Driven: 2014 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD V6

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2014_Ford_Explorer_Limited

There are few SUVs out there with as much history, controversy or relevance to the everyday consumer as the Ford Explorer. No matter what you may think you know about Explorers of old, the new 2014 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD V6 we tested will shatter any preconceived notions. With the new Limited, Ford took its iconic SUV nameplate and created a state-of-the-art crossover that can carry seven adults in relative comfort and is also sturdy and powerful enough to be a tow/haul workhorse.

2014 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD V6

Towing, Hauling and Interior Storage Capacity

Thanks to the Explorer’s 290 bhp 3.5 liter V6 engine which delivers an effortless surge of power, our 2014 Ford Explorer 4WD V6 test vehicle had an impressively robust 5000 pound tow rating. This figure is higher than many of the 2014 Explorer’s current, similarly-sized three row SUV competitors that rate at an average tow capacity of 3500 pounds. This is one tough towing and hauling machine.

Opt for the base 4-cylinder EcoBoost motor and you’ll see the rating drop to 2000 lbs which is about the same as a Honda CR-V.

Inside, with the second and third rows folded flat, there is 80.7 cu.-ft. of cargo room available. If you are carrying passengers, cargo room behind the second row is 43.8 cu.-ft. diminishing to a respectable 21 cu.-ft. with all three rows being occupied by passengers.

Engine, Drivetrain, Basic Specs

Ford offers three powertrains with the 2014 Ford Explorer starting with a 4-cylinder Ecoboost meant for suburban hypermilers that returns 20 mpg city/28 hwy. Up next, the 3.5 liter EcoBoost turbocharged and direct injected V6 that pumps out 365 horsepower/350 lb. –ft. of torque to compete with the Hemi V8 engines of the world. The EPA estimates fuel economy returns of 16 mpg city/22 hwy as long as you are light on the turbo.

Now, how did our tester do? The 2014 Ford Explorer 4WD V6 has an EPA estimated fuel efficiency rating of 17 mpg city/23 hwy and over the course of a week we averaged 18.9 mpg which is just about exactly at the combined average. This motor runs on regular unleaded and the 18.6 gallon fuel tank means that this is an excellent all around road trip SUV.

2014 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD V6 engine

The Drive

We really took a solid liking to the 2014 Explorer’s silky smooth standard 6-speed automatic and the 290 horsepower/255 lb.-ft. of torque from the naturally aspirated V6 that felt perfectly suited to all of our needs on freeways, dusty off-roads trails and with a trailer attached. Plus, the balance of engine refinement and fuel economy was right. Steering feel was communicative and predictable, body-roll well controlled and overall the driving experience was both comfortable and engaging. Any memories of the rather truck like old Explorer were banished on the first test drive.

The Good

  • Especially in black, the 2014 Ford Explorer looks stylish and menacing
  • Plenty of cargo space out back
  • The 3.5 liter V6 naturally aspirated motor is a fun and sensible choice for buyers that need to tow and haul

The Bad

  • The 4-cylinder Ecoboost motor feels strained in this vehicle, in reality not much more efficient.
  • Continued fears about a glitch heavy MyFordTouch system, and dash buttons that are way too small.
  • This SUV is big, long and not built for hardcore off-roading

2014 Ford Explorer Limited 4WD V6

Features and Pricing as Tested

Base pricing for the 2014 Ford Explorer 4WD V6 Limited like the one tested here is $40,100 and our loaner was equipped with a $5425 Special Option Group which added voice activated in-dash navigation, upgraded leather, heated steering wheel, a blind spot warning system, seatbelt mounted airbags, a back-up warning monitor system, lane keeping assistance, rain sensing wipers, HD headlamps and a tow package. Additionally, there was an $1150 adaptive cruise control/collision mitigation system for those who dislike watching the road ahead of them. Total came to an MSRP of just over $48,000.

Conclusion

If we lived in a fair and just world, it would be the 2014 Ford Explorer 4WD V6 Limited that would be on every street corner and at every bike rally. But even if the Explorer doesn’t own the SUV market like it once did, you can still enjoy this new version for all its myriad of improvements over the last generation.

Have you been in the new 2014 Explorer yet?

  • michaelmatos

    The sea doo was unadulterated fun, but this might be expanding your scope a little too much.

  • Kevin

    The Flex (full disclosure, I have a 2011 Limited) is a more sensible package for 7 person seating and tow capability. I love mine, and it was 10 grand less than your tester.

  • RWerksman

    Pass.

    I’d rather take the new 2014 Durango R/T with the 8 speed and Hemi. It’s $5k less, has ~100hp more, can tow more, has a better entertainment system, and gets about the same MPG. It also says, “I’m slightly more bad-ass than the average SUV driver” as opposed to, “I’m sorry I hit you, but I dropped my cell phone.”

