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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A white 2022 Ford Explorer King Ranch is shown from the front while off-road.

The King Ranch Holds Court in the Ford Explorer Lineup

It’s easy to think of the midsize SUV as a purely family-focused vehicle since it replaced the station wagons and minivans of old for so many people. However, they don’t have to be bare-bones people movers. One of the biggest reasons so many folks have switched to midsize SUVs is they can be loaded with luxury features and options that far surpass anything our parents ever dreamed of having in their old family wagon. The 2022 Ford Explorer, for instance, has eight different trim levels on offer––not counting a couple of hybrid variations––and a wide range of options between them. If you really want to see what the Explorer can offer, and I’m sure you do, then you need to look at its highest trim: the King Ranch.

Nearly every vehicle has numerous trim levels available, but the differences between them are often surprisingly shallow, and the benefits of paying more for a higher trim can be questionable. That’s not the case with the Explorer King Ranch, which sets itself apart as one of the most impressive SUVs in its segment. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the Explorer or just looking at what it has to offer for the first time, the King Ranch is the perfect expression of everything this vehicle delivers. Let’s take a good look at the Explorer King Ranch and see why so many people have been blown away by what it brings to the road.

Performance Is Key

Right out of the gate, the King Ranch impresses, thanks to coming standard with the most powerful engine offered on the 2022 Ford Explorer. There are three engines available for this SUV, with the starting option being a 2.3L I-4 that delivers 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That’s fine, honestly, but you’d expect the highest trim to have more, which it does. The King Ranch is powered by a 3.0L EcoBoost Turbo V6 engine that makes 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. If you’re curious, the third engine option is a 3.3L V6 hybrid that gets great fuel economy but sacrifices some power compared to the engine you get in the King Ranch.

You can see the 3.0L V6 is a huge boost over what the standard engine on the Explorer offers––and while this upgraded engine is available on some other trims, having it standard makes the King Ranch stand out amongst three-row SUVs. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the King Ranch, but you can choose available intelligent four-wheel drive, which includes a Terrain Management System with Hill Descent Control. I kind of wish it just came with four-wheel drive standard since this boosts its performance and makes it a much better choice for dealing with bad weather, but it’s not that expensive as an additional option. It’s really my only complaint about the King Ranch’s performance and something I find annoying rather than a major flaw.

The dash of a 2022 Ford Explorer King Ranch is shown.

Large and Luxurious

Although it’s a midsize model, the Explorer is pretty big, with seating inside for up to seven people across three rows of seats. It’s got more than 18 cu.ft. of cargo space in the very back, with nearly 48 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the second row of seats and almost 88 cu.ft. of total cargo space available behind the front row. In addition, with its standard V6 engine, the King Ranch offers 5,600 lbs of towing capacity, letting you haul a trailer, camper, boat, or whatever else you need. This creates a ton of potential for loading up for a long road trip or heading to a campsite, making this SUV a versatile choice.

Versatility is great, but what I really appreciate about the King Ranch is the gorgeous luxury it brings to the interior of the Explorer. It has Del Rio leather throughout the entire interior, with dual-color contrast upholstery, featuring perforated inserts and hand-stitched King Ranch logos that make the seating pop. Additional leather details, like a Del Rio leather center console and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, match the seats’ color scheme. Second-row heated captain’s chairs come standard on the King Ranch, with a second-row bench available, though I’d stick with the standard option, personally.

Remarkable Technology Throughout

For a 2022 model, I expect to find some impressive technology available, and I want most of that to be standard on the highest trim. This is another area where the King Ranch comes through, as just about everything it has to offer is included in the base price. For starters, there’s tri-zone automatic temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Intelligent Access with push-button start, and multi-color ambient lighting with seven colors you can choose from to customize the vibe inside your SUV.


The displays inside the King Ranch are a bit of a mixed bag. You’ll find a gorgeous 12.3-inch Digital Productivity Screen for the driver, which is great, joined by an eight-inch infotainment display, which is nothing special. There’s an excellent 10.1-inch portrait-oriented infotainment display available, but I feel like that should be standard on the highest trim. Similarly, the King Ranch comes with a 12-speaker B&O sound system with a subwoofer, which is great, but there’s an available 14-speaker version that should be standard on the King Ranch.

However, Ford doesn’t skimp on other tech features, as the King Ranch comes with a wireless charging pad, numerous USB ports, and comfortable seating that includes a 10-way power driver’s seat. The auto industry being what it is at the moment, I can’t help but wonder if the chip shortage and other supply issues are behind some of the features that should probably be standard, being optional instead. Two extra speakers and a larger display could simply be hard enough to get that they made them optional to dissuade people from choosing them en masse. It’s hard to say, but I still feel like the King Ranch should come with all this stuff standard.

The interior of a 2022 Ford Explorer King Ranch is shown from the passenger side.

Don’t Forget Safety Features

One area where Ford didn’t hold back with the King Ranch is the safety technology packed into it. The King Ranch comes with the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package standard, which includes Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, a Lane-Keeping System, and a Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert. Just about the only thing it doesn’t come standard with is Ford’s Active Park Assist 2.0 system, which can do most of the work for you while parking. This is an available option that’s more of a nicety than something that will necessarily protect people, so I can understand why it’s not standard––I’m just greedy and want it all!

The King Ranch Reigns Supreme

You can see how well the King Ranch brings everything Ford offers for the 2022 Explorer together and gives you pretty much the best experience available. This is definitely the choice for anyone who wants an exhilarating and luxurious drive from their midsize SUV, and it offers a great combination of performance and functionality. There are a few oversights across its features––mostly that four-wheel drive and a couple of tech options should be standard––but by and large, Ford has nailed it with this trim. It’s the finest expression of what the Explorer has to offer, with just a bit of room for improvement. For anyone who wants a midsize SUV that beautifully combines luxury and power, the 2022 Explorer King Ranch does the trick.

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