Ford Explorer Review 2024

Written by John Howell

heycar ratingSUV with impressive electric range
  • 2024
  • SUV
  • EV

Quick overview


  • Can travel up to 374 miles between charges
  • Tidy handling
  • Lots of standard kit


  • Expensive to buy
  • Not as practical as some rivals
  • Fiddly infotainment system

Overall verdict on the Ford Explorer

"The Ford Explorer is described – by Ford, no less – as ‘Combining German engineering with American style’. But what does that mean, exactly? Well, Ford is an American brand, obviously, but this all-electric Explorer isn’t the gargantuan, gas-guzzling SUV offered Stateside. Hell no. This one’s designed for European tastes. It’s an all-electric, mid-sized SUV with contemporary styling. And quite handsome, too, don’t you think?"

2024 Ford Explorer Review: side profile

The ‘German engineering’ part is easier to explain. For a start, the electric Explorer is built in Cologne, Germany. And it’s less Ford underneath and more Volkswagen. Why? Well, instead of using the bigger Ford Mustang Mach-E as the basis for its smaller electric SUV, Ford went on a shopping spree: it bought the chassis, batteries and motors from the VW Group. That makes the Explorer a cousin of electric hatchbacks like the Volkswagen ID.3 and Cupra Born, along with rival SUVs such as the Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq.

It’s worth pointing out that the ID.4 and Enyaq are slightly longer overall than the Explorer, which stretches 4,460mm from bumper to bumper. That makes the Explorer about 190mm shorter than the Enyaq, but because the two cars have similar wheelbases (that’s the distance between the front and rear wheels) passenger space inside is on par.

Great, so it’s just as roomy yet easier to park. What’s the catch? That’s the boot space. The reduction in overall length is down to shorter front and rear overhangs – the latter shrinking the Explorer’s boot to 470 litres. The Enyaq’s boot is 585 litres, but, interestingly, even the Ford Explorer’s closer size and price rival, the Renault Scenic, boasts 545 litres of luggage room.

The Scenic has another advantage. It starts from £37,495, while the cheapest Explorer is £39,875. It’s also pricier than an entry-level Enyaq, while more expensive versions of the Explorer will cost you as much as some versions of the Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y.

It’s expensive, then, but, in fairness, the Explorer is competitive in other ways. It’s well equipped for one thing and it has a great battery range. The smallest battery option – the 52kWh Standard Range rear-wheel drive (RWD) – will do around 250 miles on a single charge, which is decent. Meanwhile, the 77kWh Extended Range RWD, with its bigger battery, chalks up an official 374 miles on one charge. That’s up with the best you can buy for the money. With a healthy 286hp it’s quick, too – 0-62mph takes 6.4 seconds.

Fancy trading battery range for more speed? Then there’s the 79kWh Extended Range all-wheel drive (AWD). It’s all-wheel drive, by dint of having not one but two motors – the extra one powering the front wheels – and together they give it 340hp. The official range drops to 329 miles but it’ll tick off 0-62mph in a hot-hatch-bating 5.3 seconds.

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Well, there’s no doubt the Ford Explorer has some strong points that make it worth considering, particularly if you love its clean, modern styling. It handles nicely, offers punchy performance, a good electric range, plus it’s well equipped. But all that has to be weighed against its relatively high price. It’s expensive compared with its chief rival, the Renault Scenic. And the Scenic is an exceptionally good all-rounder that’s also more comfortable and more practical than the Explorer.

That’s not all. The Explorer’s list price is so lofty you can also pick up cars in the next size bracket for less or similar money. Those include the Skoda Enyaq as well as other great alternatives, like the Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y. And the Model Y, don’t forget, has a USP – access to Tesla’s excellent Supercharging network. So sure, the Explorer is worthy of your attention, but we’d stop short of saying it’s a must-have.

We haven’t tried the cheapest 52kWh Standard Range because it isn’t on sale yet. Even so, having tried the 77kWh Extended Range RWD, we reckon that’s going to be the version most people buy.

Why? Because it has the best electric range (374 miles), which competes well with the equivalent Renault Scenic Long Range (379 miles). And if you stick with the cheapest Select trim it keeps the price to a whisker under £46,000 – although that’s still a lot pricier than the equivalent Scenic.

Most obviously the Renault Scenic. It’s an all-electric SUV with similar dimensions on the outside. The Scenic is also available with a great electric range, but, as we’ve said a few times now, like-for-like it’s better value. And not only does it undercut the Explorer on price, it’s a better car overall, too. The other cars you could consider that are similarly sized, all-electric SUVs, include the Kia Niro EV and Skoda Enyaq – and both start at well under £40,000.

If your budget goes further – to around £45,000 – then you should definitely look at cheaper versions of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Volkswagen ID.4 and Tesla Model Y. If you’re thinking of splashing out nearly £54,000 on a top-spec all-wheel-drive Explorer, hold your horses. Before taking the plunge, have you considered you could be driving something with a premium badge? You absolutely could: the Volvo EX40, which kicks off at circa £53,000.

Comfort and design: Ford Explorer interior

"Let’s begin with the all-important driving position. This is great – albeit we’ve so far only tried left-hand-drive versions. The steering wheel, pedals and driver’s seat line up well, so you’re not sitting skew-whiff. That helps comfort on long journeys, as does the seat support, which is excellent. All versions come have a 12-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar, memory recall and a massage function. That’s pretty fancy."

2024 Ford Explorer Review: interior

The steering wheel is manually adjustable, and while it has a decent range of movement up, down, forwards and back, one shorter colleague suggested he’d like it to come out a bit farther to feel truly at home behind the wheel. Regardless of where the steering wheel is positioned, it’s easy to see the 5.0-inch driver’s display sat dead ahead of you. We like this feature. It means you can see all the info you need at a glance. The Tesla Model Y displays all the driving info on the central infotainment screen, forcing you to look away from the road for longer to see what speed you’re going.

The general seating position works (mostly) well, then, but the lack of physical buttons is a nuisance. There are buttons, but they’re mostly touch-sensitive. And trying to use them while driving is almost as distracting as trying to fiddle with the Explorer’s infotainment system – we’ll get on to that a bit later. Even the steering wheel buttons are touch-sensitive, and while you get physical buttons to open and close the windows on the driver’s side, there are only two of them for all four electric windows.

Nope, that’s not a typo. You use the same two window switches to operate all-four windows. To go from operating the front windows to the back windows you have to press a separate button to swap the function. This design is a hangover from VW, which uses the same switch on the ID.3 and ID.4. It’s just a needless faff and completely daft.

Apart from sharing a few switches with VWs, you’d struggle to know the Explorer was based on a VW when sitting inside. Just like the exterior, the styling inside is all Ford, and all the better for it to be honest. Where the ID.3 and ID.4 are serviceable but a bit bland, the Explorer looks rather swanky. Admittedly, we’ve only tried the top-spec Premium trim, but it feels light and airy inside – thanks in part to the contrasting grey and black leather trim, with contrasting grey stitching, too.

Generally, the materials look and feel good. This is because the areas that your eye naturally falls to, or that you’re most likely to touch, are finished in a tactile soft finish. There are some harder plastics, most noticeably the top surface of the dashboard and lower sections of the doors – but how often are you actually going to handle those? Not very often, probably, except when you’re doing a bit of cleaning. It feels reasonably well screwed together, too. Give most areas a prod and there’s little or no deflection.

We’d say it’s at least as well made inside as the Renault Scenic, but if you truly prize interior quality, and are happy to pay for it, there are plusher alternatives. Cars such as the Audi Q4 e-tron, BMW iX3 and Volvo EX40 to name a few.

Let’s start with the good bits. We like the quality and clarity of the infotainment screen – the definition is top drawer – and the graphics. They look super smart and, happily, there’s enough processing power to run them effectively. Mostly, when you press an icon you don’t need to wait long for the response. And the screen is truly massive. It’s a 14.6in portrait-orientated screen with a rare trick: you can adjust the angle by up to 30 degrees to make it easier to reach. Not that we found this made a huge difference to the usability, truth be told.

