2016 Ford Explorer Review

Pros & Cons

  • High-tech features are plentiful and easy to use
  • cargo space is generous, even behind the third row
  • turbocharged V6 engine delivers plentiful power
  • quiet and comfortable on the highway.
  • Feels bigger than it is behind the wheel
  • second-row seats aren't as accommodating for child seats
  • legroom can be tight for third-row passengers.
List Price Range
$16,988 - $33,400

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Having a hard time finding the perfect family-friendly SUV? The 2016 Ford Explorer might have what you're looking for. After significant updates this year it's once again at the top of the class thanks to high-tech features, a comfortable ride and plenty of passenger space. Read on for more details.

Vehicle overview

If you have a large family, chances are you probably want a large and spacious vehicle to haul around your brood. Maybe you think a useful amount of towing capacity would be nice, too. But you also want the vehicle to have decent road manners and fuel economy. The 2016 Ford Explorer meets those requirements and is newly updated this year, taking what was already an upscale offering and making it even better.

The 2016 Ford Explorer doesn't look vastly different from the outgoing model (the new LED headlights and grille are the most notable aspects), but there are quite a few hidden changes. Inside, you'll find added USB charging ports to keep your family's techno gear running, as well as new tactile buttons for the optional MyFord Touch system that are easier to use than the previous touch-sensitive ones.

The easiest way to identify the updated 2016 Ford Explorer is to look for the squared-off headlights and restyled grille.

Some features have been improved as well, including the enhanced automated parking system that not only can park in a parallel space but can pull into and out of a perpendicular parking space as well. Then there's the enlarged optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes more power and returns better fuel economy, according to Ford's estimates. Importantly, the new engine can now be paired with all-wheel drive and, when properly equipped, tow up to 3,000 pounds.

This year's Explorer also has a new top-end Platinum trim level. It comes with just about every tech and safety feature from the Explorer's arsenal as standard, plus upgraded interior upholstery and trim that just adds to the Explorer's already high-quality cabin. Revised suspension tuning for greater comfort should also further the Explorer's credentials as an upscale and refined three-row crossover.

Despite its many updates, though, there are some drawbacks that went unaddressed. Even in a segment of relative automotive behemoths, the Explorer feels pretty big behind the steering wheel and can be harder to park and see out of. This is particularly noteworthy when you consider that many crossover rivals also have superior cargo space and more third-row legroom (along with the option for eight-passenger seating). In other words, it feels bigger despite actually being smaller.

As such, it would be wise to consider its many competitors. For maximum cargo space, you'll want to check out the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse and its cousin, the 2016 GMC Acadia. A well-rounded option for efficiency and comfort is the 2016 Toyota Highlander. The redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot is definitely worth consideration as well, as it offers improved driving dynamics and a more spacious, versatile interior. Even alongside these strong competitors, though, the 2016 Ford Explorer is a more compelling offering than it recently has been. We recommend that you do some shopping around before making a decision, but the Explorer is a vehicle to keep on your short list.

2016 Ford Explorer models

The 2016 Ford Explorer is a large three-row crossover SUV available in five trim levels: base, XLT, Limited, Sport and Platinum.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED taillights, rear privacy glass, roof rails, a rearview camera, cruise control, air-conditioning, rear climate controls, a 60/40-split second-row seat, 50/50-split third-row seat, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 4.2-inch display screen, Sync (Ford's voice-activated phone/entertainment interface), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and USB/auxiliary audio inputs.

The XLT adds upgraded brakes, body-color door handles, foglights, heated exterior mirrors, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a keyless entry code pad and push-button ignition, an eight-way power driver seat, a six-way power front passenger seat and satellite radio.

For the XLT, the Equipment Group 201A package adds dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, an eight-way power passenger seat, a nine-speaker sound system and the Driver Connect package that includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-inch touchscreen display (MyFord Touch), configurable gauge cluster displays, an SD card reader and upgraded Sync functionality. The 202A package includes all of the 201A equipment plus leather upholstery, heated front seats and front parking sensors.

The Limited gets the XLT 202A's equipment, plus 20-inch wheels, chrome exterior trim, power-folding exterior mirrors, a front-view camera, a hands-free power liftgate, driver memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a power-folding third-row seat, an eight-way power passenger seat, a heated and power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 110-volt power outlet, a navigation system and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio.

The 2016 Ford Explorer comes well equipped with features. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard on most models.

Optional for the Limited is the 301A package (a.k.a. 303A with the 2.3-liter turbo engine), which includes automatic high beams, automatic wipers, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, an automatic parallel- and perpendicular-parking system, lane-departure warning/intervention system, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, massaging front seats and inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers. Stand-alone options include adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and brake priming and a Trailer Tow package.

