Whether it’s a medium-sized family or a startup business, a used Ford Explorer provides the most affordable and ideal transportation solutions for your needs. In this article, we evaluate different Explorer model years, thus empowering you to choose a used Ford Explorer for your needs.
For some reason, Ford automaker has managed to address the most pressing automobile concerns year after year. That is why many car users still prefer second-hand Ford Explorers to brand-new units of other brands.
Read on to know the most-sought Explorer features and the best model years to consider.
Best Ford Explorer Years
If you intend to acquire a used Ford Explorer, you should narrow your choices to specific model years. These model years have registered favorable consumer reviews. Review data was obtained from the most reliable driver communities in the region.
Better still, you should avoid some models that have performed worse than other years’ releases. We offer these recommendations based on the disproportionately high number of complaints against particular model years.
Note: The entry of Ford Explorer into the American market in 1991 finally toppled the reign of Bronco II, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Chevy S-10 brands that dominated the industry in the previous decades. Since then, the Ford Explorer SUV has been the darling of the average American driver.
Here’s our list of the best years for Ford Explorer
2016 Ford Explorer
The 2016 Ford Explorer is a perfect family-friendly SUV, integrating significant updates to meet every driver’s high-tech, comfort, and safety fundamentals. The model comes with a spacious interior suitable for a whole family getaway. It is also known for its decent road manners and fuel economy characteristics.
The 2016 Explorer boasts unique engine configurations, including a 3.5-liter base engine size, Double overhead cam (DOHC) V6, six-speed automatic transmission. These engine specs have a power output of 290hp at 6,500 rpm, with 255 pound-feet of peak torque at 4,000 rpm. It is designed to handle a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs.
Notably, the 2016 model is fitted with an enhanced automated parking system. This allows you to park in parallel spaces, as well as pull into and out of perpendicular parking lots.
That year, Ford released a high-end Platinum model, integrating top-of-the-range tech and safety features in the market. This model extends Ford’s safety philosophy through the inception of stability and traction control features, including all-rounded airbags and a trailer sway control.
So, if you intend to acquire a versatile, roomy, and proven performer, the 2016 Ford Explorer could be just the best option for you. Pointedly, most of these winning features are provided in its base trim level option. This means that you don’t have to go for pricey trim levels to enjoy the exclusive safety, luxury, and performance automobile features.
2013 Ford Explorer
The 2013 Explorer integrates unique and most ideal features known to American drivers. That is why the model makes it to this list of the best Ford Explorer options nearly ten years after its release date.
For starters, the model comes with the following winning features:
- An upscale cabin
- Extensive high-tech components
- Superb ride handling balance
- Superior crash test safety scores
- A fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine
Also, this model year gives you an excellent engine configuration as follows: 3.5-liter base engine size, double overhead cam (DOHC) V6, with the V8 option, six-speed automatic transmission. This produces a power output of 290hp at 6,500 rpm, with 255 pound-feet of peak torque at 4,000 rpm. To add, these engine specs can handle a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs.
The 2013 Explorer is a characteristically large crossover SUV available in four trim levels: Base, XLT, Limited, and Sport.
The Base trim level comes with standard features, including a V6 engine, 17-inch steel wheels, integrated blind spot mirrors, and roof rails. Others are:
- A six-way power driver seat.
- A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
- A six-speaker sound system.
- Cruise control.
The highest-level Explorer Sport option integrates the most superior comfort, performance, and safety features in the market. They include 20-inch wheels, unique interior and exterior trim details, and sport front seats.
You can also get top-of-the-range features in the 2013 improved Sport 402A package. This package integrates a power liftgate, cross-traffic alert, power-adjustable steering wheels and pedals, and inflatable seat belts.
Overall, the 2013 Ford Explorer is one of the strongest machines with unique sporty upgrades and better gas mileage. It has also proven superior in safety and technology areas.
2008 Ford Explorer
The 2008 Ford Explorer is undoubtedly one of the best options if you intend to acquire a traditional SUV.
The model has great handling characteristics for a truck-based SUV, ample interior spacing, user-friendly layout, healthy tow rating, and improved safety features.
From a starting MSRP of $27,800 in the premium categories, you get a 4.6-liter SOHC V8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, producing 292hp at 5,750 rpm, with 300 pound-feet of peak torque at 3,950 rpm. This can comfortably handle a maximum of 7,310 lbs. and 1,531 lbs. in towing and payload capacities, respectively.
The 2008 Ford Explorer is available in three trim levels, including XLT, XLS, Eddie Bauer, and Limited. The XLT model offers the most basic towing and hauling features suitable for not-so-bulky family getaways.
