$24,709 - $41,665

2018 Ford Explorer Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Ford Explorer was new.


Performance: 8.1

The 2018 Ford Explorer feels balanced and comfortable, and its three engine choices offer plenty of power for most duties (though none are very fuel-efficient). Parking lots can be challenging to maneuver through because the Explorer feels bigger than others in the class.

  • "Unlike other models dubbed 'Sport,' the 2017 Explorer Sport is indeed sporty, thanks to its turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, stiffer suspension tuning, quicker steering and our test vehicle's optional summer performance tires. The result is lots of speed and impressive handling and braking." -- Edmunds
  • "Capable for sure, the Explorer delivers excellent passing and pulling power and its heavily weighted steering and taut suspension give this big SUV impressive cornering ability, although its high beltline and massive front bumper make maneuvers in tight quarters a bit harrowing." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "The four-cylinder Explorer is a very competent road-going SUV that handles well, has room for six or seven, and, while not winning many drag races, has enough power to move off the line as well as pass." -- Autoweek (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The standard engine in the 2018 Explorer is a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower. It's peppy enough for most daily driving situations, and unless you regularly drive with a heavy right foot, you'll have few complaints. Fuel economy is below average, earning 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Two additional engines are available. The 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder gets slightly better gas mileage (at 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway) in exchange for a lower 280-horsepower output. Top trim levels come with a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6. Acceleration rates are snappy with this 365-horsepower engine, but it's quite thirsty, earning an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway. All Explorers come with a polished six-speed automatic transmission.

  • "There's lots of 'boost,' not much 'eco,' with the EcoBoost V6. It has instant, effortless power anytime you touch the gas pedal. The six-speed automatic is smooth and smart about using the 350 lb-ft of torque; zero to 60 mph takes just 6.3 seconds, which is excellent for a big three-row crossover." -- Edmunds
  • "The standard V6 engine has no problem pulling its weight, with good midrange power and a transmission that responds promptly to the throttle pedal. The 4-cylinder reconciles the twin demands of usable power and bearable fuel economy, while the Sport's 365-hp twin-turbo V6 is fun, but it's also the thirstiest." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "The standard 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 on the Ford Explorer is fine for most people, offering decent power and acceptable fuel economy. The 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine makes a good argument for itself though. Despite being a little down on power compared to the V6, the EcoBoost four offers notably more torque. We expect this engine to be the choice for many buyers." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Handling and Braking

On the highway, the Explorer feels collected and stable. Its smooth suspension makes for a relaxing road trip. However, its size is deceiving, and hiccups like poor visibility and a wide turning radius make it feel as though you're navigating a much larger vehicle.

Front-wheel drive comes standard. Every trim has four-wheel drive available, with the exception of the Explorer Sport and Explorer Platinum, where it comes standard. Also included with the Sport and Platinum is hill descent control and Ford's Terrain Management System with four driving modes: Normal, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Grass/Gravel/Snow. Handling is more agile and athletic with the Sport trim, thanks in part to its responsive steering and sport-tuned suspension.

  • "By 3-row crossover standards, the Explorer feels solid and connected to the road. Steering is firm and accurate, and curves are handled reasonably well. From the driver's seat, however, the vehicle feels larger than it really is. That's partly due to outward vision hindered by narrow side glass and thick pillars front and rear. It's a smooth and quiet ride, though." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "The Ford Explorer has a smooth ride quality on the highway with good composure that's only slightly affected by the available 20-inch wheels. It's also exceptionally quiet, so it's an excellent road-trip vehicle. It performs acceptably in typical driving situations, but overall it feels larger and less maneuverable than similarly sized rivals. The Explorer Sport, on the other hand, feels much more fleet of foot, thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and steering that reacts quickly to inputs. And though the Sport gives up a bit of that cushy ride quality, it's still comfortable for this class of vehicle." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The ride and handling compromise was and still is pretty much spot on for a family crossover." -- Autoblog (2016)

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