The world was a different place when Ford introduced the first model year of its Explorer SUV in 1991. At the time, the price of gas was exceedingly low and the consumer demand for larger vehicles continued to climb. Much has changed in the almost three decades since the Ford Explorer was first announced: Gas prices have continued to climb, efficiency concerns have dominated both the consumer mindset and the development process, and new technologies have helped transform cars into mobile computing centers that offer everything from wireless audio to wireless Internet connectivity in the cabin.
The 2017 iteration of Ford’s legendary Explorer SUV continues to build on these trends, with improved fuel efficiency and new in-cabin technologies that are sure to impress even the most demanding of SUV buyers. Though the automaker didn’t completely change the design for this model year, the company did still manage to make a few appearance tweaks and modifications to its various trim levels. These subtle changes will appeal particularly to long-time Ford Explorer buyers who are looking to upgrade their overall experience while purchasing a car that both looks and feels like a refined, and slightly revised, version of the Explorer lineup.
A Look at the 2017 Ford Explorer’s Size and Specs
The Ford Explorer is a full-size SUV, which means it’s one of the biggest models on the market and a perfect fit for both growing families and drivers who have a lot of cargo to haul. The vehicle’s specs reflect its full-size status. First and foremost, the 2017 Explorer is capable of holding up to 21 cubic feet of cargo in the rear, with all seats installed and in the upright position. When the seats are collapsed, the Explorer’s cargo area gets even better: 81 cubic feet.
The 2017 Explorer’s base and XLT trims come with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that includes EcoBoost technology; the engine produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded Sport and Platinum trim levels come with a turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6 engine that offers up to 365-horsepower and up to 350 pound-feet of torque. All models come with at least 18-inch wheels. Ford’s MSRP on the 2017 Ford Explorer ranges from $31,660 for the base trim to as much as $53.235 for the high-end 2017 Ford Explorer Platinum trim.
2017 Ford Explorer Features
As with previous iterations of the Ford Explorer, features are often slightly different across four trim levels. All models come standard with 18-inch wheels, the Ford Sync 3 infotainment system, LED headlights and taillights, roof rails, a backup camera, rear climate controls, air conditioning, cruise control, an adjustable steering wheel, a 4.2-inch dashboard infotainment display system, six-speaker sound, and a fully adjustable steering column.
By upgrading to the XLT trim, you can add LED fog lights, premium interior lighting, chrome roof rails, heated mirrors, parking sensors, keypad entry, and a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat to the mix.
If you’re looking for an Explorer that blends utility with luxury, the Sport and Platinum trims are just right. The Sport trim adds a sport-tuned suspension, 20-inch wheels, front-view camera, premium Sony speakers and stereo controls, rear cross-traffic alert, driver memory, and a heated steering wheel.
The Platinum trim adds even more, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, premium leather upholstery, lane monitoring, rain-sensing windshield wipers, interior wood accents, and active parking assistance. This highest-price trim also puts the Explorer well into the range of other, full-size luxury SUV models on the market.
The Competition: How Does the 2017 Ford Explorer Compare?
When the first Ford Explorer came to market, it was considered the underdog against far more established SUV brands of the time. Today, almost the exact opposite is true. The 2017 Ford Explorer leads the market in terms of features and capability; the Ford Sync 3 system is easily one of the most extensive and usable infotainment systems on the market; and the performance of this model year, especially with the turbocharged V6, is leaps and bounds ahead of the Honda Pilot, GMC Yukon, and Buick Enclave, to name a few.
While the Ford Explorer in 2017 has the same passenger capacity as full-size SUVs from other manufacturers, it has a few added benefits that its competitors lack. First and foremost, the Explorer is the only non-luxury brand that can be upgraded to luxury status via the Platinum trim. Among luxury models, the 2017 Ford Explorer Platinum is still more affordable than the mid-range trim of SUVs like the BMW X7 or the Audi Q7.
The 2017 Ford Explorer also superior city and combined fuel economy when compared to models from General Motors, Toyota, Honda, and even BMW and Audi. This makes the 2017 Ford Explorer both the leader for value and luxury buyers, and for those who prefer a high-tech, efficient, and powerful ride in all environments.
Fuel Economy: Improvements Continue for the Ford Explorer
Ford has made a big push in recent years to maximize the fuel economy of every model it sells, largely through the use of its EcoBoost engine technology. The 2017 Ford Explorer continues these improvements in fuel economy for the full-size SUV lineup. The base and XLT trim levels of this year’s Explorer get up to 16 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 23 miles per gallon on the highway.
Upgrading to the Sport or Platinum trim levels, with the turbocharged V6 engine, features the same fuel economy in city driving and slightly reduced fuel economy on the highway, at 22 miles per gallon. Both engines feature better fuel economy than most competing full-size SUVs from both domestic and international manufacturers. Furthermore, all trim levels feature excellent 0-to-60 acceleration that takes less than 10 seconds. This indicates that greater fuel efficiency does not compromise overall performance or safety on the road, which is a particular highlight of Ford’s increasing focus on fuel efficiency in recent years.
- Technology gets a big upgrade this year, thanks to the addition of Ford Sync 3 in the front of the cabin.
- Cargo space remains generous with the 2017 model, making it one of the best choices for buyers who routinely haul large amounts of gear.
- Fuel efficiency remains impressive with an SUV of this size for 2017, building on the success of EcoBoost engines across the Ford lineup more broadly.
- Cabin noise has been reduced this year, thanks to a renewed focus on noise isolation and cabin insulation.
- A new, turbocharged V6 engine in upgraded models makes this explorer accelerate faster than its predecessors.
- The Ford Explorer is not a small vehicle, and its driving experience can be awkward from behind the wheel, especially for first-time buyers.
- While cargo space is generous, the third row of seating is particularly cramped, making it unsuitable for adult passengers on long trips.
- The second row of seating has inched forward a bit for this model year, which means that larger passengers, and even car seats, could have some trouble fitting in.
- Maximizing the 2017 Ford Explorer, by selecting the Platinum trim level, makes this SUV the most expensive domestic, non-luxury model on the market