The Explorer Sport is equipped similarly to the Limited, but some of the Limited's standard features are optional here. You get different 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and unique interior and exterior trim details. The Sport's 401A package adds the power-folding mirrors, front-view camera, hands-free power liftgate, 110-volt outlet, driver memory settings, power-adjustable pedals, a navigation system, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel and the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert safety features. The adaptive cruise control is again optional.

Other options for the XLT, Limited and Sport include a dual-panel sunroof, second-row captain's chairs (with available power-assist fold) and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual headrest-mounted displays.

At the top of the Explorer food chain is the new Platinum. It includes the Limited's 301A package items plus the dual-panel sunroof, LED foglights, adaptive cruise control, upgraded leather upholstery, aluminum and wood interior trim and a premium Sony audio system. The only options for the Platinum are the rear entertainment system and the second-row captain's chairs with power-assist fold.

2016 Highlights

For 2016, the Ford Explorer receives a variety of changes and updates. These include refreshed exterior styling, minor interior revisions, updated safety features, revised suspension tuning and a new top-end trim level (the Platinum). There's also a new engine option, a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that replaces the previous, less powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. The old four-cylinder couldn't be paired with all-wheel drive, but the 2.3 can be.

Performance & mpg

Standard on the Base, XLT and Limited trim levels is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, you have your choice of standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. The latter gets hill-descent control, hill-start assist and Ford's Terrain Management System, which is a selectable four-mode system that optimizes traction electronically for different conditions.

According to the EPA, a front-drive 2016 Explorer with the V6 will deliver 20 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway). With all-wheel drive, the V6 drops slightly to 19 mpg combined (16/23). In Edmunds testing, an AWD Explorer Limited with the base V6 went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds.

Optional on base, XLT and Limited Explorers is the fuel sipper of the group, a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine making 270 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy rises to 22 mpg combined (19/28) with front-drive and 21 mpg combined (18/26) with AWD. Properly equipped, the four-cylinder Explorer can tow 3,000 pounds.

The Explorer's standard V6 provides sufficient motivation, but we're particularly fond of the strong optional turbocharged V6.

The Explorer Sport and Platinum trims come with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard. The EPA says to expect 18 mpg combined (16/22). Properly equipped, an Explorer with either of the V6 engines can tow 5,000 pounds. In Edmunds testing, the Sport went from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which is very quick for this segment.

Safety

Standard safety equipment for the 2016 Ford Explorer includes stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a front passenger knee airbag 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.

A rearview camera is standard on the Explorer, while a 180-degree front camera is optional. Rear parking sensors are also standard on all but the base Explorer. Optional on the Limited and Sport but standard on the Platinum is a forward-collision warning system with brake priming (bundled with the adaptive cruise control), lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist (Limited only), a blind-spot warning system (with rear-cross traffic alert) and inflatable seatbelts for second-row outboard passengers.

In Edmunds testing, an AWD Explorer Limited with all-season tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, a few feet shorter than average. An Explorer Sport with summer performance tires stopped in just 108 feet, a remarkable stopping distance for a vehicle of this size and weight.

In government crash tests, last year's Explorer earned a five-star rating (out of a possible five) for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave its top score of "Good" for the Explorer's performance in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. It received the second-lowest rating of "Marginal" in the small-overlap frontal-offset test. Its seatbelts and head restraints earned a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Driving

The Ford Explorer has a smooth ride quality on the highway, with good composure that gets only a little busier with the available 20-inch wheels over broken pavement. It's also particularly quiet, which is an added benefit for any highway journey. It handles securely in typical driving situations, but overall it feels larger and less maneuverable than similarly sized rivals.

The same is true of the Explorer Sport, but thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and steering, it reacts more quickly to inputs and generally imparts greater driver confidence. And while the Sport gives up a bit of that cushy ride quality, it's still well within the realm of acceptability for this class of vehicle.

The Sport and Platinum trims also come standard with the turbocharged V6, and its V8-like power numbers result in quick acceleration that's unbeatable in the large crossover segment. The regular V6 isn't as peppy but should still readily meet the expectations for most three-row crossover shoppers. As for the new turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, it's the least powerful of the three engines and can struggle to hold a gear on grades or authoritatively help you merge with freeway traffic. We've yet to subject it to instrumented testing, though, so check back later for specific details.

Interior

While the Explorer has the commanding ride height expected of an SUV, its thick roof pillars, high hood and tall dash limit outward visibility. Even with all of the available parking aids, it's a handful in tight spaces and in general feels much bigger than it really is (not a good thing for such a large vehicle). From a fit and finish perspective, though, the Explorer's interior is pretty well-trimmed. Materials are attractive and luxurious, with a soft-touch dashboard and precise-feeling controls. The front seats welcome a wide variety of body types, and the cabin is particularly quiet as well.

