A brand-new Ford Explorer is equipped with the latest features and styling, but it costs more. Find out if a used Ford Explorer is the better choice!
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We’ve covered the Ford Explorer extensively. There was the Head-to-Head: 2022 Hyundai Palisade vs Ford Explorer. Then it was part of our list of the Best 3-Row Mid-Size SUVs of 2022. The Explorer even got a solid ranking in our list of the Best 3-Row Mid-Size SUVs of 2022 alongside the Kia Telluride and Chevrolet Tahoe. Today, though, we’re putting the Ford Explorer up against itself!
What’s the better buy: a new 2022 Ford Explorer or a used Explorer? The 2023 Explorer isn’t available yet, so 2022 models are still the most up-to-date versions you can buy. The most recent full redesign was on the 2020 Ford Explorer, but the 2022 Explorer has some new additions as well, like the ST-Line trim. When it comes to used models, the last notable update was on the 2016 Explorer, which featured refreshed exterior styling.
2022 models come with a traditional internal combustion engine or as a hybrid so 2022 models do offer more options, but are they the better options? Let’s take a look with a detailed breakdown of the features, prices, and ability of 2022 and 2016 Ford Explorer models!
A 2016 Ford Explorer comes with three engine options: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower, a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that makes 280 horsepower, and a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 that maxes out at 365 horsepower. Each of these engines is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard on the 2016 Explorer, but all-wheel drive (AWD) was available on most of the trims, so many used models are equipped with it. The base 3.5-liter V6 gets 255 lb-ft of torque while the 2.3-liter turbo has 310 lb-ft of torque. That 3.5-liter twin-turbo? It gets 350 lb-ft of torque for those who really want some power. The 2016 Explorer can tow up to 3,000 pounds.
On the roadways, the 2.3-liter four-cylinder gets the best gas mileage. That turbo gets 19 miles per gallon (MPG) in the city and 28 MPG on the highway with FWD. AWD drops to 18 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. The least fuel-efficient option here is the turbocharged V6 with 16 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway. That one is only available with AWD.
There aren’t as many traditional engine choices in the 2022 Ford Explorer, but there is more power. That turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder is still around, but it now makes 300 horsepower with 310 lb-ft of torque. The second choice is a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. Both are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid option in 2022 models pairs an electric motor with the 3.3-liter V6 for a total combined output of 318 horsepower. When properly equipped, the 2022 Explorer tows up to 5,600 pounds. A rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform is standard, but AWD is still optional.
Fuel efficiency varies here. The RWD hybrid gets up to 27 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. A hybrid model with AWD drops to 24 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. The 3.0-liter V6 earns 25 MPG in the city. It gets 26 MPG on the highway. The 2.3-liter four-cylinder will get 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.
No matter which engine you choose on the 2016 Ford Explorer, they’ll take you wherever you need to go in town or on the highway. Bumps and uneven pavement are easily overcome in the Explorer. The V6 is needed to avoid lag if you’re hauling anything heavy, though. Steering is responsive, but this three-row SUV can be a little tough to maneuver in parking lots.
The 2022 Ford Explorer isn’t sporty, but the steering is easy enough. There’s a good amount of grip around turns. This SUV stops quickly, but also gets up to highway speeds without an issue. The Ford Explorer Timberline, more of an off-road version of the Explorer, does better when it comes to rougher terrain. Specifically tuned shock absorbers and a limited-slip differential in the Timberline make trail driving much easier.
There’s seating for seven in this three-row 2016 Explorer but some models are equipped with second-row captain’s chairs, so that lowers the passenger capacity to six. Seats are comfortable and offer good lumbar support. They’re cloth in lower trims and premium leather in the Platinum trim. The cabin is situated well enough, too. There’s easy access to the center touchscreen.
Legroom and headroom aren’t problematic, but, understandably, there’s not as much space for passengers in the third row. With 33.3 inches of leg space, the third row is best left for children, luggage, or family pets. There’s a little more space in the second row with 39.5 inches of legroom, and front-row passengers have 42.9 inches of legroom. Cargo space measures 21.0 cu-ft behind the third row. That amount expands to 81.7 cu-ft with all the seats folded down.
