The market isn't exactly awash with full-size crossovers, and until as recently as 2011, even what's now known as the 2017 Ford Explorer was still very much a traditional ladder-frame mid-size SUV. If someone was to suggest the Explorer's transformation has turned out well it would have to be considered a gross understatement as it's now among the best-selling vehicles in its class.
The Explorer enjoyed a mild refresh just last year, which saw some smoother bodywork introduced, the interior became quieter and more refined, there were also some enhanced features and a new engine added. There's now an XLT Sport Appearance Package for the 2017 Ford Explorer, and the previous infotainments system has now been upgraded to the superb Sync 3.
The 2017 Ford Explorer has very wide appeal, which has to be a big part of the reason for its current success. In its entry level trim it's so much more than just a capable family-hauler as it comes with generous amounts of standard equipment and features, while at the top of the range the Platinum models can even be seen as competition for genuine luxury models costing a whole lot more than the Ford. There are plenty of other choices of trim between those two extremes though, so the XLT, Limited and Sport trims are also well worth taking a look at.
Front-wheel drive comes standard with base Explorer and XLT models with all-wheel drive as an available option, but the Sport and Platinum trims come with all-wheel drive as part of standard equipment.
The 2017 Ford Explorer is quite obviously a fairly large vehicle as it's been designed accommodate up to seven people, so it really does need to have a suitable powerplant. Prospective buyers will therefore be delighted to see XLT and Limited models come with a 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V-6 that puts 290 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at their disposal. The contemporary nature of the Explorer is illustrated by the optional engine, which is an inline-four, 2.3-liter EcoBoost developing 280 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. As well as the extra torque, the EcoBoost also delivers improved fuel efficiency when compared to the standard V-6. The most power available for the Explorer comes with the Sport and Platinum trims, which really up the ante with the sensational 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6. This engine is quite the powerhouse, but it's still efficient enough to stop you worrying about gas bills. This outstanding engine offers as much as 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, which among other things delivers a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
When we consider the size, power, practicality and capability offered by the 2017 Ford Explorer, its EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings really do impress. The most frugal variants are unsurprisingly the models equipped with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost and front-wheel drive, with get 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined.* Things perhaps get even more impressive when it comes to the fabulously powerful 3.5 twin-turbo with its standard all-wheel drive, which still manages ratings as good as 16 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg combined.
It's not too long ago when high gas prices where causing some observers to predict the end for vehicles like this, but the Explorer is definitely proving them wrong.
*All vehicle mileage based on 2016 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.