Here Are The Best Years for Ford Explorer for Used Models

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

If you’re considering purchasing a Ford Explorer, knowing the best model years can be quite helpful in your decision-making process.

Ford Explorers have been around for over 30 years, providing drivers with a wide range of options to choose from.

Some standout years for the Ford Explorer include the 2010, 2011, and 2019 models, offering a mix of reliability, performance, and modern features.

With this SUV buying information, you can make an informed decision when searching for the perfect Ford Explorer to fit your needs.

Ford Explorer best years

Best Years for Ford Explorer

2001 Ford Explorer

The 2001 Ford Explorer stands out as one of the best model years for the Ford Explorer lineup. In this year, you’ll find a great balance of performance, reliability, and affordability.

As a proud driver looking for an older model, you can expect a smooth ride and a comfortable interior in the 2001 Explorer.

2008 Ford Explorer

Jumping ahead to 2008, the Ford Explorer also stood out as an excellent choice. This model year marks an improvement in design, technology, and performance.

With a more robust engine and an updated interior, the 2008 Explorer offers you an enhanced driving experience.

2010 Ford Explorer

When it comes to the 2010 Ford Explorer, you can expect a reliable vehicle with some modern features that make it stand out in the Ford Explorer lineup.

Not only does it boast a dependable engine, but it also comes equipped with useful technological advances like an intuitive infotainment system.

With the 2010 Ford Explorer, you’ll enjoy both reliability and convenience in your everyday drives.

2011 Ford Explorer

Finally, the 2011 Ford Explorer is another top choice in the best years for the Ford Explorer range.

It maintains the trend of offering a reliable engine and modern features, which makes it an excellent option for you if you’re in search of a used SUV.

With the 2011 Explorer, you’ll be able to confidently navigate the roads while enjoying the comfort, safety, and technology that Ford offers in their vehicles.

In summary, these are some of the best years for the Ford Explorer that will make your driving experience enjoyable.

Each of these years has its unique blend of attributes that cater to your needs, and it all depends on your preferences.

Choose the year that aligns with your desires, and you’ll have a fantastic addition to your automotive family.

Ford Explorer best models to buy

Noteworthy Features and Reliability

Towing Capability

When it comes to towing capability, the Ford Explorer offers impressive performance.

With a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,600 pounds when properly equipped, it’s clear that this SUV can handle a range of tasks.

Be sure to consider this factor if towing is one of your requirements when searching for a reliable Ford Explorer model.

V8 Engine

The V8 engine in certain Ford Explorer models is a notable feature that contributes to the vehicle’s power and performance.

Although not available in every year, these engines deliver the kind of power you need for more challenging tasks.

If a V8 engine is what you’re after, explore options like the 2010 and 2011 model years, which are deemed as some of the most reliable years for the Ford Explorer.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is an essential consideration for many drivers, and the Ford Explorer has shown steady improvements over the years.

While earlier models may not boast the best fuel efficiency, newer iterations like the 2016 to 2019 models offer better performance in this area.

By choosing a later model with improved fuel economy, you’ll be able to save on gas expenses while still enjoying the reliability and capabilities of the Ford Explorer.

Common Problems

As with any vehicle, the Ford Explorer has had its fair share of common problems throughout its production history.

Some issues include coolant leaks, transmission problems, and various engine-related issues.

It’s important to be aware of these concerns so that you can make informed decisions about which model years are best suited for your needs.

For example, the worst Ford Explorer model years are considered to be 2020, 2013 to 2017, 2011, 2006, 2002, 2003, and 2004, and those produced between 1996 and 2000, primarily due to these common problems.

Worst Years Common Problems
1996-2000 Transmission problems, engine issues
2002-2004 Coolant leaks, transmission problems
2006 Engine issues
2013-2017 Varying issues including transmission and engines
2020 Various concerns


Transmission Problems

Transmission problems have plagued certain Ford Explorer model years, leading to frequent repairs and costly fixes.

As mentioned earlier, the worst years for transmission issues include 1996 to 2000 as well as 2002 to 2004.

To avoid transmission problems, consider opting for 2010, 2011, or 2019 model years, which are deemed to be among the most reliable Ford Explorer options, with fewer reported transmission issues.

