Review: Ford Explorer EV review

From £45,875

Ford needed something fresh and exciting for its electric vehicle transition. While it has the Mustang Mach-e, many of its rivals have been expanding their EV range at rapid pace. Enter the new Ford Explorer, an exciting new crossover that Ford has very high hopes for in Europe. 

It needs to deliver because, while Ford showed revenue of $14.7bn in the last financial year for its traditional car and commercial vehicle divisions, its electric vehicle side made a significant loss of $4.7bn. According to Car Industry Analysis, electric cars accounted for just 2.6% of Ford’s global sales in 2023. Marin Gjaja, chief operating officer for Ford Model E admits he has a tough job to do, in fact, Ford’s global boss, Jim Farley, says Gjaja has the toughest job in the company right now.

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We’re not the Financial Times, so that’s enough with the business stuff. The simple fact is car companies have to make cars that make them money and that’s where the new Explorer comes in. The Mach-e was reasonably well received, even if it was never really accepted as a Mustang. It hasn’t been a big seller, but it put Ford on the EV map and there will be a new Mach-e along soon, referred to internally as version 2.0.

Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV driving in profile
Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV


What will make it 2.0 is a brand-new electric Ford platform and architecture. In the meantime, the new Explorer is what Gjaja calls, a transitional model, version 1.5. That’s partly because it’s a collaboration using Volkswagen’s MEB electric platform that underpins VW’s electric ID models. Ford insists it has made it very much a Ford and set us loose to do some exploring the beautiful landscape of Slovenia.

Ford Explorer RWD Premium – Exterior                       

If you know your Ford Explorer history then you’ll know it has always been a big American SUV. There is still a big brother Explorer in the US but the EV is more European. It’s more compact, too, barely two centimetres longer than a Focus and with a lower roofline than the Kuga. 

It also happens to look rather good, which will be great news for those who have criticised Ford for perhaps being a bit conservative in its designs in recent years.

Research in 2018 revealed that consumers saw the Ford line-up as a bit boring, says Amko Leenarts, director of design at Ford Europe. “You cannot say that to a design director,” he says. Well, he took it to heart and penned the new Explorer.

“We wanted to make it the cool nephew of the bigger vehicle but in a very modern, novel way,” says Leenarts. You have to know your Ford Explorer to spot the family resemblances though. The side profile has hints of it, more so in the rear quarter graphic on the window but this isn’t really a direct bloodline. 

> Ford Mustang Mach-E review

Instead, the Explorer EV has a more dynamic appearance, helped by the fact that the wheels have been pushed out to each corner. This makes it look a bit sporty but also frees up more space in the interior.

Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV interior with steering wheel and console
Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV

Ford Explorer RWD Premium – Interior

Inside there is plenty of SUV space and comfort. Admittedly there are some hard plastics around, but Leenarts pointed out that they are in places where people don’t really touch. That includes the top of the dashboard, lower parts of the doors, etc. Those who care about that sort of thing might be disappointed, but most won’t even notice. Where there need to be soft-touch materials or even the perception of them, there are. 

Then there’s the infotainment, which is all contained within a massive 14.6-inch portrait-orientated screen, crucially larger than the one in a Volkswagen, something the design team are keen to point out. It’s got a clever trick to it too because it’s called Sync Move for a reason – it can slide. One minute it is sloping at the same angle as the centre console and door lines, the next you slide it to almost vertical. It’s the best answer yet to glare and like all great ideas, seems so simple you wonder why no one else has thought of it. When the screen is upright, it reveals a handy storage space, which is locked away if the screen is returned to its sloping position, another nice touch.

That’s not the only clever space. The centre console features removable cup holders which can be clipped into a space behind the screen. Do so and you’ll find a massive 17-litres of storage space beneath the armrest. That’s enough for a laptop, more travel sweets than the family could need on any exploring road trip and crucially, space for a handbag. Leenarts says that it has been a regular issue when chatting to customers over the years that there isn’t space to hide a handbag away, except, of course, for the boot. Going electric frees up more space in between the seats and finally, he and the team have been able to create a solution. It’s one of the things he is most proud of in the car, because finally those with a handbag can just get into the car, drop it into the storage space away from prying eyes and drive off. It might seem like a small thing, but for those who asked for it, it’s going to be a big deal and one which Leenarts thinks will be adopted by more car makers.

