The Ford Explorer debuted in 1991 as Ford's first four-door SUV, replacing the two-door Ford Bronco with a more practical yet equally rugged model. This gave the Explorer a reputation as an excellent family vehicle - a reputation that has only improved with time as this SUV has evolved. Newer Ford Explorers have come with tons of technology and safety features and even an optional hybrid powertrain that has allowed drivers to save gas while still driving a vehicle that is big enough for their lifestyle. Over the years, we’ve seen Ford also include more appearance packages and options for those who enjoy customizing a vehicle to perfectly fit their needs. Altogether, the 2021 Ford Explorer is among the very best three-row vehicles that Ford has ever built, allowing you and your passengers to go anywhere and do anything in style and comfort.
The new model year promises an exciting line-up of all new features, brand new updates, and refreshed content. This midsize crossover SUV provides plenty of room, convenience, and luxury within its stylish design and spacious cabin. A wide range of options and configurations are available through a diverse line-up of six different trims and three different powertrains, giving drivers and passengers plenty to appreciate when it comes to what the 2021 Ford Explorer has to offer. New exterior colors have been made available for the 2021 Ford Explorer model as well, including Carbonized Gray, Infinite Blue, and Stone Gray. From the affordable base trim to the luxurious Platinum, there's a little bit of something in there for every kind of driver.
If you're looking for a standard-sized SUV, you're probably concerned with its performance. This is especially true when it comes to mileage and power. So, let's start there. The Ford Explorer has multiple powertrain options, available with different trims and offering different levels of performance based on what you desire from the midsize SUV. The base trim, the XLT, and the Limited come equipped with the very capable 2.3-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine that delivers 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Further up the trims, you can access more horsepower and torque with the 2021 Ford Explorer Platinum, which comes with a 3.0-liter V6 generating a capable 365 horses and 380 pound-feet of torque in a four-wheel drive configuration.
For maximum performance, there's a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 that's exclusive to the Ford Explorer ST trim, topping out at 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. The Ford Explorer ST is capable of reaching speeds of up to 143 miles per hour, while its standard four-wheel drive configuration makes it perfectly suitable for all manner of adventures, outings, and various types of off-road excursions. Ford's Intelligent 4WD technology makes use of sensor-driven systems to optimize acceleration and braking for optimal effectiveness across various types of road surfaces.
The EcoBoost engine technology delivers top performance without wasting fuel, resulting in very modest fuel consumption for the base engine at 21 MPG in the city and up to 24 MPG on the highway. Given the size of the Explorer, this makes it one of the more economical choices for those who want something larger than a compact or subcompact SUV but who don't want the downside of having to tend to the gas tank all too often.
Another fuel-saving measure for the Ford Explorer is the available Hybrid powertrain. This features the combination of a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 engine combined with a 35-kilowatt electric motor that produces a combined 318 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque. With the hybrid powertrain, you can expect to get 27 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway - remarkable numbers for a midsize SUV with over 300 horsepower.
The Explorer also has a terrain management system that is used for poor or off-road driving conditions and includes ABS and driveline traction control. This comes in seven different modes, including Normal, Trail, Deep Snow/Sand, Slippery, Sport, Tow/Haul, and Eco modes. You can use Eco mode on your average daily commute to help save fuel and eliminate unnecessary emissions. But, if you prefer the Explorer's standard acceleration and strength, Normal mode also works well for commuting. Sport mode is fun when you want to push the Explorer to its limits with speed and mobility. The other modes are self-explanatory.
To further its performance, the 2021 Ford Explorer also comes with Hill Descent Control which works with four-wheel drive to help safely descend down steep inclines and snowy, icy, or muddy hills. These features, paired with the Explorer's smooth and efficient 10-speed automatic transmission, help make it stronger, accelerate better, and haul larger loads. In general, the 2021 Ford Explorer is ideal for safer off-roading and daily commuting alike.
