When you’re shopping for a used Ford Explorer, there’s a lot to consider. These three-row crossover SUVs have been around since the 90s, and they’ve continued to evolve during their three decades on the road. Recent generations really cater to what modern drivers want: sporty capabilities, family-friendly cabins, high-tech safety, cutting-edge infotainment, and reasonable fuel economy.
Sixth Generation: 2020-Current Model Year
Compared to previous models, you’ll notice that these Explorers offer improved ride and handling, updated powertrains, and upgraded interior features.
The sixth-generation used Explorer combines an easy-to-maneuver crossover-style platform and sporty rear-wheel drive. This setup helps you make the most of everything the Explorer has to offer, creating an easygoing ride around town and a sporty performance on a curvy highway.
This generation is available as five trim models: the base, mid-grade XLT, classy Limited, sporty ST, and top-of-the-line Platinum. The base, XLT, and Limited models feature a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine (300 horsepower, 310 pound-feet of torque). A 10-speed automatic transmission powers the rear wheels, but all-wheel drive is optional for every trim model. And that means you should have no problem locating a used Explorer with trail-friendly all-wheel drive.
The sporty ST upgrades your ride with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (400 hp, 415 lb-ft) and a list of performance features, including a sport-tuned suspension. The top-tier Platinum also features this engine, though its version isn’t quite as powerful (365 hp, 380 lb-ft).
The sixth-generation used Ford Explorer also offers a longer list of standard features, particularly tech features. Every model now comes standard with the Sync 3 infotainment system, which includes an 8-inch touch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone functionality. Every Explorer also offers standard creature comforts, like dual-zone automatic climate control and an eight-way power driver’s seat.
Although models from this generation have a lot in common, you’ll see a few updates from model year to model year. Here’s a look at what you need to know so far:
- 2021: XLT shoppers can add a new Sport Appearance Package. Ford introduces a more affordable version of the sporty ST.
Fifth Generation: 2011-2019
These used Ford Explorer models are known for their dynamic performance, reasonable fuel economy, and comfy cabins. This was the first generation of Explorers to use a car-based crossover platform, giving drivers extra maneuverability and a thriftier ride compared to the outgoing truck-based models.
Throughout this generation, the Explorer was available as five trim models: base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum.
Here’s a look at how the fifth-generation used Explorer changed from year to year:
- 2019: Newly optional appearance packages make for a flashier Explorer, including the XLT’s optional Desert Cooper appearance package and the Limited’s Luxury Limited package.
- 2018: The Explorer adds new exterior details, with an updated grille and foglights. Explorers with the 3.5-liter V6 also get new quad exhaust tips. Ford also rolls out five new wheel options and four new exterior paint colors. The 4G LTE Wi-Fi modem becomes standard. The Safe and Smart package debuts, bundling high-tech driver safety features together.
- 2017: Sport models now come standard with a hands-free liftgate. Sync 3 is optional for the XLT and standard on the Limited, Sport, and Platinum trim models.
- 2016: The Explorer gets a mid-cycle refresh, with new styling, inside and out. A new, more powerful 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine replaces the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Unlike the outgoing version, this new four-cylinder engine can be paired with all-wheel drive. New suspension tuning makes for a more refined ride. The top-trim Platinum model debuts.
- 2014: Automatic headlights are now standard. The Limited gets standard second-row heated seats.
- 2013: The performance-based Sport trim model debuts. The Limited offers more options, including lane-keeping assist and a heated steering wheel. A front passenger knee airbag is now standard.
- 2012: Ford rolls out the Explorer’s first EcoBoost engine, a turbocharged four-cylinder that combines four-cylinder-style fuel economy with V6-like output (240 hp, 270 lb-ft).