-mounted controls.

However, it’s the Ford Explorer XLT that offers the best value in the lineup. It builds on the base trim, adding satellite radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, and rear parking sensors. The XLT models are available with heated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, rear-seat DVD players, a navigation system, and blind spot monitoring.

The Limited trim has push-button start, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, a 12-speaker audio system, and MyFord Touch with an 8-inch touch screen and two USB ports. The Sport trim has a 365-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine, four-wheel drive, and a power-folding third-row seat.

See 2015 Ford Explorer trims and specs »

What Does Ford's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Ford offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 80,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Ford extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the original sale date or 100,000 miles. These vehicles also get a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty after the original three-year/36,000-mile new-car warranty expires. Each Ford CPO vehicle must pass a 172-point inspection. Additional benefits like vehicle history reports, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Ford warranty page carefully.

Ford does not have one of the better CPO programs among affordable carmakers. Chevy, GMC, Honda, Kia, and Mazda all have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Explorer?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2015 Explorer the highest rating of Good for all tests except the small overlap front test. It scored the second-lowest rating of Marginal for the driver’s side test, and the lowest rating of Poor for the passenger-side test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Explorer a perfect five-star rating for overall safety. It received five out of five stars in all crash tests except the rollover test, which resulted in a rating of four stars.

A rearview camera, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control are available. Lane keep assist and parallel park assist are available in Limited models only.

See Explorer safety scores »

2015 Ford Explorer Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2015 Ford Explorer or 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee?

The five-seat 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee can’t match the passenger and cargo space of the seven-seat Explorer. That said, it’s still a better midsize SUV than the Ford. The Grand Cherokee has a higher-quality interior and an easier-to-use infotainment system. It also has superior off-road capability, better maneuverability, and a much higher towing capacity of up to 7,400 pounds. Both SUVs are low-ranking choices in this class, though, due to their low reliability ratings.

Which Is Better: 2015 Ford Explorer or 2015 Toyota Highlander?

The 2015 Toyota Highlander was named our 2015 Best 3-Row SUV for Families. Both vehicles provide a smooth ride, many advanced safety features, and similar cargo space. However, the eight-seat Toyota has a more user-friendly touch screen, a nicer cabin, a higher reliability rating, and better family-friendly features like an intercom. Used Highlanders are often pricier, but this Toyota SUV is a better buy than the Explorer.

Which Is Better: 2015 Ford Explorer or 2015 Honda Pilot?

The 2015 Honda Pilot is plagued by lackluster engine power, a cheap-feeling interior, and few advanced safety features. While it’s not a top pick in this class, the Pilot is still a better buy than the Explorer because of its higher reliability rating. It also has much roomier rear seats and a larger cargo bay. Both used SUVs are often available within the same price range, but we recommend the Pilot.

Compare the Explorer, Grand Cherokee, and Highlander »

2015 Explorer Performance

How Does the 2015 Ford Explorer Drive?

The 2015 Ford Explorer’s suspension provides a smooth and comfortable ride, even on bumpy pavement. While it’s not an off-road vehicle, the Explorer’s available all-wheel-drive system allows it to tackle muddy paths and icy slush with confidence. However, the SUV feels cumbersome on tight city streets, and it lacks the low-speed maneuverability of its rivals.

The Explorer comes standard with a 290-horsepower V6 engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. The refined V6 gives it brisk acceleration and robust passing power. The Explorer is also available with two turbocharged EcoBoost engine options: a 240-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 365-horsepower V6. The four-cylinder struggles to move the hefty Explorer with urgency. Alternatively, the twin-turbo V6 scoots the SUV with ease.

Does the 2015 Ford Explorer Get Good Gas Mileage?

The Explorer’s standard V6 is EPA-rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, which is decent for the segment. The four-cylinder EcoBoost engine raises fuel economy to 20/27 mpg city/highway, while the six-cylinder EcoBoost has a rating of 16/22 mpg city/highway.

2015 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the 2015 Explorer can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Read more about Explorer performance »

2015 Explorer Interior

How Many People Does the 2015 Explorer Seat?

The 2015 Ford Explorer is a three-row SUV that seats seven. Available second-row captain’s chairs lower the seating capacity to six. The Explorer impresses with a quiet, upscale interior. Higher trims feel especially luxurious, thanks to soft leather upholstery and fine wood accents. Heated and cooled seats are available. The Explorer’s front seats are comfortable and nicely contoured, but the second- and third-row seats feel cramped.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2015 Ford Explorer?

There are three full sets of LATCH connectors for securing child seats: two in the second-row outboard seats, and one on the third row’s passenger-side seat. The second-row’s middle seat has a tether anchor.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the second-row LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable. The IIHS found that the tether connections on the outboard seats are in hard-to-find locations, and the lower anchors are too deep in the seats. The third-row LATCH system received the second-lowest rating of Marginal because the tether connections are in hard-to-find locations, and other hardware could be confused for the tethers.

2015 Ford Explorer Features

The 2015 Ford Explorer comes standard with a six-speaker stereo and an auxiliary input jack. Available features include Ford’s voice-activated Sync system (with Bluetooth and a USB port), satellite radio, the MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a sunroof.

See 2015 Ford Explorer specs »

Read more about Explorer interior »

2015 Ford Explorer Dimensions

Ford Explorer Cargo Space

The 2015 Explorer has 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third row of seats. That expands to 43.8 cubic feet with the third row folded, and 80.7 cubic feet with the second and third rows lowered. The Explorer’s maximum cargo space is on the small side for the class, and the third-row seat can be difficult to fold. However, the Explorer offers a useful amount of cargo space when all seats are in use.

2015 Explorer Length and Weight

The 2015 Ford Explorer is 16.4-feet long. The Explorer’s curb weight ranges from 4,557 to 4,859 pounds.

Where Was the 2015 Ford Explorer Built?

Ford manufactured the 2015 Explorer in Illinois.

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