Car Reviews

2023 Ford Explorer Review: From Timberline to King Ranch, a trim for every occasion

Execs: RWD-based with above-average dynamics; highly effective engines; plethora of selections

Cons: Pricier than most; Hybrid is simply marginally environment friendly; cheap-feeling inside

Selecting a model of the 2023 Ford Explorer is like going to your favourite buffet on the town. There are tons of selections, and most of them are fairly good. Among the weirder and out-there trims are additionally among the greatest. If you need energy and higher dealing with, there’s the ST mannequin. Solely in it for the sportier appears? Waddle on over to the ST-Line. Maybe you’re occupied with one thing that’s extra suited to gentle off-roading? In that case, the Timberline is looking your identify. And similar to nearly each different competitor on this area, there are ultra-luxe trims on provide: the King Ranch or Platinum.

The cacophony of trim choices is supplemented with a number of powertrain selections, too. You will get the highly effective 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 for max towing and acceleration, or you could possibly go for the Hybrid to save lots of on gasoline prices. Fortunately, the bottom four-cylinder-turbo is an satisfying engine, as properly — it’s robust to go mistaken right here. Its rear-drive-based platform might be an enormous plus for these prioritizing dynamics and functionality, however don’t count on the Explorer to be a dealing with champ, as a result of it isn’t. It could actually simply be a bit sharper than most. On the draw back, the Explorer is without doubt one of the costliest choices on this class of automobiles. Regardless of that, inside high quality is below-average for the section and is well-below the best-in-class choices of the Hyundai Palisade or Kia Telluride. Additionally, in case you actually need most effectivity, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid will sip far much less gasoline than the Explorer Hybrid. Regardless of the negatives, there’s an honest probability that Ford makes an Explorer to suit your area of interest.

Inside & Know-how   |   Passenger & Cargo Area   |   Efficiency & Gas Financial system

What it is wish to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Ranges   |   Crash Scores & Security Options


What’s new for 2023?

The 2023 Ford Explorer is totally carryover from 2022. Ford made numerous modifications and additions to the lineup final 12 months, which you’ll examine right here.

What are the Explorer’s inside and in-car know-how like?

We’re completely satisfied Ford launched the Timberline and King Ranch variations final 12 months (pictured above) as a result of each add a much-needed pop of colour and visible curiosity to what’s in any other case a fairly drab inside. Some might even name it a bit ugly, particularly when the massive vertically oriented touchscreen is slapped to the sprint. It appears awfully low hire in comparison with a Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade or Toyota Highlander, and the supplies high quality does little to alter that notion.

Each Explorer comes commonplace with Ford’s Sync3 infotainment interface. It responds properly to inputs and swipe gestures, icons are simply learn and pressed, and have content material is often strong for this section. That features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, however utilizing Sync3’s native controls for navigation or enjoying music from a smartphone remains to be loads acceptable.

Now, whereas each Explorer has Sync3, the display that controls it differs. The usual 8-inch touchscreen is straightforward to see and attain, and we like the additional smartphone-holding bin under it. That disappears with the ten.1-inch vertically oriented touchscreen, which is elective on the ST and commonplace on the Platinum and King Ranch. Worse, the massive display does not actually enhance performance as you would possibly count on. The 12.3-inch digital instrument panel included on these three prime trims is much extra profitable and even modifications its design based mostly on the one in all seven potential drive modes chosen.

How huge is the Explorer?

The present Explorer is bigger than each its predecessor and most opponents. At 198.8 inches lengthy, solely the gargantuan Chevy Traverse and Jeep Grand Cherokee L are bigger. Fortunately, it does not really feel that huge when behind the wheel.

Inside, the Explorer’s dimensions point out it’s above common, however not the perfect in second- and third-row legroom. In particular person, we have discovered it to be much less spacious than its dimensions would point out, particularly within the third row. Whereas there’s tons of headroom again there, it is largely the results of a low-mounted seat. So, whereas there’s actually extra space between rows, your passengers (even youngsters) are much less more likely to be comfy since their butts will likely be too near the bottom and their legs much less supported. They will be happier in a Traverse, Grand Cherokee L, Kia Telluride or Hyundai Palisade.

