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In-depth reviews

Ford Explorer review – good-to-drive EV with a long range

“The Ford Explorer isn’t perfect, but its good driving feel and long range help it stand out among rivals”

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Good to drive
  • Better range than Volkswagen ID.4
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Electric SUV rivals are cheaper
  • Infotainment isn't the best
  • Volkswagen-derived buttons are hard to use

Verdict – is the Ford Explorer a good car?

The Ford Explorer is a good-to-drive electric SUV that’s well equipped and even boasts a better electric range than the Volkswagen ID.4 with which it shares many of its components. While its boot isn’t quite as spacious as rivals, it does boast a lot of interior storage space, but some of the materials used around the cabin are cheap-feeling, we’re not a fan of some of the Volkswagen switchgear, and it’s not the most affordable electric SUV from launch.

Ford Explorer models, specs and alternatives

While you may or may not have heard of the Ford Explorer name before, this latest version is quite a departure from the models that have preceded it in the US and briefly between 1997 and 2001 in the UK. This time Ford has resurrected the Explorer as a mid-size electric SUV, following in the footsteps of its first EV in the UK, the Mustang Mach-E.

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Rather than designing its electric SUV from the ground up, Ford has partnered with Volkswagen to produce the Explorer, and it sits on the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen ID.4. At just under £46,000, the Ford Explorer costs around £1,000 more than the comparable Volkswagen ID.4 with the same 77kWh battery, but that car can already be had for a further £2,500 less with the smaller 52kWh battery.

Later in 2024 Ford will release a cheaper entry-level version with rear-wheel drive and 172bhp paired with a smaller 52kWh battery like that offered with the ID.4. From launch, though, the Explorer can be had in one of two configurations: a single motor variant producing 286bhp to the rear wheels or a dual-motor all-wheel drive model with a punchier 345bhp. The rear-wheel drive variant gets a 77kWh battery while the all-wheel drive Explorer gets a slightly bigger 79kWh battery. 

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While the dual-motor version may have the larger battery, it’s the single-motor version that boasts the longest range. Its 77kWh battery will keep the Explorer going for up to 374 miles, while the AWD Premium has a maximum range of 329 miles. The cheaper model arriving later has a range of just 239 miles.

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There are just two trims available for the Explorer from launch: Select and Premium. Select gets the 286bhp rear-wheel drive setup, while Premium can be had with that motor or in dual-motor all-wheel drive specification. All Explorers get a decent amount of kit as standard, and Select models boast powered heated seats with a massage function and large 14.6-inch infotainment system among other features. Premium adds niceties such as a panoramic roof, B&O premium sound system, ambient interior lighting and a powered tailgate.

Trim levels

Power options

  • Select
  • Premium
  • Single-motor rear-wheel drive with 77kWh battery (286bhp)
  • Dual-motor all-wheel drive with 79kWh battery (345bhp)

Range, charging & running costs

“The Ford Explorer’s range is impressive, and it can go further on a charge than its VW ID.4 sister car”

In comparison to its gas-guzzling predecessors sold over the pond in the US, the latest Ford Explorer is a fully-electric car which should mean it’s cheaper to run than you might expect of an SUV. 

Despite the fact that the Ford Explorer is based on the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen ID.4, the Ford actually boasts the longer range. Rear-wheel drive single-motor 286bhp cars get the same 77kWh battery, but while the ID.4 can do up to 336 miles to a charge, the Explorer manages a maximum of 374 miles. Go for the all-wheel drive dual-motor version of the Ford Explorer with the slightly larger 79kWh battery and this maximum figure drops to 331 miles.

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Frustratingly, a heat pump is not included on the Ford Explorer as standard and is an expensive option. Specifying one will help preserve range in colder temperatures by heating the battery to optimal operating temperatures, so without it you may notice much shorter range figures than quoted in chilly weather.

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Once you do need to charge up, the dual-motor variant gets impressive 185kW charging, while the single-motor variant’s charging speeds top out at 135kW – in practical terms it’s not that noticeable, though, because the dual-motor’s larger battery means it takes 26 minutes to charge from 10-80% while the single-motor car isn’t far behind at 28 minutes. Charging at home via a 11kW charger will take just over five hours, or approximately seven hours and 45 minutes with a 7kW charger.
 

Model 

Battery size

Range

Single-motor rear-wheel drive

77kWh

374 miles

Dual-motor all-wheel drive

79kWh

331 miles

What will the Ford Explorer cost to insure?

Electric cars are known for being a fair bit more expensive to insure compared to traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, but compare it to other electric rivals and the Ford Explorer seems to cost about the same to insure, spanning groups 28 to 32. The Renault Scenic spans the same insurance groups, while the closely-related Volkswagen ID.4 sits in group 27. Go for a Tesla Model Y and insurance jumps into the 40s, while even the Hyundai Ioniq 5 maxes out in group 44 if you go for the larger-battery all-wheel drive variant.

