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The front of a white 2017 Ford Explorer is shown from the front at sunset.

Buying a Used Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer’s history began when the first production rolled off the assembly line back in March of 1990, in time for the 1991 model year. It quickly became one of the top-selling SUVs, helping usher in the current era of the sport utility vehicles – one that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. And while the newest models of Ford Explorers are great, sometimes being on a budget makes searching for used vehicles a better option. With that said, here’s some excellent news: You can find a used Ford Explorer loaded with features for a great price, and you probably won’t have to look that hard because there are so many out there.

Odds are, your find is going to be from the fifth generation, which was built from the 2011 model year to the 2019 model year. The exact features equipped on the vehicle will depend on the particular model year. Still, in general, these fifth generation Explorers are safe and offer many options regarding engines and entertainment features. So, knowing all of that, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect to find during your search for a used Ford Explorer.

Buying a Used Ford Explorer is a Safe Option

The interior of a 2017 used Ford Explorer is shown with a man driving.

Today’s brand new vehicles come equipped with tons of driver-assist packages that you may not find in those that are older. Still, however, the Ford Explorer’s fifth generation was full of innovation regarding safety. The engineers at Ford gave this new version of the Explorer a unibody construction and added plenty of standard and available safety features. As the years went on, throughout the generation, the availability and innovation of safety features grew tremendously. In fact, Ford did such an excellent job that during the fifth generation, the Explorer became known specifically for the safety it provided to drivers everywhere.

There were so many safety features created and added to the Explorer during the fifth generation, one being adaptive cruise control. This adjusts the Explorer’s to make sure drivers maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of them. The blind-spot system was added later in the generation to alert drivers about vehicles driving in the Explorer’s blind-spot when a turn signal is on. Forward-collision warnings with brake pre-charging, also added during the fifth generation, lets drivers know if they are too close to the car in front of them, and assists with braking to avoid a collision if needed. All of these safety features come together to ensure crashes are less likely by keeping drivers more attentive to the road and everyone around them safer.

There are plenty of other noteworthy safety features that can be found on used Ford Explorers including, hill descent control, which assists drivers by continually adjusting braking pressure to help control slippage and maintain speed while descending a steep grade. This feature is especially helpful if you live in an area with significant ups and downs. Additionally, active parking assistance is available on some used Explorers and helps with parallel parking. The system uses sensors to determine if the vehicle can be safely parked in a parallel spot and then steers the Explorer into the space while the driver controls the brakes. And of course, many used Explorers can be found with a rearview camera that helps avoid hitting another vehicle or pedestrian while backing out of a spot.

When you are shopping for a used Ford Explorer, you should keep in mind that not all trims and models have the same safety features. This could be due either to the addition of some items over the years or for the original owner paying for extra equipment. That is why you should check to make sure the Ford Explorer you are going to buy has the features you want. However, what you can expect is for every Explorer to be safe.

Exploring Performance

Explorers come with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, so you need to determine which drivetrain works best for you, and search the used market accordingly. In general, front-wheel drive vehicles get better mileage, while all-wheel drive provides better control in inclement weather. If you prefer one over the other, you will need to specify such.

Moving forward, the fifth generation of the Ford Explorer features four different engines. First, you will see many equipped with a 3.5-liter Duratec Ti-VCT V6 gas engine. This produces up to 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. It is also very fuel-efficient, providing 18 MPG in city driving and 25 MPG on the highway. Ford began offering a second engine option on the 2012 model year Explorers, a 2.0-liter Turbo EcoBoost direct-injection 4-cylinder gas engine. This will only be seen on front-wheel drive Explorers and produces 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. It also has the best fuel economy for this generation at 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.

Ford added a third engine option for the 2013 model year, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 gas engine that produces 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. This is easily the most powerful engine you are likely to find on a used Ford Explorer and is only available on all-wheel drive models such as the Explorer Sport trim, which was introduced for the 2016 model year. Overall, this engine is ideal for a driver interested in some of the best performance the segment has to offer.

The final engine option is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder gas engine, introduced for the 2016 model year to replace the 2.0-liter EcoBoost. This 2.3-liter engine produces 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The later models of the Explorer with this engine are going to be peppier than the earlier ones with the 2.0-liter engine, but still, sacrifice a little in fuel economy. Really, no matter what engine you find in your search for a used Ford Explorer, you will be getting something great out of it – your decision just depends on what you need from it..

A blue 2018 used Ford Explorer is driving away from a lake.

Inside the Explorer

One of the best things about buying a used Ford Explorer is getting a great deal on a three-row SUV that has plenty of room for you and up to six passengers. This means that you can take a nice long road trip and not worry about anyone complaining about feeling cramped. It also means you’ll still have plenty of room for the luggage.

But space even further than space, the Explorer has a lot to offer inside. This is because Ford began offering the Explorer with the Ford SYNC and MyFordTouch infotainment systems on an 8-inch color touchscreen starting in the fifth generation. That means there are plenty of exceptional features, like USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, and an AM/FM stereo system. Some of the higher trims even have a built-in navigation system and feature a 12-speaker Sony audio system. These offerings will, again, depend on model year and trim, but the fact that these features can be found at all makes the search for a used Ford Explorer worthwhile.

Finding a Used Ford Explorer

There are so many great safety, performance, and entertainment features in used Ford Explorers that make them a fantastic option for your next vehicle. Buying used will save a lot of money, but that does not mean you have to give up the modern features of newer vehicles.