    Oh, and BTW, all of these DriveApart reviews seem like nothing but corporate schilling to me. Judging by some of the other comments on the other reviews, I’d wager that’s the general consensus too.

    • runnermatt

      I’d rather have the eventual Jeep Wrangler truck with a six speed manual and the EcoDiesel engine.

      • RWerksman

        Too bad it isn’t available.

        That said, none of this has anything to do with RideApart.

        • runnermatt

          It isn’t available… yet! I read something a few months back and Jeep VP said that every time he talked to a customer the subject of a Diesel Wrangler came up. That said I keep hearing rumors of a new Jeep pickup, mainly rumors that the Ram factory doesn’t want to build it. Factor in the they killed the Dakota pickup a while back and the CAFE requirements for automaker and the writing is pretty much on the wall. The only question is will the manual transmission still be available.

          You are right it has nothing to do with RideApart, but I am still a car nut first.

  • Harve Mil

    What is it’s motorcycle towing capacity? In all honesty, if I wanted to stare at SUVs I’d jump on the I5 and this is the exact opposite of what I want to do. Wake me up when your cage reviews include the 458 Italia.

    • JohnnyWaffles

      Because a Ferrari feature is relevant for the masses

      • Harve Mil

        I think the motorcycling masses would love to know how the 458 stacks up against a 1199 or S1000RR. Who wins a Laguna Seca laptime war and by how much and why? If the track were different in x,y,z dimensions at what point would the car or bike win again? Let’s face it, many motorcyclists care about performance riding and would happily own a Ferrari if not for the ballbusting cost. The bike gives you supercar grade performance for the cost of a replacement set of carbon brakes for a modern supercar. The only reason I would care about another annoying SUV is to haul bikes to the track.

  • Mister X

    This isn’t April First yet, so please stop with the Jokes, remember,
    Motorcycles is what it’s supposed to be about here at Ride Apart, I’m
    not interested in another trendy, vogue, boutique magazine experience, I
    want Motorcycles, and closely related items, because Car, Trucks,
    SeaDoooooooos and such are not Motorcycles.

    If this trend of
    Motorcycle related content dilution continues, I’ll be expecting a
    review of a ’57 Chevy rear clip “bar” real soon, “for a relaxing drink
    after a long hard ride”, and possibly a review of oil rubbed, hand
    tooled, Bison leather, matching luggage especially tailored to hold two
    of your hand cut Czech leaded crystal champagne flute’s, a bottle of champagne and room for a loaf of french bread, a bit of cheese, a knife and corkscrew for the back rack of your Morgan.

    Anyhow, I love Ride Apart, you all are mashing it up real good, but please keep it to Motorcycles will ya?

    • runnermatt

      A review of the Morgan 3-wheeler compared to a Harley Trike or Goldwing Trike and throw in a Can-Am Spider for good measure; yeah that would be fun.

  • di0genes

    You all do know the Explorer is now a minivan, not that there is anything wrong with that….

    • runnermatt

      True, not that far from a minivan, except for the sliding doors.

  • grindz145

    22 mpg highway….slow clap…pathetic.

  • Guy

    If you’re going to continue writing these car reviews, please focus on a motorcyclist’s angle. What features in particular come in handy on a road trip towing two bikes? What did you like about this vehicle to support a motorcycling hobby and why?

    Right now, the ‘why’ of DriveApart seems to be generate hits for an extra page + ad space. Go ahead and do this, but at least make me come here as a biker to read an SUV review instead of regurgitating what sounds like marketing keywords.

  • runnermatt

    I am a car guy first, bike guy a (newfound) second. I appreciate the car reviews if for the only reason that some people can’t ride year round. That said, most of the vehicles in this segment are simply transportation appliances, this Explorer is no exception. Sure it has a powerful engine, but that is for the people that think horsepower makes something sporty. I know, I know it can tow 5000 lbs., but I am hesitant to use any vehicle for towing if it doesn’t have an actual frame instead of just shaped sheet metal. I imagine this would be fine for towing a couple of bikes or PWC’s though.

    That said there are few SUV/Crossovers that I do like. The Mini Countryman, the only one available with AWD and a Manual transmission; The Mazda CX-5 is supposed to be one awesome to drive little vehicle; and the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk which is the only one with an available locking rear diff and has supposedly completed the Rubicon Trail.

    What I really want though is a Jeep Wrangler pickup with a manual transmission and the EcoDiesel engine from the Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500.

  • Martin

    How this SUV holds up against angry mobs of bikers?
    Is the suspension high enough to run over their bikes if I feel threaten?
    How is compared to the Land Rover?
    I just want to be sure that I can keep my family safe.

  • roma258

    Came here for the inevitably bitchy comments, leaving satisfied. Ford Explorer? Seriously?!?!?

  • Justin McClintock

    I’d rather have a minivan. At least then you’re not trying to kid yourself.