2012 Ford Explorer Review
2012 Ford Explorer Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Upscale cabin
- abundant high-tech features
- excellent ride and handling balance
- available fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder.
- Less third-row and cargo room than rivals
- feels bigger than it is behind the wheel
- MyFord Touch is slow to respond and can be difficult to use.
For 2012, the Ford Explorer offers an optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine that promises six-cylinder performance with four-cylinder fuel economy.
With solid on-road dynamics, decent fuel efficiency and an accommodating, high-class cabin, the 2012 Ford Explorer is a top pick for a large crossover SUV.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2012 Ford Explorer Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.23 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Avg. Large SUV
Once as ubiquitous as Barney, the purple dinosaur who starred on children's TV, the original Ford Explorer was a staple in the garage of the American family throughout the 1990s. The glory days didn't last, however, as SUV buyers changed their priorities from recreational capability to passenger hauling. So last year the Ford Explorer became a car-based crossover instead of a truck-based SUV, enhancing its well-rounded personality.
As such, the 2012 Ford Explorer features a carlike unibody chassis instead of the heavier, truck-based body-on-frame. Refined, carlike driving dynamics are the result, although maximum towing capacity has declined in the bargain. And in another nod to contemporary concerns, the new, turbocharged, "EcoBoost" four-cylinder engine option gives the Explorer best-in-class fuel economy, although at a cost premium over the standard V6.
Inside the cabin, the Explorer offers a stylish, well-finished space for up to seven passengers. The second row features seatbelt airbags -- a first for the automotive industry -- that are meant to improve safety for smaller occupants. The third row, though, isn't as roomy as that of some competitors. Perhaps a more appealing selling point will be the abundance of electronic convenience features, including Sync, adaptive cruise control and an automatic parallel-parking system. The MyFord Touch interface found on most models is a neat idea, but we've found it slow to respond and difficult to use. Look for Ford to make software updates to correct some of these issues -- even to cars that have already been built and sold.
Overall, though, the 2012 Ford Explorer is very much attuned to what today's large crossover shoppers want. It drives well, returns good fuel economy and keeps the versatility that made people like SUVs in the first place. But rivals including the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee are also recently fully redesigned and bear consideration. Other contenders include the more passenger-friendly Ford Flex, the more engaging Mazda CX-9 and GM's more spacious Buick Enclave/Chevy Traverse/GMC Acadia triplets.
They're all quite desirable, and the best choice hinges on your need for space, the driving experience you prefer and the high-tech features that make you comfortable.
Performance & mpg
The 2012 Ford Explorer comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. Four-wheel drive (there is no low-range gearing) is optional and includes Ford's Terrain Management System, a selectable four-mode system that optimizes traction electronically for different conditions. Hill descent control and hill start assist are also included.
In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Explorer accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, an average time for the class. A front-drive V6 Explorer returns an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined -- also average for the class. Four-wheel drive lowers this to a still respectable 17/23/19. Properly equipped, a V6 Explorer can tow 5,000 pounds.
Optional on all front-wheel-drive trims is the turbocharged, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine -- also paired with the six-speed auto -- making 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, an EcoBoost Explorer went from zero to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds, which is on the slow side for the class. Fuel economy, however, is a strong 20/28/23.
Every 2012 Ford Explorer comes standard with stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and MyKey, which allows parents to specify limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume. The Explorer's stability control system also includes Ford's Curve Control, which can monitor speed carried into a corner and decelerate if necessary.
Optional on the XLT and Limited are a blind-spot warning system (includes cross-traffic alert) and inflatable seatbelts for outboard second-row passengers. The Limited can be equipped with collision warning and brake support. In Edmunds brake testing, a 4WD Explorer came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet -- an average distance for the class. The EcoBoost model stopped in 130 feet.
In government crash tests, the Explorer received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Ford Explorer earned a top rating of "Good" for its performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
The 2012 Ford Explorer feels rock-solid at freeway speeds, well-damped over broken pavement and very confident when negotiating a corner. The responsive steering demonstrates Ford's skill at tuning an electric power steering system (which improves fuel economy and allows for an automatic parking feature).