The Eddie Bauer, on the other hand, provides relatively improved safety, comfort, and performance features. These improvements are enabled by the 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, leather upholstery, and heated front seats.
If you want top-notch performance features, you should go for the exclusive Limited trim level. Besides the monochromatic paint appeal, the Limited option is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a separate rear air-conditioner.
Other exclusive applications in this model are manually folding third-row seats, power-adjustable pedals, and a power front passenger seat.
Overall, the 2008 Ford Explorer is ideal if you desire mid-level auto technology. It integrates the latest technologies such as keyless entry.
However, the model is fitted with the relatively outdated entertainment system, i.e., the CD player, with no allowance for the latest entertainment technologies. Even so, the model has unique aesthetic features, is an above-average performer, and is reasonably priced for bargain consumer groups.
2001 Ford Explorer
The 2001 Ford Explorer is an excellent midsize SUV ideal for bargain consumers – Its MSRP tag lags around the $20,000 mark. The model comes with a 4.0-liter SOHC V6 or 5.0-liter V8 engine, five-speed automatic transmission.
These engine specs produce 205hp at 5,250 rpm, with 240 pound-feet of peak torque at 3,250 rpm. It can handle 5,750 lbs. maximum towing capacity.
The 2001 Explorer is available in four trim levels: XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited.
The XLS trim is the cheapest, offering the most basic automobile features in the market. The Limited trim level, on the other hand, provides extensive luxury and performance attributes that largely appeal to high-end vehicle enthusiasts who may not afford the brand-new Explorers yet.
Attractive features in the premium trim options include:
- Automatic climate control
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror
- Side airbags
- Rear load-leveling
- A reverse sensing system
- A moonroof
Even so, the XLT option, being the mid-level trim in the year’s releases, balances between budget and performance aspects. Hence, it integrates optimal qualities suitable for diverse driving settings.
Apart from the first-rate laid-out interior, the XLT option has proven to be comfortable for long trips. Its 19-mpg average is in range for consumers with extended driving preferences.
Note: There’s a reason why nearly all customer reviews on 2001 Ford Explorer have 4- to 5-star ratings. It is because the model integrates America’s most desired sporty features, hence maintaining relevance across extensive driver demographics in the region.
Ford Explorer XLT (1999 Model)
If you intend to acquire a used Ford Explorer, the 1999 model might just be a good option for you. The model has proven ideal for low-budget off-roaders looking to use their 4-wheelers for short-distance trucking and towing purposes.
The 1999 XLT comes with a 4.0L 160hp V6 engine, which applies to both 2WD and 4WD variants.
Its price is friendly for bargain consumers searching for unsophisticated yet capable off-road machines. Some of the model’s winning features include ample cargo space, body moldings, a reverse sensing system, automatic ride control, rear loading leveling, and side-impact airbags.
However, the model does not do well for long-distance commuters since it is not fuel-efficient. Even so, the 1999 XLT has maintained its reputation over the years due to its durability, quality engineering, stylish aesthetic features, and spacious interior. All of these qualities continue to keep the promise of Ford’s philosophy – “Building Vehicles That Everyone Can Be Happy With.”
Ford Explorer Model Years to Avoid
Due to the significantly high number of complaints raised against particular model years, we recommend that you avoid these Ford Explorer makes: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2017.
According to the underlying consumer reviews, these years’ releases have proven mechanical, performance, and functionality issues. These engineering faults could expose you to unbearable repair expenses. Worse still, they could lead to costly inconveniences or even expose you to road safety risks.
A significant proportion of complaints touch on the transmission, body paint, wheels and hubs, interior accessories, drivetrain, engine brakes, windows and windshields, and AC heater. One or more of these concerns were raised against particular model years.
For instance, the 2002 Ford Explorer witnessed similar transmission issues. Mild complaints such as substandard body coatings were raised against 2003, 2004, and 2005 Explorers.
So, if you intend to acquire a used Ford Explorer, it would be best to avoid the mentioned model years as there is a higher chance that you’ll encounter the same engineering faults.
Explorer’s popularity has steadied over the years due to Ford’s ability to maintain certain winning factors in the successive years. Apart from general affordability, Ford Explorer integrates some of the most-sought automobile features in the American market. The average Ford Explorer SUV offers a conveniently spacious cabin for a typical American family. These models are versatile and provide top-of-the-range driving experiences.
If you are shopping for a second-hand Ford Explorer, you should limit your choice to the model years that we’ve evaluated above, i.e., 2016, 2013, 2008, 2001, and 1999. On the other hand, you should avoid some model years that have registered the highest number of complaints. They include 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2017 Explorers.