2022 Ford Explorer

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  • Overview

    A silver 2022 Ford Explorer King Ranch is angled left.

    The 2022 Ford Explorer is all about customization. With three powertrain options, countless packages, and a class-leading eight trims to choose from, few other three-row SUVs can match the sheer versatility of the Explorer. As one of the original SUVs on the scene, the Explorer has earned a loyal following in the three decades since its introduction. With all that history, it would be easy to coast on reputation alone, but the 2022 Explorer proves that Ford is committed to innovation, tweaking the beloved model to fit the changing demands of today's drivers.

    The 2022 model sees the introduction of the splashy new ST-Line trim, folding the sporty styling of the performance-minded ST trim into a more affordable package that will still turn heads. Combine this with the exceptional value of the XLT and the off-road prowess of the fan-favorite Timberline, and you've got one of the most flexible lineups in the industry. Multiple powertrain options mean you're never working with more (or less) power than you need for the job, and an innovative cargo management system maximizes storage on a vehicle that wasn't hurting for space to begin with. Let's examine each of these areas a little more and see what other surprises the 2022 Ford Explorer has in store.


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    Cargo Capacity (cu.ft.)


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  • Engines

    A close up shows the grille and headlights of a silver 2022 Ford Explorer.

    The novelty of the SUV hasn't worn off in the years since its introduction, but consumer tastes have shifted a little over the last three decades. SUVs overtook sedans for total sales for the first time in 2015, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. While height, cargo, and passenger room are still important factors for the average SUV buyer, sheer power is becoming less relevant as SUVs and their crossover cousins continue to replace sedans as America's go-to passenger vehicles. But with the SUV's height and volume come one major drawback: compromised fuel efficiency. Auto manufacturers have responded in kind, steadily improving their SUVs' fuel economy in response to higher gas prices and introducing a lighter class of crossovers built on a sedan-like body.

    Efficient Performance

    The 2022 Explorer goes one step further, introducing a hybrid option for the Limited and Platinum models, which further improves the SUV's fuel efficiency. This is accomplished through the inclusion of a 3.3-liter V6 which has been paired with an electric motor to give the Explorer a combined 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. These numbers actually put the hybrid model above the gas-based 2.3-liter turbo available on the Base, XLT, ST-Line, Limited, and Timberline trims, which deliver 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft torque.

    Drivers aren't asked to sacrifice acceleration in the name of fuel economy with the hybrid version of the 2022 Explorer, which, thanks to the near-instant torque provided by the SUV's electric motor, can get from zero to sixty less than a second behind the gas model. The SUV is at its greenest when configured as a rear-wheel drive hybrid, delivering 27 MPG city and 28 MPG on the highway. All-wheel drive models sacrifice a few MPG in the name of traction but still stack up well against the competition. Non-hybrid Explorers with the 2.3-liter turbo still manage to post a respectable 21 city/27 highway.

    Drivers exploring the upper end of the SUV's offered 2022 trims will have the option of upgrading the engine to a 3.0-liter turbo V6. Reserved for the ST, Platinum, and King Ranch models of the 2022 Explorer, this upgrade is ideal for the performance-minded or those who expect to do a lot of towing or hauling with their vehicle. With up to 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque in the ST trim, the turbo V6 injects a little more excitement into the midsize SUV. Sure, it lacks the fuel efficiency of the other two options, but you'll be hard-pressed to remember that when you're doing zero to sixty in 5.3 seconds.

  • Trim Options

    A green 2022 Ford Explorer Timberline is shown parked in a remote area.

    The Explorer's versatility is one of its biggest selling points, but which model is right for you? Ford has really expanded the options in recent years to ensure there's an Explorer out there for every type of driver, and 2022 is no different. Whether you're looking for a solid family, a head-turning, performance-inspired SUV, or an off-road companion, each Explorer model offers something entirely different, so let's take a look at a couple of our favorites.

    Best Value: Explorer XLT

    The XLT hits that sweet spot, providing all the capability of the base model with a few added features that elevate the driving experience without breaking the bank. Every model of Explorer includes advanced tech features like Ford's Co-Pilot 360 driver assistance system, but the XLT takes it to the next level, offering an optional upgraded Co-Pilot360 Assist+ version that adds adaptive cruise control and evasive steering assist to the mix. Other intriguing tech features contribute a premium feel to this affordable model, such as rear USB ports and a new 6.5-inch screen mounted in the dashboard gauge cluster. That premium feel extends to the exterior, where a couple of key design tweaks elevate the XLT above its base model companion. With LED signature lighting, chrome trim, body-color door handles, and roof-rack side rails, there's no mistaking the XLT for an entry-level model.

