2022 Ford Explorer: Everything We Know

The all-new 2022 Ford Explorer has been completely redesigned and re-engineered. It now features an available hybrid powertrain for the first time ever. The new Explorer is also available with an updated infotainment system more driver-assist technologies and a choice of seven or eight passenger seating.

The Ford Explorer is an SUV that seats up to seven people. It has a V6 engine and standard front-wheel drive. The base model starts at $32,765.

Ford Explorer Expert Review

The Ford Explorer is an archetype. In the model line’s three-plus decades of existence, it has helped cultivate the massive popularity of SUVs.

Now in its sixth generation, the Explorer has moved from a FWD-based transverse engine layout to a RWD longitudinal-engine unibody platform. The three-row midsize slots above the Edge and below the Expedition in Ford’s SUV lineup.

What’s New

Sporty looking ST-Line trim slots above the XLT and below the Limited trim level
Explorer ST now comes standard with RWD; AWD is available
Explorer Platinum and King Ranch get standard 10.1-inch touchscreen, multi-contour seats, 14-speaker B&O sound system, and 400-hp turbo V-6 from the Explorer ST
Explorer Timberline gets second-row bench option
New seat trim on Explorer XLT Sport Appearance package with Ebony seat bolsters and Light Slate inserts
Two new exterior paint colors: Stone Blue and Burgundy Velvet

What We Think

The redesigned sixth generation Explorer, which began with the 2020 model year, is a fetching machine, boasting a more upright greenhouse and nice proportions.

It’s a pleasing evolution of Ford’s design language. Interiors offer lots of features but subpar fit and finish, with the bane of cheap plastics and low-quality leather present.

Drives in the Explorer XLT, ST, and Limited Hybrid revealed a satisfying ride with proper compliance and poise. The lineup’s three powertrains offer a commendable blend of capability, performance, and efficiency.

In our first test of the rugged 2022 Explorer Timberline, we noted the three-row SUV’s improved looks and ride quality. But the Explorer placed eighth in our three-row SUV comparison because rivals were more refined.

Performance and Fuel Economy

All 2022 Explorers use a 10-speed automatic transmission.

  • Base, XLT, ST-Line, Limited, Timberline
    Drivetrain: RWD or AWD
  • Engine: 2.3-liter turbo-four
  • Horsepower/Torque: 300 hp/310 lb-ft
  • Efficiency (city/highway): 20-21/27-28 MPG
  • Acceleration (0-60 mph): 6.8 seconds (2021 Explorer XLT)

Limited Hybrid
Drivetrain: RWD or AWD

  • Engine: 3.3-liter V-6 and electric motor
  • Horsepower/Torque: 318 hp/322 lb-ft
  • Efficiency (city/highway): 23-27/26-28 MPG
  • Acceleration (0-60 mph): 7.7 seconds (2021 model)
  • ST, Platinum, King Ranch
    Drivetrain: RWD or AWD
  • Engine: 3.0-liter turbo-V-6
  • Horsepower/Torque: 400 hp/415 lb-ft
  • Efficiency (city/highway): 18/24 MPG (2021 EPA estimate)
  • Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.3 seconds (2021 Explorer ST)

Explorer Timberline: Off-Road Ready

Ford says its Explorer Timberline is “the most off-road-capable Explorer ever.” The Timberline model is equipped for leaving the pavement with Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires, a small suspension lift, revised bumper fascia for improved approach and departure angles, and steel skid plates.

Its steering, drivetrain, and suspension have been tuned for going off the beaten path, and if you get into trouble in the Timberline, there’s a set of Red Ember tow hooks in front that are rated at 150 percent of the truck’s gross vehicle weight.

The Timberline also features a new Forged Green Metallic exterior color, exterior blackout treatments and orange accent striping, and gloss-black 18-inch wheels. Its cabin boasts easy-cleaning ActiveX vinyl and cloth seats, distinctive green upholstery with orange accent stitching, and standard heated front seats and steering wheel.

Safety Ratings and Features

Each model of the 2022 Explorer lineup earned a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, the administration’s highest grade, although only four-star ratings in rollover resistance testing.

The IIHS hasn’t published any ratings yet for the 2022 Explorer, but the previous year’s model was a 2021 Top Safety Pick+. The SUV was given mostly Good marks by the institute, exceptions being Acceptable ratings on headlights on all trims for some glare and visibility issues and an Acceptable rating for child seat anchors.

Standard 2022 Explorer active safety technologies include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and automatic parking assist are available features.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

Cabin space in the 2022 Explorer compares favorably to the Toyota Highlander. As is typical in this segment, though, the third row feels tight.

  • Cargo space (behind first/second/third rows):
  • 2022 Explorer: 87.8/47.9/18.2 cubic feet
  • 2021 Highlander: 84.3/48.4/16.0 cubic feet
  • Headroom (first/second/third rows):
  • 2022 Explorer: 40.7/40.5/38.9 inches
  • 2021 Highlander: 38.4/39.4/36.1 inches
  • Legroom (first/second/third rows):
  • 2022 Explorer: 43.0/39.0/32.2 inches
  • 2021 Highlander: 40.4/41.0/27.7 inches

Technology

Standard equipment on the base model 2022 Explorer includes LED headlights and taillights, a power lift gate, three-zone climate control, and an infotainment system with six speakers and an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

The Explorer XLT adds push-button start, 6.5-inch instrument cluster display, first row heated seats, and second row USB ports.

The Explorer Limited gets a big tech bump, gaining power folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, remote start, wireless device charging, and 14 speakers.

LED fog lights are standard on the Explorer Timberline, a hands-free power lift gate and power folding second and third rows are standard on the Explorer ST, and puddle lamps and a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel column are standard on the Explorer King Ranch.

Other Three-Row SUVs:

Kia Telluride
Honda Pilot
Toyota Highlander
Chevrolet Traverse

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