It does seem a bit of a mismatch for a younger guy, unless you have family or loads to haul around, loads that don't need a full pickup bed and you'd like to keep in the passenger compartment.
I'd expect a younger guy, and myself included, to prefer the upcoming Bronco, but I expect it'll be in high demand when first released and have poor pricing, even above sticker.
I would have preferred that the Explorer didn't keep getting bigger. Wider yes for better stability but it's only a midsized SUV because everything else kept getting larger too!
What surprises me about it is that despite having 3 rows of seats, or possibly because of it, the cockpit area isn't all that roomy. I mean you can put the seat back, and down towards the floor but I still feel a bit cocooned in... guess it's what you're used to, I don't plan to do any juggling in it (lol) but but being a bit older I remember the days of bench seat old American cruisers where you could lay down and tap a nap across the front seat, or just about could juggle in them.
Anyway if you're looking to buy Ford, the Explorer is what's available for now, unless you want to go a little smaller to the Ford Edge or smaller (and cheaper looking interior too) with the Escape.
A lot of people consider any of these unibody SUV/crossovers to be soccer mom vehicles but that's the way the market has gone unless you want one of these:
Losing the frame does make the Explorer and other unibody SUVs fare worse for the wear in areas that salt the roads in winter, but having the option of AWD makes them decidedly superior to a soccer mom minivan for snowy winter roads or "light" off-roading.
In the end I wouldn't worry about what anyone else thinks about it, rather it just has to put a smile on your face when you go out to get in it, not be something you felt you settled for.
As far as those two you mentioned, the Explorer is better on roads, the Jeep gives up a little for the off-road clearance but they are pretty similar vehicles overall. I'd test drive them, make a list of pros and cons for each, and make up your mind from that.