The 2012 Ford Explorer might not offer a V8 option, but its V6 is quick enough and more efficient. Those who used an older Explorer to tow a large boat may be disappointed, but the V6 can handle the job for most recreational pursuits. And don't be quick to dismiss the idea of a turbo-4 powering this none-too-small SUV. It may not be as quick as the V6, but in practice the EcoBoost engine provides smooth response, more than adequate acceleration and of course better fuel mileage than you'd get with the V6.
The Explorer's impressive cabin features excellent build/materials quality within an attractive, upscale design. The dash feels soft to the touch, the switchgear operates with precision (or is touch-operated with the optional MyFord Touch) and the overall look is quite rich. A loaded Explorer is actually just as nice as any Lincoln.
Our affections do not carry over to MyFord Touch, however. The touch buttons can be difficult to identify at a glance and too often get pressed accidentally or don't respond properly. As for the touchscreen itself, the small icons on the black background are difficult to see and press when you're concentrating on the road ahead. The redundant steering wheel controls and the LCD screens in the instrument binnacle could also use a bit of fine-tuning.
The Explorer's cabin is certainly spacious, but still not quite as roomy as those of the Dodge Durango, Ford Flex and especially the GM triplets. Its 80 cubic feet of maximum cargo space is the smallest of the group and the third row is a bit cramped by comparison, though it does easily accommodate children. The driving position is spot-on for most drivers, though the wide roof pillars and high dash make it seem bigger when trying to fit through tight spaces.
2012 Ford Explorer models
The 2012 Ford Explorer is a large crossover SUV available in base, XLT and Limited trim levels.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch steel wheels, privacy glass, integrated blind spot mirrors, roof rails, cruise control, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, MyFord advanced trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The XLT adds 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, automatic headlamps, foglamps, rear parking sensors, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a keyless entry code pad, Sync (voice-activated telephone/entertainment interface) and satellite radio (optional on base).
For the Explorer XLT, Ford offers the Rapid Spec options suite that adds a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker sound system and the Driver Connect package, which includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, MyFord Touch electronics controls (includes two configurable displays, two USB ports and audio/video input jacks) and the Sync Services upgrade (includes turn-by-turn directions and traffic reports). The next-level Rapid Spec package includes all of the former plus leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat with power-adjustable lumbar, and a six-way power passenger seat.
The Limited bundles the XLT's Rapid Spec items with 20-inch wheels, keyless ignition/entry, remote engine start, a 110-volt power outlet and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio. Two additional Rapid Spec packages include a power liftgate and a navigation system, along with an eight-way power passenger seat, ventilated front seats and a power-folding third-row seat.
A safety-focused Rapid Spec suite includes an automatic parallel-parking system, adaptive cruise control, collision warning and brake support, a blind-spot warning system, inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers, xenon headlamps and automatic wipers.
Stand-alone options on the XLT and Limited include a dual-panel sunroof, the blind-spot warning system, a power liftgate, a tow package, second-row captain's chairs (Limited only), a rear-seat entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted displays, and a navigation system that includes real-time traffic, weather and other information.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Ford Explorer.
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.63 out of 5 stars
2012 Explorer = Excellent SUV
2012 Ford Explorer XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Recently purchased a 2012 Explorer XLT 4WD for use in Colorado. Traded in an F-150 with the 6.2-liter V8 engine primarily for the mileage and it's paid off -- mileage is about 30% better, averaging 21.5 MPG in mixed town/highway. Overall have been more impressed with the Explorer than I thought I would be. Drives and handles beautifully for an SUV -- I don't agree at all with some of the … magazine reviews that the ride is too mushy. Extremely comfortable interior that is whisper quiet even at highway speeds. It's just a pleasure to be in and drive this SUV.
4 out of 5 stars
Great family vehicle!
