Classic high-selling SUV with versions for everyone
Price From $35,040 – To $55,290
by SUViews Editor | Mar 23, 2022
Three decades ago, the Explorer’s boxy design and nice capabilities helped establish Ford in the first version of the SUV segment; it replaced the Bronco II with a more family-oriented profile and close relation to the Ranger pickup. While its second generation had a tire-related mishap, it eventually managed to bounce back. Over time, it built a strong image and became an independent model.
Now three generations later, the model is facing tougher competition than ever. Not only are there more SUV models available, whether in its own segment or in the adjacent ones, the very Ford brand also offers the Edge as a sporty counterpart and the Lincoln luxury counterparts. The only way the Explorer could keep its high-selling position would be to adapt itself to the new times.
The current model debuted in 2020 with all-new design, more internal space, and two exciting new options: an ST version whose exclusive characteristics make it a true performance SUV, and a self-charging hybrid option for the very first time. There are still flaws to observe, of course, but we can safely say that this is the very best moment the Explorer has ever lived when it comes to its project.
Performance, Engine, and Comfort
At a first glance, the 2022 Ford Explorer is just another typical midsize SUV: rugged-ish design, good space only for the first and second seat rows, balanced powertrain, and equipment lists that favor the upscale trim levels. However, the sporty powertrain of the ST version and the hybrid powertrain available on some others give it a nice distinctive touch.
Engine & Performance
This model has three options with EcoBoost engines. The base one is a turbocharged, four-cylinder 2.3L engine that generates 300 hp of power and 310 lb-ft of torque. There is also a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 good for 400 hp and 415 hp. Finally, the star of the line is the hybrid option, which uses a naturally aspirated 3.3L V6 and an electric motor to reach a combined 318 hp and 322 lb-ft.
All versions of the 2022 Ford Explorer use a ten-speed automatic transmission.
This model uses MacPherson struts up front and multi-link setups at the rear, both with stabilizer bars. The standard dynamic behavior is comfortable and responsive, but far from engaging. If you want a truly performance-oriented experience, the ST version can deliver that thanks to its specific suspension tuning.
Just like the suspension, the steering feel is perfectly adequate for a family SUV in most versions. The ST, on the other hand, has exclusive features that make the Explorer a true performance SUV.
Safety & Reliability
Generalist SUVs have been plagued by the same dilemma: they have to offer many items so as to attract people’s attention, but they have to minimize their base price at the same time. The 2022 Ford Explorer solves that just like its competitors: by offering many trim levels but leaving the desirable features to the upscale ones, sometimes sold at an extra cost even there.
This model is equipped with disc brakes and ABS on all wheels. It also includes a full suite of electronic assists which includes automated emergency braking as standard.
The 2022 Ford Explorer offers front, side, and knee airbags for the front occupants plus curtain airbags for all seat rows. It also has an occupancy sensor to prevent unnecessary deployments.
It is possible to order the Explorer with active park assist, front and rear sensing systems, lane-keeping system, regenerative braking, remote start, and wireless charging, among many others. Most of them, however, are restricted to the upscale trim levels.
The standard package includes LED lights, the front ones equipped with automatic high-beam activation.
The model’s standard setup is rear-wheel drive, but all versions can be upgraded with all-wheel drive. It also offers electronic roll, stability, and traction controls.
Average performance here. The model’s base engine is quite competent, there is a performance option for those who are not that interested in saving fuel, and a hybrid option for the first time. However, electrification has not done much for the Explorer: it still has moderate fuel efficiency compared to that of its youngest direct competitors.
This model may come with a turbocharged 2.3L engine, a performance-oriented twin-turbo 3.0L V6, or a hybrid setup made of a 3.3L V6 plus an electric motor.
Gas per mileage consumption
As you can imagine, the most fuel-efficient option is the hybrid paired to rear-wheel drive: the EPA says it makes 27 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined. The least efficient one is the 3.0L V6 paired to all-wheel drive: those figures are lowered to 18, 24, and 20 mpg respectively.
The equipment list follows the category’s standard: there are many great items available, but the standard list is focused on the safety package. Most of the impressive comfort and entertainment items are restricted to the upscale trim levels and/or sold at extra cost. A good point is that the 2022 Ford Explorer is one of the roomiest among its class, although not much of that goes to the third seat row.
The driver is going to enjoy plenty of space and a tall seating position. While the infotainment system has many functions available, the specialized press considers that it could be more intuitive.
While the design will not impress you, the 8” touchscreen will make your life easy by concentrating on several car functions and offering Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity – upscale trims offer a 10.1” screen as an option. There is also voice recognition.
Passenger seats and extras
There is plenty of room for the first two seat rows, but the third one is considered too low to be actually comfortable. An interesting feature is that you can push a button to move the second-row seats away in order to make access easier to the third one. All versions except for the base one come with a 12-speaker B&O audio system as standard. Rear-seat entertainment is an option.
Overall height and space
The 2022 Ford Explorer has an overall height of 70.2 inches. It has a total volume of 152.7 ft³ dedicated to its passengers, which can be seven with the standard seat arrangement or six using captain chairs on the second row.
Behind the third row, you will get 18.2 ft³. If you consider the room starting behind the second row of seats, there will be 47.9 ft³. Leaving only the front seats up frees a total volume of 87.8 ft³.
Price and Extras
No surprises here. The list of versions is long enough to cater to several different budgets, but the truth is that the desirable ones are always the most expensive – and when you factor in the nicer items, some of which are sold at extra cost, they become even more expensive. The warranty plan has no positive surprises at all.
The 2022 Ford Explorer is available in the following trim levels:
Base, XLT, Limited, and Platinum versions differ mostly in their equipment lists; the Platinum adds nicer trim items but nothing that could be considered extraordinary. The ST-Line is an intermediate version with sporty accessories, while the ST delivers specific powertrain and tuning that makes the Explorer a true performance SUV. Timberline and King Ranch, in turn, feature off-road accessories; the latter offers them with a luxury touch.
The hybrid powertrain is available for the Limited, Platinum, and King Ranch versions at extra cost.
The standard layout is rear-wheel drive, but the model can be equipped with “intelligent AWD”, which is how Ford names its all-wheel drive system.
The limited coverage is of three years or 36,000 miles while the powertrain coverage is of five years or 60,000 miles. However, there is no complimentary scheduled maintenance package.
Even though the Explorer’s upscale variations are great and offer plenty of content, they can get expensive enough to make it worth researching some of its competitors – namely the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which has just been renewed. On the other hand, the Ford Explorer is still one of the few options with a hybrid option and becomes even more compelling for emotional drivers at the ST version.