The used Ford Explorer is the ultimate crossover SUV, pairing sporty capabilities with plush modern comfort and versatility. Before you shop for yours, check out our used Ford Explorer buying guide. It’s specially designed to help you learn more about how these three-row crossover SUVs have changed in recent years.
Sixth Generation: 2020-Current Model Year
The original Explorers were rear-wheel-drive SUVs with truck-like body-on-frame construction. They were great for off-road exploring and towing big toys. For the fifth generation, the Explorer rolled out a new, car-like chassis for an increasingly easygoing drive. But these models also switched from rear-wheel drive (and optional four-wheel drive) to front-wheel drive (with optional all-wheel drive). They’re still capable, if not as rugged as before.
But the sixth generation combines the best of both worlds, with a car-like, unibody frame and rear-wheel drive. That means this crop of used Ford Explorers spans the gap between comfy family hauling and sporty capabilities.
And these modern three-row SUVs are also great family haulers, with three roomy rows of seating and impressive comfort all around. The sixth-generation Explorer even treats you to all the latest infotainment gear, from standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to the optional rear-seat entertainment system.
Ford updates the Ford Explorer from model year to model year to keep it modern and competitive. Here’s a look at the important changes from this generation:
- 2021: New Sport Appearance package available for the XLT model.
- 2020: From here on out, the Explorer came standard with the Co-Pilot360 suite of safety aids. This package includes features that were previously optional, such as forward collision mitigation, lane departure mitigation, and blind-spot monitoring.
Fifth Generation: 2011-2019
Compared to previous models, this generation of used Ford Explorers introduced a more car-like driving experience. They retired the old body-on-frame design and replaced it with a new unibody architecture for impressive maneuverability. Used shoppers will also appreciate these Explorers for their impressive fuel economy and roomier cabins.
Here’s a look at how the fifth-generation used Ford Explorer has changed from model year to model year:
- 2018: The first Explorers with Wi-Fi hotspots debuted.
- 2016: This model year received a mid-cycle refresh! From here on out, Explorers feature new styling, inside and out. They also include updated safety features and revised suspension tuning. The latter blends smooth comfort with sporty precision. A brand new top-tier Platinum trim model joined the lineup. And shoppers could choose a new engine, a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that replaces the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
- 2014: Automatic headlights become standard equipment. The Limited adds standard second-row heated seats.
- 2013: New Sport trim model upgrades performance with a peppy turbocharged engine and sport-tuned suspension. The top-trim Limited now offers optional lane-keeping assist and a power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel.
- 2012: These models came standard with a 3.5-liter V6, but they also introduced the first turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s designed to improve fuel economy while maintaining a sporty performance.