Test Drive Reviews 

Used Car Review: 2011 Ford Explorer Limited FWD

2011 Ford Explorer Specifications:
Style: Crossover SUV
Seating Capacity: 2+3+2
Condition: Certified Pre-Owned
Original Base Price: $37,535
As-Tested CPO Price: $31,991
Engine: 3.5L V-6 290 hp, 255 lb-ft
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Cargo Capacity: 80.7 cubic feet
Curb Weight: 4,432 pounds
Fuel Economy: 17 city / 25 hwy / 20 combined

The Ford Explorer was one of the pivotal SUVs that helped launch the SUV craze in the 1990s, but as fuel prices climbed throughout most of the last decade, automakers began to rethink bulky, body-on-frame SUVs. Looking to improve efficiency without sacrificing passenger space or off-road capabilities, the 2011 Ford Explorer was introduced in 2010 marking a drastic change for the Explorer in terms of its platform, styling and drivetrain.

Now entering the 2015 model year, the fifth-generation Ford Explorer has been on the market for four years now, and the tides in the crossover/SUV market continue to change. To see how well Ford’s popular three-row family vehicle has held up against new competitors like the Dodge Durango and Nissan Pathfinder, we headed to AutoNation Ford Jacksonville to test drive a Certified Pre-Owned 2011 Ford Explorer Limited.


At a time when many SUVs were still big and boxy, the 2011 Ford Explorer had switched to a rounded, aerodynamic shape for a more modern appearance, and after four years on the market, this look has held up considerably well. While most 4-year-old designs are ready for some sort of design update or facelift, the Ford Explorer is getting by with relatively minor changes including the 2013 Explorer Sport (with the more powerful EcoBoost V-6) and the new-for-2015 appearance package.

While the overall styling has remained fresh since debuting for 2011, it’s even more impressive how much this Explorer has physically held up. The condition of this Explorer Limited’s Bordeaux Reserve Red Metallic paint is near flawless as are the trim pieces around the windows and on the fascia. More importantly, though, the lower plastic cladding has kept its dark, matte finish. There is a tendency of many used cars for the plastic cladding to turn a light gray color, but despite having slightly more than 30,000 miles on the odometer, this 2011 Ford Explorer still looks factory fresh.


Being a Limited trim level, this 2011 Ford Explorer is decked out with a leather interior and loaded with cabin tech. The spacious seven-passenger seating configuration is great for big families or long road trips, but the seats can easily be folded flat to create a cavernous space for hauling cargo.

Even after four years and 30,000 miles, the black leather seats and the interior trim are in good condition, although there are some slight wrinkles in the driver’s seat and the expected scuffs on the plastic door sill plates. The soft-touch dash still has its original texture and color, and the dark wood trim and chrome accents are clean and scratch-free.

Ford has definitely taken its fair share of flak for the MyFord Touch, but the finicky system worked perfectly during this test drive of the 4-year-old Explorer. The large touch screen and glossy black trim are still huge fingerprint magnets, but that’s nothing a regular microfiber wipe down can’t fix.


When it was introduced, the 2011 Ford Explorer was only offered with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 engine producing 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. The powertrain lineup has since grown to include the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and, if you’re a police department, a 3.7-liter V-6, but the engine in this CPO Explorer is still the base engine in current Explorer models. Still under the factory warranty, this engine and the six-speed transmission provide plenty of power

Being the front-wheel drive model, this 2011 Ford Explorer is not equipped with Ford’s Terrain Management System, but if you’re looking to do any off-road driving, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for the four-wheel-drive model. Regardless of which model or engine you choose, the 2011 Ford Explorer has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when properly outfitted with a hitch (which this test vehicle was not).


When the 2011 Ford Explorer launched, the Limited trim level had a starting price of $37,535, but this fully loaded CPO Explorer has an asking price of $31,991 at Certified Pre-Owned 2011 Ford Explorer Limited. While that’s only a little bit more than the price of a base 2015 Ford Explorer, you’re also getting all of the optional features such as the leather seats, MyFord Touch and power liftgate.

As always, the condition of a used car depends mostly on how it was treated by the previous owner, but if you’re looking for a high-quality vehicle, then certified pre-owned is the way to go. This particular 2011 Ford Explorer was about as cherry as you could find a used vehicle, and its large size, modern powertrain and stylish looks now means you can put this SUV in your driveway for thousands of dollars less than opting for brand new.

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