Originally introduced for the 1991 model year as a midsize SUV to replace the Bronco II, the Ford Explorer quickly became one of the most popular utility vehicles in America. Sporting a traditional body-on-frame design and powered by a 4.0-liter V-6, the first-gen Explorer was replaced in 1994. New redesigns followed in 2000, 2005 and 2010, when the fifth-generation model was launched with a modern unibody platform. Designed by former Land Rover designer Jim Holland, the fifth-gen Explorer was also the first iteration to ditch the boxy styling of its predecessor and received a host of new convenience features. The Sport trim level joined the lineup for 2013, but other than that the Explorer remained relatively unchanged in its first five years on the market. As we move onto a new model year, the current fifth-gen Explorer is getting ready to retire and make way for a facelifted version.

Launched at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show and scheduled to go on sale in mid-2015, the revised Explorer boasts revised front and rear fascias and a somewhat new design language that adds more ruggedness to its sporty appearance. The new Explorer also received an updated interior, and, more importantly, a brand-new trim level with added luxury and premium features. A brand-new engine is also on the table, as Ford decided to offer the 2.3-liter EcoBoost that debuted on the Lincoln MKC for the Explorer hoping to attract more fuel conscious buyers. Read all about it after the jump.

Updated 11/26/2014: Ford revealed prices for the new Explorer which was unveiled the other days at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Prices will range from $30,700 for the base version and up to $52,600 for the Platinum version.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Ford Explorer.

  • 2016 Ford Explorer
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    290
  • Torque @ RPM:
    255
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    8 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    30700 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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When viewed from the side, the SUV showcases only a few nips and tucks, with most of the changes visible above the waistline.

The Explorer was comprehensively revised for the 2016 model year, boasting brand-new front and rear fascias. Gone is the three-bar front grille seen on its predecessor, replaced by a more conventional piece with a honeycomb-like layout. The redesigned, rectangular headlamps are larger and positioned higher, with the turn signals moved to the outer side of the cluster. The fog lamps are also brand-new, with Ford ditching the small round units for massive, C-shaped lamps. They’re also positioned higher, no longer sitting in the lower apron. All told, the Explorer is bolder and looks more rugged up front.

Changes are more subtle around back, where the Explorer retains its familiar taillights, bumper shape and rear glass. While similar in shape, the taillights are a tad smaller and carve into the tailgate. The latter has also been redesigned, carrying a more stylish appearance. When viewed from the side, the SUV showcases only a few nips and tucks, with most of the changes visible above the waistline. The new Explorer rides on standard 18-inch or available 20-inch rollers.

The brand-new Platinum trim, on the other hand, comes with a few exclusive features of its own, including unique lighting surrounds for the headlamps, a dual-panel moonroof, silver-painted front and rear skid plates and bespoke, machined 20-inch wheels with dark pockets. Around back, the integrated exhaust system includes a special shield that catches the soot so it doesn’t collect around the tips. Talk about keeping things clean.

Side-by-side comparison

2016 Ford Explorer Exterior
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Interior

2016 Ford Explorer Interior
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2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Interior
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2016 Ford Explorer Interior
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The front seats are wrapped in Nirvana leather with special quilted stitching and micro-perforation.

Inside, Ford focused on making the cabin more driver-oriented, but without changing its basic layout. Changes include a revised infotainment system with buttons in place of the touch-sensitive buttons from last year. A refined instrument cluster replaces the previous unit. The door armrests sit higher for improved comfort. Speaking of which, the new interior also benefits from enhanced quietness due to new door seals, engine subframe mounts designed to reduce vibration and acoustic glass on XLT and higher trim models.

Upgrades are more noticeable on the luxurious Platinum trim. The front seats are wrapped in Nirvana leather with special quilted stitching and micro-perforation. The same hide is used for the instrument panel, console armrests, door bolsters and upper door trim. Brushed aluminum and satin-finished Ash Wood inserts are spread throughout the cabin, while the leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel features a brushed-aluminum Ford oval badge, a first for production Ford vehicle. The 10-inch digital instrument cluster display marks yet another benchmark for a Ford automobile.

