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2017 Ford Explorer Review

The 2017 Ford Explorer offers a comfortable ride and a quiet cabin, but it ranks near the back of the midsize SUV class due to its poor maneuverability, cramped back seat, and merely average predicted reliability and safety scores.

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful four- and six-cylinder engines
  • Comfortable, smooth ride
  • User-friendly touch screen
  • Limited outward visibility
  • Cumbersome to maneuver
  • Cramped back seat

New for 2017

  • SYNC 3 replaced MyFord Touch infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available

Rankings & Research

The 2017 Ford Explorer's #15 ranking is based on its score within the 2017 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Ford Explorer has a score of 7.7 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 64 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.5
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.3
Safety: 9.2
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2017 Ford Explorer Overview

Is the 2017 Ford Explorer a Good Used SUV?

The 2017 Explorer isn’t a great used midsize SUV. Though it rides comfortably and its available EcoBoost engines provide some real punch, the seven-seat Explorer fails to stand out against its more practical and refined competitors. Alternatives like the Honda Pilot offer more comfortable rear seats and room for eight. The Chevy Traverse offers an exceptionally large cargo space, and the Mazda CX-9 is more maneuverable and enjoyable to drive. Regardless of what you're looking for in an Explorer, you'll likely find a rival that does it better.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve researched 64 Ford Explorer reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Is the 2017 Ford Explorer?

You can expect to pay between $27,000 and $42,000 for a used 2017 Explorer. These figures are based on over 3,100 listings for the 2017 Ford Explorer on our site. The average price is $32,400. Prices will vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2017 Ford Explorer Cost to Own?

The Explorer’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $25,700 – or $5,140 per year. That’s about average for the midsize SUV class.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Explorer?

The 2018 Explorer starts at $32,140 and can top $53,000 in some trim levels. You can save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used 2017 Explorer, especially if you want a base model with few options. You won’t miss out on many features by sticking with a used model, either. Changes for 2018 are limited to exterior styling tweaks and an available Wi-Fi hot spot. These updates aren’t major enough to differentiate the two models.

Read about the new Ford Explorer »

For a less expensive new SUV, consider the 2018 Ford Escape, which starts at just $23,940. The Escape can’t seat seven like the Explorer, but it is more maneuverable, has better fuel efficiency, and rates higher for predicted reliability.

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

Which Model Year of the Ford Explorer Is Best?

The 2017 Explorer is part of the SUV’s fifth generation, which began in 2011. Major updates throughout this generation include the addition of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine for 2012, a twin-turbocharged V6 for 2013, and a midcycle refresh for 2016. This refresh brought a different exterior look and an even stronger four-cylinder engine. However, none of these updates fixed the SUV’s lingering problem: the frustrating MyFord Touch infotainment system. That fix came in 2017 with the debut of the easier-to-use SYNC 3 system, which also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While there are better options in this class, those shopping for a used Explorer will do best with the 2017 model.

Compare the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Explorer »

How Reliable Is the 2017 Ford Explorer?

The 2017 Explorer has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power, which is average for the market.

Read more about Explorer reliability »

2017 Ford Explorer Recalls

As of this writing, there are four recalls for the 2017 Explorer. Ford identified a fault that could cause a loss of power steering assistance. The manufacturer is also recalling Explorers due to incorrect rear wheel bearings (front-wheel-drive models only), insufficient driver’s seat welds, and a potential oil leak in models with the EcoBoost V6 engine. If any of these recalls affect the used Explorer you are considering, make sure the problems have been resolved before you buy.

See more information on Ford Explorer safety recalls »

Which Used Ford Explorer Model Is Right for Me?

The 2017 Ford Explorer SUV is available in five trims: Explorer, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum. The base model Explorer isn’t very well-equipped. Most shoppers will want to focus their search on the XLT and Limited models instead.

The Explorer comes standard with a small 4.2-inch infotainment screen, a rearview camera, a CD player, Bluetooth, a USB port, cruise control, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, air conditioning, and alloy wheels. The XLT trim adds satellite radio, rear parking sensors, and proximity keyless entry with push-button start. The Explorer Limited trim adds an 8-inch touch screen, a front-view camera, front parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, power-folding third-row seats, and a hands-free power liftgate.

The Explorer Sport trim gets a brawny twin-turbo V6 engine and a sport-tuned suspension. Last but not least, the Explorer Platinum trim adds rain-sensing wipers and all of the SUV’s advanced safety features (optional in the Limited and Sport trims).

See 2017 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 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Explorer a perfect five-star rating for overall, front, and side impact safety, as well as four stars for rollover safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the SUV a Good rating – the highest score offered – for moderate overlap front crash safety, side impact safety, and roof strength. However, the Explorer received Poor and Marginal ratings in its passenger side and driver’s side small overlap front crash tests, respectively.

