Despite its practicality, a minivan is not every large-ish family's cup of vehicular tea. Some folks prefer a midsize three-row SUV to tote the kids and carry the cargo. Within that genre, the 2017 Ford Explorer stands as a well-rounded choice. Able to seat up to seven, the Explorer comes in a wide range of trim levels and offers a number of powertrains and family-friendly features.
New for this year, Ford's available Sync 3 infotainment system proves more intuitive and responsive than the previous MyFord Touch system. Just like a smartphone or tablet, the Sync 3 touchscreen uses swipe and pinch gestures. It also has enhanced voice recognition with Siri integration. One needn't worry about updating the system, as updates are done automatically via Wi-Fi.
The 2017 Ford Explorer family comprises five trim levels, ranging from the well-equipped base model on up to the plush Platinum. Under the hood, engine choices include a turbocharged four-cylinder and a pair of V6s, with one being turbocharged. Output runs from a respectable 280 horsepower to a muscular 365 horses. Lower trims offer a choice between front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD), while upper trims are AWD-only. EPA fuel mileage estimates range from 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway) for the turbo V6 with AWD to 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway) for the turbo-four with FWD.
Even the base 2017 Ford Explorer comes with niceties such as LED headlights and alloy wheels. Highlights of the Sport trim include the turbocharged V6 and a sport-tuned suspension, while the Platinum pampers with a large dual-panel sunroof and a power-adjustable, heated steering wheel. Newly optional for the XLT trim is the Sport Appearance package, which provides much of the Sport trim level's styling pizzazz but at a lower price point because it does without the Sport's high-performance hardware.
A wealth of standard and optional safety features bolsters the 2017 Ford Explorer's résumé. Depending on trim level and specification, technologies such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning can help prevent or mitigate accidents.
Although the 2017 Ford Explorer is generally a smooth, quiet and pleasant-to-drive SUV, most versions tend to feel quite large from the driver seat. The Explorer Sport changes that to some extent — its sharper handling, quicker steering and more spirited performance give it a nimbler and more manageable feel on winding roads. On the towing front, the Explorer can handle up to 5,000 pounds, translating to above-average capacity in this regard.
Within the wide-ranging Explorer lineup you're bound to find something suitable. But no matter what your preferences are, Edmunds is ready to help you find the 2017 Ford Explorer that's just right for your needs.