The Ford Explorer wasn't the first SUV, but when it arrived in the 1990s it played an undeniable part in turning the segment into the market monster it is now. The height and 4x4 capability of a truck with the cabin of a car struck a chord with buyers, and now, 30 years and six generations later, it continues its place as one of the segment stalwarts.
What’s New/Key Changes From Last Year
All-new for 2020, tweaks are limited for 2021 to some small rearrangements of features, moved up or down a level. A long way of saying there are no changes of note for the nearly-new model.
Ford offers the 2021 Explorer in XLT, Limited, ST, and Platinum trims. XLT comes with a 2.3L turbo-four engine while ST and Platinum both offer a 3.0L turbocharged V6. Limited can be had with the 2.3 or with a hybrid powertrain including a 3.3L V6. All-wheel drive is standard on all Explorers.
XLT offers LED low-beams and automatic high beams. The tailgate is power operated and the rear glass is tinted. Three-zone climate control is standard with controls for rear-seat passengers. An 8.0-inch infotainment system is standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a WiFi hotspot. The driver seat is 10-way power adjustable (four-way for the passenger) and both front and second-row seats are heated. Driver assistance and safety features include lane keeping, side-wind stabilisation, reverse sensors, and it includes proximity entry and push-button start.
Limited adds 20-inch alloy wheels and a B&O 12-speaker audio system. It also comes with perforated leather seats, the fronts offering ventilation and the passenger seat upgraded to eight-way power adjust. The third row gains power folding, and a heated steering wheel is standard. The infotainment system gains navigation while driver assistance features add the Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist+ system with adaptive cruise, speed sign recognition, and evasive steering assist.
ST is a sport-trim model with a black grille and other trim as well as a sport-tuned suspension. It also has special ST-embossed leather front seats with more bolstering than the other trims.
Platinum gains a Premium Technology Package with multi-contour front seats, a 980-watt 14-speaker audio system, and a 10.1-inch portrait mode touch screen. It has a twin-panel moonroof and diamond-stitch perforated seating with accent stitching. The second row seats are captains chairs in place of a bench.
A heated wheel is offered on all trims that don't include it standard. A power passenger seat is offered for XLT along with easy-clean seating and laminated glass in a package. The Co-Pilot360 Assist+ features are also offered. Platinum's Premium Technology Package is offered on ST.
2.3L Explorers are estimated to return 11.7 L/100 km city, 8.6 highway, while the hybrid is estimated at 10.1/9.0. 3.0L V6 Explorers are estimated at 13.4 city, 11.8 highway.
The Ford Explorer competes with a wide range of larger three-row crossovers including the Dodge Durango and Chevrolet Traverse. The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride compete in this segment along with the Nissan Pathfinder and Subaru Ascent. If your rear seat needs are a little smaller, the possibilities are near endless including the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and others.