Best Ford Explorer Models to Choose From & Why

Ford loves to brag about its classic SUV the Explorer, and with good reason: the Ford Explorer has spent the past 25 years leading the pack as the best-selling SUV in the world. Recently redesigned and boasting five models ranging from $31,660 to $53,235, the Ford Explorer offers drivers a such a range of performance and luxury that it’s no wonder the SUV has remained incredibly popular over the years. When visiting the Ford dealership near me, I was surprised that what I always considered a rugged ride meant for the outdoors could be customized to be a downright luxurious family friendly car. Before stopping by your local Ford dealership, take a cruise through the models below and see which Ford is built for you.

The Explorer

The Explorer is the seven-passenger SUV’s base model. Opt for this classic, and you’ll still have some solid features; however, you’ll lose out on a lot of the additional options that the other models offer. Some highlights of the standard features found in the base model Explorer include the solar tinted front door and windshield glass as well as the privacy glass that will make your backseat passengers feel like celebrities. They’ll also be able to control their own comfort with the rear auxiliary climate control feature. The second-row seats can be split 60/40 and the third-row seats can be split 50/50. When the third row seats are collapsed, the Explorer offers 43.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Collapse the second row, and you’re looking at 81.7 cubic feet to fill. And when your seats are all taken, you still have 21 cubic feet of cargo room to store your stuff.

A 3.5 liter V6 engine powers the Explorer and drives its 290 horses, although you can opt to upgrade to the 2.3-liter EcoBoost 1-4 cylinder if necessary. The Explorer comes equipped with a rearview camera, but you’ll pay extra for the reverse sensing system. You’ll have SYNC, Ford’s infotainment system, Bluetooth, a 4.2-inch display screen and an eight-way power driver seat.

The Explorer XLT

The Explorer XLT is overarchingly very similar to the base model Explorer. In fact, one of the only things that make it different from the base model is that the XLT lets you customize it by adding a few options that just aren’t available on the base model, such as the new for 2017 optional Sports Appearance package, available only on the XLT. Opt for the Sports Appearance package, and the XLT will be outfitted with 20-inch Magnetic Gray wheels, a Magnetic Gray Grille, a black roof rack and Dark Earth Gray leather front seats in addition to a slew of other cosmetic upgrades.

Engine options remain the same on the Explorer XLT as the base model Explorer and the Explorer XLT has the same seat configuration as the standard Explorer, but the XLT comes with the option of second-row bucket seats and leather-trimmed seating surfaces. You can also add a twin-panel moonroof, heated steering wheel, and remote starting capabilities. Sirius XM is included and you’ll have the option of upgrading to the Premium Audio System which equips the car with nine speakers, a CD player, and voice-activated navigation. You can also upgrade from SYNC to SYNC 3, a more responsive version of the original SYNC technology found in the base model.

Explorer Limited

The Explorer Limited mixes it up and offers the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine as standard, although the V6 is available. The Limited offers a more upscale ride than the Explorer or the XLT with its heated front seats and leather upholstery. Second-row passengers get armrests, cup holders, and heated seats, but if you really want to impress your backseat drivers, you can opt to include a second-row console and heated bucket seats. The third row doesn’t offer much in the way of upgrades, but it does benefit from power-folding seats.

The Explorer Limited comes standard with SiriusXM and Voice-Activated Navigation. The Premium Audio System is included, but instead of the nine speakers you get in the XLT upgrade, the Limited comes standard with 12 speakers.

Safety options really start to arrive in Limited. The remote start and reverse sensing system come standard, but you can also choose to install Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision warning with brake support, Blind Spot Information System, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist or the Enhanced Active Park Assist technology. Additionally, you can add auto high beams and rain-sensing wipers to your Explorer Limited.

Explorer Sport

The Explorer Sport moves away from both the 2.3L Ecoboost four-cylinder and the 3.5L V6 engines and instead comes standard with the 3.5L Ecoboost twin-turbo V6. Unfortunately, that’s about the only change the Sport offers from the Limited, and with the Sport’s $45,355 MSRP as opposed to the Limited’s $41,675, you may be better off sticking with the Limited unless engine capability, more nimble handling and hands-free liftgate are really important to you.

Explorer Platinum

Loaded with the same 3.5L Ecoboost twin turbo-V6 engine as the Explorer Sport, the Explorer Platinum is loaded with luxury. As in the Limited and Sport trims, the Platinum comes standard with SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Voice Activated Navigation, however, the Platinum boasts the 500-watt Sound from Sony system with Clear Phase and Live Acoustics technology. It also has a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats – oh, and the front seats are quilted leather and embossed with “Platinum,” adding an additional touch of pizazz. Parking assistance and adaptive cruise control come standard in this trim.

So whether you’re in the market for a rough and tumble base model Explorer or looking to live it up in the lap-of-luxury Platinum model, you can feel confident there is an Explorer out there for you. Stop by DePaula Ford and let the experienced and friendly sales team help you find and configure your next Ford Explorer.