Also, the Explorer Platinum is the first Ford to receive a 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics and Clear Phase, the latter a technology that eliminates sound dispersion throughout the cabin. Other standard features include enhanced active park assist, lane-keeping system, and rain-sensing wipers.

Drivetrain

2016 Ford Explorer Drivetrain
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According to Ford, "no sacrifice in overall fuel efficiency is anticipated" with the extra oomph.

The 2016 Explorer gets a brand-new engine in the form of a 2.3-liter, EcoBoost, inline-four. Shared with the Ford Mustang and the Lincoln MKC, the turbocharged four-banger replaces the 2.0-liter EcoBoost as the available engine for the base, XLT and Limited trims. Ford has yet to reveal output figures, but says the new powerplant will generate 12.5 percent more horsepower and 11 percent more torque over the previous EcoBoost four-pot. With the 2.0-liter rated at 240 ponies and 270 pound-feet, the 2.3-liter unit should crank out around 270 horses and 300 pound-feet of twist. According to Ford, "no sacrifice in overall fuel efficiency is anticipated" with the extra oomph.

The other mills are carried over from the current Explorer, meaning customers will get the same 3.5-liter V-6 as standard for the base, XLT and Limited models, and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 for the Explorer Sport and the new Platinum series. Both the naturally aspirated and the EcoBoost six-bangers carry over unchanged, churning 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet and 365 ponies and 350 pound-feet, respectively. Likewise, both mate to Ford’s already familiar six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission.

Ford also offers a revised four-wheel-drive gauge display that shows power being distributed to front and rear wheels. The Terrain Management system offers four terrain modes, including normal, snow, sand or mud. The system automatically defaults to normal mode when the vehicle is started.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder 3.5-liter V-6 engine 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6
Output >270 HP 290 HP 365 HP
Torque >300 LB-FT 255 LB-FT 350 LB-FT
Transmission six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission six-speed SelectShift Automatic

Prices

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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Model Price
Ford Explorer $30,700
Ford Explorer XLT $33,400
Ford Explorer Limited $41,300
Ford Explorer Sport $44,300
Ford Explorer Platinum $52,600

Competition

Jeep Grand Cherokee

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Resolution Exterior
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The current-generation Grand Cherokee goes all the way back to 2010, but Chrysler’s best-selling SUV received a facelift for the 2014 model year, gaining revised fascias front and rear, updated technology and finer materials for the cabin, especially on the Overland and Summit trim levels.

Under the hood, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine continued unchanged at 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, while a slight update increased the 5.7-liter V-8’s output to 360 ponies and 390 pound-feet. A 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 joined the lineup with 240 horses and 420 pound-feet of twist, returning 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Lastly, a brand-new eight-speed automatic transmission was introduced as an option to each powertrain. The Grand Cherokee retails from $28,795 and goes all the way up to at least $50,995 for the Summit 4x4.

Dodge Durango

2014 Dodge Durango High Resolution Exterior
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The Dodge Durango was also refreshed for the 2014 model, when it received a sportier stance, a new design trim, and "Racetrack" LED taillights, as well as a successful commercial campaign featuring Will Ferrel. Interior changes included a new steering wheel and a seven-inch TFT display borrowed from the Dart. The current Durango is motivated by the same engines found in the Grand Cherokee, except for the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 generates the same 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in the base models, while the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 churns 360 ponies and 390 pound-feet. The latter features Dodge’s Fuel Saver Technology with cylinder deactivation. Both mills are paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that improved fuel economy by up to nine percent.

The Dodge Durango retails from $29,795 before options. The range-topping Citadel model is priced from $40,995. Unfortunately, the Durango will not live to see the 2016 model year.

Conclusion

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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24 years since its introduction, the Ford Explorer remains America’s best-selling SUVs and the company’s second best-selling crossover after the Escape. Explorer sales have increased by nearly 10 percent in 2014 and it seems the revised version comes right on time to help Ford build on the momentum. Although it has lost some of its sporty appeal with the redesigned front fascia, the new Explorer is likely to attract new customers looking for a more rugged design, reminiscent of the previous-generation SUV. The new Platinum trim is a welcomed addition that bridges the gap between the Explorer and the more luxurious Lincoln MKT.