    Best Style: Explorer ST-Line

    The ST-Line trim, offered on a number of Ford vehicles, is a clever compromise from the automaker. These models include all the same aggressive styling cues as the performance-oriented ST models but without the upgrades under the hood that can quickly inflate the price tag. Ringing in around $3,000 less than the ST itself, the Explorer ST-Line is a great value for drivers who don't necessarily need to be able to burn rubber on an everyday basis. While it doesn't feature the performance model's 3.0-liter, 400-horsepower EcoBoost V6, passersby will likely never notice, thanks to the SUV's head-turning style.

    The ST-Line includes 20-inch wheels and blacked-out exterior details, including a striking all-black grille, which go a long way in differentiating the ST and ST-Line from the rest of the lineup. That style is reflected in the interior, where black ActiveX upholstery and red stitching continue the performance theme. There are plenty of fun creature features here as well, such as a heated steering wheel and seats, a 360-degree camera, wireless charging pad, and premium Bang & Olufsen audio system.

    Best Off-Road: Explorer Timberline

    First introduced on last year's model, the Timberline trim is an exciting new option that adds more than a little off-road capability to the mix. While the Timberline features the same 2.3-liter turbo found on many of the other models, it's the off-road features that allow it to truly stand out. A lifted suspension gives the Timberline that all-important ground clearance and the upgraded shock absorbers ensure a smoother ride on uneven terrain. The shocks are the same ones found on the police-model Ford Interceptors, though they've been subtly retuned here with off-road use in mind.

    Retuned springs and Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires round out the Explorer's off-road mechanical upgrades, but it doesn't stop there. The Timberline looks every bit the part, too, with a tweaked grille, front and rear skid plates, 18-inch wheels, and eye-catching red tow hooks. Given its off-road lineage, it makes sense that the Timberline is the only version of the 2022 Explorer that drops the RWD option in favor of a standard AWD setup.

  • Interior

    The cream and black colored interior of a 2022 Ford Explorer Platinum shows the front seats and steering wheel.

    When SUVs were first introduced, the novelty of riding high and enjoying a truck-like experience in a more comfortable and practical setting was enough to drive sales. Immediately unseating the minivan as the go-to family vehicle, the numbers speak for themselves: SUVs now account for 47 percent of U.S. vehicle sales while minivans continue to decline and represent around 2.5 percent of the market. This was thanks in large part to the SUV's ability to offer comparable cargo and passenger room while upping the game in terms of style and ride height.

    Cabin Space to Spare

    The Explorer has long offered exceptional cargo and passenger room, and the 2022 model is no different. The SUV already offers seating for up to seven passengers, with more second and third-row legroom than virtually any SUV in its class. Third-row seats in these midsize SUVs are typically pretty tight, but the Explorer boasts impressive headroom in the way back, making for a ride that's more comfortable than expected.

    The automaker has also taken a number of approaches in an effort to maximize cargo room. It all starts with the Explorer's fold-flat second and third-row seats, which, when stowed away, allow the SUV to haul almost 88 cubic feet of cargo within the cabin. Drivers opting for the Limited, SLT, and Platinum models have the added advantage of Ford's PowerFold Seating on the second and third-row seats, making loading in and out easier than ever. Trying to fit some awkward, bulky, or fragile items in the trunk? The third-row PowerFold seats can be made to rest at any angle, giving drivers some much-appreciated flexibility. Split third-row seats also allow drivers to get that perfect mix of passenger and cargo room, allowing drivers to sacrifice only one seat to increase total available storage.

    Stow Anything

    While midsize SUVs typically aren't asked to perform the same heavy-duty feats as some workhorse pickups, the Explorer does hit two must-have metrics to cement its well-rounded reputation. The SUV can fit both a 4x8 sheet of plywood and a full-size mattress with the second and third rows folded down. It's a tight fit, with the plywood only getting around an inch of clearance, but the feature will be well-appreciated on weekend trips to the home improvement store. The 2022 Explorer also features four built-in cargo tie-downs and four cargo net hooks, making it easy for drivers to tweak the rear cargo area into whatever configuration best suits their needs.

    Those opting to truly maximize the Explorer's cargo capacity should look into the SUV's Cargo Area Management System. Included on the Platinum trim, this system features a number of creative solutions that allow drivers to get the most out of their Explorer. The storage-friendly package includes a cargo net, rear cargo well protector, a reversible load floor with carpet and vinyl on either side, and customizable dividers that can be reconfigured to ensure a good fit. Between these add-ons and the Explorer's existing cargo capacity, the Platinum model is the go-to choice for any driver trying to maximize their SUV's interior.

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