The optional MyFord Touch interface contributes to the premium vibe, as it adds a high-resolution touchscreen to the center console, plus two additional screens for the gauge cluster. It isn't the most user-friendly system, but it has been improved over the years and now works reasonably well (especially compared to the standard MyFord system). A welcome change for 2016 is the replacement of the touch-sensitive audio and climate controls with physical buttons.

Cargo space in the Explorer is a mixed bag. The deep well left behind by the raised third row leaves a more useful cargo area with all rows in place than anything in the segment, save the mechanically related Ford Flex. On the other hand, its 81.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo space is less than in most rivals, especially the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia.

Interior cargo space should be enough for most families, though a few rivals are roomier still.

The Explorer's seating may be a bit disappointing for families as well. Second-row comfort is adequate, but overall it's just not as roomy (particularly for installing rear-facing child safety seats) as we'd hope for in a vehicle of this size. Third row space, meanwhile, very much depends on the second-row design. If you get the standard fixed bench, there is a dearth of third-row legroom, allowing only small children to fit comfortably. Opt for the sliding second-row captain's chairs and move them up, however, and even larger adults will fit in the aft-most row. Of course, the Explorer is reduced to six seatbelts in that configuration.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Ford Explorer.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

2016 and 2018 Ford Explorer Sport! 2020 update
C.M.,08/16/2016
Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A)
If you want a SUV that has great acceleration, the bells and whistles technology has to offer and fits your family comfortably for long road trips this is the car for you! I originally had a 2014 Limited Ford Explorer but 290hp is not enough for a heavy SUV. (aka CUV) So I traded it in for a 2016 Explorer Sport and WOW love this one! With 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque it's the engine my Explorer needed. My husband and I tested it in the real world. We were able to get 0-60 in 6 seconds flat, not bad for amateur drivers;). This car is so comfortable for long road trips. Traveled straight for 9 hours with my husband (um we did stop for bathroom breaks three times) , my 81yr old mom, my 6'1 tall son and his girlfriend and every one was so comfortable. I know people think the third row leg room is small, but my son is 6'1 and he rode in the third row just fine. My 81yr old mom is able to get in second row seats very easily because the design of the foot entry is lower then other SUV's. For example she couldn't get in the Jeep Grand Cherokee I was thinking of getting before I bought my Ford. I also love the new additional front camera on my Sport it helps me menuever tight corners like at some fast food drive-thrus. My Sport is loaded with Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot warning which is a definite plus, we used it all the time during our 9hr road trip. Sorry to read some reviewer's Explorers breaking down on road trips, but my personal experience with my 2014 Explorer Limited and now my 2016 Explorer Sport is that they both have been driven with no problems except the Sync system shut down twice and we had to reboot it by turning off the car and then on again, other than that absolutely no problems with engine, comfort or technology. 13,800 miles driven so far. Update 2018: After putting in 30,000 miles we still had no problem with our 2016 Ford Explorer Sport except for the Sync system which was really slow. All is solved now! We traded it in for a 2018 Ford Explorer Sport with the 3.5-liter twin-turbo engine that generates 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. (Note: This is NOT the XL with the outside sport trim, I don’t know why Ford decided to offer that, it confuses people!) It’s loaded with 2nd row bucket seats which I highly recommend. I’m so happy with the new 2018 Sync system, it works like a dream! It has Apple Car Play and Android Auto capabilities! Umm..It’s just my own taste but the Explorer Platinum model is just too fancy for me. I’m done now. This 2018 Ford Explorer Sport is a keeper! It’s now August 2019 and my Ford Explorer Sport is very dependable! Absolutely nothing wrong with it and I still love it. 2020 update: We are now in the Coronavirus year, September, 2020. I still love my 2018 Explorer Sport! Absolutely no problems whatsoever! Something is going right this year. Yay!
Nice vehicle...but oh, those seats!
paul dekoekkoek,11/16/2015
Platinum 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A)
Full disclosure--I'm reviewing based on a week traveling with this as a rental vehicle as sort of an extended test drive before making an expensive purchase! Maybe this won't get published as a result and interpret accordingly. I've read all the online reviews of the 2016 model, looked at all the specs, compared to several other competing models that I've researched and test driven, and had some extended seat time before arriving at my conclusions. Disregard required ratings for things that can only be evaluated with months and years of ownership time like reliability, maintenance costs, etc. under the "Reliability" and "Value" categories. Overall, this is a great vehicle and I understand why many people ultimately decide to purchase one. It has the combination of luxury, styling, technology and performance that's hard to beat. The turbo v6 is a treat and I averaged 22-23mpg across over 500 miles of driving 70-75mph. City mileage in true urban/suburban traffic leaves a bit to be desired as I was more in the 12-14mpg range then, though perhaps not appreciably different from the normally aspirated standard v6. I also appreciate the lane-keeping assist (though not always reliable even when lanes clearly painted and favorable conditions for it to work). Most of the electronics and "Sync" were good, though I kept getting a "usb input