  • Leave it
    • * The redesigned front fascia makes it look less sporty
    • * No updates for the base V-6

Press Release

Building on 25 years of innovation and sales leadership, a new Explorer is on its way, with even more smart technology, a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine and an all-new Platinum series. The new Ford Explorer goes on sale next summer.

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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The new Explorer, revealed today at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, builds on the strength and leadership of Ford’s new vehicle lineup – the freshest in the industry – and provides SUV customers even more versatility, capability, smart technology and efficiency.

“Explorer helped define how the world thinks about SUVs,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president and chief technical officer, Global Product Development. “Explorer is the centerpiece of Ford’s global utility vehicle lineup because it delivers an ideal combination of form and function. And with 7 million already sold, nearly everyone has an Explorer story.”

Introduced as a 1991 model, Explorer featured generous interior space customers were looking for, and was engineered specifically for people seeking adventure for their families and a way to express their individuality. For a quarter century, Explorer has been America’s best-selling SUV.

Ford Explorer is built in North America at Chicago Assembly Plant, as well as in Venezuela and now, Russia. It is sold in more than 100 markets across the globe. Ford expects to export 56,000 Explorers from the United States this year alone.

“Customers love Explorer, and expect this SUV to lead the way in innovation, performance and fun,” said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer for the new Explorer. “It’s a tall order, but we’re aiming to build the best SUV in the world.”

More innovation for new adventures
Even more smart technology – that’s what customers will get with the new Ford Explorer. It offers more technologies than previous models – features that enhance the driving experience. These include:

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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Front and rear cameras with washers: Both front and rear cameras have wide-angle lenses and come equipped with a washer – an industry-first
Enhanced active park assist with perpendicular park assist, park-out assist and semi-automatic parallel parking: The system uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers with parallel parking and perpendicular parking maneuvers. Enhanced active park assist now includes park-out assist to help a driver pull out of parallel parking spots. The system controls the steering wheel, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals, and shifts the vehicle into gear
Smart-charging USB ports throughout: Located in the front and rear of the vehicle are USB ports to charge smart devices
Hands-free liftgate: A customer need only kick his or her leg below the center of the rear bumper to unlock and raise the liftgate
Industry-exclusive 500-watt Sony Audio System: Explorer Platinum will be the first Ford vehicle to get an all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics™ and Clear Phase™ technology
Active Grille Shutters: Upper and lower fascia openings close at highway speeds to reduce drag. At low speeds, the shutters open to deliver airflow to cool the powertrain. Shutters allow for larger front end openings to cool the engine while reducing drag
Air curtains: Standard air curtains create a high-pressure region of air that impacts the outer surface of the wheels and tires. The result is airflow held close to the vehicle body, minimizing drag

These current Explorer features provide a foundation for innovations on the new model:

Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support: Uses radar to detect moving vehicles directly ahead and changes the cruising speed if necessary
Lane-keeping system: The system automatically detects left- and right-hand road lane markings using the front camera system. A vibration in the steering wheel alerts the driver if the vehicle begins to drift out of the lane. The system can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed
Blind Spot Information System: BLIS® uses radar to trigger a warning when another motorist is in the driver’s blind spot
Cross-traffic alert: Uses radar to help alert drivers to oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space
Auto high-beams: Automatic high-beams use windshield-mounted cameras to automatically switch between high-beam and low-beam settings when oncoming traffic is detected
Inflatable rear safety belts: Inflatable rear safety belts, introduced on 2011 Explorer as an industry-first, deploy an airbag over the torso and shoulder of an outboard passenger to help distribute crash forces over up to five times more area than a traditional safety belt. Spreading forces over a larger area helps reduce pressure on a passenger’s chest, and helps control head and neck motion

All-new EcoBoost engine
Capability – that’s what customers will get even more of with the new Explorer, thanks to an available 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine delivering at least 270 horsepower and at least 300 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost replaces the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder available for the current model.

