2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test - MPG

2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

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2012 Ford Explorer: Vineyard Voyage

July 04, 2012

explorer at vineyard.jpg

The missus and I recently took a day trip to Temecula wine country (about 100 miles southeast of L.A.) and as you'd likely expect, the Explorer proved to be a comfortable choice. The well-shaped, heated front seats deserve props for easing our sore lower bodies on the drive home after a 90-minute horse ride through the vineyards.

As with other staffers, I've mixed feelings about the fitment of the EcoBoost turbo four in the Explorer...

I recently sampled this engine in the Taurus, as did my colleague Bill Visnic and share his sentiment that it works surprisingly well in that full-size, two-ton sedan. Although it's still fairly smooth and quiet and provides decent performance most of the time in the Explorer, running up long highway grades or booting it to merge onto a fast-moving freeway has it laboring a bit like the old Nelly I was astride during our trail ride. Saddling the willing EcoBoost four with another quarter ton of mass (compared to the already pudgy Taurus) is pushing it.

But it gets great gas mileage, right? "Great" might be overstating things, but to its credit, we've pulled 27.9 mpg on one tank, essentially matching the 28 mpg EPA highway number. We're averaging 20.4 mpg compared to the 23 mpg combined EPA estimate, but that's not bad considering our Explorer's steady diet of notorious L.A. traffic and our team of leadfoots.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: New High for Cruising Range

May 23, 2012


I had a jam-packed schedule during my weekend road trip in our long-term 2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost, and I hadn't built in time for a fuel stop. The distance-to-empty display ticked down to 50 miles, then 30, then 20, then 10 and then this... I was about 5 miles from my destination and running late, so I pressed on. I'd say I drove for a total of 8 miles before finally fueling up somewhere in East L.A. No question, I wasn't monitoring the trip counter as closely as I should have been.

This produced the Explorer's first 400-mile tank -- 415.4 miles. Its previous high was 388.8 miles.

I put in 18.434 gallons of 87 octane. Ford's published fuel tank capacity is 18.6 gallons, so if true, I apparently wasn't very far from stranding myself and my passenger for no other reason than poor planning. I actually stopped at one gas station, realized the pumpside credit card swipers weren't working, and was too lazy to go inside and wait in the long line. I then drove 2 miles to another gas station.

Notably, I didn't come anywhere close to laying down our best-ever mpg. I got 22.5 mpg. We've logged one strange tank at 39.1 mpg thus far, though I suspect that must have been recorded on one long downhill grade, and plenty of tanks in the 24-25 mpg range.

Had I drive efficiently enough to get 24-25 mpg, this easily could have been a 450-mile tank -- which would be quite impressive in a 4,458-pound SUV with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that has to work hard in fast-moving freeway traffic.

I know cruising range doesn't mean as much to some of you as it does to me, but when I think back to the Explorers I was driving 10 years that were struggling to get 15-16 mpg and certainly weren't approaching 400 miles of range, I do think this is progress. Mind you, the Explorer isn't as popular as it used to be, but I'm betting that the people who do buy the new ones are using them the same way -- as family vehicles. And having 400 miles of range in your family vehicle is simply convenient.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,384 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Pessimistic(?!) Self-Reporting

April 16, 2012


We've all grown accustomed to mildly-to-wildly optimistic self-reported fuel economy. I'm here to report that our 2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost is under reporting its own fuel economy. Pictured above is a self-reported 20.3-mpg average when, in fact, it earned 21.8 mpg. On the next fill up, it displayed 23.5 mpg when it actually earned 24.3 mpg.

By the way, just to see how efficient I could be and maintain some dignity, I drove like highway furniture (right lane, cruise set to 70-72 mph for about 250 miles) to achieve that 24.3-mpg average. That's well below the EPA-rated 28 Hwy mpg it should achieve.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 12,915 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer: Running On Empty

March 06, 2012


When I first moved to California, a friend advised me to never let my car's gas level drop below a half tank. He said it was an earthquake safety measure. In the event of a large earthquake, you wouldn't be able to gas up anywhere to escape town. I thought that was a little extreme.

Our rule at the office is that you never bring a car back with less than a quarter tank of gas out of consideration for your fellow drivers, unless of course you are doing a pre-planned fuel experiment.

I've been working from home a little under the weather this week. The Explorer's tank was getting low on my way home from the office Friday but I just wanted to get home. I've been in the house all weekend and yesterday I finally ventured out to the doctor but I still didn't have enough energy to stop and fill up. I wouldn't normally let it get this empty. I will definitely fuel up before returning to the office tomorrow.

