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Earned respect for 2016 XLT


August 16, 2019
Reaction score
City, State
Delaware County PA
Year, Model & Trim Level
16 Explorer XLT 4wd 2.3L
I wanted to share some thoughts on my Explorer for anyone that is shopping for one of the 5th generation models. Hopefully this will help someone.

We bought a used 2016 XLT "4wd" 2.3L last year to replace my 2007 Expedition EL with over 200k miles that was starting to battle the rust monster (Thanks PennDOT!).

I've put about 15k miles on it since picking up the Explorer that I use for both work and personal/family trips. While I've been disappointed with the rattles from the interior (and the 6F35 concerns me sometimes...) and it's had some issues along the way (new steering rack, new door touchpad), it has been from Maine to Florida as well as some trails and light off-roading. This past trip to Maine we had a Yakima basket on the roof and still managed around 22-24 mpg (which is mileage the Expedition could only dream of). I was concerned that the roof basket and gear would really be felt and the 2.3L would need to be wrung out to keep pace with traffic, but that was not the case.

We've also had it in Florida to see the Mouse (Walt Disney World) and it handled 6 adults to and from the parks easily using all 3 rows. I don't think that the new generation has a third row that is as useable for adults from what I recall at the autoshow.

Most recently, it was on a project site that required fording some streams (at paved stream crossings) and climbing a gravel hill with a switchback halfway up the hill. For what it's worth, I used the "Gravel" mode (I think it's the "Sand, Grass, Gravel" mode) on the terrain select dial and it climbed the hill easy-peasy with no drama (still on the stock Michelins)! Stream crossings were only 6-8 inches so not too terribly deep there either but it posed no issues. It's hauled all of my equipment as well as our vacation gear. It's also handled some muddy gravel roads just fine. I could tell that the issues were with the tires caking up with mud and getting greasy, not necessarily issues with the vehicle's capabilities.

I've consistently gotten around 22 mpg (highway/suburban driving) and the 2.3L performance has certainly met what I've asked of it. The only time it seems a little short on power is when passing at highway speeds when a downshift is needed. I've found it to be stable in bad weather and comfortable in good weather.

Overall, the Explorer seems to be all that we need without the massive size (and expense) of a larger SUV. Hopefully these thoughts can help anyone in the market for a 5th gen Explorer!