The seating situation in the 2022 Ford Explorer is the same as it is in the 2016 Ford Explorer. Second-row captain’s chairs are available, so seating is there for either six or seven people. The seat cushions are comfortable, cupping the body nicely. There are optional massaging seats in some models, too. Materials in the cabin are as expected. Hard plastics are used on the dash and in a few other places. The seats are cloth until you get to the higher trims. It’s not an unwelcoming environment, but if you want a more luxurious feel, you’ll need to go to a higher trim.
Legroom is virtually identical to the 2016 Explorer. Front-row passengers have 43.0 inches, second-row passengers have 39.0 inches, and third-row passengers have 32.2 inches. That means there’s a little less third-row legroom in the 2022 Explorer, but there’s also a little more front-row legroom in the 2022 Explorer. In new and used models, adults are going to have more difficulty getting into that third row. If they make it back there, it’s not going to be very comfortable. Cargo space measures a little less than the 2016 model when the third row is up and in place. You can load up to 18.2 cu-ft of cargo when all seats are up. If all seats are folded, there’s an expanded 87.8 cu-ft of space to work with. That’s more capacity than in the 2016 Ford Explorer.
2016 Ford Explorers come in a base trim, XLT trim, Limited trim, Sport trim, or Platinum trim. The higher you go, the more features you get, but all models start with a 4.2-inch display screen, a USB input, a six-speaker stereo, and Bluetooth. Automatic LED headlights, cruise control, rear climate controls, and a rearview camera are also all standard features. The XLT trim will get you fog lights, heated exterior mirrors, rear parking sensors, satellite radio, and more comfort with an eight-way power driver seat.
An eight-way power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, a 12-speaker Sony sound system, HD radio, a front-view camera, power-folding outside mirrors, and a hands-free power liftgate are all included on the 2016 Limited. Some Limited models can be found with the optional automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, massaging front seats, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control, too. The Sport is equipped with 20-inch wheels, some exclusive styling details, and a sport-tuned suspension. Then there’s the 2016 Explorer Platinum. LED fog lights, leather upholstery, and wood interior trim are all Platinum features.
There are eight trim levels in the 2022 version of the Ford Explorer: a base trim, the XLT, the Limited, the ST-Line, the Timberline, the ST, the King Ranch, and the Platinum. Standard features for the base trim include: a power-adjustable driver’s seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker audio system, smartphone integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-inch touchscreen. LED headlights and a power liftgate are also included. Blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, and front collision mitigation are the standard driver assists. The XLT trim adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, roof trails, heated front seats, and second-row USB ports.
Moving up to the ST-Line gets buyers 20-inch wheels, tinted headlights and taillights, simulated leather upholstery, navigation, a 12-speaker stereo, and wireless smartphone charging. A surround-view camera and adaptive cruise control are included with the ST-Line, too. The Timberline adds even more, primarily all-terrain tires, front tow hooks, and limited-slip rear differential to help with off-roading. The Limited (and the Limited Hybrid) features ventilated front seats, power-folding and heated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel.
The ST focuses on performance so it adds a sport suspension and paddle shifters, but it loses the hands-free liftgate, wireless device charging, the 12-speaker stereo, and the heated second-row seats. The King Ranch has a digital cluster display, rear automatic braking, specially designed leather upholstery, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, and a 14-speaker audio system. Everything culminates with the Platinum. This top-tier trim has 21-inch wheels, an automated parking system, even more leather upholstery, and adaptive headlights that swivel as you turn the steering wheel along curvy roads.
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I don’t know how much of a dip you’ll see in prices on the 2022 Ford Explorers once 2023 models start arriving at dealerships, but that’s a possibility. Right now, the base 2022 Ford Explorer has a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $35,510. The price steadily increases by about $3,000 with each next trim, capping off at $52,375 for the 2022 Ford Explorer Platinum. There are currently hundreds of 2016 Explorer listings to choose from. Most are right around the $15,000 range.
Of the two choices, I’d go with 2016 Ford Explorer right now. If you have the funds, the 2022 Explorer does offer more and comes with a new car warranty, but the 2016 Ford Explorer is pretty updated in its own right. None of the entertainment or driver assists are actually needed. Anyone driving a classic car, or who grew up before these features were even invented can tell you that. Still, they’re nice to have, especially for a daily driver. Bluetooth connectivity, the rearview camera, and cruise control were important points in this decision, and since the 2016 Ford Explorer is still new enough to have all of those updated features, I’d save a little money, accept a higher mileage starting point, and go with a used Explorer.
To read about every generation of the Ford Explorer, click on our Ford Explorer Through The Years feature!