Another positive is the feature count. As standard, all Explorers have in-built connected navigation, voice activation, wireless Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto, 15-watt wireless phone charging and multiple USB-C ports front and rear. If you like your music, the entry-level Select trim has seven speakers and a soundbar to enrich your listening pleasure. If you go for the Premium trim then you get a Bang & Olufsen ten-speaker system, also with a soundbar. Does it sound amazing? Err, no. At least not when we tried listening to music via the DAB radio – the sound was rather one-dimensional and bland.

This moves us onto the negatives with the infotainment system. We mentioned above that Ford’s SYNC Move software is responsive, but the user experience is terrible. Bearing in mind the screen is big enough to give Odeon an inferiority complex, you have to wonder why the icons are so small. And by small, some of them are pinpricks of pixels you can barely see, let alone hope to hit accurately while driving. That includes the main menu button that sits demurely at the very top of the screen.

It’s not just the tiny icons. Some of the menus are quite hard to navigate, and because there’s often no back button, it can be challenging to get back to where you were. The navigation page demonstrates just how discombobulating things can be. As we’ve said, the screen’s huge, so there’s no reason to hide information away. But that’s what Ford’s done. We couldn’t find how to bring up useful info, like the time and distance to our destination. In the end, we had to ask someone from Ford to show us. It is available – just brilliantly, and completely unnecessarily, concealed.

Space up front is plentiful. So much so, it’s highly unlikely you’ll run out of head or legroom unless you’re called Goliath. It’s quite a broad interior, too, so sitting side-by-side with a passenger will leave neither party feeling pinched.

The Explorer’s also very comfortable in the rear. There’s masses of headroom back there and enough legroom – a six-footer to sit behind someone in the front seat who’s of similar stature. It helps that there’s lots of foot space under the front seats as well. The space for the middle rear passenger is slightly more compromised, but you’ll get three adults abreast when needed and there’s a flat floor all the way across. What’s the issue then? Just that there are cars with more rear space if you need it. The Renault Scenic has more rear legroom, as does the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Then there’s the Explorer’s boot. Again, it’s fine. With 470 litres of space it’s perfectly average and will take a couple of reasonably big suitcases or a pushchair. It also has a height-adjustable boot floor, which, if you raise it up, takes away any load lip. But the Scenic’s boot is noticeably bigger at 545 litres, while the Enyaq’s has 585 litres of luggage room. The Model Y has a humongous 971-litre rear trunk – and another 117 litres in its front boot as well. The Explorer doesn’t have a front boot, and no space underneath its main boot compartment for the charging cables, either. They take up space in the main compartment.

If you need to carry long loads you can drop the 60/40 split rear seats, which lie relatively flat. There’s a ski hatch in the middle, so you can accommodate long, thin loads while still being able to carry a couple of rear passengers.

Where the Explorer excels is interior storage space. There are cubbies and trays and deep caverns, in all adding up to 48 litres. That includes a decent sized glovebox and a 17-litre well under the front centre armrest that Ford calls the ‘Megaconsole’.

It’s big enough for a laptop. There are clever touches, too. You can take out the cupholders if you’re not using them and swap them for a tray. And remember we mentioned you can adjust the angle of the infotainment screen? Well, when you slide it up this reveals a hidden cubby for your valuables. When you get out and lock the doors it locks the screen in place to fend off ne'er-do-wells.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Ford Explorer like to drive?

"Ford’s gone its own way setting up the Explorer’s suspension. Despite sharing a VW platform, it wanted to tune the suspension to match Ford’s DNA, making the Explorer feel ‘nimble’ and ‘connected to the road’. The question is: has it worked? Yes, in a way. We haven’t driven the Explorer side-by-side with its VW cousins, the ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq, but it feels a bit firmer. Therefore it’s arguably a little keener to scamper in to corners and leans less mid-bend. It’s no revelation compared with the ID.4, mind."