In summary, to find a Ford Explorer with noteworthy features and great reliability, consider the mentioned model years and features.

Comparing Ford Explorer with Competitors

Toyota Highlander

When comparing the Ford Explorer to the Toyota Highlander, you can see some differences in performance, comfort, and reliability.

The Highlander was completely redesigned in 2020, making it a strong contender in the three-row family market.

One advantage of the Highlander is its fuel efficiency, boasting better gas mileage than the Explorer. In addition, Toyota has a reputation for long-lasting vehicles, which could be a plus for you if reliability is a top concern.

However, the Ford Explorer generally offers more power and towing capacity than the Highlander as well has some unreliable worst models. So, if you need a vehicle with more raw capability, the Explorer may be more suitable.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

When considering the Jeep Grand Cherokee, you’re looking at a vehicle with a legendary off-road pedigree.

While both the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee offer 4×4 options, the Jeep has a stronger focus on off-road performance and capability. This could be an attractive feature for you if you’re into outdoor adventures.

On the other hand, the Ford Explorer might be more suitable for you if you require a third-row seat and more cargo space.

The Grand Cherokee doesn’t offer a third row, which may not work for larger families or those who need extra seating.

Generations and Lifespan

Midsize SUV

The Ford Explorer, a popular midsize SUV, experienced its best years in the 2010 and 2011 model years.

These models boast reliable engines and modern features, making them great choices for any SUV owner.

For example, the 2013 Explorer integrates unique and ideal features known to American drivers, eventually becoming one of the best Ford Explorer options of its time.

In 2011, the fifth-generation Explorer earned the North American Truck of the Year award.

This generation introduced the Ford Explorer Sport in 2013, which came with a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost motor, larger brakes, and blackened exterior treatments.

Compact SUV

Now, let’s go back in time a bit, as the Ford Explorer started as a compact SUV. The 2007 to 2010 and 2001 models were also considered some of the best for the Ford Explorer.

However, it’s important to note that the Ford Explorer experienced significant reliability issues for model years 2002 to 2006, and 2012 to 2016. This may influence your decision when looking into different generations and their lifespan.

Regardless of the model year or generation, the Ford Explorer remains a popular and iconic SUV that has evolved and adapted to the needs of its drivers.

Practicality and Versatility

Cargo Space

The Ford Explorer is known for its ample cargo space, making it ideal for a variety of needs.

In the 2016 Ford Explorer, for example, you’ll find a spacious interior with a total cargo volume of 81.7 cubic feet when both the second and third-row seats are folded.

This feature allows you to carry a considerable amount of items, making it suitable for anything from daily errands to cross-country adventures.

Suitable for Families

One of the reasons the Ford Explorer is a popular choice is because it’s perfect for families.

For instance, the 2010 and 2011 models have comfortable seating for up to seven passengers, allowing everyone to have their own space during long road trips or daily commutes.

The interior is also designed with families in mind, offering various storage compartments, cupholders, and state-of-the-art safety features.

With the Ford Explorer, you can feel confident that your family is protected and comfortable on the road.

Road Trips

Road trips are a breeze when you’re behind the wheel of a Ford Explorer. As mentioned, the ample cargo space allows you to pack all the essentials, including luggage, sports equipment, or even camping gear.

The 2019 Ford Explorer, in particular, offers great fuel efficiency, averaging 27 miles per gallon on the highway and 19 in the city. This will help you save money on gas while still enjoying various adventures.

Additionally, the Ford Explorer boasts a smooth ride, thanks to its robust suspension system and responsive handling.

You’ll be able to maneuver easily through various terrains while maintaining control of the vehicle.

Many models also come equipped with innovative infotainment systems, such as the SYNC 3, which allows you and your passengers to connect your smartphones, stream music, receive hands-free calls and more.

In summary, the Ford Explorer is an ideal vehicle for practicality and versatility. Its ample cargo space, family-friendly features, and smooth ride make it a top choice for those seeking an SUV that can handle everything from daily commutes to extended road trips.

Opt for one of the best model years, like the 2010, 2011, or 2016 models, to ensure you’re getting the most reliable and efficient version of this popular SUV.


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