2015 Ford Explorer

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17 CITY / 24 HWY
Overall Quality
Overall Performance and Design
Predicted Reliability


What's New for 2015:
  • Appearance package added for XLT trim level
  • Magnetic, Caribou, and Bronze Fire paint colors

The 2015 Ford Explorer is a mid-size crossover SUV designed to seat up to 7 people in 3 rows of seats. Primary competitors in a crowded segment include the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander.

Models and Features
Ford offers the 2015 Explorer in base, XLT, Limited, and Sport trim levels. Choosing the Explorer XLT adds upgraded cloth seat trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, Sync Bluetooth connectivity with 911 Assist, satellite radio, and a media hub with a USB port. Ford also beefs up the braking and electrical systems, while adding flashier exterior trim detailing, side mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators and courtesy lighting, rear park-assist sensors, SecuriCode keyless entry pad, perimeter alarm, and fog lights.

The Explorer Limited is equipped with leather seats, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, 12-speaker premium audio system with HD Radio, and a Driver Connect package containing a voice-activated MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-in. touch-screen display, reversing camera, and an expanded media hub with additional USB ports, SD card slot, and audio input jacks. The Explorer Limited also features power-adjustable pedals, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, cargo net, rear-seat armrest with cupholders, and ambient interior lighting. Keyless access with push-button start is also standard for the Limited, along with a body-color grille, body-color and power-folding side mirrors, and 20-in. aluminum wheels.

The Explorer Sport mixes and matches equipment from the XLT and Limited but features a unique look and performance package all its own. The Sport is equipped with a twin-turbocharged, EcoBoost V-6 engine, standard all-wheel drive (AWD) with hill-descent control and a Terrain Management System, sport suspension, and a special set of 20-in. aluminum wheels. Cosmetic improvements for the Sport include illuminated front doorsill scuff plates, unique floor mats, gloss black side mirrors, blacked-out projector-beam headlights and taillight surrounds, unique grille and tailgate trim, and a block-lettered \"EXPLORER\" badge on the hood. Inside, the Explorer Sport contains perforated leather upholstery and a power-folding third-row seat.

Under the Hood
A 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is standard equipment for the base Explorer, Explorer XLT, and the Explorer Limited. It is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel drive (FWD) or AWD. As an option for front-drive models, buyers can select a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, one generating 240 horsepower and more torque at lower rpm than the bigger V-6.

The Explorer Sport is the only version to offer a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6 engine. It makes 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, comes only with AWD, and is bolted to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel Economy
Most 2015 Explorers have a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, one rated to get 17 mpg in the city regardless of whether it has AWD or not. Without AWD, the EPA highway rating is 24 mpg. With AWD, highway fuel economy dips to 23 mpg.

If you want an Explorer that gets better fuel economy than that, opt for the turbocharged, EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine. It is rated to get 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

If fuel economy isn't very important but you value strong acceleration, try the Explorer Sport, which is EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway.

Safety and Technology
Every 2015 Explorer equipped with AWD also gets a Terrain Management System. Using a dial on the center console, the driver calibrates the AWD system for specific types of driving surfaces. Additionally, the Explorer is available with Active Park Assist, which steers the SUV into a parallel parking space while the driver operates the transmission and the pedals.

Buyers can opt for a Ford MyFord Touch infotainment system with an 8-in. color touch screen, and can load the Explorer up with safety features. The standard equipment list includes Sync Bluetooth connectivity with 911 Assist service, which helps speed rescue following an accident. Options include rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, and inflatable rear seat belts designed to cushion occupants against crash forces in a collision.

Additionally, the Explorer offers adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning and Brake Support, a lane-keeping system, and a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert.


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