2024 Ford Explorer Review: front dynamic

Still, that’s no bad thing. The ID.4’s effortless to drive with composed handling, and the Explorer continues in the same vein. Its steering feels natural and easy to get along with, with none of the flightiness you get from the over-quick steering in the Model Y, for instance. There’s plenty of grip, too, which feels evenly distributed between the front and rear wheels. The rear-wheel drive Extended Range punches out of corners without breaking traction too easily, while the all-wheel drive version feels ultra stable and it’s the one to go for if you are likely to do any towing. At the same time, the Explorer’s tight turning circle and light steering at town speeds makes it just as confidence-inspiring to thread down narrow, city streets.

The penalty for this firmer set-up is a jittery ride. On scruffy town roads strewn with potholes, the Explorer feels agitated. Not harsh – it doesn’t thump or crash abruptly – but it’s quite annoying at times. The faster you go the better it becomes, but even at motorway speeds there’s a slight fidget on seemingly smooth surfaces. If you like a cushy ride we’d point you in the direction of the supple Scenic and Enyaq.

Electric cars use their brakes to regenerate energy to top up the battery when you slow down. This can make them a bit fickle and hard to judge, but not so the Explorer. The brake pedal is progressive and easy to meter. You can vary the amount of regen braking – the braking effect when you lift off the accelerator – from hardly anything to pronounced. The latter means you don’t have to use the brake pedal as often to slow the car down, but you don’t have the full ‘one-pedal’ mode that brings you to a complete stop when you lift off, which the Model Y offers.

The cheapest Ford Explorer is the 52kWh Standard Range RWD – 52kWh denoting the usable battery capacity. It comes with a 170hp motor driving the rear wheels. Ford hasn’t released its official 0-62mph time but expect that to be around nine seconds.

Next up is the 77kWh Extended Range RWD. It also has a single motor driving the rear wheels but producing 286hp. 0-62mph is done in just 6.4 seconds, which is quicker than the quickest Scenic and the entry-level Model Y.

The quickest Explorer is the 79kWh Extended Range AWD. It gets two motors – one driving the front wheel and the other the rear wheels – with a combined power of 340hp. That’s enough to make it rapid off the line: 0-62mph takes just 5.3 seconds.

Top speed is 99mph for the Standard Range and 112mph for the Extended Range versions.

The 52kWh Standard Range Ford Explorer should manage 239 miles on a full charge (that’s still TBC). The equivalent Scenic is the Comfort Range, and with a slightly bigger 60kWh battery that’ll do up to 260 miles.

For the best battery range, you’ll need the 77kWh Extended Range RWD. It’s WLTP figure is 374 miles, which beats the Model Y Long Range by a healthy margin and almost matches the Scenic Long Range’s official 379 miles.

The 79kWh Extended Range AWD has the biggest battery of any Explorer but, with two motors gobbling up electricity, its official range is 329 miles.

A heat pump is optional and worth considering. It’ll help maintain the battery’s range in extreme temperatures.

As you’d expect from an electric car, the Ford Explorer’s eerily quiet – there’s barley any hum from the electric motor during everyday driving.

Even at 70mph wind and road noise are subdued and you only hear the suspension working away on really bumpy roads.

Refinement is one area where the Ford Explorer beats the Tesla Model Y hands down. 

Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the Ford Explorer – we’ll let you know when it has. But bearing in mind it shares its basic crash structure with the ID.4, which received five stars, it should do well.

It comes with the usual gamut of safety assistance systems, including lane keeping aid, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, cross traffic alert and exit warning – that tells you if a cyclist is passing when you’re about to open the door. Automatic emergency braking is also standard, with its eyes looking for cars, bikes and pedestrians.

Charging times: How much does it cost to charge the Ford Explorer?

"If you have a charging stop programmed into the navigation route, the Ford Explorer will automatically get its battery in peak condition to receive the fastest charging rate possible."

2024 Ford Explorer Review: rear dynamic

That said, if you opt for the 52kWh Standard Range RWD the maximum charging rate is at best 125kW, which is quite poor, and the 77kWh Extended Range RWD is only marginally better at 135kW. The 79kWh Extended Range AWD has a better charging speed of up to 185kW, but that’s still way off the Kia EV6’s potential 270kW.