2012 Ford Explorer Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Bought my 2012 Ford Explorer as a Certified Pre Owned with 36k miles. Have had the vehicle 8 months now and still love it! Now that we are one of few families in our circle with a 7 passenger vehicle, we end up being "the bus" ... recently had 7 adults on board and even the two in the third row were comfortable and commented on how roomy it was for a third row seat. My 8 year old loves … the third row and thinks it is great fun climbing in and out. Things I love: Power liftgate Power folding third row Heated and cooled front seats Great sound system Drives very smooth and quiet (except for windshield hissing/whistling - problem is solved by turning up the music!) Handles great Great rear view camera and backup sensors Looks great Great warranty since I bought Certified Pre-Owned Surprisingly good gas mileage for the size Things that bug me: -Had to have the shifting assembly replaced after getting "shift to park" messages when it was clearly in park. Covered under CPO warranty and I only paid $100, but irritating to have to pay anything for what is clearly a Ford defect, as many people have reported the same problem. -The blind spot takes some getting used to. I have gotten much more adept at using my mirrors because the blind spots on the sides are significant. I couldn't find a used model with BLIS which I gladly would have paid for, so this was a big downfall in the beginning -I hate MyFord Touch. It never works properly. Luckily, I already knew this was an issue from my research prior to purchasing the vehicle so I expected it. Works great for voice climate control and using the phone; everything else is pretty much crap. I never use the navigation; much easier to plug my iPhone in to the USB and use Google maps. -The dark blue color is very hard to keep clean; almost as bad as black. Would have preferred white or silver but when you're buying used you have to take what you can find. Overall I love the vehicle and would buy another. This is the first SUV I have ever owned after years of driving Acura sedans. I actually had my heart set on an Acura MDX until I compared the Ford Explorer and realized I could get just as many features and luxury items for a much lower price. Bonus: it's much cheaper to work on since it's American made! I was always shocked at the repair costs on my Acuras because the parts were so much more expensive. I would recommend this vehicle to anyone looking for a reliable SUV with a luxury feel at an affordable cost!
4.63 out of 5 stars
2012 Ford Explorer Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
My wife and I recently purchased the 2012 Ford Explorer Ecoboost Limited in black and the first comment I need to make is how beautiful it looks. We had looked at Lexus, Audi, Acura, Buick and Lincoln before even considering the Ford. It was only during the visit to the Lincoln dealer that the sales rep suggested we look at the new Explorer. Family pricing allowed us to get the Limited … trim with pretty much every feature other than the tow package for an amazing price. We are very impressed with the style and quality of the vehicle. The ecoboost model wasn't an option for us until we test drove it and found it to be pretty much the same drive as the 3.5L V6. This vehicle has excellent value.
4.63 out of 5 stars
Almost the perfect car for us
2012 Ford Explorer Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
We just acquire a 2012 Limited in silver with the EcoBoost engine fully loaded. My initial impression are just Wow. We love love this car. The interior is luxurious and well put together, the configuration of the seats is nice and flexible. I do agree with an earlier review that allowing the middle row of seats to slide forward and back a little would be helpful. The Tech: I am a big … tech guy, love my toys and this car fits right in with them. Voice control, touch screen, tons of options and configuration, color changing ambient lighting is cool. Proximity key is KEY! I didn't even look at the base or XLT editions because they didn't offer this feature. (continued in Fav features!...)
Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 18 City / 25 Hwy / 20 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.6 gal. capacity
- 7 seats
- Type: front wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
- V6 cylinder
- Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6,500 rpm
- Torque: 255 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
- Basic Warranty
- 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
- Length: 197.1 in. / Height: 70.4 in.
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 78.9 in.
- Curb Weight: 4,557 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 21.0 cu.ft.
NHTSA Overall Rating4 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover16.9%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
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More about the 2012 Ford Explorer
Used 2012 Ford Explorer Overview
The Used 2012 Ford Explorer is offered in the following submodels: Explorer SUV. Available styles include Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), XLT 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), and 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A). Pre-owned Ford Explorer models are available with a 3.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 290 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Ford Explorer comes with all wheel drive, and front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic.
What's a good price on a Used 2012 Ford Explorer?
Price comparisons for Used 2012 Ford Explorer trim styles:
- The Used 2012 Ford Explorer Limited is priced between $18,998 and$21,990 with odometer readings between 72293 and118899 miles.
- The Used 2012 Ford Explorer Base is priced between $15,990 and$15,990 with odometer readings between 94453 and94453 miles.
- The Used 2012 Ford Explorer XLT is priced between $11,990 and$11,990 with odometer readings between 146000 and146000 miles.
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Which used 2012 Ford Explorers are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Ford Explorer for sale near. There are currently 7 used and CPO 2012 Explorers listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $11,990 and mileage as low as 61613 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Ford Explorer.
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Ford Explorer?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.
Check out Ford lease specials
Check out Ford Explorer lease specials
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