Electric motor, drive & performance

“Ford has made the Explorer stand out with an enjoyable drive that doesn’t compromise on comfort”

Ford has long had a reputation for making cars that are fun to drive, so even though the Explorer shares many of its components with the Volkswagen ID.4 – a car that isn’t particularly exciting to drive – the American brand has sought to differentiate it by revamping many of the suspension and chassis components. 

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We’re happy to report that Ford has been mostly successful in its pursuit of offering an enjoyable drive, and the Explorer stays well composed when cornering. The even better news is that this hasn’t come at the expense of ride comfort – we thought it felt comfortable over rough surfaces and speed bumps, which is handy on imperfect UK roads.

Is the Ford Explorer good to drive in town?

Yes, the Ford Explorer feels very manoeuvrable for a car of its size, and we were impressed with its tight turning circle which comes in useful in tight urban environments. Admittedly visibility isn’t the best through the rear window, but with the help of a reversing camera and parking sensors all-round it was a doddle to drive in the city.

Is the Ford Explorer good to drive on long journeys?

The Ford Explorer is a comfortable motorway cruiser – it’s mostly quiet and refined, though there’s a small amount of road and wind noise at higher speeds. Our only qualm is that the steering can feel a little too light at higher speeds, with a delay before the Explorer adds weight to it, making it feel a little too quick for smooth lane changes.

Is the Ford Explorer good to drive on B-roads?

The Ford Explorer does a good job of mitigating body roll despite its size and weight, so it feels stable weaving in and out of twisty B-roads. 

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

Standard Range RWD

172bhp

TBC

99mph

Extended Range RWD

287bhp

6.4 seconds

112mph

Extended Range AWD

345bhp

5.3 seconds

112mph

Carbuyer notes

“Ford’s usual suspension wizardry has made the Explorer a car that’s comfortable across rougher roads and speed bumps yet also keeps body roll well under control.” Paul Barker, Editor

Interior & comfort 

“The Ford Explorer is well equipped, but some cheap plastics and Volkswagen switchgear let it down”“The Ford Explorer is well equipped, but some cheap plastics and Volkswagen switchgear let it down”

The interior of the Ford Explorer uses an odd mix of materials, some of which feel higher in quality than others. There are softer plastics used higher up where you can see and touch them, and we like the way these elements can vary in shape and colour to add a little interest. Lower down the quality takes a bit of a nosedive with scratchy harsh plastics, and even some areas you’re likely to touch often, like the door grab handle, feel cheap to the touch.

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Unfortunately Ford opted to keep much of the switchgear used in the Volkswagen ID.4, which we aren’t particularly fond of. For example, there are two window switches on the driver’s side with a touch-sensitive button to toggle between the front and rear windows, but it just seems like an overengineered and non-intuitive alternative to simply having four switches.

Is the Ford Explorer’s infotainment and navigation system easy to use?

The Ford Explorer gets a large 14.6-inch infotainment screen mounted in a portrait configuration that dominates the dashboard. We like the fact that it can be tilted to your preference, too. 

While the screen is great for displaying the sat nav and maps effectively, it’s not the most intuitive to use. We don’t like the sheer amount of inputs you have to do to turn off the many driver assistance systems, although the ability to configure shortcuts at the top of the screen is a nice addition. There are some touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, too, but they’re hard to use on the fly – we found ourselves getting distracted trying to see which buttons were which, as they’re not as easy to feel as conventional physical controls.

Is the Ford Explorer well equipped?

The Ford Explorer is well equipped and comes with features like the large infotainment screen, heated front seats with a massage function for the driver, a heated steering wheel, seven-speaker sound system with a sound bar, wireless smartphone charging, LED headlights and adaptive cruise control among many more features on Select trim. Premium adds a more upmarket B&O sound system, a panoramic roof, ambient interior lighting and matrix LED headlights among other additions.

What options should you choose on the Ford Explorer?

Unfortunately rather than being standard on the Ford Explorer, a heat pump must be specified as an optional extra costing £1,050 at the time of writing. It’s a useful addition because it helps to heat the battery to optimum performance temperatures in colder weather, preserving the quoted electric range.

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Other options include the Driver Assistance Pack, which brings a head-up display, lane centering and lane change assist, a 360-degree parking camera with parking assistance tech and a hands-free powered tailgate (standard on Premium models). You can also specify a tow bar and dog guard if you need to transport your four-legged friend around with you.

Key features

Select

  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • 14.6-inch infotainment screen
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • LED headlights and tail-lights
  • Seven-speaker sound system
  • Heated front seats
  • Power-adjustable driver’s seat with massage function
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera
  • Adaptive cruise control

Premium

(Select plus…)

  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Panoramic roof
  • 10-speaker B&O sound system
  • LED ambient interior lighting
  • Hands-free powered tailgate
  • Matrix LED headlights

Practicality & boot space

“Rivals of the Ford Explorer have bigger boots, but it boasts lots of interior storage”

The Ford Explorer is a five-seater SUV and there’s no seven-seater option so it won’t be suitable for much larger families. That said, the five occupants do get lots of foot room thanks to the Explorer’s completely flat floor. Headroom is also plentiful, so the Explorer should be a comfortable car to ride in on longer journeys. Our only qualm is the fact that the floor is quite high as it houses the battery beneath it, so you might find your knees come up quite high as a result.