Despite having the quickest charging speed, with its bigger battery the 79kWh Extended Range AWD doesn’t save you much fast-charging time. It recharges from 10-80 per cent in 26 minutes, while the rest of the range – with smaller batteries – recharge in 28 minutes. Again, for comparison, an EV6 takes around 18 minutes for the same gain.

If you’re charging at home from a 7kW wall box you’ll need around 12 hours to take the battery from empty to fully charged. How much is that likely to cost? If you’re using one of the cheaper off-peak tariffs to charge the 79kWh Extended Range AWD it will cost around £10. Charging the same amount at public fast charger could potentially cost as much as £65.

The Ford Explorer is too new for us to have any hope of giving you an accurate reliability rating. But we can tell you how Ford does as a brand, and it’s not great. It managed only 23rd out of 29 places in our most recent Satisfaction Index. Kia, Hyundai and Tesla finished a lot higher up the order, but Ford did better than Renault, which was last but one.

The new Ford Explorer is in insurance groups 28 to 32 with the most affordable models also being the cheapest to insure.

Because the Ford Explorer is all-electric, there’s some great news. You know the dreaded VED (road tax)? You don’t have to pay it – at least until the government changes its mind about keeping EVs exempt.

How much should you be paying for a used Ford Explorer?

"The Ford Explorer 52kWh Standard Range in Select trim kicks off at £39,875. Compare that with the equivalent Renault Scenic Comfort Range at £37,495 and, yes, the Explorer is quite pricey."

2024 Ford Explorer Review: front dynamic

Even more so if you go for what’s likely to be the most appealing model: the 77kWh Extended Range Select RWD. That’s £45,875, and if you fancy the (top) Premium trim, get ready to shell out £49,975. Then there’s the 79kWh Extended Range AWD. You can only buy that in Premium trim, so start counting out your crisp notes to the tune of £53,975. And then bear in mind that circa £50k could bag you a Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD or a Kia EV6 AWD.

Sadly, we can’t point you in the direction of any used Explorers yet because it’s too new.

It may be expensive to buy, but at least the Explorer’s two trims are well kitted out. We’ve already mentioned some of the equipment that comes as standard on the entry-level Select trim, including wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 14.6in infotainment screen and 5.0in driver’s display.

It also comes with 19in alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED rear lights, a 12-way electric driver’s seat (with memory recall), heated front seats with massage function, rear privacy glass, selectable driving modes, adaptive cruise control with stop and start function, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, power-folding door mirrors, puddle lights, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

Premium trim adds bigger, 20in alloys, Matrix LED headlights (these can stay on high beam without dazzling road users in front), a powered tailgate, ambient interior lighting, a panoramic glass roof, and a 10-speaker B&O sound system.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

The Ford Explorer is good to drive, reasonably spacious, and, if you go for the 77kWh Extended Range RWD, officially it’ll do up to 374 miles on one charge. That’s a very healthy amount. However, Ford charges a pretty penny for the privilege, and there are cheaper alternatives that’ll match or better that range, like the Renault Scenic. The Scenic is also more comfortable and more practical, so while the Explorer is a good car, the Scenic is an excellent one.
The 52kWh Standard Range will probably do 0-62mph in around nine seconds – Ford hasn’t released the official time yet. The larger 77kWh Extended Range RWD is much quicker, officially knocking off the 0-62mph sprint in 6.4 seconds. Meanwhile, the most powerful twin-motor model, the 79kWh Extended Range AWD, will bate hot hatchbacks with its acceleration – 0-62mph takes a mere 5.3 seconds. Top speed is 99mph for the Standard Range and 112mph for the Extended Range versions.
The range begins at £39,875 for the entry-level 52kWh Standard Range Select. The 77kWh Extended Range RWD Select is £45,875, and in Premium trim it’s £49,975. The top model is the 79kWh Extended Range AWD Premium, which costs £53,975.

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