All 2017 Explorers come standard with a rearview camera. Available safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a front-view camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, parallel park assist, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.

See Explorer safety scores »

2017 Ford Explorer Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2017 Ford Explorer or 2017 Honda Pilot?

We named the Honda Pilot our 2017 Best 3-Row SUV for Families. The Pilot seats up to eight and has a comfier interior than the Explorer. Even its third-row seats can accommodate adults on short trips. The Pilot feels more maneuverable than the Explorer in tight areas, and it still provides a smooth and pleasant ride. It’s not perfect, though. The Pilot’s infotainment controls aren’t as user-friendly as the Explorer’s available touch screen.

Which Is Better: 2017 Ford Explorer or 2017 Toyota Highlander?

The 2017 Toyota Highlander is another fine pick in this class. The eight-seat Highlander has a comfortable ride, quality cabin materials, and a strong V6 engine. Most of all, it comes better-equipped than the Explorer. All models come with a user-friendly touch screen, as well as excellent safety features like forward collision warning with brake assist and adaptive cruise control. Still, there are some drawbacks. The Highlander doesn’t support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and its third row is slim – even for children.

Compare the Explorer, Pilot, and Highlander »

2017 Explorer Performance

How Does the 2017 Ford Explorer Drive?

The 2017 Explorer has three engine options. The base, XLT, and Limited models are available with a 3.5-liter V6 (290 horsepower) or a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder (280 horsepower). The Sport and Platinum models have a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 (365 horsepower). A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is available. All three engines serve up more than enough muscle around town, and each can propel the Explorer up to highway speeds without fuss. However, if you’re looking to haul heavy cargo, you’ll want to stick with one of the V6s. The four-cylinder can feel strained when climbing hills or towing a trailer.

The Explorer rewards passengers with a comfortable and quiet ride, even over rough pavement. Its suspension smooths out bumps and dips confidently. Its steering is quite responsive as well, and the SUV feels balanced when rounding fast turns. Slow down to city driving speeds, however, and things aren’t as great. The Explorer’s awkward sightlines make it feel bulkier than it actually is. Navigating through parking lots and tight urban streets can be a chore.

Does the 2017 Ford Explorer Get Good Gas Mileage?

The Explorer gets up to 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway with its four-cylinder engine, which is fine by class standards. The standard V6 drops these ratings to 17/24 mpg city/highway, and the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 sinks them lower to 16/22 mpg.

2017 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

The Explorer is rated to tow up to 2,000 pounds when equipped with the four-cylinder engine. Both V6 models are rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Read more about Explorer performance »

2017 Explorer Interior

How Many People Does the 2017 Explorer Seat?

The Ford Explorer is a 3-row SUV with seating for seven. Second-row captain’s chairs are available, but these lower the vehicle’s seating capacity to six. The Explorer’s first- and second-row seats have sufficient headroom and legroom for adults to sit comfortably. As is typical in this class, the third-row seats are only suitable for children. The SUV’s cabin is handsomely styled and benefits from many quality materials in its upper trim levels – especially the Platinum. Things don’t look so grand in the base trim level, which trades its touch screen for a small display and clunky buttons. Another snafu is the Explorer’s thick roof pillars and long flat hood, which impair driver visibility.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2017 Ford Explorer?

The Explorer has three full sets of LATCH connectors for securing child seats. The second row’s middle seat can share the lower anchors of its adjoining seats. The setup is relatively easy to use, but some of the tether anchors are hard to access and can be confused for other hardware.

2017 Ford Explorer Features

The 2017 Explorer comes standard with a 4.2-inch infotainment screen, a rearview camera, a CD player, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Available features include an 8-inch touch screen, a navigation system, satellite radio, and rear-seat DVD screens. The biggest news for 2017 is this touch screen, which uses Ford’s SYNC 3 operating system. It’s much easier to use than the Explorer’s previous MyFord Touch system, and it responds quickly to inputs. It also supports the popular Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems, which integrate your phone’s apps and functions with the car’s infotainment screen. This setup is also a better option than the small 4.2-inch screen that comes standard, which has a cluttered button layout and can be hard to see.

See 2017 Ford Explorer specs »

Read more about Explorer interior »

2017 Ford Explorer Dimensions

Ford Explorer Cargo Space

The Explorer has 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats, and 43.9 cubic feet with these seats folded. Overall cargo space rises to 81.7 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded, which is average for the midsize SUV class.

2017 Explorer Length and Weight

The Ford Explorer is 16.5 feet long. Its curb weight ranges between 4,385 and 4,901 pounds, depending on the powertrain.

Where Was the 2017 Ford Explorer Built?

The 2017 Explorer was built in Chicago, along with the Ford Taurus.

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