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2012 Ford Explorer

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2012 Ford Explorer Review

All-new Explorer looks to lead Ford's future

Reviewed by Automotive on

Ditching its truck roots and body-on-frame construction for a unibody in last year's ground-up redesign, the 2012 Ford Explorer now shares more in common with the Taurus sedan than it does with any of Ford's truck range. Despite that, Ford still labels it as a proper SUV instead of a crossover with off-road prowess and a 5000-pound towing capacity. Moving up in size, the Explorer boasts room to seat up to seven passengers while delivering class-leading fuel economy and strong acceleration from its 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Using a car platform also improved ride, handling, and braking over its truck-based predecessor. Ford redefined the mission of the Explorer to be a vehicle with mild off-road capabilities with terrain management control and a priority on safety with airbags for every passenger and available inflatable seatbelt airbags for rear outboard passengers--an industry first. The Explorer is a vastly different vehicle from the models that came before its 2011 overhaul, and is offered with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.

The Range

Body style: Five-door SUV
Engines: Turbocharged 2.0-liter, I-4; 3.5-liter, V-6
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Models: Base, XLT, and Limited

What's New

For 2012, Ford is introducing a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The Explorer also comes equipped with blind spot detection when optioned with the seatbelt airbags. And Ford is expanding the color palette for 2012 with the addition of Ginger Ale Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl Metallic, Cinnamon, Metallic, and Black


While standing in the same upright profile shape as its predecessor, the new Explorer has a more steeply raked windshield and adopts some of the design cues from the Ford Taurus and the Kinetic design language used on its smaller cars. The result not only keeps faithful to the Explorer with its blacked-out A-, B-, and D-pillars, as well as its thick body-colored C-pillar, but also keeps contemporary with the style of new Ford vehicles.


The upright dashboard and instrument panel provide straightforward controls at-hand. The wide center console divides front passengers and can stretch back into the second row with the optional second-row bucket seat. Instruments and controls vary from model to model with the MyFord Touch panels making the center console controlled through a touch screen. Rugged and functional, the Explorer is also available with dual-zone climate control and a 10-way power driver's seat, and rear-seat video entertainment system.

Performance & Handling

Capable in light off-road duty with terrain management and hill descent control, the Explorer provides confidence when the going gets rough. However, on-road, the Explorer's electric power steering is somewhat numb, which is a shame in an otherwise steady vehicle. Acceleration with the V-6 is average with a 7.9-second 0-60 mph run, and braking is excellent for a 4700-pound vehicle with a 120-foot stop from 60 mph.


AdvaceTrac with Roll Stability Control, front-seat side airbags, Safety Canopy head airbags, rollover sensors, SOS post-crash alert, traction control, and LATCH child seat anchors all come standard. Additionally, adaptive cruise control and blindspot detection warnings are options.

EPA Fuel Economy

V-6: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway (FWD); 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway (AWD) inline-4: 28 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Space
  • Cargo capacity
  • Ride
  • Safety

You Won't Like

  • Numb steering
  • Complicated MyFord Touch
  • Maneuverability
  • Blindspots

Sum Up

All-new Explorer looks to lead Ford's future

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Dodge Durango
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • Honda Pilot
  • GMC Acadia

See the New 2015 Explorer.


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