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The 2.3-liter EcoBoost is available on the base, XLT and Limited series. The new powerplant is expected to give customers 12.5 percent more horsepower and 11 percent more torque over the current 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. It improves highway passing times 10 percent at speeds between 55 mph and 75 mph.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost will deliver a noticeable improvement in horsepower and torque; while EPA results are not yet certified, no sacrifice in overall fuel efficiency is anticipated. The current Explorer is a gas mileage leader on the highway.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost benefits from technology that makes it more efficient and optimizes performance. It employs an active oil control system to optimize pressure when less fluid is needed. An active wastegate controls boost more precisely during light load operation to help save fuel. A higher compression ratio results in more efficient fuel combustion.

“The new Explorer isn’t giving up its reputation as a leader in highway fuel efficiency – especially for the customer who wants a vehicle that is also a capable trail warrior,” said Groeneveld. “Customers will not only get the performance of a larger engine, they won’t sacrifice efficiency because of it.”

The standard 3.5-liter V6 engine for base, XLT and Limited models – with an estimated 290 horsepower and estimated 255 lb.-ft. of torque – is paired with a six-speed SelectShift® Automatic transmission. Explorer Sport and the Platinum edition get a standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with an estimated 365 horsepower and estimated 350 lb.-ft. of torque – also mated with a six-speed SelectShift Automatic.

New Platinum series
Style – the all-new Platinum series further elevates the full-size SUV in look and feel, with changes to both the Explorer exterior and interior.

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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“Bringing Explorer Platinum to market is a natural extension of the Explorer lineup, giving our customers even more of what they want,” said Matt Zuehlk, Ford Explorer brand manager. “There’s a market for more upscale SUVs, as 90 percent of today’s Explorer Sport buyers purchase the most expensive package available. That’s a strong signal customers are ready for Platinum.”

From new multicontour front seats wrapped in Nirvana leather with micro-perforation, to special quilted stitching used throughout, to advanced standard technologies, Platinum elevates Explorer in ways customers can see and feel.

“Platinum is the ultimate expression of refinement,” said Christopher Svensson, Ford design director, The Americas. “This is the most premium, high-quality interior we’ve ever offered on a Ford vehicle.”

The interior incorporates brushed aluminum and satin-finished ash wood in multi-piece appliqués on all door panels and the instrument panel. The wood-trimmed, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel includes unique stitching that matches the stitching used throughout the interior.

For the first time in a production Ford vehicle, a brushed aluminum Ford oval is centered on the steering wheel.

Nirvana leather wraps the instrument panel, console armrests, quilted door bolsters and upper door trim. The instrument cluster features a large 10-inch digital display supported with analog displays – a first for a Ford-brand vehicle.

The new Explorer Platinum will be the first Ford vehicle to get an all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics and Clear Phase technology. Clear Phase eliminates sound dispersion throughout the vehicle, so the music occupants hear is precisely pinpointed, just as the artist intended. Live Acoustics engineering re-creates the sound dynamics of some of the world’s greatest concert halls for a more enveloping, realistic sound.

Explorer Platinum also gets standard advanced technology features including enhanced active park assist, lane-keeping system and rain-sensing wipers.

For the exterior, signature lighting surrounds the LED headlamps, giving Explorer Platinum a continuous glow. Other features include a standard dual-panel moonroof, premium silver-painted front and rear skid plate elements, and 20-inch wheels with bright machine face and tarnished dark painted pockets.

The integrated exhaust is designed to reduce the appearance of soot collecting at the rear of the vehicle. Inside the chrome bezel of the exhaust, engineers designed a shield that catches the soot so it doesn’t collect around the outlets.

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Exterior
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Intelligent four-wheel drive: Ready for any adventure
Explorer’s intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System™ reassesses conditions about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye, providing precise handling and traction.

Intelligent four-wheel drive continuously monitors wheel speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle to determine vehicle conditions and driver intent. The system then determines the optimal amount of front and rear torque for the given conditions to prevent slip from even occurring, which helps keep the vehicle sure-footed on virtually any terrain. In sand, grass or gravel mode, the antilock braking system changes its pulse rate, which allows material to build up in front of the wheels, acting as a doorstop of sorts to help slow momentum.

To help maintain efficiency, in most steady-state cruising conditions the new Explorer equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive seamlessly and quickly transfers torque between the front and rear wheels.

A newly refined, intelligent four-wheel-drive gauge display shows power being distributed to front and rear wheels under all conditions – from heavy four-wheel-drive system usage to when the system is not transmitting power at all – for improved efficiency.

