Used Ford Explorer – Cincinnati, OH

The Ford Explorer is one of the most beloved SUVs in North America and has a long and storied history. Debuting in 1991, the original Ford Explorer had a two-door option that eventually faded with time to become the standard four-door SUV we have all come to know and love. By the turn of the century, the Explorer was the most popular SUV on the market, and Ford was selling hundreds of thousands of Explorers every year. As time marched on, the Explorer evolved, adding side airbags and other safety features, improving its power and efficiency, and eventually making the shift to a crossover SUV with unibody construction. Today, a used Ford Explorer continues to be a coveted automobile, and maintain both a stellar reputation and ranking among all SUVs.

Throughout its history, the Explorer has been known for its tremendous power and spacious interior with three rows of seats—many models having a third row comfortable even for adults. There is a reason this tried and tested SUV has withstood the test of time so well and has remained a perennial contender for top SUV. Depending on the year and engine configuration, you can expect horsepower in the 240-290 range (though later models have engines that can get as high as 400 hp), fuel efficiency in the 17-20 miles per gallon range in the city and 23-28 miles per gallon on the highway, and a slew of safety features and convenient technologies that make the Explorer as fun as it is practical.

A maroon 2020 Ford Explorer is parked on a snowy field near Cincinnati, OH.

The Explorer Past and Present

To truly appreciate how exceptional this SUV really is, here is a brief look at the Explorer, from past to present. This walk down Explorer memory lane can also help you navigate which used Explorer might be the best for you.

1991 Ford Explorer

It has been almost 30 years since Ford introduced the Explorer as a replacement to the Bronco II. The first Explorer came with either two or four doors (though before long the Explorer shed the two-door option). Under the hood, the Explorer came equipped with a 4.0L V6 engine and was available as either a two-wheel or four-wheel drive SUV.

Most likely, you won’t be in the market for a 1991 Explorer, or any model from the 90s, but it sure is fun to look back at where it all began.

1995-2001 Ford Explorer

By the time Ford got around to redesigning the Explorer four years after it was introduced, the Explorer had taken off and had begun to create the new SUV market. The second generation Explorer debuted in 1995 and lasted until 2001. Unlike later models, which saw more significant changes, the second gen Explorer boasted only minor alterations, though an upgraded engine with more power was available starting with these years.

While there are still plenty of second gen Explorers available today, your best bet will be to look for something a bit newer.

A red 2009 used Ford Explorer with bikes on the roof is driving on a dirt road.

2006-2010 Ford Explorer

To try to move into the more relevant models, let’s skip the third generation and go right to the fourth generation Explorer era, which lasted from 2006-2010. According to its specs, there isn’t much difference between the fourth gen and third gen Explorer. Both came standard with a V6 engine and had an optional V8 for those who wanted up to 292 horsepower.

The fourth gen Explorer is still very much on the road and will be a fine choice for those who want this SUV at a discount. Of course, the thing to keep in mind when looking at a pre-2010 Explorer is mileage. Yout might run into more issues, and more maintenance needs as the Explorer approaches 200,000 miles.

2011 Ford Explorer

The 2011 Ford Explorer started the fifth generation, and by many measures, is the best one yet. With high safety ratings, advanced interior features and technologies, and superb handling both on and off-road, the 2011 model sold thousands and thousands of units and is perhaps the best used Explorer to date.

2015-2018 Ford Explorer
While these years didn’t see any major changes, they have the same great interior configuration with three rows and seating for seven, available powerful engine options ranging from 280-365 horsepower, and enviable fuel efficiency at the upper teens in the city and anywhere from 22-27 miles per gallon on the highway. And the great thing about these models from the late 2010s is that they are still relatively new, and you can most likely get your hands on one with low mileage for an affordable price. If you are in the market for a used Ford Explorer, the 2015-2018 versions are the sweet spot.

2020 Ford Explorer

No look at the Ford Explorer would be complete without a glance at the 2020 model. With another full redesign, the 2020 Explorer made significant improvements over its predecessors with improved seating in the third row, even more powerful engine options that can get up to 400 horsepower, and fuel efficiency that peaks at 29 miles per gallon on the highway. All of that is in addition to increased cargo room and updated safety and infotainment technologies.

A blue 2020 used Ford Explorer Hybrid is towing a boat out of a lake.

Fifth Generation Explorer Features

As noted earlier, the fifth generation Explorer that debuted in 2011 was a major shift from the third and fourth gen models because it went from body-on-frame construction to the unibody construction found on other crossovers. While this limited the Explorer’s power in some ways, it also increased handling and maneuverability and made the SUV more competitive with others of similar design.

The 2011 Explorer, the first of the fifth generation, was also longer than the 2010 version and boasted increased cabin and cargo room. The fifth gen Explorer was also able to earn much higher safety ratings than earlier models, and the fuel efficiency jumped from 14/20 mpg in the city and highway on the 2010 model to 18/25 mpg for the 2011 version.

Those improvements are significant and important to note as most used Ford Explorers on the market today are fifth gens from 2011-2019. When you are conducting your search, know that any Explorer from those years is a fifth gen and a step or two ahead of older models.

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