The cargo space is pretty much as good as its dimensions would point out, nevertheless. Because of a detachable flooring panel, there’s extra space behind the raised third row than most opponents. The variations in most cargo area (all rows lowered) between opponents are negligible, however these further cubes behind the way-back may imply the distinction between bringing all of your baggage, shopping for a roof field or making somebody sit with a duffle bag on their lap for 3 hours.

What are the Explorer’s gasoline financial system and efficiency specs?

Right here is the place the 2023 Ford Explorer actually shines. Commonplace on most trims is a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four that produces 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. That is significantly higher than the naturally aspirated V6 engines present in most opponents. A ten-speed computerized and rear-wheel drive are commonplace, however all-wheel-drive is elective. Gas financial system estimates for 2023 hadn’t been launched on the time of this writing, however we do not anticipate they’d be totally different from the ultimate figures of 2022: 21 mpg metropolis, 28 mpg freeway and 24 mpg mixed with RWD and 20/27/23 with AWD. The AWD-only Timberline is nineteen/22/21.

Commonplace on the King Ranch and Platinum is a 3.0-liter turbocharged “EcoBoost” V6 good for 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque – that blows away something supplied by a competitor aside from the V8-powered Dodge Durango and Grand Cherokee L. These SUVs don’t come near the EcoBoost’s gasoline financial system, nevertheless, which is eighteen/26/21 with RWD and 18/24/20 with AWD. It too has a 10-speed computerized.

The Explorer ST will get an enhanced model of the identical engine good for 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Ford says it’s going to go from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which is definitely fast, however not as fast as we might count on given its energy and the efficiency of sure opponents. Gas financial system is outwardly the identical because the Platinum, however we strongly suspect it could be a lot decrease in the true world than within the EPA’s laboratory given the ability discrepancy.

Lastly, the Explorer Hybrid pairs a 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V6 to an electrical motor and a lithium-ion battery pack below the passenger-side cabin. Its complete output is 318 hp. EPA-estimated gasoline financial system stands at 27 mpg metropolis, 28 mph freeway and 27 mpg mixed with rear-wheel drive. It lowers to 23/26/25 with all-wheel drive. That is admittedly underwhelming as in keeping with those self same EPA estimates, you’d solely save about $100 on common per 12 months by going with the hybrid as an alternative of the usual engine. Additionally, for comparability, the all-wheel-drive Toyota Highlander Hybrid will get 35 mpg mixed. That is as huge a distinction because it appears.

That stated, Ford has put a precedence on efficiency, even with the hybrid. You may see that with towing capability, which stands at 5,000 kilos for the Hybrid. The Highlander has 72 fewer horses and may solely tow 3,500 kilos. For the non-hybrid Explorers, towing goes as much as 5,300 for the two.3-liter and 5,600 for the three.0-liter engines. Each figures are higher than common for the section.

What is the Explorer wish to drive?

Not surprisingly, the Explorer’s driving really feel differs relying on engine and drivetrain alternative. Acceleration is robust within the base engine and we do not suppose you may miss having a V6. After all, acceleration is comparably speedy with the Explorer’s turbo V6 upgrades, however they arrive at such a excessive value that almost all potential consumers will discover them largely a moot level. Fortunately, we discovered a rear-wheel-drive, four-cylinder XLT to exhibit larger agility and eagerness to alter route than the extra highly effective Platinum. Having a lighter engine over entrance wheels unburdened by drive shafts tends to do this. Now, we would not go as far as to name any of the non-ST fashions sporty – the suspension is just a little too springy and the steering too uncommunicative for that – but it surely however supplies just a little extra driving verve and connection than is common for the section. If there’s one purpose to decide on an Explorer over a Telluride or Palisade, that is it.

