Electric Cars Reviewed

2024 Ford Explorer review: Was Ford’s ID.4 rival worth the wait?

The Ford Explorer has finally arrived but is this rival to the VW ID.4 and Tesla Model Y equipped to compete or on a road to nowhere?

Ford recently confirmed that it was delaying its plans to go all-electric, announcing that it would keep selling hybrid and plug-in hybrid passenger cars until 2035 instead of 2030. But it says it remains committed to electrification, with all-electric the ‘only future’.

And the first step towards that future is the new (but much-delayed) Explorer, designed in Europe for Europe and built at Ford’s recently revamped Cologne factory. Later this year it’ll be joined by a fastback partner and an electric version of the Puma crossover but for now it joins the Mustang Mach-E and electric Transit family in the Blue Oval’s green line-up.

It’s not secret that the Explorer is part of a technical partnership with the Volkswagen Group and it’s based on the same MEB platform as everything from the ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq to the Audi Q4 e-tron and Cupra Born. That makes it an obvious rival to such models as well as mainstream alternatives such as the Renault Scenic E-Tech and the ubiquitous Tesla Model Y. But how does it stack up?

Design, interior & technology

Given that we all know it shares batteries and motors with the VW Group cars, Ford has gone all-out to make sure the Explorer has an identity of its own.

That starts with an exterior design that leans heavily into Ford’s American roots. The Explorer has a more old-school SUV shape than alternatives, with its big, bluff front end and square tail. Superfluous design lines are kept to a minimum but the rear window line kinks up into an interesting louvre-effect panel that stops it looking too slab-sided. The Enyaq or Scenic are more sophisticated looking but the Explorer’s chunky styling is at least distinctive.

Inside, Ford has also done a good job of ensuring the Explorer looks and feels like a Ford. From the ‘spaceship’ soundbar that sits atop most of the dashboard to the unique 14.6 inch portrait touchscreen. Even the steering wheel buttons light up with a blue hue that’s pure Ford. And it feels better screwed together than some other recent Fords I’ve driven.

There are unavoidably VW bits — from the headlight switches to the appallingly flimsy door mirror controls and the stupid window system that only gives the driver two buttons to control all four windows.

2024 Ford Explorer interior

Where Ford has done its own thing, matters are better. There are no physical heating controls but there are at least big clear buttons locked to the bottom of the touchscreen. That screen, too, is bright, easy to navigate and widely customisable so you can pick and choose your favourite shortcut buttons. It also has a party piece in sliding from an angled position flush with the centre console to an almost vertical orientation depending on the driver’s preference. There’s also a neat hidden storage space behind it that locks securely when you leave the car.

On the subject of storage, Ford has blessed the Explorer with a ‘MegaConsole’. This is a configurable 17-litre space in the centre console with enough room for a laptop or handbag, and swappable cupholders and oddments tray. For luggage, the boot offers a slightly disappointing 490 litres.

Ahead of that, the Explorer is impressively spacious. It’s 10cm shorter than the ID.4 but with the same wheelbase, so the difference is all in the shorter overhangs of the boxier body. That means plenty of space for four adults. It easily passed my regular test of whether you can fit a normal-sized human being behind my freakish frame, although headroom is noticeably better in the Scenic.

All versions of the Explorer get the big portrait screen with connected services, sat nav and smartphone mirroring. They also get plenty of ADAS systems, from adaptive cruise control and lane change assist to a clear exit alert to stop you hitting cyclists with your door. As with virtually every modern car, these range from the quite clever to the downright hopeless.

Battery, motor and performance

The Explorer’s arrival was delayed by nine months, which Ford says was largely because it wanted to wait for improved battery tech that offers better range and safety improvements.

Ford claims that ‘better range’ is class-leading, conveniently forgetting about the Scenic. That can do 379 miles on the WLTP test compared with 374 for the Explorer. Regardless of bragging rights, that’s a useful distance on a single charge and should translate into well over 300 miles in real-world driving conditions.