There are lots of storage solutions dotted around the cabin, including a massive compartment below the centre armrest which Ford calls the Megaconsole. It’s a useful space you could use to store a laptop out of view while the car’s parked, for example, or even several large drink bottles. Less impressive is the storage space in the door bins, which are quite tight and less useful, incapable of even storing a small drink bottle.

Size comparison

Model 

Length

Width

Height

Ford Explorer

4,468mm

1,871mm

1,630mm

Volkswagen ID.4

4,584mm

1,852mm

1,632mm

Volvo EX40

4,425mm

1,873mm

1,651mm

Tesla Model Y

4,751mm

1,850mm

1,600mm

Does the Ford Explorer have a big boot?

The Ford Explorer has a reasonably-sized boot, but at 445 litres it’s not class leading. Fold down the seats and you free up 1,417 litres of space. The Renault Scenic, Skoda Enyaq and Volkswagen ID.4 have much more space. There’s at least some useful features back there, though, such as a 12V socket and an adjustable boot floor to make it more configurable.

Boot space comparison

Model 

Boot space

Ford Explorer

445 litres

Volkswagen ID.4

534 litres

Skoda Enyaq

585 litres

Renault Scenic

572 litres

Is the Ford Explorer a good tow car?

The Ford Explorer comes with the option of a tow bar, but a towing capacity of up to 1,200kg is quite modest, so you’d only really be able to pull a modest-sized trailer for tip runs and the like. 

Reliability & safety

“Ford hasn’t performed particularly well in Driver Power satisfaction surveys, but the Explorer gets lots of safety tech”

The Ford Explorer is a little too new to have featured in our latest 2024 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but in our most recent brand-specific results from 2023, Ford came in a disappointing 28th place out of the top 32 manufacturers. Reliability itself wasn’t too bad, with just 21% of Ford owners experiencing an issue in the first year of ownership. The Explorer shares much of its componentry with the Volkswagen ID.4, though, and 26% of Volkswagen owners reported an issue in the first year. In both cases, however, these brands’ results are based on their lineups as a whole, rather than just their EVs, and we’re yet to hear of any horror stories regarding these models specifically.

How safe is the Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but the closely-related Volkswagen ID.4 achieved a full five-star rating in 2021. There’s a reasonable amount of safety kit included on the Ford Explorer, too, as all cars get lane-keeping, cross traffic warning and autonomous emergency braking tech as standard, as well as an exit warning system to make occupants aware of other oncoming vehicles and road users when getting out of the car.

What are the Ford Explorer service intervals?

Ford recommends getting the Explorer serviced every two years, with no particular mileage service interval. The brand offers the first 5 years’ worth of servicing and Ford Assistance (roadside rescue, repair and recovery for 365 days a year) free of charge.

What is the warranty on the Ford Explorer?

Ford’s warranty covers its cars for the first three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. This used to be the industry standard, but with other companies now offering more comprehensive warranties, it’s starting to sound a little lacklustre. As the Ford Explorer is an electric vehicle, Ford also guarantees that the Explorer’s battery capacity won’t drop below 70% within eight years or 100,000 miles.

Should you buy a Ford Explorer?

While the Ford Explorer is a good electric vehicle and helps to further the brand’s move towards zero-emissions motoring for the masses, it’s not particularly a game-changer. It has some very positive attributes, such as a satisfying driving feel which doesn’t compromise the car’s comfort, with Ford’s engineers having successfully differentiated it from the Volkswagen ID.4 in this respect. It also boasts a much better range than that of equivalent versions of its Volkswagen ID.4 sister car, and feels well equipped too.

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Where it falls behind somewhat is on the interior, where some of the material choices are a bit sub-par for a car of this price. The infotainment system can also be frustrating to use, as are many of the touch-sensitive buttons, and this is an area where we would have preferred Ford to have replaced the Volkswagen-derived switchgear. The Ford Explorer is not cheap either, though a more affordable entry model could make it more accessible, and many of its rivals boast better boot space.

What is the Carbuyer pick of the Ford Explorer range?

If it was our money we’d stick to the rear-wheel drive version of the Ford Explorer, given that it has the longest range and an adequate amount of power for most scenarios. Given that it’s well equipped as standard, we’d also be happy enough with the current entry-level Select trim with that large infotainment screen, wireless phone charging and heated front seats with a massage function.

Ford Explorer alternatives

Aside from the Volkswagen ID.4 on which it’s based, the Ford Explorer now has a fair few electric SUVs and family cars to compete with from many rival brands, and this is a rapidly growing sector of the market.

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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