$32,140 - $53,940

2018 Ford Explorer Interior Review

Scorecard

Interior: 7.6

The cabin of the 2018 Ford Explorer feels mostly solid, though many of the interior zones are on the small side. A seven-seat configuration is standard, but the preferred six-seat setup is a blessing for anyone climbing into the last row. Technology features are easy to learn and use.

  • "A well-made SUV. Plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin; the steering wheel has quality leather; the trim pieces look good and fit together well. The only flaw we noticed was an occasional dash rattle that we couldn't pinpoint." -- Edmunds
  • "The interior also looks bland and unrefined in all but the Platinum trim." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)
  • 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 (2016)

Seating

Cloth seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a second-row 60/40-split-folding bench seat, and a third-row 50/50-split-folding bench seat come standard in the Explorer. Every trim has the option to change from a seven-seat to a six-seat SUV, thanks to the available second-row captain's chairs. Other available seating features include leather seats, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, heated outboard second-row seats, and power-folding third-row seats.

The front seats are roomy and comfortable, though visibility is limited, and a few critics note that the front seats don't offer enough leg support. The optional captain's chairs for the second row create comfier accommodations for all rear-seat travelers. Passengers in the second row can adjust the sliding, reclining seats, and you can inch these forward to give third-row occupants a little extra legroom. With the standard second-row bench seat, there's only enough room in the third row for kids.

When equipped with a second-row bench seat, the Explorer has room for child safety seats in all three back-seat seating positions. This row has three tether anchors and two full sets of lower anchors; the middle seat can borrow lower anchors from its neighboring seats. The third row has one full set of LATCH connectors. Locating the hardware takes extra effort because most of the Explorer's lower anchors are buried deep in the seat cushions, and its tether anchors are hidden.

  • The Explorer's seating could be a bit disappointing for families looking for maximum space. Second-row comfort is decent, but overall it's not as roomy (particularly for installing rear-facing child safety seats) as you'd expect for a vehicle of this size. The third-row accommodations, meanwhile, very much depend on the second-row design. If you get the standard fixed bench, there's not much third-row legroom, allowing only small children to fit comfortably. Opting for the sliding second-row captain's chairs opens up considerably more legroom." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The Ford Explorer SUV for 2017 seats up to seven in its three rows, and thanks to its overall size even the third row offers room for adults." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "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 (2016)

Interior Features

The Explorer's standard infotainment system contains the SYNC infotainment interface, a 4.2-inch color display, voice commands, Bluetooth, a USB port, and six speakers. A rearview camera and Ford's MyKey system (which gives you the ability to set audio and speed limits for other drivers of the car) are also in every model.

Technology upgrades include the SYNC 3 interface with an 8-inch touch-screen display, navigation, satellite radio, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, second-row USB ports, dual-zone climate control, a 110-volt household power outlet, a keypad access on the door, a proximity key, and push-button start. Active driver assistance features such as rear parking sensors, a 180-degree front parking camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, active park assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and inflatable safety belts for the second-row outboard position are also offered.

The SYNC interfaces are user-friendly. The touch-screen displays are responsive, and for those who prefer physical buttons, there's a nice array of clearly labeled controls within reach of the driver.

See 2018 Ford Explorer specs »

  • "The all-new Sync 3 technology interface works far better than previous versions. Radio tuning uses a button; volume, a grippy knob. Handy, configurable gauge screens." -- Edmunds
  • "With more and more SUVs moving to touch-screen-only interfaces, it's rather refreshing to see sometimes the old ways are still the best ways. Sure, the 2017 Ford Explorer features a big 8-inch touch screen, but it also has easy-to-reach and -operate controls for the climate and audio." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "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 (2016)

Cargo

Behind the third-row seat, the Explorer has one of the best cargo capacities in the class: 21 cubic feet. Dimensions ring up at 43.9 cubic feet with the rearmost 50/50-split bench seat folded and 81.7 cubic feet overall. These last two figures are below average for a 3-row SUV. For extra convenience, a power-folding third-row seat is available, as is a hands-free liftgate.

  • The cargo area's deep well is useful even if the total cargo volume isn't exceptional. There's a good variety of cabin storage overall." -- Edmunds
  • "Fold both seating rows and you have generous cargo space." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

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