2012 Ford Explorer

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Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Ford Explorer. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Headroom in all rows
  • Cabin quality
  • Gas mileage
  • Safety features

The Bad

  • Touch-sensitive controls
  • Second-row legroom
  • Thick A-pillars limit sightlines
  • Third-row access

Notable Features of the 2012 Ford Explorer

  • Turbo four-cylinder or V-6
  • Car-based platform
  • Optional inflatable rear seat belts
  • Available Terrain Management System

2012 Ford Explorer Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview

Sharing its car-based platform with the Taurus sedan, the 2012 Ford Explorer sits squarely in the crossover realm, pitting it against competitors like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse. Front-wheel drive is standard, and the Explorer can seat up to seven people in three rows. All-wheel drive with Ford's Terrain Management System is optional.

The MyFord Touch system, with touch-sensitive controls similar to those in the Edge crossover, is also optional. Base, XLT and Limited trim levels are offered. All three come with V-6 power; the turbo four-cylinder is optional on front-wheel-drive models.


New for 2012
A 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is newly available for 2012.

Exterior
Styled similarly to the Edge, the Explorer projects a squatter, more carlike stance. The headlights and taillights narrow the lower you look, and the grille uses Ford's familiar three-bar design. It's gray on base models, silver on the XLT and body-colored on the Limited. Exterior features include:

  • Standard 17-inch steel wheels and black plastic side moldings
  • XLT models add body-colored door handles, painted black mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Limited trims have body-colored mirrors and 20-inch alloy wheels


Interior
The Explorer's dashboard can come outfitted with touch-sensitive controls and LCD gauge screens. It's part of the optional MyFord Touch. MyFord Touch puts, among other things, an LCD screen ...

Vehicle Overview

Sharing its car-based platform with the Taurus sedan, the 2012 Ford Explorer sits squarely in the crossover realm, pitting it against competitors like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse. Front-wheel drive is standard, and the Explorer can seat up to seven people in three rows. All-wheel drive with Ford's Terrain Management System is optional.

The MyFord Touch system, with touch-sensitive controls similar to those in the Edge crossover, is also optional. Base, XLT and Limited trim levels are offered. All three come with V-6 power; the turbo four-cylinder is optional on front-wheel-drive models.


New for 2012
A 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is newly available for 2012.

Exterior
Styled similarly to the Edge, the Explorer projects a squatter, more carlike stance. The headlights and taillights narrow the lower you look, and the grille uses Ford's familiar three-bar design. It's gray on base models, silver on the XLT and body-colored on the Limited. Exterior features include:

  • Standard 17-inch steel wheels and black plastic side moldings
  • XLT models add body-colored door handles, painted black mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Limited trims have body-colored mirrors and 20-inch alloy wheels


Interior
The Explorer's dashboard can come outfitted with touch-sensitive controls and LCD gauge screens. It's part of the optional MyFord Touch. MyFord Touch puts, among other things, an LCD screen on each side of the speedometer and an 8-inch touch-screen in the middle of the dash. Drivers can configure what information — from a virtual tachometer to music and navigation information — goes on the screens in the gauge cluster.

With a second-row bench seat, seating capacity is seven. Second-row captain's chairs, optional on the Limited, reduce capacity to six. The third row folds down in a 50/50 split, with available power folding seats on the Limited. Interior features include:

  • Standard cloth upholstery; optional leather seats
  • Standard CD stereo with MP3 jack
  • Standard air conditioning
  • Optional heated and cooled front seats
  • Optional dual-panel moonroof
  • Optional Sony premium stereo
  • Optional navigation system


Under the Hood
The Explorer's standard 3.5-liter V-6 makes 290 hp and 255 pounds-feet of torque; it's available with front- or all-wheel drive. On front-wheel-drive models, the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 240 hp and 270 pounds-feet of torque. Mechanical features include:

  • Both engines drive a six-speed automatic transmission
  • Available Terrain Management System adapts drivetrain settings to suit one of four environments: pavement, snow, sand or mud
  • V-6 towing capacity is 5,000 pounds; four-cylinder's is 2,000 pounds


Safety
Antilock brakes, side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system with Ford's Roll Stability Control are standard. The stability system employs Ford's Curve Control feature, which aims to cut speed should a driver head too fast into a corner. Additional safety features include:

  • Optional adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning
  • Optional blind spot warning system with Cross Traffic Alert
  • Optional backup camera
  • Optional inflatable rear seat belts, which aim to spread crash forces across the body by deploying an airbag-like inflation device during a forward collision

2012 Explorer Video

Watch MotorWeek on PBS. Check MotorWeek.org for times and channels.

Latest 2012 Explorer Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(3.9)
Interior Design
(4.2)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(3.8)
Value For The Money
(3.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

I love this car

by ekmastin from Grand Rapids, OH on September 13, 2018

The Explorer XLT is the best car that I have owned so far. It is spacious, handles well, totally comfortable and drives/handles awesome. I can load it up with groceries or kids and not feel cramped. Read full review

(5.0)

2012 Ford Explorer

by Joan Thomad from PA on August 13, 2018

We have had it for a month. It gets pretty good gas mileage. I had to meet be two kayaks last week and they fit inside no problem. Very comfortable. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Ford Explorer currently has 4 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Ford Explorer Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Ford

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement up to $30 per day, full tank of gas, vehicle history report, new wiper blades and fresh oil and filter

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years from original new vehicle warranty start date or 100,000 miles. Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12- month/12,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty. See dealer for details. $100 deductible per visit.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Explorer received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker