2022 Ford Explorer ST Revealed With Rear-Wheel Drive, New ST-Line

2022 Ford Explorer

Martin Ford in Union Grove, WI, is the place to go in southeastern Wisconsin for the new Explorer SUV, whether you choose one from our lot or custom order your perfect ride. Learn about the powertrains and available trims, then search our inventory and stop by our dealership or contact us at (262) 558-8634 if you’d like to set up a test drive.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Ford outfits every Explorer with a host of standard driver-assistance technology and offers upgrades such as self-parking assist. For more information about the Explorer’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:

  • Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross-traffic alert
  • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist

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What’s the Explorer like to drive?

Not surprisingly, the Explorer’s driving feel differs depending on engine and drivetrain choice. Acceleration is strong in the base engine and we don’t think you’ll miss having a V6. Of course, acceleration is laugh-enducingly rapid with the Explorer’s turbo V6 upgrades, but they come at such a high cost that most potential buyers will find them largely a moot point. Luckily, we found a rear-wheel-drive, four-cylinder XLT to exhibit greater agility and eagerness to change direction than the more powerful Platinum. Having a lighter engine over front wheels unburdened by drive shafts tends to do that. Now, we wouldn’t go so far as to call any of the non-ST models sporty – the suspension is a little too springy and the steering too uncommunicative for that – but it nevertheless provides a little more driving verve and connection than is usual for the segment. If there’s one reason to choose an Explorer over a Telluride or Palisade, this is it.

The Explorer ST indeed steps things up with greater suspension composure, while not ruining the ride. The steering doesn’t improve, though, and in general, we found the ST to be too big and heavy to be considered a true performance vehicle. It’s also not quite over-the-top enough to match the joyously absurd Dodge Durango SRT. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we had not tested the off-road-oriented Explorer Timberline at the time of this review.

The Hybrid, meanwhile, impresses with its refinement, performance and lack of drivability tradeoffs. However, its fuel economy advantage is so negligible that it’s really hard to recommend unless you do the vast majority of your driving in stop-and-go traffic where its notably better MPG city rating will actually make a difference.

Interior Technology Features

While the exact suite of features included in your 2019 Explorer depends on your preferred trim level, each model boasts a high level of luxury and refinement. There are too many standard and available amenities to list, but we’ve highlighted some of our favorite comfort, tech, and safety features below:

  • Heated & cooled multicontour front seats with Active Motion massage functionality
  • Twin-panel moonroof
  • SYNC® 3 with 8-in. LCD touchscreen and voice-activated navigation
  • Sony® audio system with Clear Phase and Live Acoustics technology
  • Front 180-degree camera with split view and washer
  • Enhanced active park assist

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Due to its myriad powertrain and drivetrain combinations, the Explorer has varying EPA fuel-economy ratings. The rear-drive hybrid model is rated as the thriftiest overall, with estimates of up to 27 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Adding all-wheel drive reduces the hybrid’s ratings by 3 and 4 mpg, respectively. We tested one on our 75-mph highway route, where it managed only 24 mpg. Comparatively, the 400-hp Explorer ST earned 25 mpg in our testing, which beat its EPA rating by 1. We also tested the four-cylinder Explorer with all-wheel drive. The government estimates that version will earn 20 mpg city and 27 highway; we saw 28 mpg. For more information about the Explorer’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.

What are the Explorer safety ratings and driver assistance features?

The 2022 Explorer’s standard Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning (this is optional on most competitors), automatic high beams and a rearview camera with a built-in lens washer (if you’re in the middle of a cruddy winter, you should appreciate this one). The available Co-Pilot Assist+ package adds adaptive cruise control. Reverse automatic braking is available on upper trim levels.

The Explorer got a perfect five stars in all government crash tests, plus a solid four-star rollover rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick+ due to its best-possible performance in all crash tests and top scores for its standard accident avoidance tech. Its headlights were rated “Acceptable,” thus allowing it to get the Top Safety Pick+ prize.

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