Over 20 years ago, Ford changed everything for the American car-buying market when they introduced the first generation of the Explorer. Today, the 2012 Ford Explorer continues the evolution of modern large SUVs with a number of updates, including a lighter, stronger chassis and more passenger and cargo space than ever before.

Key Features

The Curve Control safety feature comes standard on all Explorer trims, and it could be a literal lifesaver. It senses when you’re entering a corner too quickly and may be in danger of tipping, and it corrects for this by automatically engaging the throttle and braking for you to help you maintain the driving path you want.

The Limited and XLT trims also come standard with Ford’s SYNC voice-command infotainment system for hands-free navigation, music selection, climate control, and more.

Changes for 2012

As of 2012, you can now get a front-wheel drive Ford Explorer with the EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbo-charged engine. With premium fuel, you’ll get 240 horsepower and gas mileage that reaches above 25 MPG.

What We Like

Ford has shown that they’re not afraid of new lines with the continuously updated 2012 Ford Explorer. It has a lot of room and is rugged enough to take on tough terrain, but it also has a very plush ride when you’re driving around town and taking the kids to soccer practice.

What Concerns Us

If you’re looking for serious towing capacity, look elsewhere. While we love that the Explorer has gotten lighter and stronger over the years, it is not, and really never has been, a true off-road vehicle. You won’t want to try to tow more than 5000 pounds with an Explorer, even the 4WD option.

Available Models

With different trim options, you can choose between interior features and exterior details, but the big decisions lie in whether or not to go with 4WD and which engine to choose:

  • Engine – 3.5-liter V6

  • Power – 290 HP at 6500 RPM

  • Torque – 255 lb-ft at 4000 RPM

  • Fuel economy (MPG city/highway) – 17/23 (4WD), 17/25 (FWD)

  • Engine – 2.0-liter turbo-charged inline 4-cylinder

  • Power – 240 HP at 5500 RPM

  • Torque – 270 lb-ft at 1750-4000 RPM

  • Fuel economy (MPG city/highway) – 20/28 (FWD)

Major Recalls

The 2012 Ford Explorer has had three recalls to remedy various issues, including:

  • Replacement steering gears that could lock steering
  • Potential loss of power steering assist
  • Interior door handle return spring becoming unseated

Common Issues

The most commonly reported problems with the 2012 Ford Explorer actually have nothing to do with the performance of the vehicle but rather with problems with the paint finish on the hood.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Ford Explorer and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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