The 2021 Ford Explorer also excels in towing, with even the hybrid capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. The base trim, XLT, and Limited are quite capable of towing up to 5,300 pounds, while the V6-powered ST and Platinum can tow up to 5,600 pounds when properly equipped with the Class III Trailer Tow Package. The package comes with the Class III frame-mounted hitch and trailer connectors, perfect for attaching a camper, another vehicle, or a boat for a little getaway.
Many SUVs sacrifice mileage for power or vice versa, but the 2021 Ford Explorer uses its standard turbocharged engine to balance mileage and power evenly. Even in its base configuration that we mentioned previously, it can manage 24 miles per gallon combined and is able to tow up to 5,300 pounds. This is made even better with the Explorer's trailer sway control system, designed to make hauling large loads even safer. Opt for four-wheel drive, and you can handle the worst weather in safety. Either way, both rear-wheel and four-wheel drive Explorers perform high in their class when it comes to both towing.
The previously mentioned trailer sway control system helps to prevent trailered cargo from developing dangerous oscillations behind the Explorer. With the availability of the Terrain Management System and Hill Descent Control to ensure that drivers always stay in command of the Explorer no matter where you happen to be driving or what sort of road conditions the vehicle is driving across, the Explorer is fully equipped to handle all sorts of outdoor towing adventures.
The 2021 Ford Explorer revels in being a champion of the midsize SUV class. The stylish crossover seats up to seven passengers across three rows, with a total maximum passenger volume of 152.7-cubic feet. This includes front shoulder room of 61.8-inches and up to 40.7-inches of front headroom, giving both the driver and passenger ample room to move about.
The cargo capacity is also quite expansive. Folding down the rear seats gives a maximum cargo volume of up to 47.9 cubic feet and a maximum interior cargo length of 83.9-inches. This gives you plenty of room to not only store packages, groceries, or goods you picked up from the store but also camping equipment, musical instruments, sports gear, or more. Whatever leisure pastime or hobby you enjoy, you can fit it in the cabin of the 2021 Ford Explorer.
The 2021 Ford Explorer's interior is among its greatest traits. There's a lot to go over here, from tech and convenience all the way to aesthetic appeal and comfort. So, let's start with tech and convenience. This model offers cruise control with steering wheel controls and FordPass Connect availability, to name just two of its convenience features.
Let's take a closer look at what FordPass Connect has to offer. This subscription includes a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect up to 10 devices, remote start, lock, and unlock access from your smartphone via the FordPass app, and a vehicle locator. With FordPass Connect, drivers can even schedule vehicle starts to help warm up or cool down the Explorer ahead of time.
With available power assist and tri-diamond perforated leather-appointed seating with accent stitching, you can rest assured that you are experiencing the best interior quality that an SUV can provide. Front console armrest and storage features, along with standard tri-zone electronic automatic temperature control, ensures that everyone in the cabin – from the cockpit to the third row – will have a comfortable experience in the Explorer.
Heated seats come standard on most trims, while an available heated steering wheel has been added, along with an eight-way power driver and passenger seats for select trims. Power doors and power windows with one-touch up-and-down driver and passenger controls come standard, while those who enjoy soaking in the sun can use an available twin-panel sunroof that extends from the first row to the end of the second row.
The 2021 Ford Explorer includes the SYNC 3 Communication and Entertainment system, which offers a massive 10.1-inch touchscreen, a smart-charging USB port, and voice recognition. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included standard for music streaming, AppLink can connect your smartphone apps to your Explorer's SYNC 3, and 911 Assist will automatically contact first responders in the event of an accident. There are plenty of available options to make the 2021 Ford Explorer as convenient as possible. Even if you choose not to upgrade the infotainment system, you will still be able to enjoy a large 8-inch touchscreen with all the modern connectivity features you need.
