Ford Explorer Statistics: 11 Interesting Facts & Numbers

Ford initially released the Explorer in 1991 as a replacement for the outgoing Bronco II model.

However, Ford didn’t expect the Explorer would start the SUV craze in America and become one of its bestselling models.

The Explorer did both and has become one of the most iconic SUVs in America, rivaling the pedigree of stalwarts like the Jeep Wrangler.

A spacious interior, impressive performance, and loads of utility are what the Explorer has to offer. These three things helped fuel demand for the early Explorers.

If you want a vehicle that combines these qualities, then the Explorer is perfect for you.

Even if these aren’t top of your list, the Explorer’s expansive lineup has something for everyone.

This article contains statistics relating to the Explorer models. We’ve compiled production numbers, sales data, depreciation rates, recall figures, and many more for your benefit.

Let’s dive right into it!

How Many Ford Explorers Have Been Sold Per Year In The US?

In most cases, new vehicle models don’t achieve huge sales in their early years, and demand for them only rises after some years. This wasn’t the case for the Ford Explorer as it saw incredible sales in its first years.

It even outsold older competitors such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevrolet S-10 Blazer by considerable margins.

Consumer demand for the Explorer was so strong that yearly sales topped 300,000 units in the model’s first generation. Sales continued to increase, and Ford sold over 400,000 Explorers annually during the model’s second iteration.

By 1994, the Explorer was America’s ninth highest-selling vehicle and Ford’s best-selling SUV model.

The Explorer’s sales performance has remained strong, and annual sales have remained in the six-digit region. It only recorded five-digit sales between 2008 and 2010, a period of reduced demand for vehicles in America. Since then, Explorer sales have seen a rebound, with annual sales topping over 200,000 units. 

Here’s a breakdown of annual sales data for the Ford Explorer since it started selling in 1991:

Year  No. Of Models Sold 
1991 250,059
1992 306,681
1993 302,201
1994 278,065
1995 395,227
1996 402,663
1997 383,852
1998 431,488
1999 428,772
2000 445,157
2001 415,921
2002 433,847
2003 373,118
2004 339,333
2005 239,788
2006 179,229
2007 137,817
2008 78,439
2009 52,190
2010 60,687
2011 135,704
2012 164,207
2013 192,397
2014 209,994
2015 249,251
2016 248,507
2017 271,131
2018 250,690
2019 184,653

What Year Did Ford Start The Explorer Models?

Ford started production of the Explorer in 1990, although it only became available in 1991.

The Explorer was to be Ford’s competitor in the midsize SUV segment, replacing the earlier Bronco II model. At inception, the Explorer differed from the Bronco II, especially in terms of size and weight [the Explorer was bigger and weighed more].

However, the Explorer shared components with the Ford Ranger, just like the Bronco II did

Over the years, Ford has upgraded the Explorer model. This includes changes to the powertrain, transmission, and engine options.

The Explorer has been in production for 30 years, undergoing six separate generations:

  • 1991 – 1994 [First Generation]
  • 1995 – 2001 [Second Generation]
  • 2002 – 2005 [Third Generation]
  • 2006 – 2010 [Fourth Generation]
  • 2011 – 2019 [Fifth Generation]
  • 2020 -?    [Sixth Generation]

You can check the best Ford Explorers and models to avoid here.

How Is The Fuel Economy On Ford Explorer?

The Explorer lineup is filled with models sporting different engines and powertrain options.

As a result, fuel economy varies across the different Explorer trims. Still, when considered, on the whole, the Ford Explorer offers better-than-average gas mileage for a vehicle its size.

From our research, the hybrid-electric Explorer models have the best fuel economy across the lineup. Even though the gas-powered models use smaller V4 engines [Explorer hybrids use V6s], they consume more fuel than the hybrids.

Ford also has a flex-fuel variant of the Explorer if you want to spend less on gas. Flex-fuel vehicles offer lower gas mileage, but they can use E85 [Ethanol fuel], which is cheaper than regular fuel.

With such features, it’s easy to understand why the Ford Explorer is among the cheap mid-size SUVs with the best gas mileage.

Here’s a table showing fuel consumption for the 2020 Ford Explorer models:

Model City MPG Highway MPG Combined MPG
Explorer Hybrid RWD

3.3-Liter (6-cyl.)

27 29 28
Explorer Hybrid AWD

3.3-Liter (6-cyl.)

23 26 25
Explorer RWD

2.3-Liter (4-cyl.)

21 28 24
Explorer AWD

2.3-Liter (4-cyl.)

20 27 23
Explorer AWD

3.0-Liter (6-cyl.)

18 24 20
Explorer Flex-Fuel AWD

3.3-Liter (6-cyl.)