For added convenience, the Terrain Management System automatically defaults to normal mode whenever the vehicle is started to ensure it is ready for normal driving conditions.

Using a dial located on the center console, the customer can shift on the fly, selecting one of four terrain management modes – normal, snow, sand or mud – to set how the engine, transmission, brakes and four-wheel-drive system will operate. A fifth setting is for navigating hills.

Comfortable and capable
The new Explorer benefits from an improved suspension for better handling and a quiet cabin, enabling a comfortable ride even when the pavement turns to dirt.

Ford completely retuned the Explorer chassis to clearly differentiate the driving experiences of XLT, Explorer Sport and Platinum models.

The suspension uses MacPherson construction with an isolated subframe and 32-millimeter stabilizer bar at the front, while an independent multilink rear setup uses a 22-millimeter stabilizer bar.

2016 Ford Explorer High Resolution Interior
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Explorer Sport customers looking for a more dynamic driving experience will benefit from a unique steering gear, front and rear springs, struts and rear dampers.

Explorer also features a tower brace that provides additional stiffness between strut towers. The tower brace for Explorer equipped with four-wheel drive is three millimeters thicker for even more stiffness – providing better control and a smoother ride on rugged terrain.

The new Explorer, with standard 18-inch and available 20-inch wheels, offers new tire options for improved ride and handling, while reducing road noise in the cabin.

Interior changes help enhance quietness in the cabin. There are new door seals, and an enhanced sound package includes engine subframe mounts specially tuned to reduce vibration, as well as a specially tuned exhaust for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Acoustic glass is used on the windshield and front doors on XLT and higher trim levels.

New look
Rugged – that’s the word that inspired the designers creating the look of the new Ford Explorer.

Exterior style updates – such as positioning the grille and LED headlamps even higher, adding a new closed-off lower roof rack with channels that cascade rainwater off the vehicle and a new rear spoiler – also improve aerodynamics.

Explorer features more robust headlamps, with available LED signature lighting, standard LED low-beams and available LED fog lamps.

Visible heat-sink structures for cooling the LED headlamps are a meaningful detail. These radiator-like grilles are typically hidden behind the light cluster, but on Explorer they are part of a complex headlamp design that puts innovation on display.

Interior design changes reflect desires customers expressed through Ford consumer research, which shows one in five Explorer Sport customers previously owned a luxury vehicle. Changes include a higher wrapped and stitched door armrest, real buttons to replace touch-sense buttons on the infotainment system and more refined detailing throughout.

Series overview and standard features

The new Explorer features five trim series. These are:

Base: 3.5-liter V6 engine with six-speed SelectShift Automatic, LED low-beam headlamps, LED taillamps, 18-inch aluminum wheels in sparkle silver paint and rearview camera with washer
XLT: 3.5-liter V6 engine with six-speed SelectShift Automatic, heavy-duty front and rear brake calipers, fog lamps, LED signature lighting, 18-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels with sparkle silver paint, leather-wrapped steering wheel and reverse sensing system
Limited: 3.5-liter V6 engine with six-speed SelectShift Automatic, premium 20-inch aluminum painted wheels, ambient lighting, cargo net, heated steering wheel, multi-piece satin chrome with Rosewood film accent appliqués, perforated leather-trimmed seats, heated and cooled front row seats, 12-speaker Sony Audio System, front and rear 180-degree camera with washers, and hands-free liftgate
Explorer Sport: 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System, sport-tuned suspension, trailer tow package, Explorer badge on hood, fascia-integrated dual exhaust tips, 20-inch wheels, perforated leather-trimmed seats with red accent stitching, multi-piece satin chrome with carbon fiber interior appearance inserts and 12-speaker Sony Audio System
Platinum: 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System, dual-panel moonroof, satin chrome lower bodyside cladding insert, satin chrome mirror caps, 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, real wood accents and unique stitching on steering wheel, 500-watt Sony Audio System, leather-wrapped door and console armrests, leather-wrapped instrument panel and upper door trim, Nirvana leather seats, all-digital instrument cluster, enhanced active park assist with park-out assist and perpendicular park, and lane-keeping system

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