The Explorer ST certainly steps issues up with larger suspension composure, whereas not ruining the experience. The steering does not enhance, although, and normally, we discovered the ST to be too huge and heavy to be thought-about a real efficiency automobile. It is also not fairly over-the-top sufficient to match the joyously absurd Dodge Durango SRT. On the opposite finish of the spectrum, we discovered the Timberline to be a pleasant addition to spherical out the lineup. It’s not as rugged as a Bronco (for higher and for worse), but it surely’ll get you thru some gnarlier stuff than the common Explorer will, and the on-road penalty is minimal-to-non-existent.

The Hybrid, in the meantime, impresses with its refinement, efficiency and lack of drivability tradeoffs. Nevertheless, its gasoline financial system benefit is so negligible that it is actually onerous to suggest except you do the overwhelming majority of your driving in stop-and-go visitors the place its notably higher metropolis score will really make a distinction.

What different Ford Explorer critiques can I learn?

2022 Ford Explorer Timberline First Drive | Truly good for exploring

Learn concerning the extra rugged variant of Explorer launched final 12 months.


2020 Ford Explorer First Drive

Covers extra in-depth engineering, design and driving impressions of the two.3-liter Explorer and three.0-liter Explorer Platinum. This additionally consists of our check of driving the Explorer with a trailer.

2020 Ford Explorer


2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid First Drive

Our first driving impressions of the Ford Explorer Hybrid, together with details about its gasoline-electric powertrain. 

2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid


2020 Ford Explorer ST First Drive

Our first time behind the wheel of the high-performance ST. Although we’re glad they did not make it uncomfortably hardcore, we additionally do not suppose it goes far sufficient by way of over-the-top pace and drama. 


2020 Ford Explorer ST vs 2019 Dodge Durango SRT: How they examine on paper

See how the engine specs and dimensions of those two high-powered household haulers examine to one another.

Dodge Durango SRT vs Ford Explorer ST


What’s the 2023 Explorer’s value?

Pricing begins at $38,255 for the bottom Explorer, together with the $1,495 vacation spot cost. It nonetheless comes commonplace with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, the Co-Pilot360 suite of accident avoidance tech (see Security part), rear privateness glass, an influence liftgate, tri-zone local weather management, an eight-way energy driver seat, an 8-inch touchscreen operating Ford’s Sync3 tech interface, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, in-car WiFi, satellite tv for pc radio and a six-speaker sound system. The elective all-wheel-drive system brings with its seven selectable drive modes.

Clearly, the opposite trim ranges add further gear. There are additionally quite a few choices packages. To record all of them would consequence on this evaluate difficult the works of Tolstoy for size. To make issues simpler, yow will discover an entire breakdown of options, specs and native pricing right here on Autoblog for the 2023 Explorer.

All-wheel drive is a $2,000 possibility on prime of all the costs listed under.

Base: $38,255
XLT: $40,065
ST-Line: $47,500
Restricted: $48,565
Timberline (AWD solely): $49,975
ST: $51,000
Platinum: $54,370
King Ranch: $55,625

What are the Explorer’s security scores and driver help options?

The 2023 Explorer’s commonplace Co-Pilot360 suite of security options consists of ahead collision warning with pedestrian detection and computerized emergency braking, lane-keeping help, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning (that is elective on most opponents), computerized excessive beams and a rearview digital camera with a built-in lens washer (in case you’re in the course of a cruddy winter, you must admire this one). The accessible Co-Pilot Help+ package deal provides adaptive cruise management. Reverse computerized braking is out there on higher trim ranges.

The Explorer received an ideal 5 stars in all authorities crash checks carried out, plus a strong four-star rollover score. The Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security named it a High Security Decide+ in 2022 as a result of its best-possible efficiency in all crash checks and prime scores for its commonplace accident avoidance tech. Its headlights had been rated “Acceptable,” thus permitting it to get the High Security Decide+ prize.


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