16 (Regular Gasoline) 23 (Regular Gasoline) 19 (Regular Gasoline)
13 (E85) 15 (E85) 13 (E85)

How Quickly Do Ford Explorer Depreciate?

In the past, Ford Explorer depreciated quickly, thanks to a poor reputation for reliability and low fuel economy.

The Firestone tire fiasco was an event where the tires on Explorers blew out and caused vehicle rollovers. This hurt the resale value of Ford Explorers; however, depreciation has lessened somewhat on the Explorer models in recent years.

This is likely because of improved engineering and gas mileage.

Have a quick look at our article to know “Where are Ford Explorers made”?

Did Ford Recall Any Of The Ford Explorer Models?

The Ford Explorer has been recalled 74 times since it started production in 1991.

Below is a breakdown of recall numbers for each individual year.

The years are not arranged sequentially but according to the number of recalls that they’ve been involved with:

Model Year No. Of Recalls
2000 15
1999 15
1998 14
1997 12
1995 12
2001 12
1996 11
1991 11
2002 10
1993 9
1994 7
2003 7
2013 7
1992 7
2016 6
2011 5
2006 4
2012 4
2017 4
2004 4
2015 3
2008 3
2005 3
2007 3
2014 2
2010 2
2009 1
2018 1

How Much Do The Explorer Models Pollute?

Emissions on the Mustang models vary according to engine configurations.

Among the 2020 Explorer family, the hybrid-electric variants have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions. These emit, on average, 378 grams of CO2 gases per mile.

The gas-only Explorers have higher pollution, with an average of 391 grams of CO2 emissions per mile.

The flex-fuel variants have the worst emission figures; they average 484 grams of greenhouse gases per mile.

How Much Can the Explorer Models Tow?

The Explorer underwent a major redesign effort in 2020 and saw a major increase in towing capacity.

We also have a full towing guide for all Ford Explorer models.

Newer models can now tow up to 5,600 lbs of load, up from 5,000 lbs in 2019.

Here’s a breakdown of individual towing capacities for the various Explorer engines:

  1. Explorer XLT & Explorer Limited (2.3 L EcoBoost V4): 5,300 lbs
  2. Explorer ST & Explorer Platinum (3.0 L EcoBoost V6): 5,600 lbs
  3. Explorer Hybrid (3.3 L Hybrid V6): 5,000 lbs

The 2020 models also come with various features that make towing easy.

These include Trailer Sway Control, Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management, Roll Stability Control, and Side-wind Stabilization. 

How Reliable Is a Ford Explorer?

The Explorer is one of the best SUVs in terms of build quality. However, a series of reliability concerns have marred its reputation since its inception in 1991.

Below are some issues we discovered to be widespread on the Explorer models:

  • First & Second Generation (199–2001)
  • High propensity to roll over mid-transit.
  • Abnormal timing chain wear.
  • Transmission failure.
  • Third Generation (2001–2005)
  • Transmission failure.
  • Timing chain problems.
  • Issues with wheels and hubs.
  • Fourth Generation (2006–2010)
  • Cooling system leaks.
  • Wheel bearing wear.
  • Engine failure.
  • Fifth Generation (2011–2019)
  • Exhaust leaks.
  • Engine stalling.
  • Steering issues.
  • Sixth Generation (2020 -?)

Reliability data isn’t available for the new generation, and we can only hope the latest models are more reliable than past Explorers.

How Safe Are Ford Explorers?

For 2020, Explorers come standard with the Ford Co-Pilot 360 system.

This suite features different safety technologies, including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and blind-spot warning.

Also included are a cross-traffic alert system, lane-keeping assist, and rear-view cameras. The Explorer received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA, performing well on crash tests. However, the vehicle missed out on a Top Safety Pick certification by the IIHS.

According to the IIHS, the new Explorer’s safety performance is better than previous models but isn’t secure enough for a Top Safety Pick award.

What Is The Typical Buyer Demographics For This Model?

Data gathered from various sources, including Ford, shows the following about the Explorer’s buyers:

The Explorer’s buying demographic is split between those born between 1961 and 1981 (Generation X) and those born between 1981 and 1986 (Millennials).

In fact, the Explorer is popular among younger individuals wanting to start families due to the utility it offers. The average Explorer buyer earns at least $175,000 per year.

Women also form a significant part of the Explorer buyer demographic.

Utility, reliability, and fuel economy are the biggest considerations for this group.

Ford Explorer Theft Numbers

Here are the theft rates for the Explorer from 1991 through 2006:

Year No. Of Models Stolen 
1991 711
1992 737
1993 671
1994 742
1995 468
1996 1427
1997 1105
1998 773
1999 1099
2000 1001
2001 1050
2002 1419
2003 537
2004 1099
2005 317


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