$19,947 - $34,879

2016 Ford Explorer Performance Review

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


Performance: 7.6

The 2016 Ford Explorer won't blow your hair back, but its smooth ride will keep your family comfortable, and its acceleration won't disappoint when you need to pass a slowpoke on the interstate. You'll also probably notice that the Explorer has responsive handling, which makes it more fun to drive on winding roads than many SUVs. However, the Explorer has big roof pillars and a high dashboard that can make it difficult for you to see the road and significantly reduce your confidence while cornering.

  • "Driving the Explorer on a daily basis is pleasant, thanks to its quiet interior and comfortable ride." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Despite its size and weight, the Ford Explorer drives very well, if without excitement." – Automobile Magazine (2014)
  • "By 3-row crossover standards, the Explorer feels solid and connected to the road." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Ford Explorer's standard 290-horsepower V6 engine has plenty of power for running errands around town and passing slower cars on the highway. The V6's fuel economy is 17/24 mpg city/highway, which isn't particularly impressive. The Honda Pilot is about as powerful and more fuel efficient.

The 2016 Explorer does have a new 280-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine option that's more fuel efficient. It gets 19/28 mpg city/highway and provides you with plenty of power on the highway, just like the V6.

Unlike many rivals, the Explorer is also available with a 365-horsepower turbocharged V6. As you'd expect, it delivers the kind of acceleration that presses you back in your seat, rivaling the thrust of some V8 competitors while besting them in fuel economy (16/22 mpg city/highway).

  • "Power from the new 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder engine showed a sense of brawn that makes it clear that this little four-banger doesn't realize it's not a V6. We never felt underpowered along the routes, whether climbing mountain grades or accelerating to high-speed on the expressways. … The standard offering 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 offered plenty of around-town power not to mention adequate acceleration for on-expressway maneuvers." – Left Lane News
  • "We drove the 2.3-liter with both front- and all-wheel drive and found this EcoBoost four to be up to the task of moving the hefty Explorer. Off-the-line acceleration-say, jumping out into traffic-is a little tepid, but once you're up to 30 mph or so, the Explorer moves along pretty well, and highway passing is no problem." – Car and Driver
  • "The Sport and Platinum also come with the turbocharged V6, which offers V8-like acceleration. For most folks, though, the regular V6 is still satisfying." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The 2016 Ford Explorer provides the smooth ride that you look for in a family vehicle. Even the Sport trim rides comfortably, so you won't spill your coffee when you're rolling down a bumpy road. The Explorer is also unexpectedly spry for its size, so you can inject a little fun into your daily commute, especially if you choose the Sport model. The one big negative with the Explorer is that you don't get a great view of the road. Large roof pillars block your view when you're trying to make a turn.

Like most SUVs these days, the Explorer comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional. All-wheel drive provides more traction in slippery conditions, like rain and snow. However, the all-wheel-drive model costs more than the front-wheel-drive model, and it gets slightly lower fuel economy (about 1 to 2 mpg lower), so you'll have to weigh the pros with the cons to see what's best for you.

  • "The current-generation Ford Explorer has never had particularly good forward sight lines and the hood feels like it extends well beyond where it actually ends. It makes cresting hills, turning left or driving in traffic more of an adventure than any of these activities need to be. Once you get over that metaphorical hump, the Explorer rides very well. The Sport's ride was the most controlled, soaking up bumps without drama. Even the Limited trim handled highway imperfections with aplomb." -- Edmunds
  • "Our experience on the curvy roads in the hills east of San Diego showed the Sport to be pretty much as we remembered: a surprisingly good handler for such a big boy-although the same actually can be said of the standard-issue Explorer. Nor have the suspension tweaks appreciably diminished the Sport's ride quality, which remains quite good even on 20-inch rolling stock." – Car and Driver
  • "The ride and handling compromise was and still is pretty much spot on for a family crossover." -- Autoblog

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