$19,947 - $34,879

2016 Ford Explorer Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2016 Ford Explorer was new.


Interior: 7.4

The 2016 Ford Explorer has one of the lowest interior scores in the class, and there are a number of reasons why. You don't get a great view of the road like you'd expect from an SUV because the Explorer has large roof pillars and a high dashboard. It can be a pain to fit a rear-facing baby seat in the second row, and third-row space isn't particularly impressive either. The optional touch-screen system's controls can be frustrating. There are a few bright spots: The new Platinum trim has classy styling, and the basic audio and climate controls have been improved for 2016. But all-in-all, there are better choices in this class.

  • "The interior also looks bland and unrefined in all but the Platinum trim." – Automobile Magazine
  • "While the interior of Platinum models is awash in fancy trim, with real wood, matte aluminum, and glossy plastic featuring prominently, lesser Explorers have seen a mild revision, too." – Car and Driver
  • "Elsewhere inside the 2016 Explorer Platinum, it's easy to see that Ford engineers sweat the details to shoot for entry-level luxury crossovers like the GMC Acadia Denali and Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Leather covers most every surface from the seats to the dash cover to the door panels, which are stitched up in a neat diamond pattern." -- Autoblog

Seating and Cargo

If you're considering an SUV because you want a commanding view of the road, the 2016 Ford Explorer isn't for you. It has thick roof pillars and a high dashboard that obstruct your view out of the vehicle, even if you're tall. Also, you probably won't be particularly comfortable in the driver's seat because it doesn't provide much thigh support.

The second row isn't especially roomy for the class, so you might find it difficult to install a rear-facing baby seat. The third row is also small, although most third rows in SUVs are appropriate for kids only. If you want an SUV with a more adult-friendly third row, consider the Honda Pilot.

Cargo space in the 2016 Ford Explorer is about average. If class-leading cargo capacity is important to you, consider the Chevy Traverse, which is about 30 percent more spacious. The Explorer has 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seats, 43.9 cubic feet with the third row folded, and 81.7 cubic feet with both rear rows folded. A hands-free power liftgate is available, which can be helpful when you're juggling grocery bags. The Ford Explorer's second and third rows fold completely flat, making it easier to carry long items, like boards.

  • "Strangely enough, the simple act of people moving is the activity that the 2016 Ford Explorer finds most difficult. To begin with, the high front cowl obstructs the vision of the driver in a very noticeable way, and this goes for taller drivers, not just short ones. Then there are the very short bottom cushions for the front seats, which don't provide comfortable leg support, much less a feeling of security." – Automobile Magazine
  • "The third row is short on leg- and headroom and will fit only small children. The Explorer's second-row seats may be a bit disappointing for families as well, as there's not as much room to install rear-facing child safety seats -- something you'd expect to do with ease in a vehicle of this size. And while the Explorer has the commanding ride height expected in an SUV, its thick roof pillars and tall dash limit outward visibility. Even with all of the available parking aids, it's a handful in tight spaces." -- Edmunds
  • "A high cowl and wide, flared A-pillars can make one feel buried in the car." – Car and Driver

Interior Features

If you want a vehicle with the easiest-to-use tech features, the Ford Explorer isn't it. While the optional MyFord Touch touch-screen system has improved, it's still not intuitive. Something as common as changing the radio station can be a major pain. You might think the base stereo is easier to use. You’d be wrong.

The Explorer's cabin does have a few highlights. One is the optional Sony sound system. It delivers crisp sound quality that may tempt you to abandon your home stereo and instead listen to your favorite music in the driveway.

Another highlight is the new automatic perpendicular parking system. Many rivals offer automatic parking; most can only parallel park. That's great for city dwellers, but what if you mostly park in lots and still want to use the feature? The automatic perpendicular parking system can pull up next to a parking space, size it up, and pull in the Explorer neatly between the lines.

See a full list of specs »

  • "[MyFord Touch] … isn't the most user-friendly system, but it has been improved over the years and now works reasonably well (especially compared to the standard MyFord system)." -- Edmunds
  • "Perhaps more interesting is a new self-parking mode that can automagically back the 2016 Explorer into a perpendicular spot between two other cars. I tested this feature and found it worked quite well." -- Autoblog
  • "The Platinum also gets standard Premium Sound from Sony, featuring both Sony's Clear Phase and Live Acoustics. It's more than just another thing -- this is an amazing sound system that will keep you listening long after you have pulled into your driveway or the office. You have been warned." -- AutoWeek

Safety Tech

The 2016 Ford Explorer isn't among the safest vehicles in its class – an unimpressive front crash test rating keeps it out of that top-tier. It also lacks some advanced safety features, like automatic pre-collision braking, that more and more rivals have. For top safety ratings, consider the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, which have better crash test scores and more advanced safety technology, including automatic pre-collision braking.

The Explorer isn't the least safe car in the class by any means. There are actually many three-row SUVs with worse crash test scores, like the Dodge Durango and Chevy Tahoe. But there are also safer models – something to consider as you shop for your family.

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