Skip to main content

Oh no, the Ford Explorer might be in trouble as it loses steam in the rankings. This three-row SUV is a pretty popular option, but it could be showing its age. Is the 2023 Ford Explorer too old to compete? Let’s see what it’s at the bottom of the list. 

Is the 2023 Ford Explorer a good SUV? 

The 2023 Ford Explorer in a field
2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

Yes, the 2023 Ford Explorer is an excellent SUV to consider. It’s athletic, has tons of standard features, and can haul up to seven people around. It’s not in dead last because it’s a bad option to consider. It’s in last because other, newer SUVs might be better. 

MotorTrend ranked the large SUVS they have tested from worst to best. The Explorer landed in seventh place, and the Hyundai Palisade came in first place. That’s wild for the Explorer to be last and for the Palisade to outrank the Kia Telluride, which came in second place. 

The Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Mazda CX-50, Subaru Ascent, and Honda Elite also came ahead of the Explorer. Each vehicle was tested with a road trip. The SUVs were judged on power, performance, interior quality, passenger space, cargo space, price, capability, comfort, tech, and convenience. 

What are a few 2023 Explorer problems? 

The 2023 Ford Explorer received the lowest score because it has a downmarket interior, tiny center screen, and neck-jerking throttle tip-in. Those reasons are a little sparse, so let’s dig in, starting with the Explorer’s interior. 

While the Explorer starts at $36,760 and the top-spec King Ranch model takes the price up to $54,035, it doesn’t have an interior quality that reflects its price tag. Some critics are often underwhelmed by its quality. 

There are bits of plastic, and other cheap materials that don’t have that premium feel that rivals around the same price provide. The Explorer was last redesigned in 2020, which feels like ages ago. 

In reality, it’s not that far away. But the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Jeep Grand Cherokee each debuted or got a fresh redesign since then. In comparison, they offer more comfort and modern tech. 

Accessing the second and third rows are also a bit easier in other vehicles. The rear doors on the Explorer are tight and clunky. 

It features a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen, but you can upgrade to the 10.1-inch unit. It’s vertical and leaves a lot of blank space over nearly half the screen. 

But the neck-jerking we can’t seem to figure out. We’ve tested Explorer models, and it does have tons of power on tap. It has a smooth power delivery with confident brakes. Maybe accelerate a little slower if your neck is being thrown around? 

What makes the 2023 Explorer worth buying? 

The 2023 Ford Explorer King Ranch interior
2023 Ford Explorer interior | Ford

The 2023 Ford Explorer is comfortable. The front seats are well-padded and supportive for longer drives, and the second-row seats have the same amount of padding. The third row is still comfortable but a little tight for adults over 5’1”. 

While it could be quieter at highway speeds, the Explorer exhibits a smooth ride that keeps body roll in check. The HVAC system is smart and intuitive to keep everyone comfortable, even the two in the very back. 

The most powerful engine is the 3.0-liter V6 unit with 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in roughly 6.0 seconds. Plus, it can tow up to 5,600 lbs and has a solid amount of cargo space. 

So, there might be newer options that are a little more refined, but there are tons of Explorer trims to suit different needs. Go for the racing ST model, the luxurious King Ranch trim, or off-roading with the Timberline.