That range comes courtesy of the ‘extended range’ rear-wheel-drive variant, which uses a 77kWh battery and a 282bhp motor. There’s also an extended range all-wheel-drive version with a fractionally larger battery, at 79kWh, and a total of 335bhp from its two motors. Later this year there’ll be a ‘standard range’ RWD model with a 168bhp motor and 52kWh battery.

Like other elements of the car, Ford has completely reworked most of the chassis for the Explorer. The front dampers are shared with the ID.4 etc but pretty much everything else is unique to the Explorer, from springs and anti-roll bars to the steering ratios and stability control calibration.

The aim, says Ford, is to bring Ford’s sharp on-road DNA to its new EV. The results are mixed.

2024 Ford Explorer review


The AWD version feels like so many similar vehicles, heavy and fairly lifeless. It rides impeccably but throw it into a corner expecting Focus or Puma-like sharpness and you’ll be disappointed.

What surprised me was how much more lively the RWD car feels. Shorn of the front motor it feels significantly lighter and a lot more nimble. There’s a quicker response to the steering and more feel to proceedings. There’s still an element of detachment due to the electronic power steering, and sport mode only improves this marginally. But there’s more of the old-school Ford feel to this two-wheel-drive version.

It’s slower to 62mph — by around a second — but it still feels more than adequate when accelerating from urban speeds to the national speed limit or joining a motorway. The RWD car’s only failing compared with the AWD is a stiffer, less composed ride.

The AWD car also gets faster charging for its battery — 185kW for the 79kWh versus 135kW for the 77kWh battery. How vital that is comes down to how much public charging you do. Both will still get from 10-80% in less than 30 minutes.

I think I could probably live with the slower charging, marginal loss of pace and firmer ride in exchange for a more enjoyable drive and £4,000 saving.

Price and specification

Which brings us on to price. Ford says the Explorer starts at less than £40,000. But that’s for the shorter range 168bhp car that you can’t order until the autumn.

For now, the range starts at £45,875 for the RWD car in Select trim, rising to £53,895 for the AWD in Premium spec. Between them is the £49,895 RWD Premium.

A quick glance at VW or Skoda’s websites show that these are within a few hundred pounds of the obvious alternatives. The Scenic is fractionally smaller, quite a bit less powerful but between £2,000 and £8,000 cheaper and offers better range and a heat pump as standard.

All versions of the Explorer get LED lights, a heated steering wheel and front seats, massaging driver’s seat and wireless phone charging. Premium spec adds a 10-speaker B&O sound system, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof, plus upgraded Matrix LED lights.

There are just seven options ranging from the cosmetic — 21-inch alloys — to the practical — a heat pump — and the specialist — a retractable dog guard. There’s also the driver assistance pack with a head-up display, 360-degree parking camera and lane change assist; and fancy paint — from Rapid Red to Blue Me Away (yes, really).


The Explorer feels like a decent second effort for Ford and one that feels distinctly more aimed at a European audience. It offers impressive range, good interior space and plenty of the latest technology. But so do most of its direct rivals. The RWD version is  more engaging to drive, but that’s about all that separates it from a host of similarly priced and sized alternatives.

2024 Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer Premium

  • Price: £53,895 (£56,075 as tested)
  • Powertrain: two-motor, all-wheel-drive
  • Battery: 79kWh
  • Power: 335bhp
  • Torque: 500lb ft
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • 0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
  • Range: 374 miles
  • Consumption: 3.7-3.9m/kWh
  • Charging: up to 185kW
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Matt Allan

Matt is Editor of EV Powered. He has worked in journalism for more than 20 years and been an automotive journalist for the last decade, covering every aspect of the industry, from new model reveals and reviews to consumer and driving advice. The former motoring editor of inews.co.uk, The Scotsman and National World, Matt has watched the EV landscape transform beyond recognition over the last 10 years and developed a passion for electric vehicles and what they mean for the future of transport - from the smallest city cars to the biggest battery-powered trucks. When he’s not driving or writing about electric cars, he’s figuring out how to convert his classic VW camper to electric power.