error" message on screen from one of the charging ports used to charge phones that I don't get anywhere else. Will chalk that up to Microsoft and perhaps the next generation Sync3 on next year's model will improve some of these little annoyances. The highway ride is quiet and smooth, with minimal steering adjustments required to keep it tracking straight. I enjoyed driving it and all the electronic parking aids are useful though I didn't try the parallel parking assist. In the interest of keeping this review fairly short, won't go into all the details of everything I checked, but overall found the technology and features in this model to be very good. It's not going in my garage, however, for one simple reason--seat comfort. I plan for this vehicle to be the family roadtrip hauler and this is the fatal flaw for me. I can nitpick a few other items that I wasn't thrilled about, but could learn to live with, but seat comfort is a major problem area for me at least. Even with the Platinum's "Nirvana" leather and seemingly infinite amount of adjustment (including massaging seats), I eventually developed significant lower back pain over the course of many consecutive hours behind the wheel. I'm not sure if the highly inboard dead pedal placement is part of the equation, but the seat cushions' contours felt too narrow and the bottom cushion too short (at 6' 1", I'm not tall enough to expect that to be an issue) resulting in sciatica symptoms. I tried to wish them away as I really liked the vehicle enough to strongly consider buying one. Could just be the way it fits me, though I'm apparently not alone given what I've read here and elsewhere. For reference, both the Dodge Durango and Toyota Highlander (the latter with it's inflatable front seat edge extender for more thigh support) feel much more comfortable to me. There may be other vehicles in this class with even better seat comfort, though I have ruled them out for other reasons. My recommendation--try to get some extended seat time to confirm long-haul comfort if traveling on long trips is part of the intended use. Such a nice vehicle, though it won't work for me.
Performs as Good as It Looks
Johnny Utah,10/05/2016
Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A)
The Sport is a perfect SUV for performance and comfort. The front and rear cameras are a plus and love how they get washed when you use the washer fluid, the interior is roomy and comfortable (front seats could use some work, but I got used to them). I use it to tow and the motor has plenty of power. Trans is smooth. The ride is quiet and smooth. The fuel mileage is great in my opinion for a 5,000 pound 364hp 3-row SUG (I get 25 highway, 17 city, Overall 19 combined based on my commute and driving conditions).
FAULTY THROTTLE BODY
Christine,07/10/2016
XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
I got my 2016 Ford Explorer in mid August of last year. Today (Saturday) as I was driving home from errands on a busy street, the Explorer started to shimmy, engine light came on and I was basically without power. I "limped" home, called a tow truck and had it brought in to the dealership. It has 8,200 miles on it and I haven't had it for a year yet and the thing crapped out on me!! Thank God this didn't happen to me as I was driving on a busy Los Angeles Freeway like I do during the week!!! I could have been seriously injured or killed due to the vehicle dying on me and someone slamming in to me. The service guy at the dealership told me that he's had a boatload of 2016 Explorers come in with the same problem and that a recall should be coming soon. That tells me right there that Ford is liable. I mean really Ford, you've known about this throttle body problem for a while now. Someone is going to be killed or seriously hurt because of this defect. Is that what you're waiting for?!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2016 Ford Explorer features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover16.4%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2016 Ford Explorer

Used 2016 Ford Explorer Overview

The Used 2016 Ford Explorer is offered in the following submodels: Explorer SUV. Available styles include XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), XLT 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), and Platinum 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Ford Explorer?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Ford Explorer trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Ford Explorer XLT is priced between $16,988 and$24,998 with odometer readings between 22391 and111960 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Ford Explorer Limited is priced between $19,423 and$28,998 with odometer readings between 43561 and129636 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Ford Explorer Sport is priced between $21,500 and$33,400 with odometer readings between 24677 and116182 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Ford Explorer Base is priced between $16,995 and$20,891 with odometer readings between 51066 and97310 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum is priced between $25,000 and$31,000 with odometer readings between 48831 and93960 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 2016 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) 2016 Ford Explorer for sale near. There are currently 72 used and CPO 2016 Explorers listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $16,988 and mileage as low as 22391 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 2016 Ford Explorer.

Can't find a used 2016 Ford Explorers you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Ford Explorer for sale - 8 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $24,294.

Find a used Ford for sale - 1 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $24,551.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Explorer for sale - 1 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $24,931.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 3 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $7,596.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 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