The 2021 Ford Explorer comes with several standard safety features, along with available optional features to provide an even higher level of safety. Features that are standard across all trims include the Ford CoPilot360 suite, AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, a belt-minder, knee airbags, a safety canopy system, LATCH, and an SOS post-crash alert system. Some of these aren't self-explanatory, so let's take a closer look at what they mean.
First, we've got AdvanceTrac with roll stability control. This is a Ford system that is able to predict potential rollover scenarios, triggering traction control to help correct and prevent rollover accidents. This is important for high-profile vehicles like the Explorer. Next, let's look at the safety canopy system. In short, this means that the 2021 Ford Explorer can deploy airbags all around. This system's airbags only deploy when the impact is strong enough for them to be needed. Finally, we'll look at the SOS post-crash alert system. This technology will automatically activate the Explorer's hazard lights and horn once airbags are deployed.
Thanks to this, if you wreck in a low populated area, emergency responders and others will be able to find you more easily. Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard across all trims, and it includes BLIS blind-spot monitoring, a Rear View Camera, a Lane-Keeping System, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Auto High-Beam Headlamps. Higher trims offer additional systems, such as Reverse Brake Assist, which will automatically stop the car when it senses that you are backing into an obstacle.
There are also available security features on the 2021 Ford Explorer as well. This includes a battery saver, which automatically shuts your lights off if you leave them on for over 10 minutes unattended. It also includes remote keyless entry with illumination and the SecuriLock passive anti-theft system. SecuriLock works by eliminating any potential hotwiring, only allowing drivers to start the 2021 Ford Explorer via the Ford SmartKey. Overall, the Explorer is not only safe on the road, but it's secure in the parking lot and the garage as well.
While overall the Ford Explorer offers incredible features, power, and handling. It’s worth taking a look at all of your available options. While fans of the explorer tend to lean towards the Platinum Explorer or the ST Explorer, we believe there is something special about each variation of the Explorer.
While many base trims are bare bones vehicles that offer little in terms of convenience or even safety features, the base Explorer is a great option. This model comes standard with a reverse sensing system that produces an audible beep when you are backing too close to another object. You’ll also get the tri-zone electronic automatic temperature control system, a rear auxiliary climate control system, and much more.
The XLT trim is a great option for Explorer buyers who might want just a little more than what the base offers but still at an affordable price. With this trim, you will get the option of having first-row heated seats, a terrain management system, and a twin-panel moonroof. Some standard features include automatic high beams, push-button start, and a lane-keeping system.
The Limited Explorer trim is the only hybrid vehicle in its class that can tow up to 5,000 lbs. That’s enough to bring a small boat to the lake or a camper to your favorite campsite. However, the best part of this trim is its fuel efficiency. 27 miles per gallon is going to get you pretty far.
The Timberline is a brand new Ford Explorer trim that offers drivers unprecedented off-road capabilities. This trim features steel skid plates, increased ground clearance, upgraded suspension, and even a Torsen limited-slip differential. These incredible performance features are complemented by aggressive looks enhanced by unique red trim, red tow hooks, quad chrome exhaust tips, and more.
The Ford ST has a top speed of 143 mph, can go from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds, and has a quarter mile time of 13.9 seconds. This trim comes with Intelligent 4WD and a leather interior. Standard on this model is a twelve-speaker B&O sound system by Bang & Olufsen. You’ll even have second row captain's chairs with power-assist fold and E-Z Entry.
If you’re looking for a luxury model, the King Ranch trim of the Explorer is perfect for you. This model has Del Rio leather seats, a powerful 3.0L engine, and multi-color ambient lighting. Other features you might love include a wireless charging pad, a heated steering wheel, remote start, and the twelve-speaker B&O sound system.
If the King Ranch isn’t luxurious enough for you, the Platinum trim is. This model features tri-diamond perforated leather seating, the B&O sound system, and Active Park Assist 2.0. You’ll also enjoy a 12.3-inch digital cluster, among many other incredible features.