How low do you generally let your tank go?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 10,874 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Pushin' It

February 16, 2012


We have a rule around here: Don't park a car with less than a quarter tank of fuel. It's an editorial obligation, but it's also common courtesy. Sometimes, we get shorted. When it happens to me, I feel it's my responsibility to see just how far I can push it.

I've never actually found out. I like to think this is skill I was born with.

The Explorer, by the way, made it 4.9 more miles before intuition told me to stop.


Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Ford Explorer: Generous DTE Reminder

January 26, 2012


As I was running an afternoon errand, our Ford Explorer's distance-to-empty reminder pinged on.

50 mi to Empty, it said.

Seriously? A 50-mile warning to stop for gas? What kind of driver needs such a generous reminder?

Obviously not Scott Oldham...

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 8,920 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer Ecoboost: Zero Range

January 03, 2012


Yesterday for fun I drove our long-term Explorer until its fuel level was so low its range was 0 miles. Then I immediately pulled into a gas station.

Yes, I do this stuff for fun.

Anyway, the Explorer took 17.932 gallons. According to Ford, the Explorer has an 18.6 gallon gas tank. Good thing I stopped when I did.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: Ecoboost Payback Period

December 16, 2011

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Our Explorer has a four-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost engine, an option for those who want better fuel economy than a V6 without excessive performance compromises. Combined EPA-rated fuel economy with the Ecoboost is 23 mpg; with the V6, that figure drops to 20 mpg. The one big drawback to signing up for this four-cylinder is, of course, its price; with our XLT, choosing the Ecoboost engine adds a price premium of $995.

This begs the question: Is it worth it? I was curious as to how long it would take for our Explorer's Ecoboost to pay for itself via fuel savings so I tapped the expertise of one of our crack Edmunds analysts.

He assumed that an average of 15,000 miles would be driven each year, and used a gas price of $3.29. The Ecoboost engine netted annual fuel savings of $321 which translates into a payback period of 3.1 years. Note that this includes only the $995 price premium and doesn't take into account any additional tax expense.

What do you think? Does this payback period make the Ecoboost engine worth the extra coin in your eyes?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT Ecoboost: Ecoboost Is Here To Stay, Apparently

December 15, 2011

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Ford has been enjoying a great deal of success lately with Ecoboost engines like the one seen in our Explorer. At a recent press event discussing the upcoming Ford Focus Electric and other "green" models, the manufacturer mentioned that the engine is especially popular in its F-150 model line; it's the best-selling engine in the truck's lineup, with a 40 percent take rate.

To fully exploit all this love, the manufacturer plans to offer Ecoboost on 90 percent of all Ford models by 2013. The one thing that's struck me most about the engine in our Explorer is that it doesn't feel like a compromise. It delivers perfectly adequate performance, and while behind the wheel, I've never once found myself longing for a V6. Guess there are lots of other people out there who feel the same way; people who don't mind paying a little bit extra for the experience.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT: And the Highway Mileage is...

November 03, 2011


A couple days ago I asked the tantalizing question, "What mileage would our Explorer get on the way to Vegas?" You responded with no less than two dozen guesses, most of them optimistic. One guess was nearly dead on, though, at 22.7 miles per gallon. Nice windor5.

Actually, the drive out returned 22.6 while I managed 22.8 on the return trip. Both were completed with the cruise control set at around 75mph and the A/C on. For the record, the transmission didn't need to shift much on the uphills. I barely noticed it doing much of anything at all to maintain that speed, so the turbo engine has plenty of torque to keep it up to speed.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,471 miles

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT: Guess the Highway Mileage

October 31, 2011


Took a nice long drive to Las Vegas today to cover the SEMA show. Figured it would be a good test of our Explorer's real world highway mileage. This is what the instant fuel mileage indicator looked like on a relatively flat stretch with the cruise control on. Care to guess what the overall average was for the roughly 300 mile trip? Keep in mind, the highway to Vegas is rarely flat.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Running Numbers

September 21, 2011

explorer gas log.jpg

Just like you guys, we're curious about what kind of fuel economy our new long-term Explorer with the EcoBoost turbo four is getting. Well, we can tell you that so far we've averaged about 20 mpg (19.7 to be precise) against the EPA estimates of 20 city, 28 highway and 23 combined.

In light of a couple of key factors -- this is still a relatively "green" engine, most of the miles have been around the traffic-clogged environs of L.A. and this average is based on only about a thousand miles -- this seems about right. We'd expect the average to improve as the engine breaks in and we get some serious highway miles on it.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 1,495 miles

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