The seats have a modern, cobra profile with plenty of adjustment. There’s superb legroom front and rear unlike in many a rival. the back seats are surprisingly light and airy, mainly due to a decent-sized rear quarter window. Finally. back seats that don’t feel like you are sitting in a Batcave. Boot space is good too with more than enough for daily needs or if you go off exploring at the weekend.

Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV with charged plugged in
Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV

Ford Explorer RWD Premium – Performance and economy

According to Ulli Koesters, director of electric vehicles at Ford Europe, there are three main pillars to the new Explorer. These are Adventure Ready, Key Innovations and Fun to Drive. It seems to tick the first two so what about the last one? 

At launch, there will be two powertrain options, a 77kWh rear-wheel drive with 286hp and a 79kWh all-wheel drive with 340hp. Its 400V architecture and 135kW maximum charging speed give it the ability to charge from 10-80% in 26 minutes at a rapid charger. With a driving range of up to 374 miles, the 77kWh model is likely to be the volume seller. Priced from £45,875, it feels just enough to suit those who want electric A-to-B transport with a bit of cool styling and lots of practical interior space. 

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If you want competent and fun, the best of both worlds, then the all-wheel drive version is the one to have. Priced from £53,975 it showed its true colours on the mountain roads of Slovenia. It proved comfortable around town and while cruising on the motorways, but once on country roads that extra 54hp made a huge difference to the feel and driving enjoyment of the car. 

Ford isn’t done with just these two models either. Towards the end of 2024 or early in 2025, a cheaper 52kWh version will be added to the range.

Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV with driver steering vehicle along the road
Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV

Ford Explorer RWD Premium – Handling

The engineers told us they put a lot of effort into making sure the Explorer EV drives like a Ford. They would say that and we aren’t quite sure what that means but it definitely drives well. Again it is the 79kWh version that feels more composed, not just on twisty mountain roads, but during the mundane traffic stuff as well. Both also have an impressive turning circle, something that will prove useful for those using their Explorer mostly as an urban crossover.

There’s minimal road and wind noise and the suspension delivers comfort and control without much body roll. The steering is precise – things tighten up when you go into Sport mode, with quicker acceleration and slightly heavier steering but you might not be experiencing it all that often. That’s because you have to go through some awkward icons on the screen to get to the driving modes and once there, there’s no simple ‘back’ button. Fortunately these days, Ford could fix that easily with an over-the-air update. 

Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV boor space
Ford Explorer AWD Premium EV

Ford Explorer RWD Premium – Verdict

Ford might see the new Explorer EV as a transitional model, but it seems to be a much bigger deal than that. The Mach-e seemed like a bit of a marketing exercise, but in the Explorer, Ford is getting serious about electric. Collaborating with VW shows there is still some sensible caution but what the team have created is an EV to get excited about. It even shows VW what it could do if it put a bit more effort in.

> Ford’s E-Tourneo Courier is an SUV-inspired multi-utility vehicle

It’s an Explorer for a modern era, one that is designed and engineered to do what it says on the tin, explore. Ford already has a wide range of accessories, too, including roof tents, bicycle racks and interior equipment. 

Judging from our initial experience in Slovenia, the new Ford Explorer delivers a great drive and great range, combined with the cool factor the Blue Oval badly needed. Ford’s done with boring, it’s time to explore exciting.

Tech specs: Ford Explorer RWD Premium

Price: From £45,875
On sale: Now
Battery capacity: 77kWh (usable)
Maximum power: 286hp
Torque: 545Nm
Transmission: Single-speed
0-62mph: 6.4s
Top Speed: 112mph
Dimensions: L/W/H 4,468/2,063/1,630
Boot capacity: 530 litres

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The new Ford Explorer delivers a great drive and great range, combined with the cool factor the Blue Oval badly needed. Ford’s done with boring, it’s time to explore exciting.
Show More

Quality

4.00/5

Performance

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Range

4.50/5

Comfort

4.50/5

Dynamics

4.00/5

Fast Facts

Price

£45,875

Battery Capacity

77 kWh

WLTP Range

374 miles

Maximum Power

286 bhp

Torque

545 lb-ft

0-60

6.4 secs

Top Speed

112 mph

Boot Capacity

530 litres

Pros and Cons

Cool and modern design
Great driving dynamics and comfort
Good driving range
Infotainment system needs more work
Some hard plastic materials inside
Bit on the pricey side compared to some rivals
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